Business news: food group planning a dough-based reshuffle

Diageo, the British food and drink group which sells Johnnie Walker whisky
and Guinness, announced a restructuring of Pillsbury, its US food business,
fuelling speculation it may seek an exit from some or all of its food
activities. The restructuring, which will result in 750 job cuts, will include
"a strategic focus on the company’s dough-based business", Pillsbury
said on Wednesday. Some analysts were disappointed with the flat performance of
Pillsbury at Diageo’s last results announcement, prompting speculation that a
sale or spin-off may be on the cards. A sale could generate heavy tax charges,
however, and Diageo could have to sell its Burger King fast food chain to make
such a deal possible.

Railtrack draws up £52bn "wish list"

Britain’s rail network needs a record £52bn spent on it over the next 12
years, Railtrack chiefs admitted last week. Railtrack launched its "wish
list" of what needs to be done to make the railways fit for the 21st
century – but said it did not have the cash to do it. It put the onus on
transport secretary John Prescott, the rail authorities and the passenger train
companies to decide what improvements were needed most – and who would share
the cost. The spending programme is nearly double that forecast by Railtrack
last year. This Is London

Surprise bid for insurer tops predicted price

Nationwide Mutual, the sixth largest US life insurer, has agreed to buy
Gartmore Investment Management, which manages money for many UK company pension
funds, for £1.03bn. The surprise bid was accepted by the Royal Bank of
Scotland, which acquired Gartmore as part of its successful hostile bid for the
NatWest. The price comprises net assets of £110m, and goodwill of £920m.
Nationwide’s offer, which was considerably higher than the initial £600m price
tag predicted, beat offers from CGU, ABN Amro, Credit Suisse Asset Management
and Unicredito Italiano.

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