Listen to this article
Talk about bending over. Barclays has agreed to drop the eagle from its corporate logo if it succeeds in taking over ABN Amro because some people in The Netherlands are worried about its Nazi connotations. Sure, The Netherlands were occupied and the UK wasn’t, so the eagle may be more upsetting there. But, as the Nazis knew, the eagle – which Barclays has had for more than 200 years – is a symbol dating back at least as far as the Roman, Egyptian and Persian empires. John Varley must know this – he has a first in history. So, will Barclays staff (who will keep the eagle in the UK) object to ABN Amro’s shield, which is being retained, on the grounds that it stirs up unpleasant memories of the Anglo-Dutch wars of the 17th and 18th centuries? And will ABN’s sponsorship of yacht racing remind people of how the Dutch sailed up the Medway to burn the English fleet? Of course not.
This is not the only silly story we’re enjoying today. Whitbread is spending £13m to remove the word “Travel” from Premier Travel Inn (plus an additional capital expenditure of £9m for the rebranding).
Don’t worry, there is some serious news out there. Tesco seems to have hit the buffers in the UK, where growth rate has slowed dramatically. Like-for-like sales growth in the first quarter has slowed from 5.8 per cent to 4.7 per cent. The shares are off more than 3 per cent.
Also, KKR and the Alliance Boots pensions trustees have reached an agreement on the funding of the pension scheme.
Cadbury Schweppes has unveiled details of its cost-cutting plans, as we first flagged up in our pages a few weeks ago. Andrew Wood, Bernstein’s award-winning analyst, is impressed with the trading udpate but there is plenty in there to be gloomy about. You can watch Maggie Urry explain it all on our FT.com video.
Rumours of the day: Vague – very vague in fact – rumours of a bid for Carluccio’s (where Richard Caring has a holding) and of stake-building by Baugur in Sports Direct. Slightly stronger rumours running on FT Alphaville this morning that Manitowoc is set to return with a fresh offer for Enodis.