Thursday's business news

Banking group Barclays to offer cash sweetener to ABN Amro; Sainsbury's eyes overseas expansion; Retailer Morrisons reports slowing sales; BT chairman makes final speech to shareholders.

Barclays Bank cash machine in Wooller that was paying out #20 notes instead of #10!!! money

Banking group Barclays today said it may offer a cash sweetener to ABN Amro shareholders as it seeks to fend off a rival bid for the Dutch bank.

Barclays’ agreed £45bn offer for ABN is an all-share deal but the bank said it was considering alternative offer structures ``including the introduction of a partial cash consideration element“.

The announcement comes after increased pressure from a Royal Bank of Scotland-led consortium, which this week upped the share of cash in its £48.2bn to 93%.

  

Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s may expand overseas if it is taken over by Qatar-backed investment fund Delta Two, it was reported today.

Sources told the Times newspaper that Delta could invest about £3bn, with international growth aided by the fund’s Qatari Royal Family influence in regions across the Middle East, South Korea and China.

They added that the group had no plans to sell any of the retailer’s lucrative property portfolio, which has an estimated value of £8.6bn.

Morrisons today became the latest supermarket retailer to report slowing sales growth in tougher trading conditions.

The company, which has suffered from recent wet weather and trading comparisons with last summer’s World Cup, said like-for-like sales excluding fuel grew by 3% in the 23 weeks to July 15 - down from the 4% reported in May.

Chairman Sir Ken Morrison said he was satisfied with the company’s overall performance but added: "Sales volumes are lower than we would like.”

The firm’s larger rivals, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, have both reported tougher trading in recent weeks as rising interest rates also put the sector under pressure amid increased competition for customers.

BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland used his final speech to shareholders to highlight the company’s "solid foundation" for future growth today.

His comments at the group’s annual general meeting in Gateshead came as Sir Christopher prepared to leave BT in September after six years at the helm.

Sir Christopher, who will hand over the non-executive position to current KPMG chairman Sir Michael Rake, has overseen BT’s transition from traditional fixed-line telephone services to a main provider of new wave technologies, including broadband and IT networking services.

The pound at noon was US$2.0490 compared to US$2.0532 at the previous close the euro at noon was £0.6744 compared to £0.6725 at the previous close.

For more on these and other stories see nebusiness in tomorrow's Journal.

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