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September 21: The head of Prudential in Asia, Mark Norbom, is leaving, reports our insurance correspondent Andrea Felsted. You can read her scoop on FT.com. It is not yet clear exactly why he’s off. He seems to have been well-regarded. Has he had a better offer? Or has he fallen out with Mark Tucker, the group’s chief executive and a former head of Pru in Asia?
Today’s announced news is led by Wm Morrison’s return to profit in the first half. It has reported stronger than expected sales and seems – at long last – to be on the path to recovery. Today is also Marc Bolland’s first outing as chief executive. We’ll tell you more about him, and his strategy, in tomorrow’s paper.
Interesting trading statement from Daily Mail and General Trust. Circulation at London’s Evening Standard fell 7 per cent in the six months to the end of August as a result of competition from freesheets, including one from DMGT. Ad revenues at the group’s regional papers have continued to suffer from the trend to towards advertising online. And its exhibitions unit reported a disappointing 6 per cent increase in revenues over the same period as sales declined at its consumer shows. On the other hand, the Daily Mail is holding its ground well.
Elsewhere in the media sector, some small fortunes are being made from the £199m purchase of Incisive Media by Apax Partners. One of Incisive’s titles is Mortgage Solutions but, with the top four people standing to collect about £20m, they won’t be reading that one any more. The business publisher’s other must-read titles include Basel Alert and Inside Market Data.
There’s a bit of noise around BT today, with a piece in The Times saying it’s interested in buying the UK operations of Tiscali, the Italian internet group, and an interview with chief executive Ben Verwaayen in a Belgian paper in which he says he is looking for acquisitions. We’re checking out the Tiscali line but are unsure about it at the moment, and as for Verwaayen’s remarks, they’re very much in line with what the company has been saying, and doing, for the last couple of years.