Monday, 4 February 2008

Microsoft serious about takeover & Businessman of the Month

It is understood that Microsoft is threatening to launch a boardroom coup at Yahoo! within six weeks if the internet search engine fails to accept its $45 billion (£23 billion) hostile takeover proposal. The plan to oust Yahoo! executives came, as it emerged that the search engine was considering the feasibility of a tie-up with Google, its bigger rival, to fight off the approach from Microsoft.

While any tie-up between the two would trigger a cartel investigation — a combination of Yahoo! and Google would have more than 80% of the UK’s internet searches alone — Yahoo! is thought to be considering options such as turning to Google as its search provider.

David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, said in a blog that a combination of Microsoft and Yahoo! could undermine the open competition that has fuelled more than a decade of innovation on the web. He said: “Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors’ e-mail, IM and web-based services?”

Although it is understood that Microsoft would much prefer a takeover to be amicable and not resort to ousting Yahoo! directors, the software company has become increasingly frustrated that the lack of a tie-up between the two groups has helped Google, the world’s biggest internet company, to grow even stronger. So anxious are Microsoft executives about Google’s dominance that they are prepared to remove the Yahoo! board.

Some analysts say that although a bid valuing Yahoo! at a 62% premium is hard to reject, Yahoo! may consider a tie-up with another media group, such as News Corporation, parent company of The Times and Times Online, or Disney, or a telecoms group, such as AT&T. (source: Bloomberg)

Rising airport charges at Stanstead and tougher operating conditions was blamed by Ryanair, Europe's largest airline, today blamed for the 27% slump in third-quarter profits.

The company also gave warning that the worsening economic environment in Europe could hammer next year's results, predicting that profits might fall 50% to €235 million (£176 million) in a worst-case scenario.

Ryanair said that the high oil price, combined with longer routes and an increased number of flights, would lead to significantly higher costs. Its best-case scenario for 2008-09 was a 6% increase in profits to about €500 million (£375.94 million), but the airline also said that there could be a 50% fall in profits if oil stayed high and consumer spending declined.

In the three months to the end of December, Ryanair reported a fall in income from €48 million (£36 million) to €35 million (£26 million) despite a 21% increase in passenger numbers and a 16% rise in revenue.

Ryanair carried 12.4 million passengers during the third quarter and ancillary revenues — money raised from extra charges — rose 30% to €111 million (£83 million). Overall revenue was €569 million (£427.81 million). The company had a one-off gain of €12.1 million (£9.09 million) from the disposal of five aircraft. The low-cost carrier now expects to see net income of €470 million (£353.38 million) for the full year — roughly in line with analyst forecasts.

Despite the worsening profit figures, Ryanair announced a €200 million (£150.37 million) share buyback, equivalent to 3% of the company's stock. This is in addition to the €300 million (£225.56 million) buyback announced last year. (source: Timesonline)

Businessman for February – Johann Rupert

Johann Peter Rupert was born 1 June 1950 and is the eldest son of the late business tycoon Anton Rupert, the founder of the Rembrandt Group. He is the chairman of the Swiss-based luxury-goods company Richemont, the owners of brands such as Cartier & Mont Blanc, as well as the chairman of the South Africa-based companies VenFin and Remgro.

He attended the University of Stellenbosch, studying economics and company law but he dropped out of university to pursue a career in business. Rupert served his business apprenticeship in New York, where he worked for Chase Manhattan for two years and for Lazard Freres for three years. He then returned to South Africa in 1979 and founded Rand Merchant Bank of which he was CEO. He started the Small Business Development Corporation in same year (+/- 500,000 jobs created since inception). In 1984 Rupert merged Rand Merchant Bank and Rand Consolidated Investments, and left to join his father's company, the Rembrandt Group.

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