Quick view: Astra shareholder urges board back into Pfizer talks

Updated: May 22 2014, 01:57am hrs
AstraZenecas twelfth largest shareholder Schroders has joined a chorus of investor disapproval over its rejection of a takeover offer by Pfizer and urged it back into talks. In a statement on Tuesday, the British fund manager, which holds a 2% stake in AstraZeneca, said it would encourage the AstraZeneca management to recommence their engagement with Pfizer and subsequently their shareholders. Schroders was also critical of intransigence on both sides after AstraZeneca rejected on Monday a 55-per-share bid by Pfizer which said it was its final offer.

UK April inflation rises for first time in 10 months

British inflation rose in April for the first time in 10 months, but as the increase was partly due to a late Easter holiday, which pushed up transport costs, it was unlikely to alter interest rate expectations. Official data also showed that growth in house prices eased in March, potentially tempering concerns about a bubble brewing in the property market although some more up-to-date surveys have shown prices picking up again. The consumer price index rose more than expected to an annual rate of 1.8% in April, from 1.6% in March, which had been its lowest level in more than four years, the Office for National Statistics ONS said.

Putin yet to sign $400-bn gas deal on China visit

China and Russia failed to sign a $400-billion gas supply agreement on Tuesday, despite growing urgency for the Kremlin to seal a deal as it faces economic and political isolation in the West over the crisis in Ukraine. Negotiators from both countries have been unable to bridge differences on price, a spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin said in Shanghai, meaning that the contract was not signed on Tuesday as many in the industry had predicted.

China bans use of Windows 8 on government computers

China has banned government use of Windows 8, Microsofts latest operating system (OS), in a blow to the US technology company which has long been plagued by sales woes in the country. The Central Government Procurement Center issued the ban on installing Windows 8 on government computers as part of a notice on the use of energy-saving products, posted on its website last week. The official Xinhua news agency said the ban was to ensure computer security after Microsoft ended support for its Windows XP operating system, which was widely used in China.

M&S says website start-up will hit sales

Retailer Marks & Spencer said it could start returning excess cash to shareholders on a regular basis as a more efficient supply chain boosts profitability and in-store clothing sales pick up following three years of decline. But the companys shares fell as much as 3.8% after it warned that a new website would take four to six months to settle in, affecting the performance of its general merchandise business in the three months to the end of June. Nothings gone wrong, said chief financial officer Alan Stewart when asked about the website.

AirAsias first-quarter net profit sees 33% rise

Budget airline AirAsia said first-quarter profit rose by 33% due to improved passenger numbers, foreign exchange gains and deferred taxes. Net profit for the three months ended March 31 climbed to 139.7 million ringgit ($43.48 million), from 104.8 million ringgit for the same period last year. Most analysts covering AirAsia do not provide forecasts for quarterly earnings. The firm, run by entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, is Asias biggest budget airline by passenger numbers.

Britain may need to cool its red-hot property market

Prime minister David Cameron on Tuesday gave his strongest signal yet that Britain may need to cool its red-hot property market, saying he agreed with the Bank of England that the housing market was the biggest risk to financial stability. House prices are soaring in London and have risen by a tenth over the past year in Britain as the economic recovery and record-low interest rates tempt purchasers back into one of the worlds most expensive property markets. But Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned on Sunday that the housing market posed the biggest domestic risk to the financial stability of Britains $2.5-trillion economy.