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August 14: There is a quite a lot of British corporate news around today. Perhaps because it is really October outside.
Aston Villa has agreed to be bought by Randy Lerner, the US billionaire who owns the Cleveland Browns American football team. He is paying £62.6m, or 547p a share. Lerner brings with him some very professional managers with backgrounds in sports promotion and management. My fellow UK companies editor Mick Kavanagh says the move will be welcomed by fans because Lerner might be able to inject some money and expertise into the club. Mick should know; he’s a long-suffering Villa fan.
Another fan, Damian, has been blogging. He writes: “Aston Villa are about to have a new owner and a new chapter in the history of Aston Villa is about to begin. We shouldn’t forget, however, that one is about to end and despite what many think Mr Ellis has done a great thing in getting Martin O’Neill in [as manager] and hopefully the right new owner.”
Michael Page, the recruitment firm, has turned in good first half figures for just about everywhere except Australia, where there seems to have been a problem. Management there is being changed and the stock is off 6 per cent.
Patientline’s group managing director, Colin Babb, is leaving “by mutual consent”. The chairman, former prisons inspector Derek Lewis, was ousted in April following shareholder unhappiness. Babb’s departure does not seem to be the result of shareholder action, however. More a matter of Lewis’s successor, Geoff White, wanting his own team.
Interserve, the support services company focusing on cleaning, catering and building maintenance, has suspended six senior employees after uncovering accounting irregularities. The group’s net assets have to come down by £25m and the shares have lost a quarter of their value. The company is not ruling out further restructuring charges.
Enterprise Inns is selling a bunch of pubs for £318m to Admiral Taverns and will return cash to shareholders.
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