Updates from Vodafone and Mitchells and Butlers

Interest rate worries helped push the FTSE 100 down 65 points on Friday, falling to 6,777.8. Persimmon saw the biggest drop, diving almost 7% to 1211p while Barratt Developments also fell hard, down 6.30% to 346.30p. Sports Direct Int came under pressure too, down 4.77% to 779p.

In contrast, the Dow Jones climbed higher on Friday to 16,775.7 following a spate of deals and a brighter outlook for the IT sector. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
A quiet day on the corporate news front. Vodafone says intends to to acquire Cobra Automotive Technologies through a voluntary tender offer of €1.49 per share in cash, valuing Cobra at €145 million. Cobra had reported net debt of €48 million as of 31 March.

The offer should launch in the coming weeks, subject to the provisions of Italian law. Vodafone has also entered into an agreement with minority shareholders of Cobra's Telematics subsidiary to acquire a 20% shareholding for €20 million.

"The combination of Vodafone and Cobra will create a new global provider of connected car services," says Vodafone. "We plan to invest in the business to offer our automotive and insurance customers a full range of telematics services."

Next, pubs and restaurants player Mitchells & Butlers says it has acquired the majority of the activities of the Orchid Group including 173 predominantly freehold pubs and the Orchid head office. The purchase price, paid cash, is £266 million.

This expands Mitchells & Butlers' share of the UK branded pubs and restaurants market with opportunity for sales and profit uplifts from conversion of 96 pubs to Mitchells & Butlers brands, claims the company.

"The acquisition," says Alistair Darby, chief exec of Mitchells & Butlers, "of the majority of the Orchid estate will accelerate Mitchells & Butlers' growth and present significant opportunities for value creation."

Finally, Ultra Electronics says has acquired Lab Impex Systems Ltd (LIS) for £3.2m. LIS is a developer and supplier of radiation measurement solutions and services for use in the nuclear industry.

The acquisition, claims Ultra, extends Ultra's radiation monitoring product capabilities, strengthens the Group's nuclear qualified engineering expertise and its position within the nuclear sector.

The acquisition of LIS will be deployed using Ultra's existing finance facilities. The company has 58 employees located in Poole, Dorset and Sellafield, Cumbria in the UK and in Tennessee, US.

Mitchells & Butlers
Ultra Electronics

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