City&FinanceBriefing 30 Tuesday, 11 August 2009 London Lite Inbrief Greggs in crisis as fair-weather friends desertThe great British summer is turning into a washout for high-street bakery and sandwich retailer Greggs. Chief executive Ken McMeikan today revealed that sales for the chain were flat over the past six weeks. When it rains for any length of time people just dont go out shopping, so they dont drop into our stores to pick up snacks and food, he said. however, its not all doom and gloom for Greggs, which saw sales grow by 4 per cent to 312m over the first half of the year. Thats pretty good given that we were broadly budgeting for flat like-for-like sales and how tough its been on the high street, said Mr McMeikan. Six million people a week eat a Greggs sand- wich, savoury or pastry and they are becoming more demanding. The group has already taken out all hydrogenated oils and fats from its products, boosted its no mayo range of sandwiches and will have got rid of all artifi- cial colourings by the end of the year. Pre-tax profits rose 7 per cent to 16.5m in the six months to June and the dividend went up 6.1 per cent to 5.2p, taking the group into its 25th year of continuous dividend growth. BY nick goodwaY Landmark amnesty for offshore tax evaders TAX EXPERTS expressed amazement at the dramatic scope of a landmark British attack on tax evaders in Liechtenstein today. The Government forced the tiny principality to open its books on offshore accounts and offered an amnesty to British citizens who have evaded tax there. Liechtenstein has agreed to provide the Inland Revenue with details of British accounts held in its banks. The move ends decades of secrecy in the principality, which has become a mecca for tax avoiders. In an unprecedented carrot- and-stick move, evaders are being offered the chance to pay reduced penalties and capped interest payments if they come clean. This is unbelievable. I never thought Id see these initiatives happen, said Andrew Watt, former Revenue investigator and now a managing director at accountants Alvarez & Marsal. Where previously those caught evading tax faced the full wrath of the British legal system, the Government is now offering a special rate of 40% to those who admit what they have been doing. The penalty on unpaid tax will be capped at 10%, while the recovery of earlier years unpaid tax will be restricted to a maximum of 10 years. But if evaders fail to take up the amnesty and get caught, they will face 100% penalties. Up to 5,000 British investors are thought to have an estimated 3 billion stashed away in secret Liechtenstein accounts. Bonuses change at banks FOUR out of ten fund managers have seen their bonus schemes changed after the outcry over City bonuses. Asset managers in banks or hedge funds are the most likely to have seen schemes amended, according to a survey for online recruiter eFinancial careers. It found 39% of fund managers have seen the introduction of bonuses based on longer periods of up to five years and the potential for bonuses to be clawed back if they underperform. Australia Dollars 1.8824 Canada Dollars 1.7190 Denmark Kroner 8.3058 Eurozone Euro 1.1208 Hong Kong Dollars 12.2500 Japan Yen 154.2300 New Zealand Dollars 2.3047 South Africa Rand 12.4500 Sweden Kronor 11.4400 Switzerland Francs 1.7164 UAE Dirham 5.7404 United States Dollars 1.5906 TourisT raTes UP 19.00 at 4741.20 fTse 100 dow jones nikkei -$ DOWN 32.12 at 9337.95 UP 61.20 at 10,585.46 DOWN 0.22 at $1.6460 >>for all the latest City share prices, call 0905 817 1694* or visit thisismoney.co.uk * Calls cost 75p/min from a BT landline & last approx 1 min per quote. not all stocks are available rio: no evidence our staff spied l Sam Walsh, head of Rio Tintos iron ore business, today said he was unaware of any evidence that justifies the detention of four employees in China on claims that they spied on Chinese steel mills in order to fix prices. It is only the third time the company has commented on the case since the men were detained five weeks ago. They have not been charged. Nutty about Greggs: But figures show a drop in customers interContinental plummets 38% l THERES little sign of an end to the strife in the global hotels market, the sectors biggest player said today. Profits and revenues slumped for InterContinental Hotels in the past six months and are likely to keep falling. Profit to June fell 38% to $179 million (108 million), while sales were off 25% to $726 million. The half-year dividend stays at 12.2 cents a share. investors lose in friends deal l aROUND 700,000 small investors in Friends Provident were today offered much less than half what the shares were worth at flotation eight years ago to sell their holding to insurance tycoon Clive Cowdery. His takeover vehicle Resolution is buying Friends for 1.86 billion. The 79.4p a share is a premium to the share price of late but the price was 225p at flotation. adeccosnapsup springfor107m lSWISS recruitment group adecco has bought Spring Group for 62p a share, valuing it at 107.3 million. adecco, the worlds largest recruitment firm, quitted its hostile bid for michael Page last year. Spring focuses on IT recruitment. adecco said: With this transaction, adecco will strengthen its position in the fragmented UK market.