February 24: The Civil Aviation Authority has thrown some obstacles in the path of Ferrovial’s attempt to bid for BAA, owner of Heathrow and Gatwick. It has indicated it would take a dim view of any bid that was financed with large amounts of debt. It said it was not prepared to raise its caps on airport charges, which would help a bidder fund its debt costs, and any owner of BAA should commit itself to significant upgrades of Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick. The timing of the CAA’s pronouncement so early in the process is curious: Ferrovial has done no more than indicate a desire to make a cash bid. It’s hard not to wonder whether it was politically prompted.
J Sainsbury is selling £2bn-worth of bonds secured on its supermarkets to fund pension contributions, buy back existing debt and cut interest payments. Helpfully, the group has just revalued half of its store portfolio and, guess what, it is worth £1.5bn more than it thought. The group is also asking members of its defined benefit pension scheme to contribute more or accept lower benefits.
Lonmin shares are off almost 8 per cent after the mining group said it was no longer in any talks about a possible bid. A week ago it emerged that it had been approached by Gold Fields.
DP World has agreed to delay taking management control of the P&O’s US ports as it tries to overcome political opposition in the US to an state-controlled Arab organisation owning these assets. This, however, does not affect the bid in any way.
There was what looks like a good story in the Telegraph this morning about Somerfield considering selling Kwik Save, which has been a dog for about as long as anyone can remember. And make sure you read Jane Martinson’s interview with Chris Hyman, the chief executive of Serco, in today’s Guardian. It’s brilliant.
Also, if you’re in the car tomorrow afternoon or have nothing better to do, try out Evan Davies’s new business programme on Radio 4, The Bottom Line.
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