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Updates: Tesco; ITV; Vodafone; Bovis Homes

Tesco: expects deal to complete at end of next year (photo by Terry Murden)

Tesco-Booker deal cleared by CMA

The Competition and Markets Authority has “provisionally concluded” that Tesco’s £3.7bn acquisition of Booker does not raise competition concerns.

It said that Tesco as a retailer and Booker as a wholesaler – which supplies to caterers, independent and symbol group retailers including Premier, Londis and Budgens – “do not compete head-to-head in most of their activities”.

The watchdog noted that Tesco does not supply the catering sector which accounts for 30% of Booker’s sales.

Simon Polito, who chaired the inquiry, said: “Our investigation has found that existing competition is sufficiently strong in both the wholesale and retail grocery sectors to ensure that the merger between Tesco and Booker will not lead to higher prices or a reduced service for supermarket and convenience shoppers.”

Tesco said: “This merger has always been about growth, and will bring benefits for independent retailers, caterers, small businesses, suppliers, consumers, and colleagues.”

It said it will continue to work with the CMA as it prepares its final report which is due by the end of December.

It said: “We anticipate completion of the merger in early 2018.”

ITV performance ‘as anticipated’

ITV chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette said performance was “as we anticipated” as the broadcaster announced a 1% fall in revenue to £2.1 billion for the nine months to 30 September.

Broadcast and online sales fell by 4% to £1.4bn but turnover at ITV Studios rose by 9% to £1bn. Online, pay and interactive revenues rose by 8%.

Sir Peter Bazalgette said: “ITV’s performance in the first nine months of 2017 is very much as we anticipated. We’ve seen improving trends in all our key revenue lines in the quarter and we’re on track to deliver on the commitments we set out at the start of the year. 

Online and Pay achieved double digit revenue growth, helped by a 41% increase in online viewing.

Sir Peter said the company continues to invest in growing its digital businesses including ITV Hub and Britbox US.

ITV Hub has 21m registered viewers, including around 75% of the UK’s 16 to 24 year olds, and is the fastest growing PSB online service. Britbox US, a joint venture with the BBC, was launched earlier this year and is performing well.

“Over time we are planning to roll the service out to other territories.

“We will enter 2018 in good shape with a strong operating performance underpinned by a robust balance sheet, and we look forward to the arrival of our new chief executive Carolyn McCall, early in the new year.”

Vodafone lifts profit outlook

Telecoms giant Vodafone expects profits to grow by 10% this year, a doubling of it previous forecasts.

At the half-year stage it it reported group total revenue down 4.1% to €23.bn (£20.5bn), partly as a result of exchange rate movements.

Operating profit was up 32.5% at €2.0bn.

Bovis Homes making progress

In an update on trading for the period July to November Greg Fitzgerald, Group CEO said: “We are making encouraging progress towards all of our medium term performance targets with continued improvement in customer satisfaction and excellent progress in optimising the balance sheet and bringing additional cash into the business.

“We expect to have a net cash position of at least £100 million as at 31 December 2017.  Trading is in line with expectations, the market remains strong, and we are on track to deliver another disciplined period end.

“We are fully sold for our targeted FY 2017 completions with an average sales rate over the period of 0.52 (H1 2017: 0.48).

“Pricing remains robust and we expect to deliver an increase in the average selling price for FY 2017, largely driven by changes in mix with a modest increase in underlying prices.”

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