Business in brief: Britvic delivers 13.5pc profit rise
SOFT drinks group Britvic posted a 13.5pc rise in first half operating profit and said its Fruit Shoot roll-out in the United States had now gone nationwide.
The group, which makes drinks such as Robinsons Squash, Fruit Shoot and Tango, as well as PepsiCo brands Pepsi and 7UP in Britain and Ireland, reported operating profit for the 28 weeks to April 13 had risen to £59m (€72.9m), slightly ahead of consensus forecasts of £57.67m.
First half revenue rose 4.7pc to £670.7m, with volumes up 3.9pc and group EBITA of £60.5m was up 12.9pc on last year.
Britvic said it remained on track to post annual operating profit of £148m to £156m for 2014.
"This has been another period of solid progress for our business, as we continue to implement the strategy we announced last year," said chief executive Simon Litherland.
"We remain on track to meet our target of £30m of annual cost savings by 2016. In addition, our international business is progressing well and the nationwide distribution of Fruit Shoot in the USA is an important milestone as we seek to exploit the international potential of our brands."
BNP PARIBAS TO SUFFER SAME FATE AS CREDIT SUISSE
BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, fell to a seven-month low in Paris amid concerns US authorities will seek more than $5bn from the lender to settle a probe into alleged violations of US sanctions.
The stock fell as much as 3pc – the lowest since October 1 – and was down 1.8pc at €50.73 yesterday morning.
The amount sought in the probe of the lender's dealings with countries including Iran and Sudan has escalated, and now far exceeds the $2.6bn that Credit Suisse agreed to pay.
A fine of more than $7bn would jeopardise BNP's dividend and could prevent the Paris-based lender from keeping its capital ratio, a measure of financial strength, above 10pc.
"The risk is more than the fine, the risk is them losing the right to do some businesses in the US," said Alain Tchibozo, an analyst at Mediobanca.
"If they were to stop running this platform, it would affect their earnings power."
ECB POLICIES CRITICISED BY MERKEL ALLIES
LAWMAKERS from Chancellor Angela Merkel's party are criticising European Central Bank policies as a German anti-euro party gains support before European elections this week.
Misgivings by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble about the ECB's threat of unlimited bond-buying and Merkel's warning of "deceptive calm" in financial markets are the latest signs that German policy makers and economists don't want to discount the lingering risk to taxpayers from the debt crisis.
"The Bundestag would certainly have major concerns to clear the way for unlimited bond purchases by the ECB," Norbert Barthle, the budget spokesman for the Christian Democrats in parliament, said. "I said back then that the ECB is making itself strongly dependent on political decisions" because lawmakers in Berlin would have a say in the process if the central bank ever decided it wants to buy a euro-area country's bonds as part of an aid package, he added.
UK RETAIL SALES JUMP FOR THIRD MONTH IN A ROW
UK retail sales increased for a third month in April as a buoyant property market bolstered spending on household goods and price discounting saw food sales rise at the fastest pace in three years.
Sales, including auto fuel, surged 1.3pc from March, when they rose an upwardly revised 0.5pc, the Office for National Statistics said. Sales jumped 6.9pc in April from a year earlier, the most since May 2004.
The pound strengthened after the data were released and after minutes of the Bank of England's latest meeting showed some officials thought the arguments in favour of an interest-rate increase were growing stronger.
"Elevated confidence, markedly higher employment and a much improved housing market overall are all supportive to consumer spending," said Howard Archer, an economist at IHS Global Insight in London. "The encouraging prospect for retailers – and for overall growth prospects – is that consumers' purchasing power should pick up over the coming months."
COMMERZBANK SUSPEND TWO FOR BREACHING RULES
GERMANY'S second-biggest bank Commerzbank has suspended two individuals in its foreign exchange division for a breach of internal rules.
"Commerzbank has zero tolerance for non-compliance with rules and regulations and has taken immediate action upon the discovery of inappropriate conduct," the Frankfurt-based company said in an e-mailed statement.
The breach was an unsuccessful attempt to manipulate a client order and wasn't related to currency-rigging, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
One trader was suspended in February and the other this month, said the person, who asked not to be identified because he's not authorised to comment publicly on the matter. Commerzbank said it believed the breach was an isolated event and neither the bank nor the employees profited from it.
Shares in the bank climbed 0.6pc to €11.18 yesterday morning in Frankfurt trading.