As Iceland prepares to release its last set of separate interim results on Tuesday, observers will be more interested in the accompanying progress report about its merger with Booker. "Investors just want to hear some reassuring noises about the Booker deal," observed one source. "These are pre-Booker results so it's difficult to see how they are going to excite the market. The combined results [published in March 2001] are far more significant." Most commentators predict the frozen food giant is on track for solid 5% or 6% like for like sales growth and pretax profits of around £32m for the six months ending June 30. And early fears that Booker would drag the plucky retailer down were dismissed. "We thought the deal was a good one from the beginning," said one source, predicting "moderate growth" at Iceland for the first half. Iceland shares are recovering nicely after the initial panic when the merger was first announced. But there are still some lingering anxieties concerning management changes. Malcolm Walker's decision to take a back seat to Stuart Rose is sure to have an impact, said one analyst. "Malcolm is so instrumental to Iceland, it'll be a different business without him." Another insisted Walker had "always been an ideas man anyway" and had built up a strong management team. Besides, he added, "I can't see him disappearing completely." There is a general consensus the proposed figure of £50m in trading synergies between the two parties is a "fair" assessment. And Iceland has worked hard to differentiate itself in a competitive market and continues to outperform its rivals, said one industry source, concluding: "It might even surprise us." {{NEWS }}