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US hedge fund builds up stake in Smiths

ValueAct’s stake could lead to a break-up of the business, whose products include medical equipment, electronic components and security scanners

ValueAct, a US hedge fund that agitates for change at companies, has emerged as a shareholder in British engineer Smiths Group, days after revealing it was the biggest investor in Rolls-Royce.

The San Francisco-based activist investor is believed to own between 3% and 5% of Smiths. ValueAct informed Smiths in the past six months that it had bought a stake following prolonged talks with company executives.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Greek bank shares slump again but creditor talks make progress – as it happened

5.37pm BST

The European Commission has said it believes a deal on a third Greek bailout in time for 20 August, when the country has to pay €3.2bn to the European Central Bank, is possible.

Reuters has received a statement from EC spokeswoman Mina Andreeva in response to earlier comments from Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos that the talks could be concluded this week.

The European Commission is encouraged by the progress made so far. We are moving in the right direction and intense work is continuing.

The constructive collaboration with the Greek authorities should allow the negotiations on a new three-year programme to progress rapidly.

5.30pm BST

A day after the Athens market recorded a 16.2% collapse, the first day it had opened for five weeks, it fell back again but only by 1.22% as some signs of normality returned.

Returned everywhere, that is, except to the Greek banking sector, which saw leading banks lose around 30% for the second day running on the prospect of the banks being recapitalised after savers withdrew their cash in waves this year before the introduction of capital controls.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

FTSE ends flat and Coca-Cola Hellenic loses its fizz

Bottling group hit by sell notes as analysts warn of difficult markets

Leading shares ended marginally lower amid another decline in the Greek stock market – with banks losing another 30% – and despite a recovery in commodity prices.

One of the biggest losers was Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling, which has been under pressure in recent months due to its exposure to the trouble Greek and Russian markets.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

After the Greek crisis, it's time for a new deal on debt

There would have been risks in restructuring Europe’s debt, but running those risks would have been well worth it

The International Monetary Fund’s acknowledgement that Greece’s debt is unsustainable could prove to be a watershed moment for the global financial system. Clearly, heterodox policies to deal with high debt burdens need to be taken more seriously, even in some advanced countries.

Ever since the onset of the Greek crisis, there have been basically three schools of thought. First, there is the view of the troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF), which holds that the eurozone’s debt-distressed periphery (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain) requires strong policy discipline to prevent a short-term liquidity crisis from morphing into a long-term insolvency problem.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Business must collaborate – without it the world is brutal and terrifying

Companies should simultaneously compete and work together, says Jonathan Rowson, but there is a moral case for loading the dice to support greater collaboration

I was recently introduced to Pandemic. Unlike zero-sum competition games such as chess, Pandemic is a cooperative board game that helps focus the mind on winning in the context of sustainability. The threat in Pandemic is the end of the world and, although the focus is public health rather than ecological collapse, the same principles apply.

In Pandemic, players have to cooperate to keep four virulent diseases under control and can only win or lose as a team that actively collaborates. In its emphasis on coordinating diverse forms of expertise (dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher or operations expert) to address complex challenges, the game shares some overlaps with my view that climate change should be understood as problem with seven dimensions – science, law, technology, money, democracy, culture and behaviour.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Shire pharmaceutical makes $30bn move for Baxalta

Potential merger could create global leader in treating rare-disease treatments with annual sales worth $20bn

London-listed drug company Shire has made a $30bn (£19.2bn) unsolicited takeover offer for the rare-disease specialist Baxalta.

Shire announced it was ready to pay $45.23 (£28.96) per Baxalta share, a 36% premium on Baxalta’s stock price on Monday. Merging the two companies would create “the global leader in [treating] rare diseases” with combined sales of $20bn by 2020, Shire said.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

RBS sell-off: George Osborne defends £1bn loss

Hedge funds snap up 60% of first tranche of shares as critics brand UK government’s share sale as ‘short-changing the taxpayer’

George Osborne has tried to justify a £1bn loss on the first sale of shares in Royal Bank of Scotland in the face of criticism from politicians and City analysts by saying it was the right thing to do for the British taxpayer.

The chancellor sanctioned the first sale of the stake in RBS, announced on Monday night, to cut the taxpayer shareholding from 79% to just below 73%. Slightly more shares than expected were sold after the stock market closed on Monday, crystallising a loss for the taxpayer after £45bn was ploughed into the bank to rescue it amid the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Brewer Adnams keeps up with craft boom with more beers

Suffolk company is producing a greater variety of beers to appeal to younger drinkers

Adnams, the 143-year-old Suffolk brewer, is being forced to respond to the growing challenge of craft ales and independent brewers as the beer market becomes increasingly fickle.

The company said sales of its biggest selling beer, Southwold bitter, fell during the first half of this year as drinkers tried more exotic brews.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Should business leaders speak out more on climate change?

Join our live debate on Wednesday 5 August, 1-2.30pm BST to discuss the role of business in vocalising the environmental agenda

12.22pm BST

When Richard Branson speaks out on tackling climate change does it help?

With a growing number of CEOs publicly committing their companies to taking action on climate change, what difference can their pronouncements make? Can they persuade others to follow suit, or encourage governments to legislate?

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Foxtons falls on worries about outlook and online competitors

Analysts expect only patchy recovery from pre-election slowdown

Foxtons is among the day’s biggest FTSE 250 fallers so far, on concerns that a post-general election bounce may not turn out to be that strong for the London-focused estate agency.

Analysts at Barclays issued an underweight rating on Foxtons, albeit edging up their price target from 179.2p to 179.9p. They said:

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS