Gordon Brown has found a way to get round Olympic VAT according to weekend papers. Plus, bids for John Laing and Crest, and question marks over wind turbines

Brown seeks a new team for Olympics

The Independent on Sunday’s sports gossip column, Inside Lines, reports that Gordon Brown is likely to announce he has found a way round VAT on construction costs on Olympic projects in his pre-budget statement later this month. The paper claims that Brown is also assessing who may get a firmer grip on the reigns of the Olympic projects if he becomes prime minister, suggesting he thinks the Jowell-Caborn partnership has run its course. Southampton MP John Denham is apparently high on the list.

London house prices soar as region stagnate

London’s house prices rose at an annualised rate of 11%, compared to just 4.5% in Wales and falling prices in the north-east and the east Midlands, according to the Financial Times. It suggests that the divergence of regional housing markets will make the Bank of England’s job harder.

Henderson increases bid for John Laing

The FT reports on Henderson’s 405p per share bid for John Laing as the battle for the PFI specialist intensifies. Its Lex column says Henderson’ bid is “unlikely to be a knock-out blow” and the newspaper says that Allianz is likely to return with another offer. The Guardian on Saturday (Henderson raises bid for Laing) reported that the bidding war for John Laing had intensified as fund manager Henderson’s private equity arm increased its offer to £1bn, raising its terms to 405p a share. Laing’s shares surged 11.25p to 419.25p as dealers speculated that rival German bidder Allianz will come back with its own higher offer.

Hunter offers £660m for Crest Nicholson

The offer for housebuilder Crest Nicholson by Bank of Scotland Corporate and Sir Tom Hunter’s West Coast Capital also comes under the FT’s gaze. The offer of 585p a share valued Crest Nicholson at £660m. The paper says the housebuilder is an attractive target because it has one of the countries largest land banks. However it quotes Simon Brown, an analyst at Evolution Securities saying any valuation of more than 600p a share.

Experts warn of energy shortfall

The Independent on Sunday reports that leading industry figures from the coal industry are to warn government that new nuclear reactors cannot be built in time to fill an anticipated huge shortfall in electricity generating capacity. The Coal Forum will warn that a new generation of clean coal plants are needed to address the predicted shortfall in a decade’s time.

$100 bn of investment funds set to engulf British utilities

Investment funds set up to buy utility companies have $100 bn (£53 bn) at their disposal, according to an Independent on Sunday investigation. Analysts predict that in five years’ time, infrastructure funds will have bought up most UK-listed electricity and water companies.

Ground zero chief plans rainforest in Blackpool

The Sunday Times said that architect Daniel Libeskind, who is behind the masterplan for the Ground Zero development in New York, is drawing up plans for a giant indoor rainforest in Blackpool (as reported in Building on 20 October). Other locations are being consideref including Liverpool.

Urban greens struggle with windy dream

The paper also reported that British householders have placed record orders this autumn for miniature wind turbines. Manufacturers have reported a rush of more than 15,000 orders in the past two months and last week sales of £1500 wind turbines at B&Q generated more cash than any other item at the store.

Mystery approach for £1.5bn Amec

The Sunday Telegraph reports that engineering giant Amec has been approached by a mystery private equity bidder within the past few days, highlighting frenzied takeover interest across the industry sector.

Crest opts to talk to bidder

The Sunday Telegraph also says that house builder Crest Nicholson is expected to enter talks with a bidding consortium led by HBOS this week, despite rejecting a £660m takeover offer from the group last Friday.

Flagship school beginning to do better

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Bexley Business Academy has had a troubled history since it opened three years ago as part of the government’s city academies plan but is now making good progress.

Trendy roof turbines are not as green as they look

Wind turbines are not as green as they look, The Observer warned on Sunday. An article in the paper reported that green campaigners said wind turbines do little to cut greenhouse gases, may annoy your neighbours, cause vibrations that may damage your home and only produce enough electricity to power a hairdryer.