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Jan 5, 2015
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Centre-left may have UK election edge

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By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Britain’s three main political parties are weak. Its two nationalist groups are stronger. The probable five-way fight in the 2015 general election, due in May, will be unusual. It is also likely to produce an inconclusive result. A new Breakingviews calculator suggests, however, that a Labour-led coalition could take power.

Dec 30, 2014

Breakingviews: Tesco will have to fight for its independence

By Robert Cole

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) – Tesco will have to
fight for its independence in 2015. The UK grocer’s equity value
fell from 33 billion pounds ($51 billion) three years ago to 15
billion pounds in mid-December. The group will start the year by
unveiling a new strategy and, probably, a new chairman. Neither
provides solid protection against a bid.

Tesco’s pretax profit could be less than 1 billion pounds in
the financial year to the end of February, data from Thomson
Reuters’ SmartEstimate shows. Net debt is around 7.5 billion
pounds. The 22.5 billion pound enterprise value may put it
beyond the reach of a financial buyer, especially factoring a
premium on top. A club deal is conceivable to break it up, but
these are notoriously hard to put together – and keep together.

Dec 30, 2014
via Breakingviews

Tesco will have to fight for its independence

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By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Tesco will have to fight for its independence in 2015. The UK grocer’s equity value fell from 33 billion pounds ($51 billion) three years ago to 15 billion pounds in mid-December. The group will start the year by unveiling a new strategy and, probably, a new chairman. Neither provides solid protection against a bid.

Dec 9, 2014
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Tesco troubles are deep and long-lasting

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By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The bad news at Tesco just gets worse. Guidance issued with the unscheduled Dec. 9 update indicates that group trading profit for the current year to next February will be no more than 1.4 billion pounds. That’s 28 percent down on the previous consensus of analysts’ forecasts. It is barely two-fifths of last year’s level.

Nov 27, 2014
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SABMiller’s Coca-Cola push is Africa buy signal

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By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

If there was any doubt about SABMiller’s interest in soft drinks, the brewer’s tie-up with Coca-Cola in Africa should squash them for good. SAB, Coca-Cola and privately held Gutsche Family Investments have agreed to merge bottling assets in southern and eastern Africa into a soft-drinks group with $2.9 billion of annual sales. It is a deal that ticks all the boxes for SAB.

Nov 13, 2014
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SABMiller has fight to justify heady share price

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By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Perma-speculation that Belgian brewer AB InBev will make a bid probably accounts for most of the share price premium enjoyed by rival SABMiller. Without such support, the UK group’s stock could drift lower.

Oct 23, 2014
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Tesco fails to answer key strategy questions

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By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Tesco has let a golden opportunity go begging. The UK grocer could have built confidence in its future with a bold statement of strategy alongside a key set of half-year numbers. It could have taken the first steps to recovery. Yet Tesco appears as mired as ever.

Oct 16, 2014

Nestle needs to step up pace of change

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own.)

By Robert Cole

LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Nestle is
getting a reputation for disappointment. In absolute terms, its
trading performance in the first nine months of the year was OK.
In a low-growth world, Nestle’s 4.5 percent increase in revenue
was respectable, especially given the weakness in European
consumer markets.

Sep 30, 2014
via Breakingviews

UK retail fails to weather the patently obvious

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By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Talking about the weather is a British national pastime. It cannot have escaped the notice of anyone living on an island in Europe’s north west fringe that it has been unseasonably warm in the last few weeks.

Sep 15, 2014
via Breakingviews

SAB/Heineken could leap antitrust hurdles

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By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A $130 billion Anglo-Dutch beer monster could leap antitrust hurdles. Heineken has rebuffed a takeover approach from SABMiller as “non-actionable.” As you might expect from a combination of the world’s second- and third-biggest brewers, there are major competition concerns. But these could be fixed and the result would be an emerging markets titan. The rejection suggests family control of Heineken is the real sticking point.

    • About Robert

      "Robert is Assistant Editor of Reuters Breakingviews, based in London. He has a special focus on investment, writing about it on a global basis. Robert worked for The Times, in London, in a variety of writing and editing capacities from 1998 to 2010. For nearly 10 years he edited the newspaper’s daily Tempus investment column. He was also deputy business editor, acting business editor, a leader writer, the chief obituaries writer and a news editor in the home affairs department. Prior to joining The Times, Robert worked on The Independent and the London Evening Standard. His most recent book is ..."
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