Business in Brief: Shire swallows rare-disease specialist ViroPharma


Shire has made its biggest acquisition, spending $4.2bn (£2.6bn) on the US drugs maker ViroPharma. Shares in Shire rose 26p to 2,822p, even though it paid $50 a share for the rare-diseases specialist, which had revenues of $428m last year. Shire’s chief executive Flemming Ornskov expects to create $2bn revenues from medicines for rare diseases next year.

Redrow chairman attacks ‘glacial’ planning system

Redrow’s chairman Steve Morgan fired another broadside at the planning system yesterday despite a surge in first-time buyers propelling sales at his housebuilder 52 per cent ahead of last year. The Wolverhampton Wanderers chairman said a glacial planning system was frustrating the efforts of builders to improve supply to meet demand.

Cobham warns US sales  could fall further

Cobham became the latest UK defence group to cut back its forecasts because of weaker US government spending yesterday. Its shares fell 5 per cent to 270.1p as the group said the outlook for its US business, which accounts for about a third of its revenues, remained highly uncertain “with the budgetary environment showing signs of further deterioration”.

Lonmin sees platinum production at six-year high

Lonmin comfortably beat City forecasts with annual profits of $140m (£88m) yesterday. But although it has rejigged its management and raised $767m through a rights issue, it said current wage negotiations were proving tough. Lonmin mined 751,000 ounces of platinum, the highest figure for six years and up 10.5 per cent on the previous strike-torn year.

Admiral sails on in Europe but turnover falls in the UK

Growth in markets such as Italy and Spain helped Admiral withstand tougher conditions at home during the third quarter. Its international turnover rose by 26 per cent to £49m, but falling motor premiums in the UK reduced group turnover by 7 per cent to £528m. It expects motor insurance prices to rise soon.

Heathrow’s numbers lifted by China route

A surge in passengers flying between London and China helped Heathrow’s traffic grow 4.6 per cent to 4.3 million in October. The number of passengers flying between the airport and China was up 19.2 per cent. Meanwhile, traffic at rival London airport Gatwick rose 4.3 per cent year on year to 3.1 million passengers. 

Marks & Spencer to double its stores in India

Marks & Spencer is to double its presence in India, with 80 stores in the country by 2016. The retailer already has 36 stores there in its joint venture with the billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries. The chief executive, Marc Bolland, said M&S saw India becoming its largest international market outside of the UK by 2016.