Updates from Sainsbury's, Betfair and National Express

The FTSE 100 was up +0.94% on Friday, hitting 6,521. Miner Eurasian Natural Resources saw the biggest lift, up +11.5%, while RBS saw a -5.89% descent.

Overnight in Asia Japanese stocks have soared again with the Nikkei 225 rising comfortably above the 14,000 barrier to 14,166. That's a +3.45% gain.
%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%First off, news that Sainsbury's looks set to grab control of its banking arm, buying out Lloyds. Full details won't be announced till Wednesday when Sainsbury's full-year numbers are out. But it should mean complete control for all its banking operations.

With the Black Horse out of the picture, Sainsbury's will be freer to market itself more aggressively. Currently it has around 1.4m customers; Sainsbury's has already been trialling some banking services insides its stores.

"J Sainsbury's notes the press speculation," the grocer said this morning, "concerning Sainsbury's Bank and confirms it is in advanced negotiations with Lloyds Banking Group to take full ownership of Sainsbury's Bank. A further announcement will be made in due course."

Next, a trading statement from Betfair. Full year 2013 estimated revenues, the company says, should be £387m with estimated underlying EBITDA of £73m. Cost savings have increased to £30m (from £20m) with the benefit now expected in full year 2014.

There has been a +74% year on year increase in games cross sell since sportsbook launch the company says while it claims its UK customer base is up +18% year on year in the last six months.

"A wide ranging restructuring," says boss Breon Corcoran, "has been completed ahead of schedule, allowing us to increase our cost savings substantially. At the same time, the pace of product delivery has accelerated, including the development and launch of a new sportsbook within three months."

Lastly, National Express. The bus operator claims trading across the Group is in line with expectations. Like-for-like commercial revenues increased by +3% in the UK, with continued growth in student travelcard sales.

Recent new contract wins includes German Rail and North America Transit, plus the launch of new services in both UK and German Coach. UK Coach has been selected to run coach services between London Luton Airport and London Victoria, starting May 2013, the company says.

National Express Transit has also entered the California market with growing annual revenue to $75 million. "We remain focused on strong cash generation and prudent debt management, which will provide flexibility and shareholder returns for the future."
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