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Fri 21st Dec 2018 - Whitbread gets EU clearance for £3.9bn Costa Coffee sale to Coca-Cola
Whitbread gets EU clearance for £3.9bn Costa Coffee sale to Coca-Cola, announces share buyback programme: Whitbread has received clearance from the European Union under the EC Merger Regulation for its £3.9bn sale of Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola. This follows the previously announced clearance from China's State Administration for Market Regulation, received on 29 November. Completion of the sale is now expected to occur in January, at which point Whitbread expects to receive the full proceeds of £3.9bn in cash. The company stated: “As previously announced, it is Whitbread's intention to return a significant majority of the net proceeds to shareholders. In line with this commitment, Whitbread announces following completion, it will commence a share buyback programme using its existing authority granted by shareholders at the annual general meeting on 27 June 2018. The programme will commence shortly after completion of the Costa sale and conclude prior to Whitbread's full-year results announcement on 30 April 2019. Further details of the plans to return a significant majority of the net cash proceeds to shareholders will be announced at the Capital Markets Day on 13 February 2019. The maximum number of shares that can be bought back is 18,359,613, although the precise amount that will be bought back in the form of Whitbread ordinary shares (or depositary receipts in respect of such ordinary shares) will be determined in due course at Whitbread's discretion. Whitbread expects to buy back a maximum of £500m worth of shares as part of this programme over this period. Whitbread will enter into instructions with Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch and Morgan Stanley & Co International to conduct the programme on its behalf.”

Supper club WeFiFo hits £400,000 crowdfunding target to recruit UK hosts and expand internationally: Supper club WeFiFo has hit its £400,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to recruit UK hosts and expand internationally. The company is offering 12.50% equity in return for investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £2.8m. So far, 84 investors have pledged £408,070 with 13 days of the campaign remaining. WeFiFo raised £350,000 in angel investment in 2016 to launch and roll-out its platform nationwide, while John Lewis Partnership (JLP) invested £100,000 in the company last year following its success in JLAB – JLP’s annual accelerator programme. WeFiFo enables home cooks, supper club hosts and professional chefs to “share their food with paying guests”. Launched by Seni Glaister, former founder and chief executive of The Book People, the service has 4,500 active users in seven countries. The pitch states: “WeFiFo is a two-sided marketplace, serving both chef and guest. Described as ‘Airbnb for the kitchen table’, WeFiFo enables those with a love of cooking to earn a flexible income from their food and offers diners more choice. WeFiFo charges a variable commission on ticket sales. In return, it offers marketing and admin support and insures hosts, their guests and their equipment. Hosts who need it are offered food and hygiene training and WeFiFo’s unique platform allows hosts to accept or decline bookings based on a guest’s profile. Events have taken place in hosts’ homes, cafes, pop-ups, supermarkets, shopping centres, parks, boats and high streets in seven countries. WeFiFo’s first target is to recruit 33,000 UK hosts and expand into three new international territories. We will use food to connect the world, one table at a time, with the aim no guest will be further than ten miles from their nearest WeFiFo event.”

Propel launches Leadership Summit, open for bookings: Propel is launching the Leadership Summit, which will see a select group of the sector’s most experienced bosses share their expertise on leadership. The full-day event, in partnership with Elliotts, will take place on Tuesday, 12 February at One Moorgate Place and is open for bookings. Speakers will include Will Stratton-Morris, chief executive of Caffe Nero, who will talk about building high-performance teams. Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King, speaks about the role of leadership in business turnarounds. Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott will talk to Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London, about the lessons of leadership he has picked up in his career in the sector. Duncan Garrood, chief executive of Ten Entertainment, will give his views on leadership and the customer experience, while Jo Fleet, managing director of Flat Iron, will talk about empowering people and trust and getting the team to “buy in” through clear communication and vision. Mark Jones, chief executive of Carluccio’s, will explain how the company is building the quality and skillsets of its general managers to lead the business out of decline. Simon Townsend, chief executive of Ei Group, will give his views on the challenges of leadership during a period of immense change and Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress, will give her top ten tips on leadership. Meanwhile, Loungers founder Alex Reilley will talk about the adaptations involved in growing a business from one site to more than 100, celebrating success and the art of succession, while Ann Elliott will give her views on the power of mentoring to grow talent in organisations. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “With the industry facing such challenging times, effective leadership has never been more important. This is an unmissable opportunity to learn from high-profile leaders in our sector.” Prices are £295 plus VAT for Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

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