Updates from BT, Tesco and AstraZeneca
Little (more) upward progress for the FTSE 100 on Wednesday, losing 11 points to 6,860. ITV showed the most strength, up 3.6% to 230.6p with ARM Holdings also gaining, up 3% to 1069p; easyJet shares were up 2.7% to 1778p. However, there was substantial pressure on Hargreaves Lansdown shares, falling 7.5% to 966p. Tullow Oil, again, saw its share price sink below 400p, down 5.1% to 395p.
Across the water, the Dow Jones was up just 6.6 points to 17,673 though Walt Disney shares put on 7.6% and Visa Inc was up almost 2%.
Plenty of corporate news: we start with BT confirming it has agreed definitive terms to snap up EE for £12.5bn. EE has 24.5m mobile customers and 834,000 fixed broadband customers with the largest 4G base in Europe.
BT claims it expects to achieve combined operating cost and capex synergies of around £360m per annum in the fourth full year post completion, equivalent to a net present value of around £3.5bn before integration costs.
"The UK's leading 4G network," says BT boss Gavin Patterson, "will now dovetail with the UK's biggest fibre network, helping to create the leading converged communications provider in the UK."
Next, more tricky news for Tesco. The Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) has announced that it has "reasonable suspicion" that Tesco breached the Groceries Supply Code of Practice and will be investigating the retailer.
Which means Tesco is not only being investigated by the GCA but the Financial Reporting Council and the Serious Fraud Office. Business Secretary Vince Cable says funding for the GCA has consequently being upped.
"I would encourage anyone," Cable said in a statement, "with any evidence of wrongdoing to come forward and to be confident of being able to do so confidentially, as their anonymity will be protected by law."
Finally, new AstraZenecanumbers are in. Pre-tax profits dip by close to 20% to $6.4bn for the year. Fourth quarter revenues are up 2% to $6,683m, while core EPS for the quarter was $0.76, down 28%.
"2014 was a remarkable year for AstraZeneca," says boss Pascal Soriot. "We achieved a record six product approvals as we accelerated our pipeline across all main therapy areas. Alongside this, we delivered four quarters of revenue growth."
Meanwhile the company's £330m global Cambridge HQ has been given the go-ahead by Cambridge Council. AstraZeneca will employ around 2,000 staff at the new East Anglian HQ, home to its research and development operation.