Date: Thursday 12 Apr 2012
LONDON (ShareCast) - Aviva is believed to be considering the sale of its American operations in a deal that could raise more than £1bn. Andrew Moss, the chief executive, told a conference that the insurance group was open to offers. The business accounted for about 8% of Avivas £2.5bn operating profit last year but needs to set aside large amounts of capital due to its focus on selling fixed indexed annuities, which offer customers guaranteed returns. Aviva bought the majority of the division for £2bn in 2006. Its sale would come despite the US being named among 12 priority markets by Mr Moss this year, alongside Britain, France and China, The Times reports.
The IMF said yesterday that even a slightly faster than expected increase in life expectancy could impose a huge new financial burden on Western economies such as Britain. The time to act is now, it said. Governments and the financial sector have consistently underestimated how quickly average lifespans will rise, IMF researchers found. They believe it has been routinely understated by about three years, which could render public finances unsustainable, they warned. For Britain, the IMF calculated that on the not unreasonable assumption that the entire cost would fall on taxpayers, the countrys public debt would rise from 76% of gross domestic product to as much as 135%. In todays money, that additional cost would be about £750bn, The Telegraph reports.
The Mini factory in Oxford is facing its first strike in almost 30 years. Trade unions claimed on Wednesday that a pay offer to workers had "more strings than a puppet show" and BMW, the owner of Mini, was making a pay rise conditional on staff working 30 extra hours a year. The UK car industry was dogged by industrial action in the 1960s and 1970s, but its revival in the past decade has been typified by the Mini plant. The factory was owned by Rover during its last strike in 1984. However, BMW took over the site when it bought the British car maker and has used it as the manufacturing base for the revival of Mini in the 21st century. BMW confirmed on Wednesday that it enjoyed record sales in the first quarter of 2012, supported by its British brands Mini and Rolls-Royce, according to The Telegraph.
Gold will hit a record high above $2,000 an ounce early next year but this will signal the end of its more than decade-long price boom, a top industry player has predicted. The Eurozone crisis and the prospect of more U.S. stimulus measures will drive the value of the precious metal to fresh highs, according to Philip Klapwijk, chairman of metals consultancy GFMS. The price has struggled of late on softer demand for physical gold bars in key markets like India and China and a fall-off in investor interest, he acknowledged to Reuters. It is trading at $1,659.50 an ounce today - way below the all-time high of $1,920.20 hit in September last year. 'We are expecting still that we are going to see a push above $2,000 in 2013, but it may be that 2013 marks the high water mark for the market,' said Mr Klapwijk, according to The Daily Mail.
Argentina has claimed a bizarre victory in its bid to stop British companies exploring for oil off the Falkland Islands, proclaiming "satisfaction" that BP had written to say it had no plans to enter the region. The Argentine Embassy issued a press release hailing the development - despite BP's insistence it never had any plans to explore near the islands anyway. Argentina, which claims sovereignty over the islands, has said it plans legal action to stop exploration by companies such as Rockhopper, Falklands Oil and Gas Limited (FOGL) and Borders & Southern. In the past month it has sent legal declarations to financial institutions that have advised or written research on the companies, The Telegraph says.
It tempted you with the slogan Every Little Helps and Prunella Scales, Jane Horrocks et al polished the message even further, but now Tesco, under pressure as almost never before, is overhauling its advertising strategy. The group embarked on a review of its brand communications yesterday and said that its incumbent advertising agency would have to pitch for the account with rivals. The announcement comes less than a week before Philip Clarke, Tescos chief executive, will reveal his masterplan to get Britains biggest retailer back on track after a disastrous Christmas forced it to admit to the City that it would not hit full-year profit targets, writes The Times.