alan jope new unilever CEO

Unilever boss Alan Jope

Unilever has said it will not increase its £50bn offer for GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer health business, drawing a line under an ambitious plan that sparked a fierce backlash from investors (The Financial Times £).

Unilever has said that it will not raise its £50 billion offer for GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer business, essentially abandoning its pursuit of the deal after a backlash from shareholders (The Times £).

The Marmite maker said that it is committed to “strict financial discipline” and had seen nothing in financial details shared by GSK to change its view of the appropriate offer price (The Telegraph).

Data shared by GSK suggested the “fundamental value” of the business was no higher than £50bn, Unilever said after the stock market closed on Wednesday (The Guardian).

The business editorial in The Times (£) says Unilever CEO Alan Jope is up against the ropes.

The business editorial in The Guardian says there are big questions for Unilever board after GSK pursuit ends. “Delivering a minor heart attack to the share price, however temporarily, is not a good look.”

Unilever is being forced by a group of unhappy investors to put a resolution to all shareholders which would require it to publish more information on the healthiness of its food and drink products and set itself a target for improvement (The Times £).

Surging food bills helped drive inflation to its highest rate since the early 1990s, in a major blow for Boris Johnson as he battles to save his premiership (The Telegraph).

Britain’s cost of living crisis worsened in December after inflation jumped to 5.4% – its highest level in almost 30 years – driven by the higher cost of clothes, food and footwear (The Guardian).

Economists had expected the rate to edge up to 5.2% last month, with the spread of the Omicron variant supposed to tame consumer spending (The Times £).

Britons face a cost of living crisis until the end of next year, the Bank of England has warned, after inflation crashed through forecasts to its highest level in 30 years (The Telegraph).

The emergence of the Omicron variant of coronavirus put a break on improving trade at WH Smith’s outlets in airports and railway stations at the end of last year (The Mail).

WH Smith suffered a big pay revolt at its annual meeting yesterday when more than 60 per cent of the votes cast were against the remuneration policy (The Times £).

WH Smith has been hit by a massive shareholder rebellion, with more than half its investors failing to back payment of a £550,000 bonus to the retailer’s chief executive after it benefited from tens of millions of pounds in pandemic relief (The Guardian).

KPMG has been hit with another multimillion-pound fine from the accounting watchdog, which has concluded that the firm’s audits of Conviviality, the drinks group that collapsed in April 2018, were not up to scratch (The Times £).

KPMG has apologised after being fined £3million for botching Conviviality’s audits (The Mail).

The pub chain JD Wetherspoon has criticised the government’s “hypocrisy” for holding parties at 10 Downing Street while restrictions forced pub sales to crash (The Guardian).

Top brass at JD Wetherspoon have blasted the government over the ‘partygate’ debacle, and claimed that any attendees attending events in Boris Johnson’s garden should have instead been able to go to a pub (The Mail).

The boss of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain pointed to a “much stronger performance” in the second half of its financial year after confirming that it would dip into the red in the first half (The Times £).

An opinion column in The Guardian says that Morrisons’ cut in sick pay for unvaccinated workers is cruel. “It needs to rethink.”

French champagne sales rebounded last year to a record €5.5bn (£4.6bn) as demand soared despite the lingering impact of Covid restrictions that weighed on restaurants and bars, producers have said (The Guardian).

Luckin Coffee is exploring plans to relist its shares in the US, nearly two years after an accounting scandal in which the Chinese coffee chain fabricated more than $300m of sales, according to two people familiar with the matter (The Financial Times £).