Eric Nicoli strikes again with another profit warning for EMI. This, and what it means for his future at the company, should give everyone something to talk about at the Brits tonight. The group, which has just ousted two top executives and announced a reorganisation, says pre-tax profits for the year ending in March will be significantly below expectations. It is blaming increasingly tough conditions in North America but the fact it didn’t see this coming a month ago when it announced its reorganisation casts doubt on the quality of its management systems. The shares are tanking and so, surely, is Nicoli’s EMI career.
LCH Clearnet said this morning it had agreed in principle to buy out its single largest shareholder, Euronext, in a move expected to pave the way for significant tariff reductions for customers. Customers of the clearing house, Europe’s largest, have long complained that Euronext – which has a 41.5 per cent stake in LCH Clearnet but a 24.9 per cent voting stake and holds four seats on its board – has a profit-maximizing structure that is incompatible with efforts to cut charges for customers. Lots more detail from Norma Cohen online, despite the fact that she is on holiday.
Torex Retail has a new chairman, Steve Marshall, a veteran of Railtrack, Thorn and Queen’s Moat. He is presumably an appointee of the banks, which, it emerged today, have agreed to extend £15m of short-term funding. Strange: no mention in the statement of what happens to Geoffrey Forster, who was made chairman of the board committee charged with the running the company when the SFO investigation began earlier last month.
Good numbers from Liberty International, owner of Covent Garden and lots of shopping centres. It reported a 71 per cent rise in pre-tax profits for the year to £903m and the value of its investment properties rose 13.5 per cent to almost £8.2bn.
Still no news from 888 Holdings on its endless talks about being bought by Ladbrokes. Today it revealed the extent of the impact of the US crackdown on internet gaming in its fourth quarter figures: it reported a fall in net gaming revenue of 39 per cent in the fourth quarter quarter to $47m.
Andrew Parker, our telecoms editor, finally made it to the 3GSM conference in Barcelona, having been delayed by Vodafone’s Hutchison Essar deal and has done a high-class interview with Peter Erskine of 02, which you can watch online. Lots of good stuff on his plans in broadband, M&A and his newfound optimism about 3G. Also, though, you should read Nic Fildes’s report in this morning’s Indie from the conference. It’s a fabulous piece about Naguib Sawiris, head of the Egypt-based telecoms company Orascom, telling it as it is and showing up Arun Sarin of Vodafone and Sanjiv Ahuja of Orange.
Smurfit Kappa has confirmed it plans to float, so we’ll take another look at that.
Rumour of the day: Wolseley shares were driven sharply higher on a report in CityAM that Cinven was looking to bid for it but these have been quashed by a denial from a “source familiar with the situation” quoted on Reuters. Otherwise, Neil Hume is hearing talk of a private equity bid for DSG International, owner of Dixons. The shares are up 2½ per cent.