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Update: Essential news – October 2008

Lloyds eats HBOS
The government has eschewed competition concerns over the £12.2bn takeover of
HBoS by Lloyds TSB brokered by Alistair Darling. The Treasury and the Financial
Services Authority blessed the merger mindful of avoiding a Northern Rock
encore, but the size of the resulting entity could pique the Office of Fair
Trading’s interest.

Gatwick checks out
BAA has put Gatwick Airport up for sale ahead of the Competition Commission’s
decision on which of its three London sites must go. Virgin Atlantic immediately
added its interest to an existing chorus of potential buyers, including
Australian bank Macquarie, German construction group Hochtief and Manchester
Airport Group.
LSE day off

Speculators missed opportunities to profit from a market rally on the Fannie
Mae/Freddie Mac bailout when trading was suspended on the London Stock Exchange.
A technical glitch forced the shut-down just before 9am the day after the
Federal Reserve announced the deal, and trading only resumed at 4pm.

Morgan Stanley next?
The markets abounded with rumours that Morgan Stanley could be the next
investment bank to go under despite a strong balance sheet. US bank Wachovia is
said to have expressed an interest in buying it, but neither party has spoken
out about the speculation.

The next Enron
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Tony Lomas, administrator of Lehman Brothers’ UK
business, said that the investment bank’s collapse could be “larger than Enron”.
PwC has around 80 staff working on assessing Lehman’s derivatives exposure.
Lomas added that the jobs of 5,000 Lehman UK staff are at risk, but that PwC had
secured a loan from private equity company CarVal to pay the salaries of those
who stayed.

Big Four two cold
Big Four accountancy firms KPMG and Ernst & Young have announced hiring
freezes at their UK businesses as a result of turmoil in the finance and b
anking industries. Ernst & Young said it would continuing to recruit
“technical people”, but freeze recruitment of all support roles. Deloitte and
PricewaterhouseCoopers said they had no plans to effect a freeze.

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