Sept. 27--The predictable outcry over City fees paid by the Government and Royal Mail to get this historic flotation away is misplaced. The sum of pounds sterling 50 million may be beyond the dreams of postmen, who will get shares worth pounds sterling 2000 each, but it does not represent a City bonanza.
Rather, this sale is a get-rich-slow scheme for banks including Goldman Sachs and Barclays, which are betting that a slick performance will augur well for repeat business. Not only are companies such as Madame Tussauds-owner Merlin limbering up for a public offering, but ministers will eventually turn to offloading stakes in the state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland and uranium processor Urenco.
The Royal Mail price _ regardless of union outrage _ looks a good one. But let's not talk about profit. Even if the Government pockets pounds sterling 2 billion from this share sale, that money will be eaten up in five years flat from the servicing of Royal Mail's giant pension liability, which has been conveniently hidden from view somewhere in the Treasury machine.
DEMAND FOR IT STAFF LIFTS RECRUITMENT FIRM: The City is in the midst of a hiring spree as banks beef up their IT teams to prevent another London Whale, the boss of recruitment firm Harvey Nash said today.
Revenues generated from financial services were up 10% on a year earlier in the first half of 2013, chief executive Albert Ellis said. "The real growth areas are risk mitigation and compliance to control risks. Just when you think a trading loss or fraud can't ever happen again, another one comes along. IT groups in banks are very focused on this at the moment," Ellis said. Candidates are commanding around Â£80,000 salaries on average, he added.
Harvey Nash also reported shortages of developers specialising in mobile devices and tablets, resulting in a swing from permanent to contract staff as rates shoot up in London and the South East. Despite a "weak" economic backdrop during the first half of 2013, UK and Ireland revenues at the firm rose 9% to Â£112.2 million and profits rose 4%.
Across the wider group, a stronger US economy helped push revenues 13% ahead, but pre-tax profits fell 4% to Â£4.2 million.
SHIRTS SHINE ONLINE: HAWES & CURTIS _ the luxury shirtmaker once sported by Edward VIII and the Hollywood actor Cary Grant _ says more and more of its customers are going online for their garments.
However, while sales growth from its website pushed annual turnover at the firm up 4%, according to accounts filed at Companies House, the cost of investing in the online operation contributed to a drop in profits.
The company _ which next week celebrates its 100th anniversary _ saw profits before exceptional items fall to Â£870,000 in 2012, down from Â£967,000, on turnover of Â£25.7 million.
Hawes & Curtis owner Touker Suleyman, who also owns fashion brands Ghost and Allegra Hicks, said it was "an exciting time to be in this business". He added: "We have spent a huge amount of money revamping our website and we are also opening more stores, announcing a franchise deal for 26 stores in the Middle East earlier this summer, with the first of those opening in Dubai this Christmas. We are investing in the future but that is always a costly exercise."
In the accounts, Hawes & Curtis said it expected improved profits this year.
-- Toby Green
RBS SET TO NAME WINNING BIDDER: Royal Bank of Scotland is on the brink of naming the successful bidder for the "Project Rainbow" network of 315 branches that it is being forced to sell. A consortium led by US private equity firm Corsair remains the frontrunner, with a decision expected as early as today. But a rival group, including Old Mutual, Schroders and Threadneedle, is also in the running.
UBM OFFLOADS PROPERTY WEEK: UBM, the FTSE 250 information and events group, took another step in its retreat from print as it sold Property Week to independent publisher Metropolis International. The Evening Standard revealed ten days ago that Acton-based Metropolis was the frontrunner. UBM has netted Â£8.5 million by offloading Property Week and its US information technology arm.
CANDY CRUSH SAGA MAKER FILES FOR IPO: THE Soho games studio behind smash hit Candy Crush Saga has secretly filed for a $5 billion stock market flotation in the US, according to reports. King, which makes games for Facebook, mobiles and browsers, has submitted documents for an IPO on the Nasdaq in what is expected to be the biggest float of a UK tech company in years.