April 28: Isoft shares collapsed again on rumours of a profit warning which were later confirmed. The stock, which benefited at the start of the week from speculation that Misys might bid for it, touched an all-time low of less than 122p (a drop of 13 per cent) and was still falling as the day’s close approached. The stock was already off more than 10 per cent by the time company, which has struggled with its contract to provide software for the NHS, issued what is its second profit warning of the year. It now expects pre-tax profits to be about a third lower than the market was expecting.
Mitchells & Butlers, the pubs group being stalked by Robert Tchenguiz, has today articulated the dilemma facing boards around the country: to return cash to shareholders or spend it on acquisitions. M&B’s chief executive Tim Clarke says he is considering returning at least £500m to investors but is also considering buying the 250 pub restaurants put up for sale this week by Whitbread.
We’re spending much of today working up good interviews, analysis pieces and news stories to carry us over the long weekend. However, other stuff around that needs chasing for tonight’s paper includes the latest Standard Chartered takeover rumour. The bank’s shares are up 5 per cent on talk that Temasek, which recently bought the Khoo family’s 13 per cent shareholding, might make a full bid for the bank. The story might be right, and of course we’ll check it, but the rumours are very vague and most of the noises from Temasek’s camp since it bought the Khoo stake have suggested they were in no hurry to by the rest.
Trinity Mirror has at last found a chairman to succeed Sir Victor Blank, who is off to Lloyd’s TSB: it will be Sir Ian Gibson, chairman of BPB until the plasterboard business was bought by Saint-Gobain of France earlier this year. People who turned the Trinity job down are thought to have included Sir Julian Horn-Smith, former deputy chief executive of Vodafone, David Arculus, former chairman of 02, and Sir John Parker, chairman of P&O when it was taken over this year.
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