Retail round up The Sunday Papers
Asda and Heineken seek to end supermarket alcohol price promotions, Iceland food chain readied for sell-off, Disney looks for new marketing partners for Mickey Mouse brand, Duke aids RBS shopping centre, Tesco and KFC poultry supplier on the brink of taking over ready-meal maker
Two of Britain's biggest consumer goods companies are to lead a "responsibility deal" with the Government which includes reducing the amount of alcohol in drinks and ending price promotion in the entrances to supermarkets. Heineken and Asda have agreed to the proposals as part of one of the most wide-ranging pacts between the state and the retail sector. The voluntary agreement on alcohol and healthy living is likely to be announced on Tuesday by Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary. Other companies that have signed up to a more general responsibility deal to promote better living include Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Diageo (the maker of Guinness and Smirnoff), Waitrose and Mitchells and Butler, owner of the pub chain All Bar One.
Iceland Foods has begun reorganising its corporate structure ahead of an expected sale later this year. The company, run by chief executive Malcolm Walker, has begun a period of balance sheet reordering to make the sale process easier. The complicated transaction has seen the transfer of a £286m merger reserve held in an intermediate company and a reordering of three different holding companies. The structure came about as a result of the retailer's various ownership structures in recent years, in particular following Baugur's £326m takeover of its parent company, Big Food Group, in 2005. The retailer is this week expected to pay a £100m dividend to its shareholders, the result of surplus capital.
Disney is to announce a search for new marketing partners as it looks to leverage the Mickey brand into new markets. The UK arm of Disney will reveal the new initiative at the end of the month, Disney Media Plus, aimed at finding a handful of long-term, marketing partners across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to promote Disney's brands. As well as hypothetical scenarios such as deals with Tesco or L'Oreal, the move could, for example, see a European-wide deal with BlackBerry for Hannah Montana. There could be a Hannah Montana-branded BlackBerry, advertising for BlackBerry across Disney's platforms and BlackBerry-branded Hannah Montana events.
Independent on Sunday
Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster's property company, has been called in to manage one of Royal Bank of Scotland's struggling assets, a highly leveraged shopping centre in Buckinghamshire. The property industry is on the lookout for asset management deals like this one, hoping to earn fees by helping the banks turn their investments around. Once Grosvenor has improved the fortunes of Friars Square in Aylesbury, RBS will try to sell the centre.
In the West Midlands, they call him the "chicken king" – the 44-year-old businessman who has built up a £1bn business supplying poultry to the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury and KFC. This weekend, Ranjit Boparan is chilling out at his Birmingham home, secure in the knowledge he has won the takeover battle for Northern Foods, one of Britain's biggest food suppliers, employing more than 9,000 people.
Northern specialises in providing ready-made meals and frozen products to the likes of Marks & Spencer, and owns brands such as Goodfella's Pizzas and Fox's biscuits. Until last week, it looked a reasonable bet that the rival bidder for Northern – Dublin-based Greencore – would improve on the offer Boparan trumped in January.
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