Due diligence gives National Express consortium cold feet

After a five-week due diligence process, Spain's Cosmen family and CVC Capital Partners have walked away from a National Express takeover, sending the bus and coach operator's shares plunging.

Talks have also been ended by Stagecoach, which had been liaising with the consortium about purchasing National Express's UK bus and rail operations.

Sources have suggested due diligence presented "lots of little thi... Continue Reading

RBS launches credit help hotline for small businesses

It could be good news from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for cash-strapped small businesses this week.

The owner of Natwest, now 70 per cent controlled by the nation's taxpayers, is feeling pressure from the Treasury to hit lending targets and is thus pulling out the stops to attract more small business banking customers, we hear.

And the first step? A new hotline - staffed by senior bankers with experience of previo... Continue Reading

Does Thwaites hotel sale highlight renewed investor appetite?

Small business veterans keeping an eye on hotels for sale in the UK may like to take note of what pub owner Thwaites had to say about last month's sale of the Stafford Hotel in Mayfair.

Philip Johnston, head of hotels at Savills (who advised Thwaites on the multimillion-pound sale), said the deal with leisure firm Britannia Hospitality highlighted renewed... Continue Reading

Small businesses diversify to keep cash flowing

Small businesses in the UK are taking deliberate steps to diversify during the recession, with the owners of restaurants, pubs and firms in the leisure sector in particular admitting cash flow is their main concern at the moment.

That's one of the main findings to come from new research by business insurance advisers at Aviva. While three-quarters of pub, restaurant and leisure bosses surveyed by the group singled out money as t... Continue Reading

Will smaller cafes and coffee bars see off Starbuckisation?

We've been charting rock-bottom cafe prices and the recent rise in coffee bars for sale with interest here at Bizsale, and now we hear the sun could be setting on the "Starbuckisation" of London.

Various reasons are being singled out for the £47 million lost by the chain's UK cafes during the downturn, from soaring milk prices to sterling's coll... Continue Reading

Barclays business growth seminars for entrepreneurs

Around half of the UK's small businesses are poised to expand over the next year and Barclays is laying on a raft of free seminars to help them, backed by ACCA and support service Business Link.

With more than 600 events lined up under the Let's Talk banner, the financial services giant is targeting anyone thinking about starting a business, as well as existing owners of small firms.

"Small firms depend on bank... Continue Reading

EEDA helps arrange small business loans

Entrepreneurs and small business owners have been finding it tricky raising finance lately, that's no secret.

But the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) is putting its money where its mouth is and shelling out loans of up to £200,000 to give such individuals a foot up the business ladder.

Even if you've already been refused cash by your bank, you're still eligible – in fact, if that's the ca... Continue Reading

Surge in corporate insolvencies on the horizon?

Aspiring entrepreneurs take note: Britain faces a surge in corporate insolvencies as businesses' "time to pay" arrangements with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) begin to expire, the trade association for insolvency practitioners has claimed.

R3 says more than 200,000 companies signed up to the programme when it was introduced in last year's pre-Budget report, delaying payments totalling around £3.6 billion.

Gover... Continue Reading

Avoid common pitfalls when selling a business

Resolving any outstanding legal or environmental issues before selling a business will reassure interested parties they are making a sound investment, it has been suggested.

Associated Content's Richard Smith points out that potential buyers generally carry out background checks on businesses for sale, deeming their scepticism "only natural".

"Talk to your lawyer or other professional advisers to see what can be don... Continue Reading