The Week Ahead: ITV investors braced for Allen to say he's going

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The Independent Online

The ITV chief executive Charles Allen is expected to confirm his departure from the broadcaster this week. Reports over the weekend suggest that Mr Allen will announce that he is stepping down tomorrow ahead of Wednesday's interim results from the company.

However, the ITV boss, who is tipped to received a £2m cash payoff plus a £750,000 payment into his pension fund, is likely to stay on at the broadcaster for at least six months while a successor is found. Andy Duncan, chief executive of Channel 4, and Tony Ball, the former BskyB chief executive, are among the early candidates.

Mr Allen has come under heavy fire in recent months for failing to deliver value for shareholders. The company was created in 2004 from the merger of Carlton Communications and Granada - a deal in which Mr Allen played a key role. Although it seemed popular at the time, shares in the combined company have performed poorly ever since and closed on Friday near all-time lows.

As for ITV's first half results, analysts forecast the group to post a fall in profits to around £177m, from last year's £205m, due to a lag in viewing figures and a tough advertising market.

TODAY: Analysts will be keen to see how much value Pendragon has been able to extract from its acquisition of Reg Vardy when the car dealer posts first half results.

In the wake of the tie-up between the two high-profile motor distributors, analysts are expecting further consolidation in the sector. Inchcape, the industry's biggest player, said last week that it had built up a sizeable war chest with which to make acquisitions and predicted a wave of deals in the year ahead.

Pendragon has been continually expanding the range of car brands it supplies. It introduced 33 new brands in this year alone, although it found that in the first quarter sales of new cars had fallen by 5 per cent. The group's April annual meeting heard its management make cautions noises about trading in 2006.

Results: First half - Flomerics Group, Morgan Sindall, Pendragon.

TOMORROW: Consensus forecasts for the Asia-based bank Standard Chartered predict strong results for the company, with an expected pre-tax profit increase to £1.49bn from £1.66bn in the first half of last year.

Strong revenue growth generated by a significant increase in lending is expected to be named as a deciding factor in the bank's results.

The brewing giant Scottish and Newcastle is also expected to announce encouraging figures, with first half profits expected to rise by up to 16 per cent on the back of the hotter weather and increased sales courtesy of the World Cup. The company's Russian operations should have also done well, although things are likely to have gone less well for the group in France.

Pre-tax profits are tipped to come in somewhere between £178m and £200m. Shares in the company have risen significantly since May and have outperformed the FTSE 100 index by approximately 5 per cent.

Results: Full year - NDS Group. First half - Randgold Resources, Scottish & Newcastle, Standard Chartered.

WEDNESDAY: Results: First half - Aviva, ITV.

THURSDAY: The insurer Royal & SunAlliance has seen a spate of changes in recent weeks. The company's risk director David Paige stepped down in July, and the company's office in Leeds was closed, resulting in the loss of 220 jobs. On 1 August, the group acquired the Irish company EGI Holdings. This tie-up will boost earnings in the long term. The UK commercial sector makes up the largest part of the company's operations and has been a tough place in which to do business of late. However, good results in the personal insurance arena are expected to offset this. Overall, first-half operating profits at RSA are forecast to rise by around 23 per cent.

Spirent, the telecoms testing company, reports first half results following a significant profit warning in June. The setback at the company came because of delays relating to its TestCentre product and a failure to sign enough orders for its wireless products. Times are not easy for Spirent. US telecoms companies, its key clients, have been consolidating and this has put pressure on the amount Spirent can charge them. The stockbroker UBS has warned investors that they should be prepared for further short-terms knocks at the company.

The City expects Spirent to deliver earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of around £5.2m.

Results: First half - International Power, Orpak Systems, Royal and SunAlliance, Spirent Communications.

FRIDAY: Results: First half - Crosby Capital, Schroders.

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