Mars swoops on Hotel Chocolat | Royal Mail | Aviva
Hotel Chocolat, the retail chocolatier, has been acquired by confectionery giant Mars, in a recommended cash deal worth £534 million.
Each Hotel Chocolat shareholder will receive 375p in cash, representing a 169.8% premium on the 139p closing price on 15 November.
The deal is being managed through Hive Bidco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mars.
Mars said it believes it can help Hotel Chocolat with growth in the UK and overseas. It said it has a “strong track record of nurturing entrepreneurial brands, including KIND, Nature’s Bakery and Tru Fru. Mars said it can support Hotel Chocolat’s founders and management team.
It believes the acquisition would further strengthen its commitment to the UK market where it has operated since 1932 and now has about 10,000 employees.
Shares in Hotel Chocolat almost trebled to 364p.
It was a highlight in a session that saw an end to a three-day winning streak for the FTSE 100. The blue chip index retreated 39.04 points to 7,447.87, having closed at a one-month high yesterday.
Royal Mail owner International Distributions Services has called for reform of its six-day letter service as it revealed widening half-year losses of more than £300m.
The postal service reported underlying losses of £319m for the six months to 24 September against losses of £219m a year earlier.
Chief executive Martin Seidenberg said: “We need the regulator and the Government to do their bit.
“It’s simply not sustainable to maintain a network built for 20 billion letters when we’re now only delivering seven billion.
“The UK is not immune to the trends that we see across the world. Many other comparable countries have already reformed their Universal Service, and the UK is getting left behind.”
Craneware, the healthcare billing company, said it has enjoyed “continued positive financial and operational performance” since the start of the new financial year.
In a pre-AGM statement it said the partner opportunities which launched at the end of the last financial year continue to gather momentum and the underlying sales pipeline continues to build, converting at an encouraging rate into revenue.
“With financial results tracking in line with management expectations, we look forward to providing a greater level of detail with our next trading update, ahead of our interim results.
“We are confident that our resilient business model, extensive customer base, high levels of Annual Recurring Revenue, together with our strategy for delivering growth centred on the expansion of the Trisus platform, will enable us to create further long-term value for all our stakeholders.”
Young buys City Pubs
Pubs company Young & Co is acquiring City Pubs in a cash and shares deal worth £162 million.
The transaction will see City Pubs shareholders receifve 108.75p in cash and 0.032658 in new Young’s A shares.
It represents a 46% to the closing price of 99p pence per City Pubs Share on the last practicable date.
Insurer Aviva said it will deliver cost savings a year ahead of schedule and beat medium-term financial targets.
In a third quarter trading update, the FTSE 100-listed company said general Insurance gross written premiums (GWP) rose 13% at constant currency to £8.0 billion, with UK&I GWP up 15% and Canadian GWP up 11% at constant currency, both driven by strong rate, new business volumes and retention.
Protection & Health sales, were up 23% with strong growth in Individual Protection, and in Health which was supported by higher corporate new business.
Amanda Blanc chief executive said: “Aviva’s prospects are very positive. We expect to beat our medium-term financial targets and, in line with previous guidance, grow operating profit by 5-7% this year, despite higher weather-related claims.”