This week’s stock market review
The battle for NatWest bank has entered a critical new phase. The three parties involved - NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland - have been trading accusations relentlessly with each other ahead of the 14 February deadline when NatWest shareholders have to choose between the two hostile bidders.
Bank of Scotland's latest offer is worth just over £24bn or about £14.50 per NatWest share. Royal Bank of Scotland has offered to pay £22bn for NatWest in the form of £3.05 per share in loan notes and about £1.20 per share special dividend with guaranteed features.
Many analysts think Royal Bank of Scotland needs to raise its offer but in the meantime, NatWest maintains its strong opposition to a takeover by either rival. NatWest last week said it considers the raiders' proposals risky and the offer, so far, woefully inadequate.
Tobacco firm sends out smoke signals over health concerns
British American Tobacco, the world's second largest tobacco manufacturer, is seeking a "partnership for change" dialogue with the Government and health pressure groups in order to respond to concern that smoking poses dangers to public health.
BAT has suggested raising the legal age for buying tobacco from 16 to 18. It also proposes sponsoring independent research into the effects of low tar cigarettes and how to combat tobacco smuggling into the country. And it supports the idea of ID cards so that underage children trying to buy tobacco can be identified.
Captains of industry are ready to ring the changes
A survey commissioned by BT Cellnet reveals that more than three-quarters of Britain's top company chiefs believe mobile phones will change the way businesses operate in future. The survey, carried out by Mori, reveals that most of the UK's senior business executives are well acquainted with technology.
Also, most of the 102-sample of directors drawn from the top 500 companies believe voice-activated keyboards could soon render present-day keyboards and mice obsolete. Interestingly, that could mean the end of employers' nightmare of being sued for Repetitive Strain Injury. But then again, perhaps not, because the voice-activated keyboards could cause the equivalent Vocal Strain Injury problems for employers instead.
HSE calls for shutdown of lay-offs plan at nuclear operator