Former EMI chief executive Jim Fifield – known as ”Lucky Jim” for his £12.5m ($24.4m) pay-off from EMI in 1998 – says he is considering making an offer for the music group. He says he had been working with Corvus, Andrew Regan’s vehicle, but now that has come to nothing he wants us all to know he’s still keen. We wrote recently that he had been working with members of the Qatari royal family. The market seems unimpressed – the shares are up just 1 per cent.
We should get something later out of the HSBC annual meeting. Our banking correspondent, Jane Croft, is there, at the Barbican, watching the new management team face shareholders for the first time since most of them took over their current posts. After the year they have had, it could be lively. The other AGM we’re watching, and have a reporter at, is Aegis’s, where Vincent Bolloré continues to battle for seats on the board.
Regent Inns warned that full-year profits would be below market expectations due to delays in turning round its Old Orleans business and the surprise hot spell in April. The news dragged down others in the sector.
Marston’s, on the other hand, reported a 1.5 per cent rise in first half pre-tax profit, slightly ahead of analysts’ forecasts, and said it would accelerate its share buy-back programme to £150m this year. I’ve no idea why one is doing better than the other but we’ll look into it.
Good news for once from Woolworths, which said it had won a contract to supply Asda with CDs, games and DVDs in a deal it says will add £200m to annual turnover. Only trouble is that this might eventually increase pressure for the group to separate its distribution and retail business (doing it now, with the retail business so weak, looks tricky). The shares are up nearly 3 per cent – a rare sight.
The RBS-led consortium bidding for ABN Amro says it will delay updating us all on its plan from Sunday to Tuesday. At least Sir Fred Goodwin, RBS chief executive and car-nut, should be able to watch the Monaco Grand Prix in peace, or at least more peace than if the announcement had been on race day.
As for those Cazenove defections I talked about yesterday, it sounds like it might be three not very senior salesmen, two of whom are off the country. We’ll leave it.
Finally: an interesting note today from Breakingviews on Hanson. They did the maths on the value created by the demerger 11 years ago now that three of the four parts have been taken over and only Imperial Tobacco remains independent.
“This breakup has delivered returns that virtually rival that of Hanson’s heyday. The total value of all the parts, including cash returned to shareholders and netting off what they’ve subscribed to in share issues, is £32bn,” they write. “In effect, Hanson has tripled in value over the period. Meanwhile, the internal rate of return on the breakup is 14 per cent. In absolute terms, that’s not as good as the returns in the 1983-1994 period. But it’s superior relative to the U.K. stock market, which has delivered only a 5.6 per cent total return in the past 11 years.”