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May 22, 2014

Japanese group buys Unilever’s pasta sauces for $2.15 bln

LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) – Mizkan Group has agreed to buy
Unilever’s Ragu and Bertolli pasta sauce brands
for $2.15 billion, continuing a trend for Japanese consumer
goods companies diversifying through Western assets.

The all-cash deal, which values the sauce business at 3.6
times its annual sales, boosts the Japanese condiments maker’s
presence in North America’s grocery aisles as declining birth
rates and an ageing society stifle growth at home.

May 22, 2014

SABMiller sets new savings goal as trading stays tough

LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) – Global brewer SABMiller
announced a new cost-savings target on Thursday to help cushion
it against difficult trading in a range of markets, sending its
shares higher as investors anticipated a consequent boost to

The maker of Miller Lite and Peroni beers is struggling to
grow in Europe and North America – like many consumer goods
companies – and new revenues from an emerging middle-class in
developing markets have been dented by weak currencies in many
of those countries of late.

May 9, 2014

United Spirits agrees to sell Whyte & Mackay to Emperador

MUMBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – India’s United Spirits Ltd (UNSP.NS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) agreed to sell its Whyte & Mackay scotch whisky unit to Emperador Inc (EMP.PS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) in a 430 million pound ($729 million) deal that satisfies UK antitrust concerns and the Filipino company’s thirst for growth.

United must sell Whyte & Mackay after world whisky leader Diageo Plc (DGE.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) took a controlling stake in the Indian spirits maker. Britain’s competition authority said Diageo’s Bell’s brand competes with Whyte & Mackay’s whisky and that the combination could stifle competition.

Apr 29, 2014

British American Tobacco outlines cost of EU compliance

BAYREUTH, Germany, April 29 (Reuters) – British American
Tobacco expects compliance with new European regulation
on cigarettes to cost it 100 million to 200 million euros ($138
million-$277 million) over the next two years as it upgrades its
machines to meet new packaging rules.

The European Commission is implementing legislation known as
the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) aimed at cutting down on
the estimated 700,000 EU citizens who die each year from
tobacco-related causes.

Apr 24, 2014

Tea time again in London as Unilever brews up a drinks revival

LONDON (Reuters) – Consumer goods giant Unilever opened its first European tea shop in London on Thursday, aiming to cash in on the growing appeal of unusual and luxury cuppas and ignite fresh enthusiasm for the national drink.

A new generation of Britons drink more coffee than tea since the arrival of the mighty Starbucks, and a host of imitators that now crowd high streets. But with Starbucks opening a tea bar in New York last October and talking about a $90 billion global market, the tide may be turning.

Apr 24, 2014

Unilever sales top estimates; may sell Ragu, SlimFast

LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) – Unilever said
it may sell its underperforming Ragu pasta sauce and SlimFast
brands as it reported higher-than-expected first-quarter sales
on Thursday, led by strong sales in Northern Europe of personal
and household cleaning products.

The Anglo-Dutch maker of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Dove soap
and Lipton tea announced a strategic review of its North
American pasta sauce business, which includes the market-leading
Ragu brand, and the troubled SlimFast brand whose sales have
tumbled in its biggest market, the United States.

Apr 21, 2014

Consumer firms adapt to win over emerging markets’ middle classes

LONDON, April 21 (Reuters) – From chocolate and dumplings to
toothpaste, consumer goods companies are adapting to new
spending habits as incomes rise in emerging markets while
protecting profits in places where they can be volatile.

Packaging toothpaste into tiny tubes or moving more
manufacturing locally, consumer firms are cutting prices and
costs to make their wares more affordable and accessible to
people able to buy their products for the first time.

Apr 17, 2014

Strong European currencies eat into company profits

LONDON (Reuters) – As European policymakers consider action to stop a strong euro holding back jobs growth, companies across the continent say the currency’s strength is already eating into their profits.

Some of Europe’s largest companies including Danone (DANO.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), SAP AG (SAPG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and L’Oreal (OREP.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) have posted buoyant first-quarter sales volumes in the past week thanks largely to strong demand in emerging markets such as Brazil and in North America.

Apr 17, 2014

Diageo, Remy Cointreau crimped by Chinese sobriety

LONDON/PARIS, April 17 (Reuters) – Britain’s Diageo
and France’s Remy Cointreau reported steep sales
declines in China on Thursday, failing to revive a taste for
their luxury spirits more than a year after an anti-corruption
campaign first hit conspicuous consumption.

Diageo, maker of Johnnie Walker Scotch and Smirnoff vodka,
posted a 1.3 percent drop in third-quarter organic net sales,
versus market expectations for a 2 percent increase, according
to analysts. Sales slid 19 percent in Asia and saw weakness in
other emerging markets including Russia, South Africa and Kenya.

Apr 16, 2014

Reckitt leans towards pharmaceuticals spin-off

LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) – Consumer goods maker Reckitt
Benckiser Group stood by its 2014 financial targets on
Wednesday despite unusually weak sales of disinfectants and
signalled it was leaning toward spinning off its declining
pharmaceuticals business.

The British company said a strategic review of Reckitt
Benckiser Pharmaceuticals (RBP) that it launched in October was
progressing well and that a “capital markets solution is
emerging as a strong option”.