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Archive for March, 2007

Alliance Boots – set for American ownership?

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

The Telegraph reports that the news that Boots could be bought out by KKR – once described as the “barbarian at the gates” -  has caused  alarm among some of Boots 100,000 employees, who fear job losses in the group’s workforce if the takeover bid becomes a reality. In recent years Boots has tried various attempts at diversification, however, the attempts to diversify were largely unsuccessful. Currently, the pharmacy chain has nearly 1,500 outlets.

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PRimage can see why many of Boots employees are worried about job losses.  Judy Viitanen believes that a private equity bid must also raise the issue that the company could be vulnerable to asset stripping. 

Boots staff have seen a number of changes in recent years: in the 1990s the company branched into dentistry, laser eye surgery and ‘wellbeing clinics’ and health advice – and it’s also been faced with stiff competition from the supermarket multiples.  Then in 2005 it merged with Alliance UniChem.  Lets hope that the Boots employees current concerns on job losses are not justified!

Up to 1,700 jobs could be cut from the Health Service in NI

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

From this report it seems to PRimage that the health service in Northern Ireland is going through some turbulant times!

Labour – Leadership bid

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Margaret Beckett warns that David Miliband would be offering himself up for “human sacrifice” if he were to run against Gordon Brown for Labour leader.

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Judy Viitanen believes that the Foreign Secretary’s take on this is right – and PRimage frankly hope that Milliband won’t put himself in the leadership frame, because we think that he’s much more of a threat to David Cameron and the Tories than Brown!   Let us know your views on the Labour leadership sagas.

AmerisourceBergen to acquire Bellco Health

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Reports from the US reveal that wholesale drug distributor AmerisourceBergen announced that it has agreed to acquire Bellco Health, a privately held distributor of branded and generic pharmaceuticals, for approximately $235 million.

NHS – “significant improvement” in finances

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

As the National Health Service reaches the end of its financial year today, DoH officials are confident it has returned to surplus. Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt had promised to quit if the huge organisation, which employs more than 1.3 million people in England, did not end the year with a positive financial balance. The Department of Health says the service is expected to achieve a small surplus of 13 million pounds on its vast £84 billion budget for the 2006-07 financial year. Although the final figures will not be published till June, the government says the forecast surplus demonstrates “significant improvement” in the financial position of the NHS.

PRimage comment

These ‘positive’ forecasts are all well and good – but PRimage regard them as simply part of the NHS damage limitation exercise surrounding the recent negative media reports and comments about the financial problems within the NHS! As with many political observers, the view of Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team is that we will await the reality when the final financial figures on the NHS are published in June!

Older women with breast cancer get poorer care than younger women, a study has found

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

PRimage were concerned and suprised at the findings of this study.  This situation cannot be allowed to continue and must be challenged by health pressure groups and breast cancer charities.  What’s your view?

Labour – Pensions saga

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

The Telegraph comments that Chancellor Gordon Brown was warned explicitly that he would cause the death of the final salary pension scheme and cost companies and individuals billions of pounds when he took the knife to the pension system in his first Budget. However, the Treasury dismisses the claims that Gordon Brown ignored fears about a gap in pension funds as “abject nonsense”

Company ID theft warning!

Friday, March 30th, 2007

We read a lot these days about warnings to protect ourselves from personal identity theft, but there’s also a similiar practice happening in the business world – especially on the internet.  Just recently, PRimage discovered that our company website promotional copy had been outrightly ‘lifted’, and that the name of our managing director, Judy Viitanen, was being used without our knowledge or permission – by a firm and individuals totally unknown to us – on their company website.  Worse still, they were promoting Judy as one of their  business ‘associates’!

We are dealing with this matter, if necessary by Law.  But we feel other companies should be on the alert – and be aware that there are individuals who steal professional and company IDs, reputations and services – and brazenly market them on the Web!

Alliance Boots – KKR improve bid

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Following rumours of an increased bid approach for the pharmacy and drugs wholesaler, news reports this morning suggest the the American private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has confirmed that it has indeed increased its bid for UK for Alliance Boots to £10.2bn. The £10.40 pence-a-share proposed offer is 40p more than an earlier approach, which the Boots Board bosseshad previously rejected as too low. That “friendly” move which had the backing of Italian billionaire Stephano Pessina – who controls a 15% stake in Boots – had valued the firm at £9.7bn. News of the increased offer saw Boots shares open 1.3% higher this morning. In London, Alliance Boots shares were trading at £10.40. Financial pundits are suggesting that it is highly probable that Alliance Boots is likely to recommend its shareholders accept a bid at that level – but there are questions raised as to whether other private equity bidders will also come forward.

PRimage comment

PRimage believe that the rumour machine surrounding this bid approach has been in full swing; with various media reports fuelling the possible takevover scenarios. It appears that Alliance Boots are prepared to grant Mr Pessina and KKR a limited period, believed to be between two and three weeks and starting immediately, “to undertake confirmatory due diligence”. Other companies – Apax, Terra Firma and Blackstone – are also believed to be considering Boots as a likely takeover prospect. And Judy Viitanen has read reports that suggest that Alliance Boots will set up a data room, where prospective bidders can examine confidential company information, to accommodate other interested parties. Another element to this saga is that Mr Pessina could sell his entire 15 per cent holding in the group if a rival gains control of the business. Watch this space!

Impact of immigration on housing

Friday, March 30th, 2007

An analysis of government figures published by Migrationwatch concludes that at least 200 new homes will be required every day of the year for the next 19 years to house England’s growing immigrant population. “These figures illustrate the enormous impact that current levels of immigration are having on one of the most fundamental aspects of life,”said chairman Sir Andrew Green.