Tue, Oct 11, 2016 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

CONSTRUCTION

Interserve to retain RMDK

British construction and support services firm Interserve PLC yesterday said it had decided to retain equipment services unit RMDK as a core part of its business, following the conclusion of a strategic review that started in February. Interserve said the international business RMDK provided an “important element” of diversification for the group, which otherwise had a predominantly UK-based earnings profile and has been facing near-term uncertainty in some end markets. Interserve said it would incur nonrecurring charges of about £17 million (US$21.11 million) to carry out strategic changes at RMDK, which would include restructuring operations in a number of smaller, less attractive markets.

MACROECONICS

UK economy loses steam

Britain’s economy appears to be losing steam, with major business surveys showing a marked slowdown in the services sector and boardrooms beset by doubt about the future following the country’s vote to leave the EU. While the economy has fared better than most economists expected since June’s Brexit vote — largely thanks to upbeat consumers — yesterday’s surveys heighten concerns about its longer-term prospects. Key measures of business investment and turnover confidence hit four-year lows in the third quarter, the British Chambers of Commerce said in its Quarterly Economic Survey of 7,000 businesses — the largest of its kind. Separately, chief financial officers in major British firms reported only a partial rebound in business morale after a post-Brexit vote nosedive, accountants Deloitte reported. Investors have become increasingly concerned that Britain will lose many of the preferential trading terms it has with the EU — a so-called “hard Brexit” — pushing the pound to a fresh 31-year low against the US dollar last week.

CONSTRUCTION

Cimic eyes UGL Ltd

Cimic Group Ltd, the Australian construction company controlled by Germany’s Hochtief AG, offered to buy UGL Ltd in a deal valuing the engineering firm at A$524 million (US$397.91 million). Cimic, which took a 13.8 percent stake in Sydney-based UGL in a block-trade yesterday, offered A$3.15 per share in cash for the remaining stock, according to a statement to the stock exchange. That is 47 percent more than UGL’s last closing price on Friday. Cimic plans to delist UGL and reconstitute its board, according to the statement. It has received Foreign Investment Review Board approval for the offer, which will be funded through available funds or existing debt, Cimic said.

INVESTMENT

Bollore boosts Vivendi stake

Vincent Bollore’s investment company is increasing its stake in Vivendi SA to more than 20 percent as the billionaire tightens his grip over the French media conglomerate. Bollore Group is set to hold about 29 percent of voting rights in Vivendi by April 20 next year, taking into account the double voting rights attached to the shares it is acquiring, according to a statement yesterday. Bollore Group, based in Puteaux, France, held about 15 percent of Vivendi as of June. The activist investor, who became chairman of Vivendi in 2014, is cementing his control as he seeks to expand Paris-based Vivendi’s business beyond music, film and television. Under Bollore, Vivendi has accumulated a stake in Telecom Italia SpA and re-entered video gaming by acquiring Gameloft SE and buying a stake in Ubisoft Entertainment SA.

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