May 16: Tom Alexander, founder and chief executive of Virgin Mobile, is to leave after the group’s takeover by NTL. His place at the company began to seem in doubt in November, when he warned it would be harder for the company to keep its entrepreneurial spirit alive if it was taken over by a larger one. Too right: the marriage of Virgin Mobile’s marketing wizards with NTL’s crisis-worn infrastructure and financial experts should be something to watch.
The chief executive and finance director of Alpha Airports have resigned. Last month Alpha’s auditors, PwC, withdrew approval of Alpha’s preliminary results, announced in March. Trading in the shares was suspended and an investigation in the matter is taking place. Kevin Abbott is being replaced as chief executive by Peter Williams, a former chief executive of Selfridges, and Heather McRae is being replaced as finance director by Tim Redburn, former chief executive of Simon Group.
Compass Group’s shares are up after strong H1 results, news that it will buy back £500m of shares and a 3 per cent rise in the interim dividend. We have given a lot of space to this company’s problems over the last year but now the recovery is under way under new management and it will be just as interesting to chart that.
BAA has published a set of full-year figures which are some way short of what you would dream of if you were facing a hostile bid. It saw a 17 per cent decline in its statutory pre-tax profits, thanks in part to lower fair value gains on investment properties and one-off charges related to cost-cutting drives and dealing with takeover bids. The underlying business seems strong enough: operating profits are up 8 per cent.
Although not a UK company, we will run a package tonight on Macquarie. The Australian bank, which earlier this year abandoned its hostile bid for the London Stock Exchange, has reported a 13 per cent rise in annual profits to a record A$916m. The proportion of earnings generated outside its home market is growing and it is this that we will take a closer look at. In Europe, Macquarie is currently in talks with Eurotunnel and its creditors about helping to finance a restructuring deal. If you want to gape in wonder at all the sheer range of assets that Macquarie now owns around the world, go to crickey.com.au: it’s great stuff.
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