City News: AkzoNobel, View My Chain & Clinton Cards

City News: AkzoNobel, View My Chain & Clinton Cards

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Dulux paint owned by AkzoNobelGETTY

AkzoNobel will come under fire from Elliott for refusing to entertain takeover talks

Elliott and a growing number of Akzo investors are angry at the firm’s management for failing even to consider talks with its US rival, which had a second €24.6billion (£20.6billion) takeover bid knocked back last month.

It is understood that Elliott plans to take chief executive Tom Buechner and chairman Antony Burgmans to task at Akzo’s AGM in Amsterdam.

Additionally, Akzo has until tomorrow to decide if it will bow to Elliott’s demand that it holds an extraordinary general meeting where investors will vote on the removal of Burgmans. 

Elliott and five other shareholders, who together account for more than 10 per cent of the company, say that if Akzo refuses their request, they will take it to court.

Last week the Dutch paints giant set out its takeover defence, which would see it return £1.3billion to investors and demerge its speciality chemicals division.

Elliott has dismissed the plan as an attempt by management to keep their jobs. AkzoNobel employs some 3,300 in the UK, more than a third based in the North-east. It fears jobs will be lost if PPG is successful.

AkzoNobel talkGETTY

Akzo has already rebuffed one advance from its US rival PPG

Housing market technology group View My Chain is looking to make conveyancing and surveying quicker and more efficient to help speed up home sales, founder Sohail Rashid says.

The firm’s technology enables people to see where delays are forming in the sales process in England and Wales, and Rashid said that it is looking to apply it to both conveyancing and surveying.

View My Chain says that, on average, property moves take 94 days to complete and that, when a chain collapses, it costs home buyers an average of £2,899. 

Houses for saleGETTY

View My Chain thinks that it will be able to reduce the time it takes to sell a house to six weeks

He said: “What we have is not the finished product. We’ve taken out inefficiencies in chain management, but buying or selling a home still takes a lot of effort. There is scope for other stakeholders to get involved, like surveyors or conveyancing.”

View My Chain, used by more than 20 of the nation’s biggest estate agencies, tracks 60 different data points, including property listings, legal searches, land registry records and mortgage applications, to determine where delays are forming in housing chains.

It claims to be able to speed up transactions by 15 days, but Rashid believes it can eventually cut the time it takes to complete a house sale to an average of six to eight weeks.

Clinton Cards is looking to its own brand of plush toys and bath sets, as well as increasing its range of gifts, to offset a decline in footfall on the high street.

Marketing director Tim Fairs said that Clinton Cards hopes to boost the amount customers spend per visit and, as part of that, is set to launch a range of plush toys based on the characters from its Herbie & Friends range of cards, gifts and stationary.

The toys will feature Herbie the Bear and his friends Zu-Zu the Panda, Mr Crumpet the Dog, and Fuzzy Boots the Fox. The toys will form part of an expanded gift range, which will include more bath and body products, luxury chocolates and candles.

“We need to be realistic about what’s going on in the high street. Footfall is falling and we expect that to continue,” Fairs said.

“What we need to do is make sure that we grow the basket. There is a massive opportunity there. We need to offer a more compelling assortment to grow that basket.”

First Utility is to provide customers with access to plumbers, electricians, builders and other independent local tradesmen, after taking a stake in online booking platform Bizzby.

The challenger utilities group is launching First Utility Home Services, which its 900,000 customers will be able to access using a smartphone app or website.

The service will be powered by Bizzby, which has a web-based network of half a million tradesmen, and users of the First Utility app will be able to book them at convenient times and get competitive real time prices for the jobs they are required for.

First Direct managing director Ed Kamm said: “We see great potential in Bizzby’s technology and network. We’re making it incredibly simple for customers to book the services they need around their home with the knowledge that a trusted professional will turn up at the right price.

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