Big changes are underway in the UK’s bus market and that can play nicely into the hands of bus group Rotala (ROL). German transport giant Deutsche Bahn is reportedly keen to sell its Arriva business, which as well as running the Northern Rail franchise is also the UK’s largest bus operator. Arriva is too big for Rotala but if its German owner decides to sell the bus operation piece-meal the West Midland-based group would be very interested in some of the parts, says Simon Dunn, chief executive. Rotala currently has less than 1 per cent of a UK bus market dominated by five large players – Arriva, Stagecoach, FirstGroup, Go-Ahead and National Express. That quintet account for 70% of the market and realistically the best way for Rotala to increase its size is to acquire smaller rivals but if Arriva does shed routes that presents interesting options, Dunn says.
Potash miner Emmerson (EML) is close to inking a supply deal that could be worth as much as £4.4 billion over the next 20 years. It has signed an initial agreement to provide a global fertiliser trader with all of the product from its Morocco-based mine for the next five years. But the Mail understands it is in discussions to provide all of its potash to the international firm, which it has not named, for the next two decades. Emmerson listed on the London Stock Exchange last year and has a current market value of £24 million.
A bumper one-off dividend from BHP Billiton (BLT) helped shareholder payouts leap to a record £19.7 billion in the first quarter of this year. The amount paid surged by almost 16%, helped by FTSE 100 miner BHP’s £1.7 billion special dividend from the more than £8 billion sale of its US shale oil assets to BP. Total UK dividends are expected to break the £100 billion barrier for the first time this year, according to figures from Link Asset Services, which forecast investor payouts to rise by 6% to £106 billion in 2019.
Stagecoach Group (SGC) has upped the ante in its battle with the Government after it was disqualified at the 11th hour from bidding for three rail contracts over a row about pensions liabilities. The rail and bus operator said it has written to the Department for Transport and it is understood the letter is a prelude to High Court action. Stagecoach has asked for the DfT to respond to it by today. Stagecoach wants to know why its bid for East Midlands, which it currently operates, was deemed ‘non-compliant’ at the last minute. It claims the Government has passed the burden of underwriting liabilities for the huge Railway Pension Scheme on to rail operators for the first time.
Activist investor Oasis Management has thrown its support behind Superdry (SDRY) founder Julian Dunkerton who seized back control of the business just 12 days ago. Oasis Management, which recently forced the chief executive at Mr Kipling-to-Bisto owner Premier Foods to resign, has bought 3.3% of the fashion firm’s shares. It is understood to have met with Dunkerton since he won his bid to be reinstated as a director with the backing of 51.2% of shareholders. Support from Oasis is a boost to the entrepreneur and his team, which includes former Boohoo chairman and Selfridges chief executive Peter Williams.
An ally of tracksuits tycoon Mike Ashley last night emerged as one of the big winners from the demise of Debenhams (DEB). City sources said Crispin Odey, who has previously backed the Sports Direct boss in boardroom disputes, made £30million after shorting Debenhams stock before the chain crashed into administration last week. Odey, one of the Square Mile’s most daring hedge fund managers, made millions shorting British banks in the run-up to the financial crisis and in subsequent government bail-outs in 2008. Odey is a shareholder in Ashley’s Sports Direct International (SPD) with a stake of almost 2.5%.