Reckitt Benckiser’s decision to explore the sale of its food business could pave the way for an eventual sale of its homecare brands as the group sharpens its pivot towards consumer healthcare.
Analysts said that Reckitt was likely to step up the pace of disposals, with the large homecare division being the next potential divestment target, as Rakesh Kapoor, chief executive, focuses on completing and integrating the Mead Johnson acquisition, reducing borrowings and expanding the consumer health and hygiene businesses. (The Financial Times £)
Trade buyers, such as Kraft Heinz or Mars, could be interested in Reckitt’s key food brand French’s, as well as cash-rich private equity groups that could plough further investment into the brand and its expansion (The Times £). The move comes just two months after it announced its plan to buy Mead Johnson, raising the potential for Reckitt chief Rakesh Kapoor to inject some capital back into the business in light of the recent slowdown in sales growth at the company (The Telegraph).
The FT’s Lex column writes that a speedy disposal could help thaw investors’ reserve towards Mead Johnson deal. It writes: “The company’s sales are stalling, like birth rates across the mature markets where it operates. Reckitt’s brightest prospects are in emerging markets. The contradictions could run deeper for Reckitt than promoting infant formula alongside Durex condoms.” (The Financial Times £)
The groceries code adjudicator has said that she believes Tesco’s proposed £3.7 billion takeover of Booker could be “positive” for independent shopkeepers and suppliers. Christine Tacon said that if the retailer succeeded in taking over Booker then the wholesaler would come under the Groceries Supply Code of Practice. (The Times £)
Tesco boss Dave Lewis failed to show at the recent UK Stock Market Awards on London’s Piccadilly, where he was named chief executive of the year. Organisers explained ‘Drastic Dave’ was busy burning the midnight oil dealing with the accounting mess which saw Tesco slapped with a £129m fine from the Serious Fraud Office. (The Daily Mail)
Amazon is adding a trade counter to its UK website, selling equipment from staplers to centrifuges via a service designed to appeal to the corporate customers which account for about two-fifths of online spending (The Financial Times £). It will confirm the start of Amazon Business in the UK today, which is intended to help small and large businesses and institutional buyers such as universities and hospitals to buy products (The Times £).
Sales of organic wine are booming in the UK as part of the growing trend for “conscious consumerism”. According to the organic food and farming group the Soil Association, sales of organic beers, wines and spirits rose by 14.3% last year to reach nearly £6m, driven by strong demand for wines where consumers are increasingly seeking “natural” ingredients and reassurances about provenance. (The Guardian)
The Co-operative Group will reveal this week it has fallen back into the red for the first time since its tumultuous 2013 year, after writing off the value of its investment in the Co-operative Bank (The Guardian). The Co-op Group is braced for a £140m hit as it re-values its stake in the beleaguered bank it used to run. (The Daily Mail).