Jim Armitage: Two in a Punch-up but MPs won't be in Heineken's corner

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JUST as the pubs get packed for Christmas, Punch Taverns gets not one, but two takeover bids.

On the surface, Heineken’s looks like it makes most sense. Not only does it have a fat eurodenominated bank account to pay big in sterling, but it has a chunky leased pubs group here already.

The Star & Bar group is a legacy of Heineken’s Scottish & Newcastle acquisition way back when.

But parliament is full of MPs who spend a lot of time listening to barmen complain about their lot.

The result: pubcos are regularly kicked around by Westminster’s boozier members, so a Star-Punch deal would inevitably be held up by competition concerns.

In which case, the offer from Alan McIntosh – former business partner of Hugh Osmond –  have better prospects of success.

One thing’s clear: investors have been worried about the impact on big pubcos of new rules which allow tenants to buy themselves out of the beer tie.

The fact that two willing suitors are willing cancel their Christmas parties and work on takeover bids for one of them suggests not everyone shares those concerns.

Climate efforts fails to hold water

In the week Donald Trump tapped up a climate change-denying Texan to run his Energy Department and hired the boss of Exxon as secretary of state, Mark Carney’s efforts on global warming were always going to look feeble.

The Bank of England Governor is calling for companies to put climate stress tests in their annual reports. The theory is, if investors see what will happen to a business if temperatures rise 2 degrees, they’ll buy or sell the shares accordingly.

The trouble with this approach is twofold. First, as Aviva’s Mark Wilson points out, there’s no compulsion. Companies can choose whether or not to include the climate change detail. If we’ve learned anything from years of rows over boardroom pay and other governance issues, it’s that voluntary codes generally don’t work.

More importantly, though, is that investors won’t really adjust their decisions according to climate events that may not happen for decades to come.

Fund managers are measured on short-term returns that move far quicker than the retreating ice flows. Customer behaviour, disruptive technology, competition, will always dictate first where investors put their cash.

Carney’s well-intentioned initiative will be swamped by the realities of aggressive, short-termist capitalism. 

Meanwhile, the flood of money into polluting industries will only be accelerated by a US government dominated by Big Oil.

Source Article from http://www.standard.co.uk/business/jim-armitage-two-in-a-punchup-but-mps-won-t-be-in-heineken-s-corner-a3420306.html

December 15, 2016 |
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