Business briefs: Obama | Hibu | Charles Stanley | PwC

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THE White House has attempted to calm the fevered speculation about President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the US Federal Reserve when current chairman Ben Bernanke’s term expires.

A senior official insisted yesterday that no decision has been made, and no announcement is expected to be made until the autumn.

Bernanke’s second term ends in January and leading candidates for the job include former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers and Janet Yellen, the Fed’s vice chair. Yellen would be the first woman to lead the central bank.

• A group of shareholders in Yellow Pages publisher Hibu yesterday threatened to take legal action against the firm’s directors, a day after a debt-for-equity swap was unveiled that will wipe out investors.

Investment banker Craig Beevers has launched a Hibu shareholders group. He said: “We have very grave concerns over the way the business has been run and will be asking the board to demonstrate that they have acted in our best interests.

“This situation is completely unacceptable and we give the board fair warning it now has a fight on its hands.”

• Stockbroker and asset manager Charles Stanley has reported a jump in first-quarter revenues and said it was more optimistic about its prospects than a year ago.

The firm said “increasingly confident” market conditions, which have seen the FTSE 100 recover in recent weeks, helped discretionary funds under management grow 1.4 per cent to £6.5 billion in the three months to 30 June. Revenues surged 31 per cent to £36.9 million. It added: “Our optimism for the remainder of the year is still a touch higher than it was this time last year.”

• Consumer goods group Unilever is ending its long-term relationship with auditor PwC in a bid to maintain “good governance”.

The “big four” accountant has checked Unilever’s books since 1987, but finance boss Jean-Marc Huët said the firm – which owns brands such as Dove shampoo and Magnum ice cream – would be seeking a new auditor when PwC’s term expires next year.

The move follows a report from the Competition Commission earlier this week, which said listed companies should put their audit contracts out for tender every five years.