Bank raiders tool up for St Valentines Day

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

Safety fears have prompted the Health and Safety Executive to call for a
temporary halt to the proposed redundancies plan announced by British Energy
pending full assessment of safety issues at its two nuclear power operations.
British Energy plans to combine some of the core areas of its subsidiaries
British Energy Generation and British Energy Generation (UK) in order to
deliver on its cost-cutting programme.

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