Charles Pretzlik: Sir Terry Leahy’s green fingers

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Tesco is making its first non-food acquisition by agreeing to buy Dobbies Garden Centres for £155m. Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy tried to portray this as a way of providing environmentally-friendly products but this about more than composting kits and water butts. This is about expanding away from food and into an area of non-food that is benefiting hugely from the ageing of the population. The price looks reasonably punchy and, as I said in a video piece earlier today, the market does not expect a counter-bid from Sir Tom Hunter, who has just over 10 per cent of Dobbies but also controls Wyevale Garden Centres and Blooms of Bressingham. Dobbies shares remain below the £15 offer price.

Also, Lloyds TSB finance director Helen Weir said on a conference call this morning that the bank had £1bn-£1.5bn of surplus capital in Scottish Widows which could be repatriated to the bank. The bank issued a good trading update today.

Hardly one to get the heart racing, especially at the Saturday morning breakfast table, but it’s chunky: Rexam is in talks to buy Owens Illinois’ plastics packaging division (for about $1.5bn).

Fear not, though. The markets, where the sell-off in bonds is gathering pace, are providing us with some action. And we’re working on some very nice scoops – one particularly amusing – and some lively features and interviews as well. Find out more tomorrow and have a good weekend.

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