January 26: Inquiry looms into Qinetiq privatisation

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January 26: The National Audit Office will announce this afternoon that it will investigate the privatisation of Qinetiq. The inquiry will be wide-ranging, examining the choice of a privatisation strategy, the management of the process, the price achieved and whether the deal is likely to meet its objectives. The move follows broad criticism from politicians of how much Carlyle and Qinetiq’s management will make from next month’s £1.3bn float (see our table in this morning’s paper). Chris Adams has written up his scoop on this for FT.com and you can also catch up on the latest twist in the political row over the Qinetiq float by reading Chris’s piece from this morning.

P&O has, as expected, received and recommended a 470p a share offer from PSA of Singapore. DP World, the Dubai group, which had offered 443p, says it is considering its position. Critically, PSA has agreed to take on any regulatory risk that may arise from the combination of its business with P&O’s, so it looks on the fact of it at least, as if the two offers are directly comparable on everything except price. P&O shares are up 8p at 515p.

There is more to do today on Deutsche Bank’s having to step down from being corporate broker to BOC, on account of its relationships with Linde, which is bidding for the group. It advises, finances and owns part of Linde, and Deutsche chief executive Joseph Ackermann is on Linde’s supervisory board.

Icap, the world’s largest interdealer broker, has confirmed it is in talks to buy EBS, an interbank foreign exchange and commodities platform. No price was given but Reuters says the business is worth just over $700m. Icap shares are up almost 7 per cent at 416½p.

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