Updates from E.ON, Diageo and Paperlinx UK

Ofgem slaps another fine on E.ON meanwhile M&S shares hit a seven-year high

Updated: 
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Diageo, E.ONA cautious lift for the FTSE 100 on Thursday, rising 24 points to 6,833.4. Investors cheered better General Merchandise news on from M&S with shares rising 4.4% to 554p. Hikma Pharma shares climbed strongly, up 3% to 2195p while Imperial Tobacco Group continued the previous day climb, up 2.8% to 3131p. However BHP Billiton was the biggest loser down 2.6% to 718p.

Across the water the Dow Jones also climbed modestly - helped by better employment numbers - up 65 points to 17,763.2. Home Depot and Verizon both climbed more than 1%.

Pre-Easter, a quiet day on the business news front. First, a £7.7m fine for E.ON from energy regulator Ofgem for overcharging customers following price rises, or leaving for other operators.

This is in addition to the £400,000 E.ON has already paid to some of its customers. E.ON is now in the process of refunding remaining customers to ensure they did not lose out says Ofgem.

"E.ON was found," says Ofgem, "to have made billing errors in respect of price rises in January 2013 and January 2014. These affected direct debit and standard credit customers. The average amount paid back was around £8 and £12 respectively."

Next, Diageo is to spend €20m for South African drinks operation United National Breweries. Diageo owns 50% of the business currently, buying its original stake in 2013. More evidence of Diageo's emerging markets focus (the company recently sold its Bushmills Irish whiskey business, to Jose Cuervo for $408m).

The deal gives Diageo the ability "to make investment decisions to support," it says, "the continued growth of United National Breweries brands in the sorghum beer category."

The Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker maker recently said 50% of its sales growth will hail from emerging markets in the future, though the company has been hit by a corruption crackdown in China, affecting Asian sales.

Lastly, it's thought up to 700 jobs are at risk from Northampton paper merchant, Paperlinx UK. The company has struggled from increasing digitisation; it looks likely 14 plants will close.

The BBC reports that the company's packaging operations will continue. Deloitte have been appointed as administrators. Paperlinx had employed more than 1,200 staff originally.

A strategic review, led by new boss Andy Preece, of the company's operations was commenced at the end of 2014. Deloitte will surely be looking for a buyer which may be problematic.

Leaders' Debate: Heated Exchanges on the Economy and NHS
Read more:

Three share ideas for last minute Isas

Five shares to watch in 2015


The Naked Trader