PRESS DIGEST – British business – May 29

The Times

PRESSURE IS ON FORTH PORTS AFTER BIDDERS WALK AWAY

The management at Forth Ports (FPT.L: ) have been put on
notice that failure to increase the group’s share price in the
coming months will lead to shareholder discontent. The warning
comes as a consortium of three of the port operator’s own
shareholders abandoned takeover plans and an offer that valued
the company at 640 million pounds. One source close to a leading
shareholder said the company now has to demonstrate why it
values the company at more than the 14 pounds per share that was
offered. Charles Hammond, Forth Ports’ manager, said the offer
was rejected because the consortium missed the inherent value of
Forth’s undeveloped waterfront property potential in Leith in
Edinburgh.

AUDIO MASTERS SENSE CHANGE OF DIRECTION

British audio technology manufacturer NXT (NTX.L: ), which
makes technology enabling speakers to be incorporated into
things as diverse as tanning beds, drinks coolers and electric
motorcycles, is working with Japanese firm Nissha to add its
products to more touch-screen devices. It has also begun working
with suppliers of consumer electronics to improve the
responsiveness of touch-screen computers. Peter Thoms, NXT chief
executive, said the firm had seen demand for a wider range of
audio technology in the past decade.

NEED TO KNOW: ASTRAZENECA

AstraZeneca (AZN.L: ), one of the world’s leading
biopharmaceutical companies, will not be offering the colon
cancer drug Recentin as an initial treatment after a second
extensive trial returned disappointing results. The large
clinical trial found that the drug offered no improved chance of
survival compared with the traditional treatment of chemotherapy
taken alone.

NEED TO KNOW: ECKOH

Eckoh (ECK.L: ), the UK’s largest provider of specialist
speech recognition technology, has agreed to merge its
premium-rate division with Telecom Express, in return for a 27.5
percent share in its rival’s business. Eckoh’s premium-rate
division runs phone-in lines for television companies.

NEED TO KNOW: ANGLIAN WATER

Anglian Water [AWGEOW.UL], which supplies Britain’s driest
region, announced operating profits of 463 million pounds for
the year to the end of March. The result is a four percent
increase on the same period in 2009 and is driven by a six
percent climb in revenues to 1.1 billion pounds.

TIDDLER TO WATCH

Shares in Stadium Group (SDMS.L: ), the manufacturing services
group, increased by 8 pence to 63 pence following the news that
the group was in talks regarding the sale of its plastics arm.
The negotiations are said to be at a late stage. In April,
Stadium Group issued a positive trading report and said that
customer demand had been ahead of 2009.

The Daily Telegraph

EX-JJB CHAIRMAN PAID 581,000 POUNDS

JJB Sports (JJB.L: ), the high street sports retailer, has
released its annual report in which it is revealed that Sir
David Jones, the former executive chairman, received 581,000
pounds in bonus and annual salary over the year to the end of
January. Jones was among a number of directors who were awarded
almost six million shares in JJB as part of a long-term
incentive plan following a successful fundraising last November.

WHAT THE BROKERS SAY

Mothercare (MTC.L: ) (Buy)

ICAP (IAP.L: ) (Buy)

United Utilities (UU.L: ) (Buy)

National Grid (NG.L: ) (Hold)

Yell Group (YELL.L: ) (Sell)

Vodafone (VOD.L: ) (Buy)

The Independent

TRAVIS PERKINS OFFERS 553 MILLION POUNDS FOR RIVAL BSS

Travis Perkins (TPK.L: ), the builders merchant, has made an
indicative offer of 553 million pounds for rival BSS Group
(BTSM.L: ). A tie-up would create Britain’s largest plumbing and
heating supplies business. The BSS board is likely to recommend
the 433 pence-per-share indicative offer if a substantial offer
is made on the same terms. Travis Perkins said further
consolidation of the building materials and merchanting sector
would provide cost benefits to all participants. BSS closed at
437 pence on Friday, up 34 percent. Travis Perkins closed at
790.5 pence, up six percent.

MOSS BROS CAUTIOUS DESPITE SALES RISING

Moss Bros (MOSB.L: ), the men’s fashion retail group which
owns the UK licence to sell Hugo Boss, has reported an increase
in sales for the first 16 weeks of 2010. Like-for-like sales
climbed 12.6 percent compared with 2009. The company plans to
open a new flagship store in the City of London next month as a
launch for its Moss Bespoke concept. A Moss Bros statement said
that the company was pleased with its sales momentum but warned
that the macro-economic environment could have a sudden change
on consumer spending.

The Guardian

SEVERN TRENT SAVINGS HELP IT TO 24 PERCENT RISE IN PROFITS

Severn Trent (SVT.L: ), the utilities group, reported
underlying pre-tax profits of 338.4 million pounds for the year
to the end of March, an increase of 24 percent. The company said
planned cost savings were exceeded, while operational
expenditure was lower year-on-year, against the target of stable
costs. Bad debt charges increased by 3.3 million pounds. Severn
Trent’s shares have shed 6.4 percent this year, but closed on
Friday at 11 pounds 98 pence, up 39 pence.

Investing Basics

Prepared for Reuters by Durrants

PRESS DIGEST – British business – May 29