UK media and telecoms correspondent
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Jan 2, 2014

Debenhams finance chief quits as rivals triumph in Christmas battle

LONDON, Jan 2 (Reuters) – The finance chief of Debenhams Plc
quit on Thursday after trading updates showed just how
far the 200-year-old British retailer had fallen behind rivals
John Lewis and House of Fraser over the crucial
Christmas period.

The departure of Simon Herrick from Britain’s second-largest
department stores group follows a profit warning on Tuesday, its
second in less than a year, after the company admitted its
margins had been squeezed by heavy discounts that nonetheless
failed to spark a late surge in festive shopping.

Dec 31, 2013

UK’s Debenhams warns on profit after poor Christmas

LONDON, Dec 31 (Reuters) – Debenhams warned of a
sharp fall in profit on Tuesday after big discounts failed to
spur a surge in last-minute Christmas shopping, sending a shiver
through weaker British retailers.

In an ominous sign for rival Marks & Spencer,
Britain’s second-largest department store group said it would
now miss analysts’ first-half profit forecasts and would have to
cut prices even further to clear stock.

Dec 12, 2013

UK’s Co-op appoints Myners on 1 pound salary to lead review

LONDON, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Britain’s troubled Co-operative
Group named ex-Treasury minister Paul Myners to its
board on Thursday on a token salary of just one pound ($1.6) to
help review the running of the customer-owned retail-to-funerals
operator.

The appointment takes effect immediately, with Myners saying
the group was at a crucial point in its development and facing
serious challenges in terms of business performance.

Dec 11, 2013

Activist investor calls for breakup of UK’s FirstGroup

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. activist investor Sandell Asset Management demanded British transport operator FirstGroup (FGP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) split off its U.S. business, owner of the yellow school buses that operate across the country, to invest in its domestic arm.

The hedge fund’s public attack caps a torrid year for FirstGroup, the leading transport operator in Britain and North America that handles more than 2.5 billion passengers a year.

Dec 11, 2013

Activist investor demands changes at UK’s FirstGroup

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. activist shareholder Sandell Asset Management went public on Wednesday with a demand for British transport operator FirstGroup (FGP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to split off its U.S. business to invest in its domestic arm.

Sandell, which owns just over 3 percent of the struggling company, wrote to the directors of FirstGroup to urge them to spin off and float the U.S. unit which includes the yellow school buses that operate across 38 states in the United States.

Dec 2, 2013

Energy firms to limit price rises after tax pledge

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest energy companies agreed on Monday to limit increases to household bills, giving some relief to Prime Minister David Cameron on an issue that has angered voters and given opponents a potent line of attack before a 2015 election.

Soaring energy costs have become a big political issue in Britain since Labour leader Ed Miliband said in September he would freeze consumer bills for 20 months if he wins power.

Dec 2, 2013

British energy firms to limit price rises after tax pledge

LONDON, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest energy companies
agreed on Monday to limit increases to household bills, giving
some relief to Prime Minister David Cameron on an issue that has
angered voters and given opponents a potent line of attack
before a 2015 election.

Soaring energy costs have become a big political issue in
Britain since Labour leader Ed Miliband said in September he
would freeze consumer bills for 20 months if he wins power.

Nov 26, 2013

RWE scraps British wind farm amid political energy row

LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Germany’s RWE has
scrapped plans to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm
in British waters only a month after warning that political
wrangling over green energy was endangering billions of pounds
of investment.

RWE’s nPower said that the Atlantic Array project off
southwest England, which would have featured up to 240 wind
turbines and powered as many as 900,000 British homes, no longer
made economic sense in current market conditions.

Nov 22, 2013

Orange expects higher-than-forecast Dominican sale-CEO

BARCELONA, Nov 22 (Reuters) – France’s Orange
expects to announce the sale of its Dominican Republic business
in the next few days for a price “significantly over” 1 billion
euros, Chief Executive Stephane Richard said on Friday.

Speaking at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in
Barcelona, Richard said he expected to announce a deal that
would increase his financial flexibility as he looks to cut
debt.

Nov 22, 2013

TalkTalk considers eventual special dividend

BARCELONA, Nov 22 (Reuters) – UK group TalkTalk Telecom
will look to pay a special dividend as a drop-off in
the level of investment needed for its television service
coincides with a period of rapid customer growth, its chief
executive said on Friday.

Dido Harding told a Morgan Stanley investor conference in
Barcelona she hoped to pay out excess cash to show her
confidence in a group that is growing strongly and enjoying a
slowdown in the rate of customers leaving the service.

    • About Kate

      "I am based in London and cover the UK media and telecoms sectors including BSkyB, Vodafone and WPP. I have previously covered UK general news and sports including major events such as the Olympics and football World Cups."
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