The City News: Enterprise Inns plc (ETI), Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBS), Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LLOY) & More

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Editor’s Note: Related tickers: Enterprise Inns plc (LON:ETI), Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS), Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY), Dixons Retail PLC (LON:DXNS), The Sage Group plc (LON:SGE), Mitchells & Butlers plc (LON:MAB), The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX)

Enterprise Inns hopes for hot summer to boost sales (ThisIsMoney)
Britain’s biggest pub landlord cheered recent warmer weather after the freezing winter kept drinkers at home, driving down half-year sales by 4.2 per cent. Enterprise Inns plc (LON:ETI), which leases out more than 6,000 pubs across the UK, said business during the six months to the end of March was ‘particularly challenging’ and shrunk pre-tax profits by 14 per cent to £55 million. But Enterprise Inns plc (LON:ETI) said recently-improved trading has slowed the like-for-like sales slide to 1 per cent, boosting its hopes of a return to underlying sales growth in its second half.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (ADR) (NYSE:RBS)

Pub campaigners suffer new blow (ThisIsBristol)
CAMPAIGNERS who fought off plans to turn their local pub in Weston-super-Mare into a Tesco Express are bidding to get the building listed as a community asset. People living in Milton launched the Save the Bristol House Campaign last year after learning that Enterprise Inns plc (LON:ETI) was looking to extend the property, which had closed in the summer, and lease or sell it to a supermarket. Enterprise Inns plc (LON:ETI), the pub’s owners, then worked with residents and found new operators. That resulted in the pub opening again in December. But now campaigners have been hit with another blow – Enterprise Inns plc (LON:ETI) lodged a last-minute appeal against the planning decision.

Mitchells & Butlers Advances on Earnings Outlook (Bloomberg)
Mitchells & Butlers plc (LON:MAB), the owner of the All Bar One pub chain, rose to the highest in more than five years amid investor optimism that trading will improve and boost profit. …The shares trade at about 10 percent less than those of similar companies and offer good value considering the business has one of the best pub estates with 45 percent of its outlets in southeast England, he said. Enterprise Inns plc (LON:ETI) surged 13 percent yesterday after reporting a fall in debt.

Royal Bank Of Scotland Will Lay Off 1,400 People Over Next 2 Years In Restructuring Of UK Head Offices (IBTimes)
Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS) announced Thursday it will cut 1,400 jobs over the next two years as the bank continues to reduce its operations in efforts to boost its profitability. “This is clearly difficult news for our staff and we will do everything we can to support them,” said Ross McEwan, chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS)’s U.K. retail business in a statement. McEwan said that redeploying staff across its retail head offices in London and Edinburgh would help Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS) avoid redundancies and no customer-facing roles would be cut.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc : NatWest delivers for Pizza Hut franchise (4-Traders)
A company has opened its fourth Pizza Hut Delivery franchise, creating 30 new jobs, with funding from NatWest provided through the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme. Nottingham firm S&G Enterprise have launched a new store in Ilkeston and is refurbishing its existing branch in Mansfield with a NatWest loan of £188,000. …The FFL scheme is being used by NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS) to cut interest rates on £2.5bn of SME loans by an average one percentage point. It is expected that £100m in total will be saved on the cost of borrowing over the life of the scheme.

UK’s worst property loans rise to near quarter of total (Reuters)
Almost a quarter of commercial property loans in Britain are higher in value than the underlying real estate, a study showed on Friday, highlighting the toxic legacy of reckless lending before the financial crash. The figure grew to 23 percent at the end of 2012 from 20 percent a year earlier, according to De Montfort University, or about 45 billion pounds of a total of some 195 billion. …Banks including Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) and Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS) have sold portfolios of real-estate debt at steep discounts to investors like The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX) and Lone Star in recent years as the clean-up process began and the report shows steady progress.

Lloyds Banking Group shares jump above government break-even price on positive outlook (Guardian)
Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) shares have climbed above the 61p level which the UK government regards as its breakeven level, another sign that a sale of the stake could be on the cards. …On Wednesday prime minister David Cameron suggested the stakes could be sold at a loss to the government. . The average price paid for Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) shares was 73.6p, but in March the Treasury appeared to signal that 61p – the price of Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) shares in the market at the time rather than the purchase price – as its preferred measure. It linked Horta-Osório’s bonus to selling off a third of the taxpayer stake above 61p.

Prospects improve for UK sale of Lloyds bank stake (4-Traders)
Britain’s largest retail bank Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) expects to return to profit this year, increasing the government’s chances of selling its stake before the next general election in 2015. Prime Minister David Cameron is keen to show that Britain’s part-nationalized banks are recovering from the financial crisis and a sale of the 39 percent stake in Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY), at a profit, would allow him to claim at least partial success. Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) is further ahead than Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS), 81 percent-owned by the government, in the battle to plug property-related losses and give taxpayers back the tens of billions of public funds used to bail the banks out in 2008.

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