Licensing reform has been shelved for at least two years in an embarrassing Government U-turn. There is not likely to be any mention of a licensing bill in this week's Queen's Speech. The brewing industry, which had expected the change to start next year, is furious.
Rank is looking to open its first London casino under the Hard Rock Cafe brand. Sources close to the company, which owns the Hard Rock chain, Grosvenor casinos and the Mecca bingo empire, confirmed it has taken an option on the former Fashion Cafe building, close to Leicester Square. The Fashion Café, fronted by supermodels including Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Elle MacPherson, went into receivership 11 months after its glitzy opening and the models never recovered their investment.
The battle to win the next contract to supply news to ITV exploded on Saturday (June 16) when it emerged that one bidder, a media group backed by BSkyB, is poised to undercut rival ITN's lowest possible tender. This raises fears that ITN, which had had the contract since commercial TV began more than 40 years ago, will lose its biggest earnings stream by far.
Diageo has opened talks with Texas Pacific, the private equity firm that is a major shareholder in Punch Group, about a £2.2bn sale of its troubled Burger King subsidiary. The move indicates that Diageo may give up plans for the Burger King flotation, which have been put on hold as a result of the BSE crisis and Burger King's own management problems.
Pubmaster hopes to land a knockout blow with a surprise increase in its hostile bid for Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries (W&DB) this week. It plans to raise its price to at least 500p a share, up from 480p, boosting the value from £453m to £472m. City sources said that the increase should immediately win the support of at least 30 per cent of W&DB's shareholders.
The Government's commitment to ban cigarette advertising has been dropped from the Queen's speech. Banning cigarette advertising from billboards, newspapers, magazines and tobacco sponsorship for sporting events was a central plank of Labour's election manifesto before it first took office in 1997.
Burns's birthday on January 25 is to become an international tourism event. Allan Wilson, the Scottish arts minister, is considering various ideas, which include extending licensing hours to allow round-the-clock drinking on the weekend closest to January 25. He believes the celebration could boost tourism to Scotland, particularly from North America where there are many Burns clubs. Few tourists visit Scotland just after Hogmanay. Wilson is expected to discuss his plans at the Robert Burns World Federation congress in Atlanta in July. He says he is keen to involve the private sector in backing events across Scotland (Scottish edition only).
Morgan Grenfell Private Equity, which owns Laurel Pub Company, has held discussions with Red Bull, the energy drink, to sell a 70 per cent stake in Arrows, the Formula One racing team, for about £70m. Red Bull has a 62 per cent stake in the Swiss Sauber team, which has fared even worse than Arrows. But after a disagreement over direction, Deitrich Materschitz, the founder of Red Bull, has made it clear that he wants out of Sauber by the end of the current season. He already has a relationship with Arrows through the sponsorship of Enrique Bernoldi, the Arrows driver who used to race for Sauber. Red Bull's name appears on the Arrows car driven by the Brazilian.
Most small firms are opposed to Government plans to introduce paid paternity leave, according to research carried out by the Forum of Private Business. It discovered that 54 per cent of owner-managers want the proposals dropped. The forum is also calling on the Government to simplify the procedure for reclaiming maternity payouts. It says the bureaucracy involved puts many small firms off and just 16 per cent reclaim the cash.
Belhaven Brewery is recommended as a share to buy because it is bucking the industry's trends for falling volumes and profit margins. ING Barings has raised its prediction for pre-tax profits to £8.8m with a recommendation the shares should be bought. An acquisition down south is now on the agenda to raise its profile with investors, but being small and in an unfashionable sector is holding it back and may explain why the shares are currently trading at a discount to the sector (Scottish edition only).
Belgo chairman Luke Johnson is putting together a bid for the Waterstone's bookstore chain which is valued at up to £250m. He is working with a management buy-in team and is understood to be raising funds to launch a bid for the chain, which is owned by HMV Media. He is known to be keen to make a major deal after being forced to pull out of the bidding for Whitbread's 3,000 pubs and bars.
Leisure entrepreneur Trevor Hemmings, who owns the Pub Estate Company, has bought 22 industrial estates and business parks in the Midlands in a £45m deal with Workspace Group.
De Vere Group, formerly Greenalls, is thought to have asked adviser Close Brothers to explore options for the company to improve value for shareholders, including a possible sale of Greens health clubs, which are worth up to £50m, and the sale and leaseback of some of its hotels. Analysts say likely buyers would be Whitbread's David Lloyd Leisure and Esporta. Fitness Holdings Worldwide has also appointed advisers to sell its health clubs in the UK and Europe. Esporta, Cannons and Holmes Place are possible bidders. Friendly Hotels is also understood to have been put up for sale.
Campaigners have accused police of going soft on drug abuse in clubs. Under a new policy, officers make late-night "milk runs" to collect drugs confiscated by bouncers. Dealers found by club staff will be arrested, but users found with a small amount of cannabis will be let off with a formal warning. But anti-drug campaigners claim some bouncers are doing their own dealing in the clubs.
Police are to probe a deadly trade in illegally slaughtered contaminated meat after the Food Standards Agency admitted it did not have enough investigators to stamp out the practice. Senior officers have been warned there is a "significant health risk to the public" from unfit meat which is being sold in markets throughout the country.
Bass has set its sights on upmarket American hotel chain Wyndham as a takeover target, City analysts still believe.
Mail on Sunday
Stephen Downing, who was freed on appeal after serving 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, has got his first job - as a commis chef in a bistro.
A showdown is looming this week between Whitbread and some of its big City investors who are angry over multimillion-pound payouts to directors. Shareholder watchdog Pensions Investment Research Consultants has advised its clients to vote against the re-election of Charles Gurassa as chairman of Whitbread's remuneration committee at the annual meeting on Tuesday. Standard Life Investments, which owns a two per cent stake, is also considering opposing the re-election of a number of directors. Investors are angry that Miles Templeman, the former Beer Company boss, was given a £300,000 ex-gratia bonus as well as a second £150,000 bonus for complete the sale to Interbrew. Stewart Miller, the former managing director of the Pub & Bar Company, received a £125,000 bonus. Shareholders are also angry at the decision this spring to give a handout to directors - equivalent to 18 months' pay and perks - when they leave.
Gladys Walker, 84, who is believed to be Britain's oldest female licensee, retired on Saturday (June 16) after 50 years at the Rydal in New Milton, Hampshire. She has pulled