Source: DS Smith

DS Smith has received a takeover approach from Mondi, a rival UK paper specialist, in a deal that would create a European packaging giant with a value of more than £10bn (The Times £). Two of the biggest paper and packaging firms listed in London are the latest to be swept up by takeover fever (The Daily Mail).

The Times’ Alistair Osborne writes: “Some potential tie-ups have long been on every bankers’ deal list. Take the packaging bunk-up between Mondi and DS Smith. It’s been talked about so much that one day it might actually happen. Has that £10bn moment finally arrived? Who yet knows but it’s already got further than a previous effort.” (The Times £)

Unilever’s chief executive said he was disappointed by the company’s performance after the consumer goods group reported a further erosion of its market share even as it hailed a return to positive sales volumes (The Financial Times £). The boss of Unilever admitted ‘there is much to do’ after another ‘disappointing’ performance (The Daily Mail). Shoppers are shunning Unilever’s brands of ice creams, condiments and bleaches in favour of supermarkets’ own-branded products as the cost of living crunch continues to bite (The Times £).

The boss of Unilever has refused to rule out cutting the size of its products after it was criticised for shrinking packs of Magnum ice creams and Simple soap bars. (The Telegraph £)

Nils Pratley in The Guardian writes: “It’s hard to deny that Schumacher is correct in his diagnosis that Unilever can be run leaner and harder. The group has a superb collection of well-invested brands with good market positions around the globe, but the sluggish share price since 2017 screams unfilled commercial potential. The open question is the speed at which it’s possible to turn the supertanker.” (The Guardian)

British American Tobacco said on Thursday that it was working on divesting some of its nearly 30% stake in India’s largest tobacco company ITC, potentially paving the way for it to resume share buybacks to reward investors (The Financial Times £). The London-listed maker of Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes is seeking to cut its £15 billion stake in an Indian conglomerate, triggering a sharp rebound in its share price as investors welcomed the prospect of a buyback (The Times £).

British American Tobacco shares gained the most in nearly four years after it revealed it was looking to dump some of its £15billion stake in India’s largest cigarette firm. (The Daily Mail)

Compass Group hailed a ‘strong start’ to the financial year after posting double-digit percentage growth across all regions. (The Daily Mail)

The billionaire family behind Primark and Fortnum & Mason has paid itself £36.9m in dividend payments after profits across its portfolio grew last year. (The Times £)

Hundreds of jobs are at risk after Kellogg’s said it planned to close a factory that it opened in 1938. (The Times £)

Scottish consumers will be unable to buy a bottle of red wine for less than £6.09 or a bottle of whisky for under £18.20 from October, after the minimum price for alcohol was raised by 30%. (The Guardian)

Police failed to attend 40 per cent of shoplifting incidents where covert store staff detained the offender, research by Co-op has revealed (The Telegraph £). Violence against Co-op shop workers rose sharply in 2023 as shoplifting and abuse increased, the supermarket said (The BBC).

Customer boycotts leave bitter taste for Starbucks and McDonald’s. World’s largest coffee chain and fast-food group have been hit by global protests since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict. (The Financial Times £)

McDonald’s success hinges on franchisees wanting to operate its restaurants. It’s no secret that McDonald’s gets paid a lot more handsomely than its franchisees. For decades this hasn’t been an issue. However, lately an increasing number of them are complaining about being ripped off. (The Times £)

The chief executive of L’Oréal, the world’s biggest beauty company, has predicted that price increases will slow this year after they helped to propel growth in the global beauty market for the past three years. (The Financial Times £)

Global cocoa prices have hit a fresh record high as dry weather hurts crops in West Africa. (The BBC)

Representatives of Del Monte Kenya have been accused of offering bribes in an attempt to cover up the circumstances in which four men died after going to steal pineapples from its farm in December. (The Guardian)