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Wednesday newspaper round-up: Lloyds, Bid battle, House prices

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Lloyds Banking Group pushes the button on its £1.5bn+ float of TSB; bid battle for one of the City’s oldest fund managers thrown wide open; house prices rose by 0.7% in January…

Lloyds Banking Group has pushed the button on its £1.5bn+  float of TSB after rejecting an 11th-hour approach from a group of institutional investors. TSB’s management, led by Chief Executive Paul Pester, has begun meeting potential investors to ask them to back the pending flotation of the 631-branch business. The meetings, which began on Monday, are the first step in a pre-roadshow process which will culminate in the new challenger bank floating on the London Stock Exchange in May. – Daily Telegraph

The prospect of a bid battle for one of the City’s oldest fund managers was thrown wide open yesterday after F&C Asset Management’s second-largest shareholder said it was holding out for a better deal than the takeover agreed with a Canadian bank. Only hours after F&C had laid out the terms of a £708m recommended sale to Bank of Montreal, Standard Life Investments claimed that the price tag undervalued the 145-year-old business. – The Times

House prices rose by 0.7% in January as the market continued to gain momentum, fuelled by the return of first-time buyers, the UK’s largest building society said on Wednesday. The strong start to the year will dismay would-be buyers who may have been hoping the market would slow down after a busy autumn, and could strengthen calls for the Bank of England to take action to prevent a bubble. – The Guardian, the online electricals retailer, is aiming for a £1bn valuation when it floats on the London Stock Exchange later this year – more than treble the market capitalisation it was hoping to achieve just four months ago. The retailer, formerly known as Appliances Online, is now aiming to achieve a valuation of £1bn-£1.2bn, compared with the £300m estimated when it appointed banking advisers in September. – Financial Times

The floods that hit large parts of southern England over Christmas and the new year will cost insurers hundreds of millions of pounds, according to the first estimates from the industry. As large parts of South West and the South East brace themselves for more severe winds and heavy rain, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that its members were expecting a bill running to at least £426m from the bad weather. – The Times

The tax on commercial property in the UK could be scrapped after David Cameron paved the way for an overhaul of business rates and retailers called for “fundamental reform”. A £415m package of business rates cuts and infrastructure investment designed to boost high streets and local economies will be unveiled on Wednesday by Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary. – Daily Telegraph

Oil industry experts have called for tax incentives on exploration activity after the number of wells drilled in the North Sea dropped by more than a quarter last year. A report by accountancy firm Deloitte, published today, shows that operators chose to focus on development activity in 2013 at the expense of exploration. – Scotsman