Weekly stock market round-up


Now ‘6C’ is to be consigned to the rubbish bin too, as the company splits itself up. For every 50 shares held now, a shareholder will get 59 new shares in InterContinental Hotel Group, which is the hotels bit, and 59 new shares in Mitchells & Butlers, which is the pubs bit.

And there’ll be a cheque for £47.79 too. The idea is that two separate hotel and pub groups will get better stock market valuations than one big conglomerate. But not everyone is impressed; sceptics point out that the group’s problem is one of weak management rather than corporate structure, and note that the reorganisation is costing £100m in professional fees. Plus, competition in both pubs and hotels is fierce, with the prospect of a downturn in international travel hanging over the latter.

Reuters, the group that’s been providing news to the City for 152 years, posted its first loss as a listed company this week. The company lost almost £500m in 2002, largely thanks to big restructuring charges and a reduction in the value of its stake in a US stock trading firm.

The company’s clients are facing hard times, and its terminals (often costing £1000 a month) are one of the first things they look to cut back. This very British company is run by an American boss these days, and he’s looking for another 3,000 redundancies to help balance the books. The shares are very cheap, but there’s no sign of an upturn.

Kingfisher, the retail conglomerate that owns B&Q and Comet, has confirmed that it plans to demerge its electricals business. That means that Kingfisher shareholders will effectively be given shares in a new company listed in London (rather than Paris, as had been originally planned). The company performed the same trick with its Woolworths business over a year ago.

Eliot Spitzer, New York’s attorney general, clearly fancies himself as a modern-day Elliot Ness. After his crusades against investment banks, he’s now turning to the drugs industry, specifically GlaxoSmithKline. He’s effectively accused it and others of offering inducements to doctors to prescribe certain drugs. GSK has brushed off such accusations in the past.

There was a bit of excitement in the normally staid world of housebuilding this week. Tony Pidgley said he was considering putting together a bid for Berkeley. Who’s Mr Pidgley? He’s the son of another Tony Pidgley, who happens to be the founder of Berkeley and its current managing director. But the ‘bid’ has come to nothing. A day after the initial announcement, Tony Jnr said he was no longer interest – perhaps after a fatherly word in his ear?

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