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09 May 06. UK investment company Schroders now owns 6.75 per cent of shares in German armaments group Rheinmetall, making it the largest individual shareholder in the group. However, Schroders has emphasised in a statement that it is not planning to take over the company or to control the management of Rheinmetall. US investment company Atlantic Investment announced last autumn that it had acquired a stake of over 5.12 per cent in Rheinmetall, while UK financial group HBOS acquired a 5.44 per cent holding in March 2006. Shares in the German group are currently worth 65.74 euros, having gained over 20 per cent since the beginning of the year. Rheinmetall has a turnover of 3.45bn euros. (Source: Abstracted from Financial Times Deutschland/FT.com)

04 May 06. Capgemini, the French IT services group, has announced turnover of €1.87bn for the first quarter of 2006, up 9.4 per cent on the same period last year. The group’s shares rose 6.12 per cent yesterday in Paris, closing at 45.42 euros, as investors applauded the performance. They had expected sales of no more than 1.8bn euros for the period. For 2006, Capgemini has revised its growth forecasts upwards, to more than 8 per cent, compared with 6-7 per cent previously. The group also doubled its order backlog in the period, to €2.99bn, as a result of two major information management contracts with GM and the UK tax authorities. It registered a solid performance across all its businesses. (Source: Abstracted from Les Echos/FT.com)

05 May 06. French engineering group Coteba is preparing to take over the specialist engineering activities of French defence and electronics group Thales. As of May 31, Coteba will take control of THEC, which comprises transport system and infrastructure activities along with industrial processes and hospitals. With 300 employees, the activities in question bring in annual fees of around 40m euros. The takeover for an undisclosed price will increase the size of Coteba by 40 per cent. Coteba employs 700 people and posted net profit of 3.1m euros on turnover of 93.8m euros in 2005. The THEC acquisition will give the engineering group greater access to clients in the public sector. This has formed part of Coteba’s strategy since 2003. Including THEC, the group is expecting turnover of 115m euros for 2006 and 136m euros for 2007. Management has also not ruled out further purchases as it seeks to expand its international activities. (Source: Abstracted from Les Echos/FT.com)

06 May 06. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to pay $4 billion for an 80% stake in Iscar Metalworking Cos., a privately held Israeli company. Berkshire’s shareholders have been anticipating that Mr. Buffett would move to spend some of the investment company’s cash pile, which has grown to $45bn. The deal was announced on the eve of Berkshire’s annual meeting in Omaha, Neb., where it is based. The investment is in the type of industry that draws a yawn from many investors but that is a favorite of Mr. Buffett, who has shied away from high-technology companies (see related article). Iscar makes metal-cutting tools and the carbide blades for those tools, in a way similar to the business model of Gillette, whose razors and replacement blades are now part of Procter & Gamble Co., another Berkshire investment. Mr. Buffett hadn’t offered any clues about the type of company Berkshire might buy in the run-up to the Iscar deal, but recently he has spoken favorably of the energy business, and in the past four months Berkshire has executed several smaller deals, acquiring firms for roughly several hundred million dollars each. (Source: WSJ)

03 May 06. Raytheon Co.’s (NYSE:RTN – News) board said that it cut its chief executive’s compensation in response to what others have called plagiarism in a management booklet, a penalty that one person familiar with the matter said could cost him $1m. At the same time, the defense contractor’s board said it retained full confidence in Will

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