Sunday newspaper round-up: SSE, Herd immunity, Virgin Galactic

by | Aug 8, 2021

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The world’s most powerful activist investor has secretly built a stake in energy giant SSE in a move that could lead to a £20billion takeover bid for the FTSE100-listed company. City sources said Elliott Management, which has been dubbed a ‘corporate raider’ for buying shares and forcing change at large companies, has recently bought a large shareholding in SSE which supplies around five million Britons with energy to their homes. – Financial Mail on Sunday
The UK is close to achieving herd immunity but is likely to “bounce over and below” the threshold throughout the winter, a government adviser has said. Mark Woolhouse, a professor of epidemiology at Edinburgh University who sits on Sage’s SPI-M sub group, said he was optimistic that the country was over the worst of the coronavirus pandemic but measures including mask wearing would need to continue for many months. – Sunday Times

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic airline is plotting a surprise listing on the London Stock Exchange as it battles to repair its finances. The potential flotation, reported by Sky News, would be the first time it has sold shares to the public and likely see majority owner Branson relinquish overall control. – Financial Mail on Sunday

Private equity giant Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) is pondering whether to raise its offer for Morrisons after an increased bid for the chain came in from a consortium led by buyout rival Fortress. […] CD&R is understood to have financing available for a higher bid. Its deliberations centre on whether it can still make adequate returns at a higher takeover price. The group, advised by former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, would be able to reap greater synergies than Fortress by expanding Morrisons convenience stores through the 900-plus petrol stations run by Motor Fuel Group, which is owned by CD&R. – Sunday Times

Odey Asset Management has dumped its stakes in Ryanair and British Airways owner IAG, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Fund manager James Hanbury sold his holding in IAG – International Consolidated Airlines – after shares rebounded by more than 8 per cent this year. […] The presentation seen by The Mail on Sunday also shows that Hanbury has been investing in Frasers Group over the past month. – Financial Mail on Sunday

The takeover of Morrisons has been backed by two influential shareholder advisers. Glass Lewis and its rival Institutional Shareholder Services, ISS, have circulated advice to major institutional investors recommending they vote in favour of the takeover by a group of foreign investors led by private equity firm Fortress. Updated recommendations from both advisers are expected to be delivered early next week following the increased offer from Fortress on Friday. – Financial Mail on Sunday

BT has picked the former chief executive of Royal Mail and ITV to be its new chairman, The Sunday Times can reveal, as the former state telecoms monopoly enters a critical period. Adam Crozier is expected to resign as chairman of the online fashion retailer Asos to focus on the role, although he is tipped to stay on as chairman of Whitbread, the owner of Premier Inn, and Kantar, the data analytics business spun out of advertising giant WPP. – Sunday Times

The US Senate voted on Saturday to advance to the next step of a $1tn infrastructure package, an important procedural stage towards passing the key legislation after months of negotiations between Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators. In a 67-27 vote demonstrating broad support, senators agreed to limit debate on the legislation, which represents the biggest investment in decades in America’s roads, bridges, airports and waterways. – Guardian

Halifax has fired the latest salvo in the price war between mortgage lenders with the launch of a two-year fixed-rate deal priced at 0.83%. The announcement of the ultra-low rate, which is available via mortgage brokers from Monday to those wishing to take out a loan worth up to 60% of the value of their home, comes amid a flurry of rate cutting by some of the UK’s biggest lenders. – Guardian

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