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The Business Matrix: Monday 20 May 2013

Shopping centres hit by vacancies

Shop vacancies have surged to a new high of 11.9 per cent as retail failures such as Comet knock holes in shopping centres. The percentage of empty UK shops in April worsened from 10.9 per cent in January and was the highest rate since the British Retail Consortium/Springboard survey began in 2011. High streets have been “vastly outperforming” shopping centres.

Spanish savers shun Bankia plan 

Many duped savers at the Spanish lender Bankia are shunning a state-supervised compensation scheme in favour of expensive lawsuits. Spain set up the scheme to try to end daily protests by some of Bankia’s debt holders – many  of whom are elderly savers  who say they were mis-sold complex debt products as safe, high-interest deposit accounts.

What the Sunday papers said

SSE profits to soar after price hike

The big energy producer SSE is braced for accusations of profiteering when it unveils its annual results this week. The energy giant, formerly known as Scottish & Southern Energy, is expected to unveil a 30 per cent jump in profits on Wednesday at its retail division, where it put up oil and gas tariffs by 9 per cent last October.

The Independent on Sunday

Sir Roger Carr set to chair BAE

The outgoing president of the CBI business lobby group is the frontrunner to replace Sir Dick Olver as the chairman of BAE Systems. Sir Roger Carr, who has also chaired the British Gas owner Centrica and the chocolate group Cadbury’s while it was being taken over by Kraft Foods, is expected to be formally appointed within weeks.

The Sunday Telegraph

Gains move Royal Mail closer to float

Royal Mail is expected to unveil underlying profits between £300m and £400m this week, paving the way for its £3bn privatisation later this year. The operating profits, boosted by deliveries of online shopping, could be double last year’s £211m. The Government is hoping to list Royal Mail on the London Stock Exchange.

The Sunday Times

Consortium looks to raise water bid

A group of investors led by a Canadian pension fund is preparing to raise its offer for the water group Severn Trent. The consortium, which includes the UK’s Universities Superannuation Scheme as well as Kuwait’s Investment Office and Canada’s Borealis Infrastructure, has until 11 June to table a new offer. 

The Mail on Sunday

Week ahead

Burberry

Burberry’s results tomorrow may end up being all about the make-up rather than the clothes and handbags. The luxury goods retailer is expected to report second-half earnings of £243m, leading to a 2013 full-year profit of £415m. But there is a difference of opinion among analysts as to the profitability of bringing its beauty and fragrance business in-house.

Marks & Spencer

Marks and Spencer is expected to unveil a slide in annual profits on Tuesday,  a week after its new fashion team showed off the ranges they hope will help buck the decline. However, the spring and summer ranges were designed by the previous team and analysts expect the latest profits will be down by 7 per cent, from £706m to £658m.

Cranswick 

Even a strict vegetarian couldn’t argue with the succulent balance sheet at the pork producer Cranswick. The group has been spending money on expansion but has kept a close check on its cash and analysts think its full-year results today will be appetising reading. Investec reckons profits before tax will be £48.3m, about 7.5 per cent higher than last year’s.

Britvic

Just like the tonic water it sells, Britvic’s results on Wednesday are expected to be mixed. The bad weather across its markets will have affected its ability to maintain market share, and Canaccord Genuity thinks UK sales could be down by mid-single digits. The outcome of the proposed merger with AG Barr is also still awating a Competition Commission judgement.

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