Thursday newspaper round-up: Ultra Electronics, Newport Wafer, Avast

by | Aug 19, 2021

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The annual pay of FTSE 100 chief executives fell during the pandemic but still equates to what a key worker would earn in a lifetime, according to a report that highlights the UK’s wage divide and the taxpayer support that has kept some companies afloat. The bosses of companies in the blue-chip share index were paid £2.69m on average in 2020, the High Pay Centre said, with vaccine-maker AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, taking top spot thanks to a £15.45m deal. – Guardian
The takeover of the British defence firm Ultra Electronics by a US private equity company will be investigated on national security grounds, after the business minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, told the competition regulator to examine the deal. Warning that foreign investment “must not threaten national security”, Kwarteng tabled an order in parliament preventing Ultra from disclosing “sensitive information” to Cobham, the defence firm behind the £2.6bn takeover bid. He said Ultra would be prevented from passing on details of the “goods or services it provides to HM Government or HM Armed Forces”, while the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) examined the deal. – Guardian

The Chinese owner of Britain’s biggest microchip factory has admitted for the first time that the deal could be unwound as a national security review ordered by Boris Johnson is due within days. Wingtech warned shareholders in a Chinese filing that “domestic and foreign industry policies” may jeopardise the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab, despite the sale to Wingtech-owned Nexperia being confirmed in recent days. – Telegraph

Avast faces an investor backlash against its £6.2 billion deal to sell itself to an American rival after the biggest independent shareholder in the cybersecurity company raised concerns about the takeover. Schroders, Britain’s largest asset manager, said that the terms of Avast’s sale to Arizona-based NortonLifeLock “materially undervalue” the London-listed group. Sue Noffke, Schroders’ head of UK equities, told The Times that the planned takeover risked a UK plc being “sold too cheaply”. – The Times

After the initial shock of coronavirus, it didn’t take long for Britons to start engaging in retail therapy to make their enforced stretches at home more comfortable. As people stocked up on cleaning supplies, office desks, chairs and pot plants, Dunelm, the homeware retailer, was propelled on to the list of “pandemic winners”. Surrounded by a rainbow assortment of bath towels in Dunelm’s shop in Enfield, north London, Nick Wilkinson, chief executive, wears the crown uneasily. He attempts to suggest that takeaway companies and PPE manufacturers had a better year than Dunelm, despite growing sales and profits and its share price lifting by 50 per cent in the past year. – The Times

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