In brief: Birds Eye owner plans to double business; Latchways results warning; RBS to shed investment banking; Reuters man to chair Investis


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The Independent Online

Birds Eye owner plans to double size of its business

Iglo Group, whose brands include Birds Eye, has set out plans to double the size of the business to €3.2bn (£2.7bn) by 2020. The chief executive, Elio Leonim Sceti, has put Havas in charge of its marketing strategy. The UK, Italy, Germany and Austria are the group’s largest markets, representing about 85 per cent of turnover.

Latchways warns results will miss City hopes

Latchways, which provides safety gear for people working at heights, has warned that short-term budgetary constraints among its largest utility customers will leave full-year results below City hopes. Profits for the six months to 30 September were up 12 per cent to £4m, helped by “excellent progress” in North America.

RBS to shed investment banking businesses

Royal Bank of Scotland is in talks to sell some of its more complex investment banking businesses in a deal said to be with BNP Paribas. The businesses supply 60,000 products aimed at private banks, wealthy individuals and independent financial advisers, and employ about 2,000 people between them. 

Former Reuters finance boss to chair Investis

Reuters’ former chief financial officer David Grigson is to chair Investis, which provides digital financial communications such as websites and apps. Mr Grigson already chairs Trinity Mirror and marketing group Creston and is a director of Ocado and Standard Life.

Risk of financial collapse is ‘lowest since 2008’

The risks of a financial cataclysm are at their lowest since 2008, according to the Bank of England’s latest risk survey, but respondents are more worried by rising house prices and low interest rates than they were its previous survey in May. The survey found 43 per cent of market professionals concerned by the impact of low rates on investment behaviour – up from 26 per cent in May.

Russian tycoon buys 22% of biggest potash firm

The Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov has agreed to buy a major stake in Uralkali, the world’s biggest potash firm. Mr Prokhorov’s investment firm Onexim will buy 21.75 per cent of Uralkali shares from his former business partner Suleiman Kerimov. The acquisition is believed to have been given the green light by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who sees it as a way to repair relations with neighbouring Belarus.

Thomas Cook in corporate foreign exchange sell-off

Thomas Cook’s chief executive, Harriet Green, has sold its UK corporate foreign exchange business for £4.5m to Royal Bank of Scotland’s Moneycorp as she continues off-loading “non-core” businesses in an effort to turn around the package-holiday group. The FTSE 250 company will still run its consumer foreign exchange business, which is available on the web and in stores.

Burton’s Biscuits  snapped up for £350m

The maker of Cadbury Fingers, Maryland cookies, Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels has been bought by the Ontario Teachers’ pension fund. Burton’s Biscuits has been sold for about £350m, slightly above its annual sales of £340m. Management will keep a minority stake in the business, which was owned by private equity. Burton’s employs about 2,000 people.

Aviva sells Eurovita stake to JC Flowers for £28m

Aviva has offloaded its stake in Italian insurer Eurovita to the private equity group JC Flowers for €33m (£28m). The FTSE 100 company, which is part-way through a dramatic overhaul of its operations, said the deal would boost its surplus capital by £100m. Its joint venture partner, Banco Popolare, has also agreed to sell its holding in Eurovita to JC Flowers.

Mitie’s profits leap 17% after clean bill of health

Mitie’s half-year profits leapt 17 per cent to £42.8m as City analysts reckoned it was in good shape because of its exposure to the private and local public sectors, rather than to cost-cutting central government. Sales were up 10.5 per cent at £1.04bn at the group, which does everything from catering at the Chelsea Flower Show to managing facilities for Lloyds Banking Group.