The Business: Monday May 19 2014

Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday

ASTRA REJECTS ‘FINAL’ PFIZER OFFER

AstraZeneca has rejected a "final offer" takeover bid from US rival Pfizer, which valued the company at £69.3bn. The British drug giant said that Pfizer had failed to "make a compelling strategic business or value case", and that the offer of £55 a share falls short of its value as an independent company. It added that the Pfizer proposals would bring "uncertainty and risks" for AstraZeneca shareholders. AstraZeneca chairman Leif Johansson described the proposal as “inadequate”. 

LONDON TOPS ‘ECONOMIC CLOUT’ TABLE

London has overtaken New York and Beijing as the city with the most “economic clout”, according to a new study from PwC. The capital took top spot in PwC’s Cities of Opportunity index with a score of 55 points, moving up from last year’s third-place ranking, ahead of Singapore, New York, Toronto and San Francisco. “London’s reputation as an economic powerhouse is well-established,” said a PwC spokesman. 

CARNEY: HELP TO BUY ‘A THREAT’

The government’s help to buy scheme is a significant threat to the economic recovery, warns the Bank of England. Governor Mark Carney said the programme may be encouraging a return to risky home loans. “[Help to Buy is] a relatively small programme at this point but it could grow a lot and it could change attitudes in other parts of the mortgage market. That’s why we have to be vigilant,” Mr Carney said.

FACEBOOK TO TAKE ON SNAPCHAT

Facebook is to go head to head with rival Snapchat in the video-chat app market, reports the Financial Times. The social networking giant is bidding to win back users from the popular ephemeral messaging app. Facebook has been developing its own app for several months. With the internal title Slingshot, it will have a simple and speedy user interface, say sources. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg failed in a $3bn takeover bid late last year.

WILL BOOTS SELL TO US?

Boots may be snapped up by US giant Walgreens within months, says the Daily Mail. The high street institution, which is part of the Alliance Boots group, could change hands in a deal worth £10.5bn. Walgreens investors want to push through the deal to shave millions off firm’s the tax bill. Boots, which started life in Nottingham in 1849, began as a herbal medicine shop owned by John Boot. It now has nearly 2,500 UK stores.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… CLEGG ON ‘PARING BACK’ SCHEMES

“I think if he says that we need to pare back on some of the government schemes like Help to Buy, then I think we should do so.” Nick Clegg says the government could reform help to buy if Mark Carney requested it.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0730 GMT


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Dax: down -0.28 to 9629.10
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Nikkei: down -0.48 to 14028.70
Hang Seng: down -0.40 to 22622.18
US dollar: buys €0.72910 and £0.59430
Sterling: buys $1.68240 and €1.22680
Oil: $109.73 up +0.6