PRESS DIGEST – British business – July 20

The Times

PIONEERING BID TO LINK PROFITS WITH PENSIONS TURNED DOWN

Sandwich-maker Uniq (UNUNI.L: ) lost almost a third of its
market value on Monday’s trading, after the Pensions Regulator
rejected the group’s “innovative” plans to link pension
contributions to profits. The company, which provides over half
of Marks & Spencer’s sandwiches, did not provide details on the
regulator’s reasoning but chief executive Geoff Eaton said he
was hopeful that a solution would be agreed at some point.
Uniq’s pension fund deficit currently stands at 436 million
pounds and a worst case scenario would see trustees winding up
the scheme.

MINER’S LOSSES DEEPEN

UK Coal (UKC.L: ) has said it expects losses to deepen in the
first-half, due to a slump in output. The coal miner, which was
also hit by the cost of refinancing the business, expects losses
in the first-half to reach 94 million pounds, compared with a
figure of 81 million pounds in the first six months of 2009.
With a mooted takeover by rival Hargreaves no longer an option,
shares fell more than ten percent to 33.75 pence.

TIDDLER TO WATCH: BEACON HILL RESOURCES

Shares in AIM-listed resource company Beacon Hill Resources
(BHRB.L: ) rose one penny to 7.875 pence after the firm offloaded
a 26 percent holding in its Mozambique-based coking coalmine.
Beacon sold the stake to Indian conglomerate Global Coke for 36
million pounds and will use the proceeds of the sale to develop
its Minas Moatize open mine. If development goes to plan, the
Minas Moatize facility will begin production in early 2012.

NEED TO KNOW: STHREE

Specialist recruiter SThree (STHR.L: ) reported a 35 percent
fall in adjusted pre-tax profit for the six months to May 30.
For the first half of the year profit before exceptional items
fell to 7.3 million pounds, from 11.2 million the previous year,
with the company citing a reduction in permanent placements. The
recruiter, which counts finance and oil & gas among its niche
areas, did say that it had made a strong start to the second
half, pointing to improvements in some of its markets.

NEED TO KNOW: MOBILE INTERACTIVE GROUP

Mobile Interactive Group, the privately owned UK integrated
mobile and digital communications business, has made an offer of
150 pence per share for rival WIN (WNN.L: ). WIN is now involved
in a three-way takeover battle. MIG’s offer beats an approach
made by Indian firm IMImobile, which had offered 141 pence per
share for WIN.

TEMPUS

Debenhams (DEB.L: ) (no compelling reason to chase)

International Power (IPR.L: ) (shareholders with no appetite
for risk might consider taking some profits)

Psion (PON.L: ) (hold on for now)

Tomkins (TOMK.L: ) (Canadian bidders might be doing Tomkins
investors a favour)

The Daily Telegraph

REUBEN BROTHERS UP STAKE IN ARENA

Reuben Brothers Limited has increased its stake in Arena
Leisure (ARE.L: ), the racetrack operator, to 29.55 percent. This
increase is just 0.45 percent below the level that would force
the property investors to make a formal offer for the company.
The purchases by the investment vehicle of Simon and David
Reuben have increased speculation that the brothers intend to
buy Arena and merge it with Northern Racing, the company they
already own.

TUI WANTS EARLY DELIVERY OF 787s

TUI Travel (TT.L: ), the holiday company, wants delivery of
Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft to be brought forward. The tour
operator will take delivery of its first aircraft in January
2012. By the summer of 2013 it will have four aircraft in
service. TUI’s chief executive Peter Long said he would like to
have six. TUI said the aircraft will give it an edge over its
rivals because it will attract families to the long-haul market.
Both TUI and Boeing said the 787 will reduce jet lag and is able
to fly non-stop to Hawaii and Vietnam.

QUESTOR

Dana Petroleum (DNX.L: ) (hold)

Group NBT (NBT.L: ) (buy)

The Independent

DEBENHAMS SIGNS REFINANCING DEAL

Department stores group Debenhams (DEB.L: ) has successfully
negotiated a 650 million pound credit facility ahead of
schedule, which will take over from its existing facility in
April 2011. Under the new debt refinancing package Debenhams,
which announced in April that it had reduced its net debt from
927 to 512 million pounds, will have a 250 million pound loan
and 400 million pound revolving credit facility running until
October 2013. Finance director Chris Woodhouse said the new
facility would place the retailer on a “strong footing for the
future” as the firm continues its “programme of net debt
reduction over the coming years”.

D1 OILS SEES OFF MYERSON CHALLENGE

Shareholders at biofuels firm D1 Oils (DOO.L: ) voted against
plans by activist investor Brian Myerson to stage a boardroom
coup by ousting four directors. The management team said
Myerson, who owns a 27.5 percent stake in D1 Oils and was
previously banned by the Takeover Panel from participating in
takeover deals for three years, had failed by a substantial
majority. D1 Oils said it would now return to focusing “energies
on the running of the business while we continue discussions
with potential offerors and conclude our strategic review”.

INVESTMENT COLUMN

Unilever (ULVR.L: )(buy)

UK Coal (UKC.L: ) (sell)

The Guardian

OCADO FLOTATION “80 PERCENT SUBSCRIBED”

Ocado, the British online grocer, has reportedly received
orders for 80 percent of its shares ahead of a planned
flotation. Management at the company will embark on a series of
back-to-back meetings with potential investors in order to seek
out interest for the remaining shares which are expected to be
priced at the lower end of the 200 pence to 275 pence price
range, valuing the company at around 800 million pounds. Finance
director Andrew Bracey has said that “several thousand” Ocado
customers had purchased shares, equalling around three percent
of the eligible base.

Investing Basics

Prepared for Reuters by Durrants

PRESS DIGEST – British business – July 20