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Another day, another high-profile Irish acquisition. A vehicle controlled by Treasury Holdings is buying Battersea Power station off Hong Kong-based Parkview International for £400m. This comes a day after Dublin’s Barry O’Callaghan’s Riverdeep announced a $5bn deal to buy Houghton Mifflin, a US eductional publisher.
The men behind Treasury are Richard Barrett and John Ronan, who once teamed up with Robert Bourne to bid for the Millennium Dome. Parkview’s Hwang family will keep an interest in the site through a stake they are taking in the bidding vehicle. And like everyone else who has looked at this impressive but troublesome site, Treasury plans a development of homes, shops and hotels. Well, let’s see.
Sterling has done as expected and hit a 14-year peak against the dollar, hitting $1.9588 - $2 looks in view.
BSkyB chief executive James Murdoch launched a withering attack on the British broadcasting industry and the BBC in particular, accusing it of megalomania in its ambitions to create a “British Google”. It’s strong stuff and, of course, he is dead right. He was speaking at an Ofcom conference. Separately, BSkyB has moved its advertising account out of WPP. It probably represents £75m of billings and may be the biggest UK account move this year. The business is going to WCRS, which is part-owned by Michael Spencer of Icap.
Things continue to look tough at B&Q, Kingfisher’s DIY chain, and the group said its plan to revamp the stores would hit profits. The shares, which have underperformed the sector this year, are off 3 per cent. Gerry Murphy, chief executive, said the fact that UK consumers were the “most heavily indebted in Europe by some way” was partly to blame. B&Q’s like-for-like sales, which have been falling for two years, fell 1.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to the end of October as price cuts and store refurbishments failed to do the trick. Analysts had thought underlying sales might be set to rise at last.
Rentokil Initial goes on the front foot again: it is buying Target Express, the UK parcels delivery group, for £210m, which some regard as a full price. Chief executive Doug Flynn is also selling the group’s electronic security business, reckoned to be worth about £550m.
It isn’t often that a 20 per cent decline in profits is good news. Yet today’s full-year figure from Britvic is no worse than the market’s diminished expectations – and the company says there were signs of improvement in the second half. This still doesn’t make fizzy drinks a growth market (Britvic’s brands include Tango, 7UP and Pepsi). But, after the disasters of its first year as a public company, one shouldn’t be too picky.
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