June 28: Warner and EMI in a spin

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Warner Music’s bid for EMI is, I think, the first time in seven years that this “Pac Man” defence has occurred in the UK. The last time was when Marston turned on Wolverhampton & Dudley. That failed, as did Elf’s Pac Man move on TotalFina. And the most recent example, when Australian Gas and Light turned back on Alinta, ended in a truce. Pac Man bids, then, don’t have a great track record.

Having broken the news of Warner’s £2.5bn bid for EMI overnight, our team of reporters in New York and London are assessing the implications of EMI’s rejection and working out what happens next. We’ll give this some space tomorrow, although no prizes for guessing what the illustration will be. EMI shares are up almost 10 per cent. Lex is online, reflecting on some of the difficulties EMI and Warner face.

Barclays has revealed some news this afternoon of which it should be ashamed. Six years after paying £5bn for Woolwich, the former building society has still not been integrated. Under newly-recruited Deanna Oppenheimer, this will now begin. About 1m Woolwich customers have Barclays current accounts but cannot use Barclays branches. And, still, 10 per cent of the group’s branches are within 300m or less of each other. If you want to understand why there has been such a clear-out of UK senior management at Barclays in recent months, this may help. But John Varley, who is now group chief executive, should also be embarrassed: he was originally charged with overseeing the integration. Perhaps Barclays’ experience will give executives from other companies joining in the current M&A boom something to chat about at their closing dinners.

Ashtead’s chief executive, George Burnett, is leaving the plant-hire group, which back in November we predicted he would do.

I think we could do more today on the implications of WH Smith’s plan to split its pension scheme. I’d like to know more about how it works and what application it might have for other companies.

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