USA claims right to kidnap British citizens – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

03 December 2007 by
USA claims right to kidnap British citizens – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

USA claims right to kidnap British citizens in Red Carnation case
The Sunday Times](, 2 December

Caviar stocks could run dry by Christmas
Caviar retailers are warning that sturgeon levels have dropped so low they might run out of stocks before Christmas. The price of Beluga caviar has risen by nearly 50% in the past month, from £340 to £495 for 50g, according to Caviar House & Prunier. Almas (the most expensive type of caviar) has become so rare there is a four-year waiting list for the fish eggs, which cost from £920 for 50g. Dwindling stocks of sturgeon and strict quotas in the Caspian Sea, where barely more than 100 Beluga sturgeon were legally caught last year, have led to the growth of farmed caviar. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) yesterday acted to combat illegal fishing of sturgeon by launching a database to track shipments of caviar around the world. - [The Telegraph](, 1 December

Fears of US recession hits Pret auction
The £450m auction for the high-street sandwich chain Pret A Manger is feared to be on the brink of collapse as concerns over a US recession has dampened interest from potential buyers. Lion Capital is believed be the latest private equity firms to drop out of the bidding process. There are fears that this could derail the sandwich chain's roll-out in North America and that Pret's millionaire founders Sinclair Beecham and Julian Metcalfe may not reinvest in the business. - [Sunday Telegraph](, 2 December

Good results anticipated from Greene King and Carluccios
Good financial cheer is anticipated from pub group Greene King and upmarket restaurant and deli chain Carluccio's on Tuesday. Analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort believe Greene King's takeover of the Loch Fyne restaurant chain in August, along with other acquisitions, will lift half-year revenue at the chain by 2% to £427m. However, poor weather and the business boost to 2006 figures from last year's football World Cup will flatten like-for-like growth. Carluccio's, which will be celebrating its second anniversary as a listed company next month, is expected to announce a 60% increase in full-year pre-tax profits to £5.3m. The group has already indicated that profits will beat forecasts thanks to an 8% growth in turnover for the year to 23 September. - Scotland on Sunday, 2 December

David Coffer plans £50m listing on AIM
Leisure entrepreneur David Coffer plans to create a new holding company, Coffer Group, for his advisory businesses ahead of a potential £50m listing on AIM next year. It will contain his companies, Davis Coffer Lyons and Coffer Corporate Leisure, whose clients have included Ask, Tootsies, Café Rouge, Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay. He is also in talks to set up a new specialist hotels and financial advisory operation. The plan is to boost revenues to around £20m over the next three years. - [The Sunday Times](, 2 December

Property spin-off could destroy M&B, warns investor
An institutional shareholder in managed pub operator Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is to warn the group that its plans to spin off its £5b property portfolio into a separately-listed real estate investment trust (REIT) could destroy the operating company by saddling it with a huge rent bill. The REIT scheme is strongly backed by Robert Tchenguiz, the property entrepreneur with a 19% stake in M&B. However, the unnamed shareholder believed the board was bowing to pressure from Tchenguiz and hedge funds seeking short-term profits from the deal. By selling off the property holdings, the company could saddle itself with a rent of around £280m, far higher than the interest costs it pays to support its ownership of property. Analysts estimate that for M&B, a 10% increase in costs could knock 25% off the bottom line. - [The Telegraph](, 1 December

S&N under pressure to talk to takeover rivals
Scottish & Newcastle faces pressure from shareholders to open talks with Carlsberg and Heineken, its Danish and Dutch rivals, who have bid £7b for the British brewer and pub operator. Shareholders fear that S&N risks a collapse in its stock price if the bidders walk away. Several investors - including Black Rock, Schroders and Scottish Widows - are understood to have offloaded significant holdings in the last week over fears that a takeover could fail to materialise. S&N has accused Carlsberg of using the bid to try to buy its half-share in their joint Russian venture, Baltic Beverages, on the cheap. S&N is seeking legal arbitration over the joint venture in a bid to force Carlsberg to sell its sake to S&N. Analysts believe Carlsberg needs to go hostile to get the deal done at the higher price of 780p, rather than 750p, which would cost an extra £290m. - [The Observer](, 2 December

Café culture booming in India
More than 10 international companies plan to tap into India's booming café culture, which is predicted to expand by more than 40% per annum. Existing players include Costa Coffee (which plans to ramp up its 32 outlets to 300 within five years), Italy's Lavazza, which bought out India's second largest chain, Barista, in March, and Café Ritazza, whose presence in Mumbai airport will be rolled out across Indian rail stations and airports. Firms planning to enter the market by the end of the year include Starbucks (whose application has been twice refused) and Gloria Jean's Coffees, while Caffé Nero is still seeking a franchise partner and Dubai's Landmark Group will choose a US partner by mid-December. Meanwhile, India's largest native chain, Café Coffee Day, is expanding rapidly with the opening of 20 new cafés a month. It intends to grow from 480 Indian venues to 750 by 2008 and 1,400 in five years, as well as launching a chain of 50 outlets across Eastern Europe. There is plenty of room for expansion as around 800 shopping malls will be built in the next six years needing cafés and the chains have reached only 40 cities in a country that will soon have more than 60 cities with populations in excess of one million. - Independent on Sunday, 2 December

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