The one-minute expert

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In the news because?

Britain's rentals and music giant will this week announce its last results before its planned break up this summer.

How is it doing?

Pretty good. Analysts are predicting profits for the year ending March 31 will be around pounds 520m, up 23 per cent from pounds 423.6m last year.

They must have had a big hit. Was it Blur?

Well, they do have Blur on their books, but the real money spinners were four Liverpool lads - the Beatles.

Not so trendy after all?

The Beatles Anthology, which sold 12.5 million copies, is a bit of a rehash, but the company is following the latest corporate fashion trend by de- merging.

Even though its doing so well as a single company?

That's a bit of a thorny question. Chairman Sir Colin Southgate feels the company's parts are greater than their sum.

How long have the parts been united?

About 17 years. EMI ran into trouble in the late 1970s. The oil crisis devastated its leisure business, while a US law restricted sales of its CAT scanners just as it was spending huge amounts on a new generation.

They scanned cats?

CAT scanners are medical devices that let you see what's going on inside a body - human or feline. It's a bit like an X-ray for organs instead of bones.

What on earth has that got to do with music?

Well, they are somewhat related. CAT scanners use sound waves to probe the body. A scientist at EMI invented the devices. The company's name, after all, used to stand for Electric and Musical Industries.

How did Thorn come into the picture?

Julius Thorn was an immigrant who started selling imported light bulbs in 1928. His business grew into Thorn Lighting which eventually bought EMI.

And now its changed its mind and is selling EMI?

No, EMI is selling Thorn. If shareholders approve it will be floated off as a separate company.

The advantage being . . .

Takeover bonanza. Analysts don't think EMI can survive long by itself. It will be the only big music company in the world not attached to a multi-media conglomerate. Bid fever should drive its shares way up the charts.

So why hasn't anyone bid for the group as a whole?

Investors, it seems, are a bit thick. They can't see EMI's value because its confused with Thorn's.

The value in EMI being its ability to spot new talent?

Almost. Its value is its ability to spot old talent. Or its old ability to spot new talent. The company has more than 1 million recordings dating back to 1897, including its first superstar - operatic tenor Enrico Caruso.

And will Thorn be a takeover target too?

Possibly. That part of the company has successfully adopted American rent-to-own practices. But, let's face it, it's not nearly as sexy as the music biz.

Not that corporate takeovers are driven by sexiness.

Certainly not. Nothing so base. Cold hard industrial logic only.


Statistics: UK May producer prices.

Interims: Berisford, Treatty.

Finals: Christian Salvesen, Unigate.


Statistics: April new construction orders, April industrial production.

Interims: NFC, Thorn EMI.

Finals: Amersham International, Babcock International, East Midlands Electricity, Great Portland Estates, Northern Foods, Severn Trent.


Statistics: May jobless, April average earnings, unit wage costs.

Interims: Granada Group.

Finals: BAA, Bristol Water, London Insurance Market.


Statistics: May retail prices.

Interims: Daily Mail & General Trust, Dewhurst, GWR Group.

Finals: Johnson Matthey, London Electricity, Regalian Properties.


Finals: Osborne & Little, Yorkshire Electricity.

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