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Sunday newspaper round-up: Unilever, Morrisons, Aston Martin

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Sunday 23 Jan 2022

Sunday newspaper round-up: Unilever, Morrisons, Aston Martin

(Sharecast News) - Activist investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Partners has reportedly built up a stake in Unilever, which will likely pile on the pressure after the consumer goods giant's failed £50bn bid for GlaxoSmithKline's consumer health unit. The size of the stake, which was first reported by the Financial Times, is not known. Peltz had retired from the board of US-based rival Procter&Gamble just a few months before, but not before pushing for change that helped boost P&G's shares up by 85%. Over the past five years, Unilever stock has underperformed that of its major rivals, including Nestle, P&G, PepsiCo and L'oreal. - Sunday Telegraph

The private equity owners of Morrisons have begun the search for a new chief executive officer ahead of current boss, David Potts', expected retirement in roughly two years' time. Acting for Morrisons' owner, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, headhunting outfit, Skill Capital, began approaching potential candidates around the end of 2021. CD&R is trying to avoid what happened at rival Asda, which has been without a CEO since Roger Burnley left in August. Trevor Strain, Morrisons' chief operating officer, is the main internal candidate to substitute Potts. - Sunday Times

Cannacord Genuity analyst James Congdon believes that Aston Martin may need to tap shareholders for fresh funds again. "We increasingly can see a scenario where the company would need to raise capital again," he said. Congdon is unique, being the only analyst who had flagged that Aston might need to raise fresh capital several times following its flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 2018, as had already been the case. In parallel, during the previous week, Parvus Asset Management Europe joined fund rivals Blackrock and Gladstone Capital Management in disclosing short positions in Aston Martin. - The Financial Mail on Sunday

Vodafone's recent takeover approach for its smaller rival Three could set off a wave of interest in the latter. Just last month, Vodafone looked into the possibility of buying Three from its owner, CK Hutchinson. However, no deal was agreed and talks were not active at present. Vodafone boss, Nick Read, had previously been clear that Vodafone was open to possible acquistions if "on the right terms". - Sunday Times

Aviva is making preparations to return as much as £5bn to shareholders as part of its boss's, Amanda Blanc's new growth strategy. Sign-off on the plans is expected next month. A special dividend is the preferred option, alongside a share consolidation plan such that the share price is kept intact. The firm is already buying back £1bn and has said that it will return at least £3bn more. Yet analysts now expect the total payout to be nearer £5bn. Blanc is also expected to broach her plans in the bulk annuity market and for growing its workplace pensions offer. - The Financial Mail on Sunday


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