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Business group: No case to extend public interest test

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has said it does not believe there is "any case" for extending the existing public interest test for takeovers as AstraZeneca prepares for a possible hostile takeover bid from US drug giant Pfizer.

Roger Barker, the IoD's director of corporate governance, said: "This is not to say that Government has no part to play in establishing a world-class environment for life sciences in the UK.

The Institute of Directors does not believe there is 'any case' for extending the existing public interest test for takeovers. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/Press Association Images

"But attempting to second-guess the industrial logic of takeover decisions is not one of Government's strengths, as was demonstrated throughout the 1970s at British Leyland and elsewhere.

"Over time, excessive Government intervention in the market would cost far more jobs than might be saved by efforts to politicise this particular deal."

IoD: Labour 'must not revert to old socialist ways'

The Institute of Directors (IoD) said Labour must "drop its practice of knee-jerk reversion to the old socialist nostrums" if the party wants to be taken seriously by business.

Director general Simon Walker said: "The 50p tax rate - actually 52p, because the last Labour government manipulated national insurance contributions - greatly damaged Britain's claim to being seen as a low-tax economy and actually drove down total tax receipts.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said Labour would restore the 50p tax rate for higher earners. Credit: Tim Goode/EMPICS Entertainment

"It was, and remains, an envy-driven political gesture designed solely to drive a wedge between voters."

He added, "It will significantly damage Labour's credibility with the business community."


Parental leave reforms 'increase burden on employers'

Alexander Ehmann, of the Institute of Directors, has said that reforms to parental leave "increase the burdens on the employer".

As an example, he said the fact that parents can change their preferences twice means that, in theory, they could take three separate blocks of leave instead of a single continuous one.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the changes were "all in favour of parents".

Business groups divided over parental leave rights

Changes to the leave rights of parents with newly-born children have been described as "burdens on struggling employers" by the Institute of Directors.

The proposed system is considerably more complex and unwieldy than the current laws and employers will - once again - have to absorb the cost of adapting and implementing this new system.

– Alexander Ehmann, IoD deputy director of policy

But the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chambers of Commerce all said they were pleased that the Government had listened to firms' concerns.

This response appears to offer pragmatic solutions, such as restricting the number of requests or changes to leave to a maximum of three, as this will limit potential disruption for smaller firms.

– John Wastnage, BCC employment adviser

Institute of Directors supports shell companies plan

The Institute of Directors has supported the Government's efforts to "shine a light" on shell companies.

Roger Barker, director of corporate governance and professional standards at the institute, said:

From a governance perspective, it is right that the true owners of companies should be transparent both to the company itself and the wider business community.

Using the corporate veil to obscure underlying ownership brings the corporate sector into disrepute and creates significant opportunities for wrongdoing or criminal activity.

IOD: GDP drop due to 'unwinding of the Olympic effect'

The chief economist at the Institute of Directors, Graeme Leach, said that the end of the Olympics obscured the fact that the economy is flat - not shrinking:

You can’t see the road ahead through the rear view mirror. The GDP fall was largely attributable to the unwinding of the Olympic effect and so the underlying story is that output is flat.

The critical factor is not what the GDP figures did in Q4 [fourth quarter of 2012] but what the broad money supply figures will do in Q1 [first quarter of 2013].

If the recent slight pick-up in money supply growth can be sustained, the UK economic outlook in 2013 will be better than people expect. So hold back on the doom and gloom.

– Graeme Leach, Institute of Directors Chief Economist


Business leaders more positive about economy

According to an Institute of Directors poll, the proportion of business leaders who expect 2013 to improve on the previous year exceeds those with a pessimistic outlook by more than a third - a direct reversal from the start of last year.

The numbers foreseeing a high risk of a triple dip recession has fallen from approximately one in three to one in six.

Views on the probability of a return to recession has fallen too.

Business leaders more optimistic about 2013 than 2012

There is a growing sense of economic optimism for the year ahead compared to 12 months ago, a poll of business directors has suggested.

A survey of 1,369 members of the Institute of Directors (IoD) found that business leaders are starting 2013 with a better outlook on the coming year than at the beginning of 2012.

2012 was a tough year, but business leaders expect 2013 to be much better. The risk of a return to recession and a triple dip has not gone away, but it is receding fast, and expectations of growth are rising.

George Osborne's approval ratings have suffered, but he retains business support overall. The deficit reduction programme in particular has overwhelming backing from UK directors - the Government absolutely must not waver from the course.

– Graeme Leach, Institute of Directors Chief Economist

Business 'needs more help' to beat recession

Month after month the country's businesses have been telling the Government it is not doing enough to lift our economy out of this double-dip recession created in Downing Street. But out-of-touch and ineffective ministers refuse to listen, which is why they are losing the confidence of business. The IoD is right to point out that 'low confidence leads to delayed decisions'. In order to have the confidence to invest, business needs far more certainty from Government, but what they have got on policy - from aviation to renewable energy - is indecision.

– Chuka Umunna, Shadow business secretary

Government 'committed' to strong, sustainable growth

The government says it has set out a comprehensive strategy which aims to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth. In a statement it said:

"Savings to business from cuts in regulation have outweighed the costs of new domestic regulation by more than £850m and reform of labour laws has already led to an increase in the qualification period for unfair dismissal and reform of employment tribunals.

The financial district of London Credit: Press Association
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