The process of finding a new Tesco (TSCO) chairman looks far less like the coronation it seemed two weeks ago, with observers now picking late entrant Archie Norman as favourite for the post.
A number of reports today suggest that the former Asda chairman has emerged as the frontrunner ahead of former Dixons chairman John Allan, who had looked a shoe-in for the role when Sir Ian Cheshire, the former chief executive of Kingfisher, pulled out of the race two weeks ago.
The Financial Times today writes that two Tesco’s top-10 investors are pressing the company to go with Norman, with a decision expected to be made by the company as early as this week. The potential appointment has already won the support of analysts, with Norman being described as a “credible figurehead”.
If Norman is appointed, it would throw up the intriguing scenario of the pair credited with Asda’s spectacular turnaround in the late 1990s both taking new chairmanships of rival grocery retailers. Former Asda chief executive Allan Leighton is poised to become chairman of The Co-operative Group.
It’s a quiet morning on the markets so far today. There’s also little notable early share price movement, though Tesco (TSCO) has edged up by almost 1% to 244.6p as the appointment of a new chairman draws nearer. Coca-Cola HBC (CCH) is down 0.8% to 1,182p after Greece bailout talks broke down, while Just Eat is up 2.4% to 363.9p after acquiring Mexico’s leading takeaway group SinDelantal Mexico.
Last night in the US it emerged that Cadbury owner Mondelez (MDLZ) is to buy allergy-free snack foods specialist Enjoy Life Foods.
Late yesterday afternoon AIM-listed palm oil producer REA Holdings issues a trading update, noting harvest volumes for the year to 31 December 2014 rose to 631,728 tonnes, compared with 578,785 tonnes in 2013. “The record production levels achieved in 2014 reflect the increasing volumes flowing through from the now maturing estates of the group and from local smallholders.”
Yesterday in the City
Tate & Lyle (TATE) was one the market’s big movers yesterday as it was boosted by takeover speculation and a broker upgrade. The sucralose producer was linked to a £4.4bn takeover by US group Bunge and was upgraded by Canaccord Genuity from ‘buy’ to ‘sell’. The broker said: “The likelihood of a further profit warning in the near term appears low, and we think this risk is now captured in the valuation.” Tate & Lyle ended the day up 3.4% to 577p after a recent falls following three profits warnings.
Elsewhere, SABMiller (SAB) - subject to takeover speculation of its own following reports that Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital is readying a bid - rose 1.9% to 3,523.3p.
Coca Cola HBC was up 2.4% to 1,192p ahead of its annual results tomorrow, while Bargain Booze owner Conviviality Retail (CVR) rocketed up 5.1% to 154p and Premier Foods continued its 2015 recovery, climbing 2.4% to 44.3p.