Unilever agrees to dispose of margarine and spreads business – ANC conference results imminent

Unilever has announced it will dispose of its margarine and spreads business to KKR, a US private equity firm, for an amount of €6.83bn ($8.04bn). This comes after KKR outbid other rivals, managing to acquire brands like Blue Band, Country Crock and Flora. Unilever’s decision to sell came in April, following a review of its assets after Kraft Heinz made a $143bn unsolicited offer for the group. As it stands, Unilever plans to return the cash to shareholders, unless a more value-creating opportunity arises. The deal is currently set to close in mid-2018, but will be subject to regulatory approvals and employee consultations.

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Oracle beats Street expectations

Oracle released better-than-expected results on Thursday. During the second quarter, revenues increased by 6% to $9.6bn, slightly higher than estimates of $9.57bn. This uptick was partly due to a 44% surge in total cloud revenue to $1.5bn. Overall, Oracle saw net income grow to $2.23bn, or 52 cents per share, up from $2.03bn, or 48 cents per share, a year ago. However, on an adjusted basis, earnings per share stood at 70 cents, surpassing forecasts of 68 cents. Looking forward, Oracle expects third quarter revenues to increase by between 2% and 4%, while non-GAAP earnings are set to come in at between 68 cents per share and 70 cents per share on a constant currency basis.

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Walt Disney buying up Twenty-First Century Fox assets

Walt Disney is close to finalising the purchase of the film and television businesses from Twenty-First Century Fox. According to reports, Walt Disney is expected to acquire a number of assets, including the Twentieth Century Fox movie and TV studio, cable networks and the international operations. Walt Disney will also buy the group’s stake in the Hulu streaming service. These assets are valued at around $29 per share. Twenty-First Century Fox’s remaining assets, which are mainly focused on news and sport, will be offered to existing shareholders in a new company which should be valued at just more than $11 per share.

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Western Digital and Toshiba resolved dispute

Earlier this morning, reports surfaced that Toshiba Corp and Western Digital Corp have agreed to settle a dispute over Toshiba’s plans to sell its chip unit. A key obstacle to the $18bn sale of Toshiba Memory to a consortium led by Bain Capital has now been removed. Toshiba’s sale of Toshiba Memory was agreed in September and was forced upon the group as it attempts to cover billions of dollars in liabilities arising from its US nuclear power unit, Westinghouse. As it stands, Western Digital will now drop arbitration claims seeking to stop the sale of Toshiba Memory in exchange for Toshiba allowing Western Digital to invest in a new production line for advanced memory chips.

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Boeing increases dividends and share buybacks

On Monday, Boeing announced it would increase its quarterly dividend and that it would replace its current share buyback program with a new $18bn plan. According to the world’s largest maker of jetliners, the decision to raise its dividend and implement new share buybacks was not in response to the Republican plan to reform taxes. Instead, the cash deployment by Boeing reflects the continued confidence in the group’s financial strength and the long-term outlook of its business. Boeing is this year’s top performing Dow Jones component, with the group surging just more than 80% during 2017.

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PepsiCo moves to the Nasdaq

Over the weekend, PepsiCo confirmed it would move its listing to the NASDAQ, ending a near 100-year relationship with the New York Stock Exchange. According to the NYSE, the group was originally listed as Loft Inc. with an initial listing date of 18 December 1919. PepsiCo’s shares will now start trading on the NASDAQ as of 20 December 2017, where it will join some of the world’s most valuable listed companies. The main reason for the move is PepsiCo’s anticipation that it will achieve greater cost-effectiveness and enjoy access to the NASDAQ’s unique portfolio of tools and services, which will assist the group in connecting with its investors more efficiently.

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Semiconductors continue to beat expectations

Yesterday saw semiconductor firm Broadcom announce better-than-expected results. During the 4th quarter, Broadcom saw net revenues increase to $4.84bn, surpassing analysts’ estimates of $4.83bn. This strong performance was partly due to its wired infrastructure unit, which makes chips for set-top boxes and cable modems. Overall, the group saw adjusted earnings come in at $4.59 per share, slightly higher than forecasts of $4.52 per share. Looking forward, Broadcom expects first quarter revenues to increase to $5.3bn, much better than expectations of $4.83bn. The group also increased its quarterly dividend to $1.75 per share, 72% higher than the $1.02 dividend declared previously.

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Nestle keeps on acquiring

On Monday, Nestle announced it would be acquiring Atrium Innovations for an amount of $2.3bn. Atrium Innovations is a maker of vitamins, probiotics and meal replacements and currently sources 80% of its $700mn in sales from the United States. From Nestle’s side, the deal aims to expand the group’s presence in consumer healthcare as well as offset weakness in packaged foods. The acquisition is in-line with Nestle’s ambition of becoming a nutrition, health and wellness company. Given Nestle’s decision to make consumer health a strategic priority, this marks the group’s fourth purchase in recent months.

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Broadcom goes hostile on Qualcomm takeover

Broadcom took its first formal step towards launching a hostile takeover for Qualcomm on Monday. In a statement, the chipmaker unveiled a list of 11 nominees to the board of Qualcomm. The nominees consist of nine men and two women and include a former president of Nokia and the former chairman of Dialog Semiconductor. This move comes after Qualcomm rejected Broadcom’s $103bn offer last month, with Broadcom now attempting to remove Qualcomm’s board in order to force the company to engage with it. Looking forward, Qualcomm’s shareholders will be able to vote on Broadcom’s board director slate at the group’s annual meeting on the 6th of March 2017.

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CVS Health agrees to buy Aetna for $69bn

On Sunday, US-based drugstore chain operator, CVS Health, announced it had agreed to acquire Aetna for $69bn. As a result, Aetna, a US-based health insurer, will see its shareholders receive $207 per share. Of this $207 per share, $145 per share will be in cash, while the rest of the offer will be in the form of 0.8378 CVS shares for each Aetna share. This sees Aetna owning  around 22% of the combined company, while CVS shareholders will have the rest. If the deal is concluded, it will see one of the US’ largest pharmacy operators combine with one of the country’s oldest health insurers. The merger seeks to tackle the soaring costs of healthcare through lower-cost medial services in pharmacies.

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