Please see below M&C Report’s roundup of the weekend press: Capital to attract attention from other suitors Writing in his column in The Independent, Derek Pain looked at the Fuller’s and Capital Pub Company situation: Although Fuller should – and I suspect would – be prepared to pay more, there is every chance Capital will attract attention from other drinks players. One predatory candidate must be Marston’s, another portfolio constituent. The Brakspear and Pedigree brewer is rather thin on the ground in Capital territory and, although heavily borrowed, could see the logic of swallowing its pubs. However, it could feel it has its hands full developing a spread of newly-built, food-led pubs. It has already undertaken around 40 and, from next year, hopes to create 25 such outlets every 12 months. Still, if Marston’s should be stirred into action, it would be the first time one constitute has bid for another. Other drink groups, including under-siege pub chain Greene King, could also be tempted, having arrived on the stock market in 2007. This week Capital underlined its opposition to the Fuller assault. It reported adjusted profits up 48% and a pre-tax figure of £3.5m against a £1.5m loss. The first dividend since 2008 will be 2.25p a share against earlier indications of 2.1p. And it unambiguously intensified its argument against the value Fuller’s offer placed on the company. The portfolio descended on Capital shares at 120p. After the profits announcement and spirited defence, the price hit the Fuller valuation of 200p. My guess is the brewer will have to increase its bid by a considerable amount if it wants to win the day. The Independent, Saturday FT Global 500 sees market cap rise The total market capitalisation of the Financial Times’s Global 500 companies increased by 12% from $23,500bn to $26,200bn. The FTSE All World index rose by 12% over the same period in dollar terms. The 500th company is worth $19bn, compared with $16bn last year. Banks and oil companies remain the most valuable sectors in the list at $4,436bn and $3,836bn respectively. This is the 15th ranking of the FT Global 500, providing an annual snapshot of the world’s largest companies. Exxon Mobil resumed its position as the world’s most valuable company and PetroChina was number two. Drinks producers Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Ambev, SABMiller and Diageo all featured in the top 200, while McDonald’s was number 81, down from 76 in 2010, and Yum! Brands was number 381, up from 440 the previous year. The Financial Times Weekend Fund fails 99% of small businesses Small businesses have criticised a flagship investment fund backed by the major banks after it was claimed only eight firms were in line to win support. The £2.5billion Business Growth Fund was launched last month as part of the Project Merlin agreement between the Government and leading banks to support small and medium-sized enterprises. Its sluggish start has heightened concerns that the fund’s remit is too narrow. Critics say stringent criteria means the vast majority of small businesses do not qualify for help from the fund, led by former Barclays deputy chairman Sir Nigel Rudd. Phil McCabe of the Forum of Private Business, said: “It’s made very few investments over the last months or so. The bigger picture is that a very small number of businesses are eligible for this fund.” He said the fund’s offer to take partial ownership in companies in return for investment was “clearly unattractive” to a majority of small firms who wanted affordable and accessible debt financing. Mr McCabe warned that 99 per cent of small businesses did not want to sell a stake in return for investment. Daily Express, Saturday Travelodge investigates security breach Travelodge, the budget hotel chain, is investigating a security breach of its database after customers received spam emails. The firm wrote to customers to warn them not to respond to the emails, which claimed to offer job opportunities. Details of how hackers gained access to Travelodge customer data were not immediately available. “Please be assured, we have not sold any customer data and no financial information has been compromised,” said Guy Parsons, Travelodge’s chief executive. “The safety and security of your personal information is of the upmost importance to us and as a result we are currently conducting a comprehensive investigation into this issue.” Daily Telegraph, Saturday Rise in voluntary closures The number of companies being voluntary closed to save costs has risen by 9.5% over the past year, even though total company liquidations fell 16% during the same period. The number of members voluntary liquidations, the term for the voluntary liquidation of companies, was 3,758 in 2010, up from 3,268 a year earlier, according to law firm McGrigors. The Financial Times Weekend SABMiller faces backlash over Foster’s bid SABMiller faces a backlash from shareholders over its proposed $9.5bn (£6.5bn) takeover bid for Foster’s Group, with leading institutions branding the brewing giants move “expensive” and “very disappointing”. Several big investors also said SABMiller’s chief executive Graham Mackay had not properly explained the reasoning behind the acquisition proposal. They are unenthusiastic about the prospect of diluting its exposure to fast-growing emerging markets and believe there are limited opportunities to cut costs. One top 10 shareholder said: “As things stand, it’s very disappointing.” Despite the criticism, SAB believes it has support for its plan, not least from the 45% of its investor base that sites in the boardroom. If it fails, some observers believe SAB could itself become the prey, with the market leader Anheuser-Busch InBev tipped as a potential predator. The Sunday Times Blackstone to refinance Center Parcs Blackstone, the US private equity firm, has begun a £1bn refinancing of Center Parcs, the forest village holiday business, ending speculation of an imminent sale and providing much needed capital to build a fifth UK park. The refinancing comes five years after Blackstone took Center Parcs private, and is believed to value the Nottingham-based leisure group in the region of £1.5bn. The move comes nine months after speculation that Blackstone was either going to sell Center Parcs’ property to M&G or float it as a real estate investment trust. As part of the refinancing, The Sunday Telegraph understands that Blackstone, which has come under pressure in recent weeks as a result of its previous involvement in Southern Cross, is injecting further equity into the business to allow it to open a fifth UK site. Discussions with a small syndicate of banks, thought to include the Royal Bank of Scotland, are already believed to be underway. The move will be seen as a sign of firm support for Center Parcs, one of the firm’s long-standing UK investments. Separately, Blackstone has begun raising in excess of $10bn (£6.2bn) to invest in property assets around the world. The US-headquartered buy-out firm, which hit the headlines recently after making more than £1bn from the sale of Southern Cross, is understood to be looking to raise the money to invest in distressed property and assets caught up in complex situations. Sunday Telegraph Waldorf falls into administration One of Britain’s richest families has seen two of its prized hotels assets fall into administration. Gulshan Bhatia and her son Asif have lost control of the Waldorf hotel in London’s West End and the Hyatt Regency in Birmingham. Choicezone, the Bhatia-controlled company that owns the Waldorf, was placed into administration after it defaulted on loans totalling more than £100m owed to its three banks, Barclays, Allied Irish and Credit Agricole. The Sunday Times Total sales up 10% for Top Track 100 companies Total sales among the companies featured on this year’s Sunday Times Deloitte Top Track 100 are up 10% to £175bn over the past year and profits increased by 7% to £17bn. The 100 companies, which employ one million people, have even succeeded in creating an additional 23,000 jobs between them. Alliance Boots took the top spot in the Top Track 100, followed by chemical manufacturer, the Ineous Group. Moto, the motorway services provider, was placed at number 56 in this year’s table, Bourne Leisure, the leisure group, stood at 62, and Welcome Break was 96th. The Sunday Times Von Essen hotel chain founder “exaggerated its assets” Administrators of the collapsed von Essen hotel chain have accused founder Andrew Davis of overestimating the assets of the company, even after it had gone into administration having buckled under nearly £300 million debt. Davis submitted a statement of affairs for the company at the start of this month in which he said von Essen could pay its debts in full and be left with a surplus of £22 million to pay off unsecured creditors. But the administrators in their report on the company said this was “unlikely”. It is understood that Davis and former group finance director Stephanie Gibbs might face action over the accounts, which are understood to have exaggerated earnings, profits and asset values. The auditors are also preparing a case against Grant Thornton, the company’s auditors which signed off the accounts. Meanwhile a valuation of the company’s properties, which include landmark hotels such as London’s Hotel Verta and the Royal Crescent, Bath, has found they are likely to be worth less than £200 million, leaving banks that lent von Essen £256 million with a shortfall. Mail on Sunday Johnson invests £20m in Gail’s Luke Johnson, through his Risk Capital Partners private equity firm, has invested about £20 million in Bread Ltd, the parent company of Gail’s Bakery, which supplies ‘artisan bread’ and cakes to retailers including Waitrose and Harvey Nichols through its subsidiary The Bread Factory. Johnson said he would also look to raise the number of Gail’s London-based retail bakeries and cafes from nine to 25 before a national rollout. “We’ve done it already with PizzaExpress and Patisserie Valerie,” he said. “Just as with real chocolate and proper coffee, as customers become more discerning about bread, so they will demand a better quality loaf.” Mail on Sunday High Streets face summer of woe Hundreds of shops are set to close this summer after a sudden rush of administrations and company restructurings put their future in jeopardy. Retail experts say the spate of closures will trigger a fundamental reshaping of the high street, with the danger that some town centres and small shopping malls could be left nearly empty. The Sunday Times Diabetes epidemic affecting 350m - western fast food blamed More than 350 million people in the world now have diabetes, an international study has revealed. The analysis, published online by the Lancet on Saturday, adds several tens of millions to the previous estimate of the number of diabetics and indicates that the disease has become a major global health problem. Diabetics have inadequate blood sugar control, a condition that can lead to heart disease and strokes, as well as damage to kidneys, nerves and the retina. About three million deaths a year are attributed to diabetes and associated conditions in which blood sugar levels are disrupted. The dramatic and disturbing increase is blamed by scientists on the spread of a western-style diet to developing nations, which is causing rising levels of obesity. Researchers also say that increased life expectancy is playing a major role. The Observer Innocent reports losses Sales jumped 20% last year for fruit smoothie maker Innocent, whose majority stakeholder is Coca-Cola, but losses double to £6m. Richard Reed, who started the company with two university friends, said the company had pent money on keeping prices steady despite the cost of fruit doubling over the past five years. The Sunday Times New wines from the old world boost retail sector Canny marketing is helping Majestic beat the supermarkets and putting France’s lesser-known wine regions on the map. The buyers under Steve Lewis, chief executive of Majestic Wine, scour the globe looking for new wines, but the tough economic climate means they are having to be even more creative these days. “We are trying to move the consumer to where we think the value is,” he says. “Fifteen years ago, producers weren’t thinking about who was going to drink their wine.” Producers in prestigious appellations such as Bordeaux have been less understanding of the squeeze on British wine racks, as soaring petrol and food prices eat away at household budgets, and have sought to nudge up prices at a time when the relative strength of the euro has increased costs in the UK anyway. So Majestic is on the lookout for progressive, commercially minded vintners in a market that spins faster than ever on the back of the UK’s booming foodie culture. The Observer The test-tube beefburger is on the way The first test-tube beefburger made of mince grown from stem cells is only a year away, scientists claim. They believe their creation could pave the way for humans being able to eat meat without animals being slaughtered. The Dutch scientists predict that over the next few decades the world’s population will increase so quickly that there will not be enough livestock to go round for people to eat. The scientists are currently developing a burger which will be grown from 10,000 stem cells extracted from cattle, which are then left in the lab to multiply more than a billion times to produce muscle tissue similar to beef. In future, they say it’s possible that the only meat available will have been grown in a lab so test-tube beef, chicken and lamb will be normality. Mark Post, professor of physiology at Maastricht University in Holland, who is behind the project, said: “We are trying to prove to the world we can make a product out of this. In vitro meat will be the only choice left. I don’t see any way you could rely on old-fashioned livestock in the coming decades. We need a courageous person who is willing to be the first to taste it. If no one comes forward then it might be me.” The Sunday Times Britvic to launch Turbo Tango Britvic is to launch its Tango orange drink in a new aerosol spray format under the name Turbo Tango next month. If it proves successful the company will introduce it across a number of its other flavours and brands next year. It took around 12 months to develop the spray bottle using technology from a Portuguese company. The Sunday Times