Please see below M&C Report’s roundup of the weekend press: BrewDog share sale raises £500,000 More than a thousand investors poured more than half a million pounds into the unconventional Scottish brewer, BrewDog, in three days after it offered shares directly to the public via its website. The ‘Equity for Punks’ scheme has created 90,000 shares available to buy in £95 packages. Prospective buyers can download a prospectus from the company’s website and purchase the £95 packages online. It is the only share sale in the UK operating via a simple ecommerce website. “We are completely overwhelmed with the results so far”, said BrewDog co-founder, James Watt. “We thought it was a mistake when told over half a million pounds worth of shares had been bought in just two days.” The Times, Saturday FT Weekend Tide turns for SABMiller’s bid for Foster’s According to the Daily Telegraph, SABMiller’s chief Graham Mackay is employing the good old-fashioned bear hug and it’s looking more likely by the day that it will put his Aussie opponent, Foster’s, flat on his back. When Mackay launched SAB’s A$9.5bn (£6.2bn) bid for Foster’s nearly four weeks ago, the market took fright and the UK-listed group’s share price headed south fast. Foster’s shares ticked up sharply on expectations that SAB would have to raise its A$4.90-a-share proposal if it was to persuade Australian’s biggest brewer to come to the negotiating table. What a difference a few weeks make. Now that the market has had time to digest SAB’s plan and Mackay has been able to tour a few key shareholders and lay out his thinking, the tide appears to have turned. A few days ago, SAB’s share price quietly hit an all-time high, while Foster’s stock has been ticking steadily lower and now sits at A$5.08 versus a recent high of A$5.23. Meanwhile, talk of a counter-bidder grows quieter by the day. Thus far there are no visible signs from Foster’s that the bear squeeze is having an effect as management insist it is business as usual, but you can bet the Aussie’s blood pressure is rising. This one has some way to run – down under there are no rules that prohibit SAB laying siege to its rival for months on end – but the clever betting is increasingly on Mackay getting his man. While we could yet see some Aussie spunk that spoils Mackay’s gameplan, it looks like it’s just a matter of time until Foster’s starts going blue in the face. Daily Telegraph, Saturday Item Club scales back growth forecast Britain’s fragile economy will expand by just 1.4% this year as Europe’s debt crisis hits business confidence, the Ernst & Young Item Club warns today. As recently as April, Item was expecting growth of 1.8%, amid hopes that the cheap pound would boost exports and fuel business investment. But in its latest quarterly health-check of the economy, Peter Spencer, Item’s chief economist, said the deteriorating international environment meant the UK was now at a “critical juncture”. “Confidence is particularly fragile,” he said. “The risks to the eurozone are plain to see, starting with the Greek default, which hangs like the sword of Damocles over Europe.” He warned that with real incomes likely to remain under severe pressure, consumer spending will decline by 0.4% this year. That means business investment will be crucial to securing economic recovery. Yet despite the healthy state of corporate balance sheets, Item warns, the spiralling eurozone sovereign debt crisis, and the “soft patch” in the US, mean businesses have good reasons for sitting on their cash. Unemployment has been falling, but Spencer says it could rise in the coming months, if the outlook for global growth deteriorates. “The longer the slowdown continues the greater the risk of relapse in the labour market.” The Guardian The Independent Daily Telegraph Daily Mail Daily Express Growth undermined by red tape Luke Johnson fears red tape is stifling mid-sized companies - the ‘unsung heroes’ of the economy. The entrepreneur and private equity boss said mid-sized companies are the “unsung heroes” of the economy, but their growth is being hampered by “regulations and bureaucracy”. “Very small start-ups are the ones that are hard to take seriously – it’s a lot easier to double the size of a company turning over £5m than it is to go from 0 to £5m. Mid-sized companies are where I’ve spent most of my career – building them, owning them and running them. They provide the vast majority of the new jobs created by the private sector in the UK, they are disproportionately innovative in terms of new products and services, they are crucial for the reinvigoration of our economy. They are the key engine of the recovery.” However, he said there is a “whole range of issues” inhibiting their growth – although “a lot of them aren’t Government’s fault”. “I’m not talking about slashing tax rates; I accept we’re in an age of austerity. However, I think it’s about making building a business easier rather than pointless bureaucracy.” He identified “an infrastructure that needs investment and the quality of people coming out of schools and universities” as problems that need addressing in the long term, but said growth of mid-sized businesses could be immediately encouraged with a simplified tax regime and a two-tier system for employment legislation. “Relieving entrepreneurs of the complication of the tax system and some of the employment legislation could be a major boost to taking on people and investing. Companies with fewer than 100 staff should have a different type of employment legislation – fewer protections, but faster growth with more room for promotion.” Daily Telegraph, Saturday Profits up at McDonald’s UK McDonald’s UK reported a 38% rise in pre-tax profit to £157.211m for the year to 31 December 2010, as it said it continued to “deliver sound results in a difficult trading climate”. The c.1,200-strong chain saw a 5% rise in turnover during the year to £1.184bn, as it experienced strong sales growth “across all store types”. Operating profit stood at £157.218m, up from £126.937m in 2009, which the chain said was due to higher sales and margins within its company-owned restaurants and positive sales growth from franchisee restaurants. In January, the company said that 2010 was a record year, with 80m more customers served in the 12 months compared to the previous year. The company said part of the reason for its continuing success was the introduction of longer trading hours. The fast-food group estimates that 80% of its UK outlets are open from 6am and more than 400 of them are open for 24 hours on at least one day a week. The Sunday Times Groups battle over breakfast market A report in The Sunday Times says that breakfast is the new battleground for pub groups looking to grow sales. JD Wetherspoon said that the morning meal now represents about 13% of its food sales. Industry bosses say that the additional costs involved in putting on breakfast are marginal and the extra sale make it worthwhile. Yates’s has been doing breakfast for three years, with sales in double-digit growth year on year. This has led to breakfasts being sold in its sister chain Slug & Lettuce this year. It’s not only pub groups who are eyeing the market. Greggs also moved to serve breakfasts last year, while KFC is currently testing food in the morning, with trials at more than half a dozen outlets. Its Marble Arch branch saw sales rise 5% as a result, with executives believing this could eventually rise to 10%. Rather than pushing fried chicken, the company is concentrating on breakfast products, including pastries, sausages and eggs. The Sunday Times Greene King chief in focus Greene King chief Rooney Anand was the focus of an interview in The Sunday Times and was quick to point out that the company should not be seen as “Greedy King” when it came to buying smaller brewers. He said: “Yeah, we move the brewing and just occasionally we improve the quality in the process. And I love it when I’m in a pub where a landlord thinks he has the best range of everything, and then admits our IPA outsells all the microbeers put together by three or four times.” Anand was quick to deny that the company had lost the ability to produce good food and had to buy back the expertise with deals such as the £53m acquisition of Realpubs. He said: “No, it’s not something we lost. I can’t remember pub food ever being as that served by Realpubs. And by the way, I hate the term gastropub. It’s just good nosh, intelligently done, and you don’t spend a ludicrous amount.” Anand said the company had learnt from every acquisition it had made. He said: “We use them to grow and evolve successfully.” He was also quick to respond to talk of a bid for rival Marston’s. He said: “I just think it’s poor quality journalism to keep writing the same story. And I will never comment on acquisitions.” Dark side of fake booze business The explosion which last week claimed the lives of five men at an illegal vodka factory in Lincolnshire has exposed the lethal bootleg trade that is leaving Britain awash with illicit booze. It has become a £1billion-a-year operation as organised crime gangs turn their backs on the drugs trade to make even higher profits by flooding Britain’s pubs, clubs and off-licences with counterfeit vodka distilled at dangerous illegal stills. Not only does it deprive the Treasury of at least £600million in lost taxes which could be used to soften the blow of spending cuts on schools and hospitals, it poses a growing and serious risk to innocent drinkers. The booze, which can be a staggering 51% proof and contain a cocktail of highly dangerous chemicals, is often disguised with well-known brand labels, giving drinkers no inkling of what they are buying. Customs officers last year seized 750,000 litres of illegal spirits in raids and alarmingly found more than a quarter of licensed outlets in the South-west were selling counterfeit alcohol. Sunday Express Molson to launch Animee for women Molson Coors, the brewing giant behind Britain’s biggest-selling lager, Carling, tomorrow launches a new beer – for women. Animee is less gassy and lighter-tasting than traditional beers. Molson Coors has spent two-and-a-half years and £1 million on research. Animee will come in three varieties – the standard, clear-filtered beer as well as rose and citrus flavours – and will be available in pubs and supermarkets in 275ml bottles from next month. Despite its name, the beer has no French connection and will be brewed in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire. Faced with declining sales, the industry is desperate to attract new drinkers and Molson Coors believes targeting women could boost profits. “The perception is that beer is a laddish drink so Animee will be more sophisticated and playful,” said Kristy McCready of Molson Coors. But others have struggled in this tricky market – Guinness Red and Carlsberg’s Eve for example. However, Carlsberg will launch its Copenhagen brand for women next year. And the boys are not being neglected – Molson Coors will also unveil new Carling products tomorrow. Mail on Sunday World’s top eaterie? A tiny café in Norfolk Ask most foodies who is the best restaurateur in the world, and they might mention Heston Blumenthal or Ferran Adria. But the only name you need to remember now is Desmond MacCarthy, the man behind the Wiveton Hall café, the tiny Norfolk coffee shop serving “Britain’s best food”, according to Delia Smith, the master egg-boiler and Norfolk resident who, with £23m in the bank, can choose from the most expensive menus in the world. Founded only four years ago, the Wive cafe – as Mr MacCarthy calls it, punning on the more famous River Cafe – has won a devoted following among fans of simple, fresh food. Typical dishes include broad beans and fresh parsley from the garden piled on slices of bruschetta, or buttery kippers and bacon sandwiches on granary bread, all locally sourced. Independent on Sunday