Updates from BSkyB, Carillion and United Utilities

BSkyB reaches deal with Murdoch for 'Sky Europe'


The FTSE 100 climbed 23 points on Thursday to 6,821.4. Reed Elsevier was the Board's biggest riser, up 4.37% to 980p while Concordia owner Carnival also climbed, up 2.34% to 2183p. However B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher shares sank more than 8%, to 308.50p, on disappointing quarterly sales. easyJet shares were buffeted 4.99% to 1333p.

In the US, the Dow Jones finished flat, down 2.8 points to 17,083, despite considerable earnings news.

We start with news of a possible £3bn merger between Carillion and Balfour Beatty. Both boards says work is underway on a strategy and business plan for a combined operation, though a decision must be made by 21 August.

"In evaluating the merits of the merger," Carillion and Balfour said in a joint statement, "the two boards will, inter alia, wish to be satisfied that such a merger would lead to very significant value creation for the benefit of both sets of shareholders."

Balfour Beatty ex boss Andrew McNaughton left the business in the spring following a profit warning; the company has also been exposed to project difficulties at its engineering services arm.

Next BSkyB and an agreement with 21st Century Fox to acquire its 100% stake in Sky Italia and 57.4% interest in Sky Deutschland. The total sum for Sky Italia will be £2.45 billion with approximately £2.07 billion to be paid cash.

The acquisition of 21st Century Fox's shareholding in Sky Deutschland is £2.9 billion in cash, valuing Sky Deutschland at €6.75 a share. It's thought both deals could net Rupert Murdoch up to $10bn.

The deal should produce significant cost-cutting benefits for the shared businesses. Additionally, BSkyB claims adjusted revenue climbs 7% to £7.6 billion for the last 12 months; there is a 7% increase in full year dividend to 32.0 pence per share.

Finally, an interim from United Utilities. Revenue has increased, reflecting the regulated price rise for 2014/15 though partly offset by a previously announced discount of £20 million. The revenue increase is also offset by higher depreciation and other operating cost.

The group expects to deliver a good underlying financial performance for 2014/15. It claims it's ahead of schedule and remain confident of delivering our 2010-15 targets.

"We intend," says United, "to continue with our dividend policy of targeting 2% per annum growth above the rate of RPI inflation through to at least 2015, underpinned by a robust capital structure."

Carillion/Balfour Beatty
United Utilities

BSkyB Eyes Purchase of Sky Italy and Sky Germany from 21st Century Fox