PRESS DIGEST – British business – May 1

The Times

GRANT ADDS IRISH WHISKEY TO ITS SCOTCH DRINKS LIST

William Grant & Sons, the Scottish distiller, has agreed to
buy C&C Group, the makers of Magners Irish cider, for 300
million euros. The deal includes Tullamore Dew, a whiskey sold
in 80 markets, and three liqueurs — Carolans, Frangelico and
Irish Mist. Grant reported underlying earnings of 16.1 million
euros in the year to February 2009 from revenues of 85.9 million
euros. The forecast for the last 12-month period is a reduction
to 15.3 million euros. Grant’s chief executive Stella David said
Tullamore Dew currently sells 600,000 cases a year and has the
potential to become one the group’s core brands.

NEED TO KNOW: PRAESEPE

Praesepe (PRAP.L: ), the operator of amusement arcades and
adult gaming centres, said trading continued to be “relatively
resilient”. The Aim-listed operator said it believed a review of
category B3 gaming machines by the government could pave the way
for an increase in higher stakes and revenues.

NEED TO KNOW: VIRGIN MEDIA

The chief executive of communications company Virgin Media
[VMEDL.UL], Neil Berkett, has received a 100,000 pounds pay rise
for expanding his executive duties. From the beginning of April
his salary increased to 650,000 pounds.

The Daily Telegraph

BP “FACES THREE BILLION DOLLAR BILL” AS CLEAN-UP OF U.S. OIL
SPILL.

The City has warned BP (BP.L: ) that the cost of the Gulf of
Mexico oil spill will massively exceed early estimates. Sources
say that the total cost for paying for the clean-up could be as
much as three billion dollars, despite early estimates that the
bill would reach around 200 million dollars. Tony Hayward, BP
chief executive, said: “We are taking full responsibility for
the spill and we will clean it up, and where people can present
legitimate claims for damages we will honour them.” Morgan
Stanley has estimated total costs could be close to 3.5 billion
dollars, while Fitch said the total cost may be between two
billion and three billion dollars.

HANDS TO ASK EMI INVESTORS FOR LESS CASH

Terra Firma, the private equity group run by Guy Hands, will
reduce the amount of money it is seeking from investors to plug
the funding gap in its debt-laden music group EMI. The group
will ask for at least 105 million pounds upfront and will defer
a further 255 million pounds cash call until the end of the year
as it seeks to prevent Citigroup, which bankrolled all of EMI’s
3.2 billion pound debt, from trying to take control of the
company for breach of its loan agreement. Original plans wanted
investors to inject around 360 million pounds. However, early
feedback meant that those plans needed to be overhauled.

RAT-CATCHING BOOST TO RENTOKIL PROFITS

Business services group Rentokil (RTO.L: ) enjoyed a rise in
profits in the first three months of the year thanks largely to
its pest control arm, which saw sales increase by two percent to
102.5 million pounds. Pre-tax profits rose from three million
pounds to 16 million pounds, although non-payment from Libya of
a four million pound bill resulted in sales declining by 4.3
percent to 607.3 million pounds, and parcel-delivery arm City
Link also made a loss of 4.4 million pounds. Rentokil chief
executive Alan Brown said that his five-year turnaround plan
implemented in 2008 was “still on track”.

WHAT THE BROKERS SAY

Tesco (TSCO.L: ) (buy)

Associated British Foods (ABF.L: ) (buy)

Persimmon (PSN.L: ) (buy)

The Independent

RBS CHAIRMAN SAYS BANKER PAY IS “ASTONISHINGLY HIGH”

Sir Philip Hampton, Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS.L: )
chairman, told the BBC’s Today Programme on Friday morning that
bankers’ pay was “astonishingly high”. Hampton’s admission was
followed hours later by a leaked PricewaterhouseCoopers report
which warned that implementing banking regulations could result
in Britain’s economy heading towards a “double dip”. Hampton
justified bankers’ remuneration by saying: “If we don’t pay our
top people, they leave very quickly. (They) are very much in
demand and we have seen a significant loss of our top people.”
The Liberal Democrats’ treasury spokesman Vince Cable blasted
the leaked report as “scaremongering”.

INDIA’S ESSAR ENERGY RAISES 1.3 BILLION POUNDS AND JOINS
FTSE 100

Essar Energy, the oil and gas subsidiary of India’s Essar
Group, became the London stock market’s biggest initial public
offering since December 2007 on Friday, as investor interest
catapulted it into the FTSE 100. The company fully covered its
target price, generating 1.3 billion pounds and achieving a
market capitalization of 5.5 billion pounds. Essar Group
chairman Shashi Ruia, who shares the control with his brother
Ravi, said: “We have been humbled by the interest shown from a
broad range of high quality, blue-chip international
institutional investors. They have shown a very high interest in
the Indian growth story.”

The Guardian

BARCLAYS CAPITAL BANKERS IN LINE FOR 1.4 BILLION POUND
BONUSES

Barclays (BARC.L: ) will pay bankers at Barclays Capital, the
group’s investment banking arm, 1.4 billion pounds in bonuses.
The size of the payments demonstrates how the division continues
to be the driving force behind the group’s first quarter
results, generating 80 percent of profits. Chris Lucas, BarCap’s
finance director, stressed that although the bonus pot had been
set aside, no decision on the payouts would be made until
December. The bank’s pay policy was endorsed at Friday’s annual
meeting where Sir Richard Broadbent defended the bonus scheme.

Stock Market Research

Prepared for Reuters by Durrants

PRESS DIGEST – British business – May 1