Monday, 10 December 2007

Alfred McAlpine to be sold

Alfred McAlpine is to be sold to Britain’s second biggest construction company, Carillion, for £572 million to create one of Britain’s biggest support services and construction companies. It is understood that Carillion will pay 558p per share for London-based McAlpine.The offer was down from its previously agreed 585p a share proposal. News of the deal sent McAlpine shares up 27p to 518p, while Carillion shares were down 22.25p to 341.25p at 9.15am.

The purchase, which creates a company with annual sales of about £4.7 billion, will give Carillion direct access to raw materials used in construction and generate annual savings of £30 million. The deal will also boost Carillion’s position in other support services, adding McAlpine's strength in financial services and retail to its existing focus on education, health, defence, transport infrastructure, telecommunications and insurance.

Carillion said it had already received favourable responses from McAlpine directors and investors representing 17.9% of the issued shares in the company. In August, McAlpine announced plans to split into two listed companies, effectively demerging support services from its construction activities, which it planned to complete during the spring of next year.

McAlpine had previously rejected two approaches from Carillion, one in October priced at 570p per share and the other in August at 560p. It rebuffed both proposals because it said it believed they materially undervalued the company. (source: Timesonline)

Drawing up this year’s list for businessman of the year has provoked a furious debate among The Sunday Times business staff, and there were verbal fisticuffs over the omission of, for example, Emilio Botin, chairman of Banco Santander, the fast-growing Spanish bank. This has been the year when the gift of perfect timing has separated the great from the merely good. Our finalists have demonstrated the knack of putting themselves, and their organisations, in the right place at the right time.

Botin got the best of the biggest financial-services deal of all time, when a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland bought ABN Amro, the Dutch bank, for €71 billion (£51 billion). While Botin was a junior partner in the consortium, he managed to sell on ABN’s Italian assets for a tidy €2 billion profit.

Sergio Marchionne, leader of the remarkable turnaround at Fiat, was a contender, as was Katsuaki Watanabe, president of Toyota, which is on the brink of overtaking General M as the world’s No 1 carmaker.

John McAdam, chief executive of ICI, who was a finalist last year, only narrowly missed out again for doing a great job in selling the chemicals group to Dutch rival Akzo Nobel.

The Times now invite you to have your say. Please e-mail them at and let them know what you think. Your opinions will help the judges choose from an impressive field.

Lloyd Blankfein, GOLDMAN SACHS
The Goldman Sachs chief executive grew up in a tough Brooklyn neighbourhood and won a scholarship to study law at Harvard. When he joined the famed investment bank, he wondered how he would ever survive. But survive he did, and prospered, reinventing himself and becoming one of the key architects of the bank’s own reinvention.

Goldman has moved from a firm that made money by giving advice on deals, to doing deals itself. And it called the credit crunch better than rivals, paring back sub-prime exposure early in the year and hedging most of what remained.

Clive Cowdery, RESOLUTION
This year saw the battle of the “zombie” funds – pools of life-insurance funds that have stopped to write new business, but live on to service current policy-holders.

The big winner was Clive Cowdery, founder and chairman of Resolution, one of the first and largest of the zombie players, who will walk away with £151m after selling the group to rival Pearl.

Less than four years ago, Cowdery had the vision to set up Resolution with £500,000 of his own money. The firm pulled off a number of deals, then merged with Britannic and embarked on a frenzy of ever-bigger transactions, becoming a FTSE 100 company worth £5 billion.

This year he proved a pragmatic dealmaker. Having agreed a merger with Friends Provident, he flushed out Standard Life and then Pearl, netting another £200m for shareholders.

This will be the first Christmas in three years that Clara Furse, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, has not spent in the heat of a takeover battle.

She has made a name for herself in the City for saying no. Over the past two years, she has seen off approaches ranging from Australia’s Macquarie and Germany’s Deutsche Börse to America’s Nasdaq.

But that in itself does not make her a candidate. What does is her nimble-footedness in ensuring that despite the multiple takeover distractions, the LSE has enhanced its reputation as a global centre for equity fundraising.

With the acquisition of Italy’s Borsa Italiana, Furse has retaken the initiative and if she does want to pursue further tie-ups with other exchanges, it will now be of her own volition.

Chris Hohn, TCI
When Chris Hohn, who heads the TCI fund, blocked Deutsche Börse’s bid for the London Stock Exchange last year, he was dubbed a “locust” by the German establishment. But even his admirers were stunned by his target this year: ABN Amro, the pillar of the Dutch establishment.
In February, Hohn dropped a letter to ABN’s chairman dissecting the bank’s failings, lambasting its “terrible” shareholder return and demanding the bank break itself up or sell itself. While the Dutch establishment spluttered, the letter kick-started the biggest financial-services takeover battle of all time.

Steve Jobs, APPLE
The Apple boss won three years ago, and he is back in the running again, despite some opposition. “You can’t put Jobs in,” moaned one member of the business team. “The iPhone isn’t the iPod.”

There are a lot of customers who would beg to differ.

Jobs makes the final 10 because the iPhone, a device that incorporates a mobile phone, music player, web browser and personal organiser, represents the fifth major industry (personal computing, desktop publishing, film animation, and music retailing were the four before mobile phones) he has shaken up in a remarkable business career.

This fact is pointed out in this month’s Fortune magazine, which makes Jobs No 1 in its annual list of the most powerful business people in the world.

Finian O’Sullivan, BURREN ENERGY
Burren Energy began 12 years ago in O’Sullivan’s garage in Hampshire. Ten days ago it agreed a £1.7 billion takeover by Eni, the Italian oil group, with the possibility of a higher counter-offer from KNOC, South Korea’s national oil company still to come.

This rapid accumulation of wealth was based on O’Sulli-van’s willingness to go where others would not – resource-rich but uncomfortable places like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Turkmenistan.

John Paulson, PAULSON & CO
The sub-prime crisis brought financial hardship and woe to most major financial institutions, but success and a fabulous pay-day to hedge-fund managers like John Paulson, who runs Paulson & Co from offices in Madison Avenue, Manhattan.

Last year Paulson told investors he thought the American sub-prime mortgage market was going to crash, and raised $2 billion for two funds that would bet that way. By the end of September, the two funds were worth $8 billion.

It is estimated that his firm’s reward for such confidence will eventually be between $2 billion and $4 billion, making him the highest paid hedge-fund manager in history.

Ratan Tata, TATA
The head of one of India’s largest and oldest business empires had a breakthough year in his bid to go global. He paid $6.7 billion to win control of Corus, the Anglo-Dutch steel group that contains the rump of British Steel.

The deal made Tata Steel an international force, and demonstrated to the world that Ratan Tata was prepared to be aggressive in his move offshore.

Next on the radar are Jaguar and Land Rover, the British car marques, for which Tata Motor is the leading bidder.

The chief executive of British Airways has a lower profile than his predecessor, the charismatic Sir Rod Eddington, but has tackled the difficult issues that have dogged the airline for years.

The biggest of these was the company’s hefty pension deficit, which has (hopefully) been dealt with through a funding deal laboriously hammered out with trustees and unions.

Walsh has also confronted some of the company’s old-fash-ioned working practices in the run-up to a move next year to a new base at Heathrow.

BA now has a fair chance of meeting its long-held goal of a 10% profit margin, and Walsh is even looking at growth, with a big new aircraft order, expansion at London City airport anda plan to launch transatlantic services from the Continent.

Wendelin Wiedeking, PORSCHE
This year Wiedeking, Porsche’s maverick boss, will earn about €70m, making him probably the best-paid industrial executive in the world.

His remuneration has sparked political controversy in Germany, but you can’t deny he is being rewarded for success. Not only has Porsche brilliantly widened its niche sportscar market, with sales growing from 12,000 a year 15 years ago to 100,000 now, but it has increased earnings by taking a large hedge bet on the weakening dollar.

What’s more, as a result of a power play executed against the backdrop of manoeuvring between two of Germany’s most famous industrial families, the Porsches and the Piechs, Porsche is now poised to take majority ownership of Volkswagen, a much larger car company and possibly the only one with a realistic chance of challenging Toyota’s dominance.

2006 Lakshmi Mittal, chief executive of Arcelor Mittal
2005 Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google
2004 Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple
2003 Sir Ken Morrison, chairman of Wm Morrison
2002 Eliot Spitzer, New York attorney-general

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