PRESS DIGEST – British business – May 14

The Times

SPORTS DIRECT WINS ON STAKE PURCHASE

The High Court has ruled against the liquidators for
Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander, the British subsidiary of the
Icelandic bank that collapsed in 2008, handing retailer Sports
Direct (SPD.L: ) a multi-million pound victory. The legal dispute
concerned the amount Sports Direct needed to pay KSF for shares
it bought in rivals Blacks Leisure and JD Sports Fashion before
the bank collapsed. Sports Direct lost 53 million pounds in the
Icelandic banking crisis when it had to write off the stakes.

WOES OF GREECE APPLY A BRAKE TO INCHCAPE

Andre Lacroix, the chief executive of motor group Inchcape
(INCH.L: ), said the Greek financial crisis is set to hit the
group through the remainder of this year. Greece accounts for up
to eight percent of group business which last year had total
revenues of 5.6 billion pounds. Total group revenues for the
first quarter rose 13 percent, with a 27 percent increase in new
sales in Britain. Business in Hong Kong was up by more than 50
percent. There were favourable figures from Belgium and
Australia. Russia and Singapore saw a slump in business.

M&B REGRETS SACKINGS

Mitchells & Butlers (MAB.L: ), the operator of Harvester and
Toby Carvery, said it regretted the sacking of four
non-executive directors in December. A review by Freshfields,
the law firm, cleared the four of any wrongdoing after they were
accused of acting in concert against the company. M&B praised
the boardroom contribution of the four men and said a payment
had been made towards their legal costs and expenses.

AMEC ORDERS UP 20 PERCENT

Engineering and support services company Amec (AMEC.L: ) has
reported a 20 percent increase in orders so far in 2010, adding
that the outlook for the rest of the year is positive. It said
the first four months of 2010 had seen performance match
expectations, with Amec on target to reach profit margins of 8.5
percent. Orders increased to 3.55 billion pounds from 3.40
billion pounds 12 months ago and 3.17 billion pounds at the end
of December 2009, with gains coming from new contracts,
extensions and scope changes to existing contracts, and walk-in
work.

TIDDLER TO WATCH

Ilika, the technology company spun out from Southampton
University, is set to make its debut on AIM. The company, which
invents materials to solve industrial problems for the likes of
Royal Dutch Shell and Toyota, has seen its shares placed at 51
pence by its broker Nomura Code. It is hoped that the company
will raise 5.2 million pounds, valuing it at 18 million pounds.

TEMPUS

Old Mutual (OML.L: ) (hold on)

Conygar (CIC.L: ) (tuck away)

Euromoney (ERM.L: ) (buy on weakness)

The Daily Telegraph

BAE BOSS FEARS BUDGET-DRIVEN DEFENCE REVIEW

Sir Ian King, the chief executive at Britain’s biggest
defence company BAE Systems (BAES.L: ), has warned the new
government that their Strategic Defence Review must not focus
purely on cost-cutting at the Ministry of Defence. Speaking at
the British American Council on Thursday, King said there was a
danger the SDR would be rushed in order to complete the
government’s wider spending review and that time was needed to
decide “what hard and soft power components” the government
would need from defence companies to fulfill defence goals. King
said the coalition government could threaten British defence
exports.

QUESTOR

Cineworld (CINE.L: ) (buy)

Petrofac (PFC.L: ) (buy)

The Independent

SUITOR SAYS TULLETT TAKEOVER TOO PRICEY AND SHARES SLUMP.

Shares in Tullett Prebon (TLPR.L: ), the money broker, fell 48
pence to 314 pence after it emerged that talks with an unnamed
suitor had collapsed. Shares had climbed 25 percent when
negotiations were announced. The mystery bidder was rumoured to
be the company’s own management. The broker also issued a
trading statement that described the first part of the year’s
business as “robust”, although total revenue was down 12 percent
to 312 million pounds. Panmure analysts remained supportive of
the company and maintained its “buy” status.

SAINSBURY’S BOSS WARNS VAT INCREASE IS COMING SOON

Justin King, chief executive of supermarket J Sainsbury
(SBRY.L: ), said that if the government planned to increase VAT to
20 percent it should be timed not to coincide with key trading
periods. Simon Wolfson, chief executive of retailer Next
(NXT.L: ), said he would support a rise in VAT as long as it did
not exceed 20 percent. A survey for the BBC found that 24 out of
28 independent experts used by the Treasury expected a rise in
VAT during this parliament. It is estimated that a 3.5 percent
increase would add 11.5 billion pounds to Treasury coffers.

INVESTMENT COLUMN

Thomas Cook Group (TCG.L: ) (buy)

Trinity Mirror (TNI.L: ) (buy)

Keller Group (KLR.L: ) (sell)

The Guardian

SCIENTISTS STUDY OCEAN FOOTAGE TO GAUGE FULL SCALE OF OIL
LEAK

Marine scientists are studying video footage from the oil
leak in the Gulf of Mexico in order to try and deliver the first
reliable estimates of a possible solution. The U.S. Coast Guard
has estimated that the leak is currently 5,000 barrels a day,
while independent marine researchers have suggested the spill
could be a worst case of scenario of 60,000 barrels a day.
Norman Guinasso, director of the geochemical and environmental
research group at Texas A&M University, said: “One of the really
critical things is if you don’t know the flow, it is awfully
hard to design the thing that is going to work.”

Investment Advice

Prepared for Reuters by Durrants

PRESS DIGEST – British business – May 14