Alteri Investors has acquired Brantano and Jones Bootmaker from Macintosh Retail Group. Brantano consists of 140 footwear retail stores and 61 concessions located across the UK. Jones Bootmaker owns 110 stores. Alteri specialises in retail investments across Europe.
Smith & Nephew has moved into the orthopaedic robotics-assisted surgery sector with the £180m acquisition of Blue Belt Technologies.
Tata Steel is to cut around 1,200 jobs in the UK in response to ‘a shift in market conditions caused by a flood of cheap imports, particularly from China, a strong pound and high electricity costs’. The company says that about 900 of the job losses will be in Scunthorpe while 200 will be in Scotland. Plate mills in Scunthorpe, Dalzell and Clydebridge are to be mothballed while one of the two coke ovens at the Scunthorpe steelworks will be closed. Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: “The UK steel industry is struggling for survival in the face of extremely challenging market conditions. This industry has a crucial role to play in rebalancing the UK economy, but we need a fairer system to encourage growth. The European Commission needs to do much more to deal with unfairly traded imports – inaction threatens the future of the entire European steel industry.” Tata says that in the past two years, imports of steel plate into Europe have doubled and imports from China have quadrupled, causing steel prices to fall steeply. At the same time, a stronger pound has undermined the competitiveness of the business’s Europe-bound exports, and encouraged more imports.
Separately Caparo Industries has gone into administration. The diversified industrial group comprises approximately 20 individual business in the UK steel industry. The group employs just over 1,700 people in total.
SABMiller has announced it has reached an agreement “in principle” that will see it taken over by AB InBev, in one of the largest ever takeover deals involving a UK company. The £44 per share deal values SABMiller, owner of well-known brands such as Peroni and Pilsner, at £68bn. AB InBev owns many of the leading global beer brands including Budweiser, Stella Artois, Beck’s, Leffe and Hoegaarden.
The government has completed the privatisation of Royal Mail with the sale of its final 13% stake in the company to institutional investors for £591.1m. The entire privatisation raised £3.3bn. Post Office Ltd, which operates the network of branches throughout the UK, remains wholly-owned by the state.
In one of the biggest ever deals between technology companies, Dell has bought EMC Computer Systems for $67bn (£44bn). The newly combined company will be a market leader in servers, storage, virtualization and PCs. The software company VMware will continue to operate as an individual business.
Dialog, one of Europe’s fastest growing semiconductor companies, has acquired Atmel for £3bn. The newly created company will be a market leader in power management and embedded processing products, which are crucial in the mobile power, Internet of Things and automotive sectors.
The vegetarian food manufacturer Quorn has been acquired by the Philippines-based food company Monde Nissin for £550m. Quorn products, which very closely emulate the taste, appearance and texture of meat, are made from the protein source Mycoprotein.
The Government is to abolish the Uniform Business Rate and give local authorities the power to cut business rates in their areas to encourage enterprise and economic activity. The reform will also mean that local councils will retain all revenue from business rates. Currently business rates are collected locally and then transferred to central government to be distributed regionally in the form of grants. Under the new system, which will be in place by 2020, all income from local taxes will be spent on funding local services. In addition, directly elected mayors will be able to add a premium to business rates to pay for new infrastructure.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined a solar panels marketer £200,000 for breaking telemarketing regulations. Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Ltd made over six million calls as part of an automated call marketing campaign offering ‘free’ solar panels without first seeking people’s permission to call them. In order to make automated calls an organisation must have people’s permission, which specifically names the company concerned. However the ICO found this wasn’t the case, and Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Ltd admitted that it didn’t even know what the rules were. In addition the ICO’s investigation found that the calls were misleading because the solar panels were not necessarily free as implied by the recorded message.