Interbrew goes from strength to strength

Interbrew, the Belgian brewing company, became the biggest brewer in Europe after it beat rivals including Heineken and agreed a deal to buy the brewing interests of UK brewing and leisure group Bass. The transaction means Interbrew will now control nearly a third of the UK market with leading brands such as Carling and Stella Artois.

Interbrew also confirmed its plan to float up to 15 per cent of the company on the equity markets in the next six months. Many market analysts are optimistic that the company will be able to raise much more from the proposed floatation after the Bass deal. It is believed that the share offer proceeds will help repay the debt resulting from last week’s acquisition. News of Bass’s disposal had a positive impact on its share price last week.

C&A becomes first clothing chain to divest high street outlets

The UK clothing market was shaken last week when prominent high street retailer C&A announced it is closing all its outlets in the UK, after three-quarters of a century, threatening up to 5,000 jobs. The company said profits margins have been severely squeezed with an average annual loss of £50m over the past five years.

C&A, like Marks & Spencer and BhS, has lost substantial market share to rivals such as Matalan and Gap, which enjoy bigger appeal among young customers. Analysts believe there will be more names disappearing from the UK’s high streets due to the tough competition.

Stagecoach looks to cost-cutting to achieve turnaround

The share price of UK transport group Stagecoach fell sharply last week, despite better than forecast pre-tax profits. The company’s share price was battered last year and the move to take it private via a management buy-out appears to been abandoned.

Year on year, the stock continues to underperform by a significant margin. The company is pinning its hopes on carrying out vital cost-cutting restructuring in its US operations to help nurse the group back to recovery. Many analysts think it will be a long and painful turnaround.

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