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Business briefs: Laxey turns its fire on 3i

FRESH from its latest scrap with Dundee-based Alliance Trust, activist investor Laxey Partners has turned its attention to 3i with the aim of forcing Europe’s largest listed private equity firm into returning cash to shareholders.

In a letter to 3i, Laxey yesterday put forward special resolutions to stop any new investments by 3i while also accelerating the sale of its existing holdings, with all proceeds returned “promptly” to investors. The letter was signed by 100 shareholders representing 13,600 shares, about 1.4 per cent of the group’s issued capital.

The letter arrived just a day after 3i chief executive Michael Queen said he would step down before the group’s annual general meeting on 11 July. Queen, who has been with 3i for nearly 25 years, had been under pressure for some time to return cash to shareholders.

SSE to raise divi despite ‘power cut’

UTILITY firm SSE still expects to deliver profits in line with last year’s £1.3 billion despite its 9.6 million customers cutting back on both gas and electricity usage during the past 12 months.

In a pre-close update, Perth-based SSE also reaffirmed it would raise its dividend by at least two percentage points above inflation, indicating a full-year pay-out in the region of 80p a share. The exact amount will be announced on 16 May when the company unveils its results for the year to 31 March.

The company said actual consumption of electricity by households across Great Britain fell by about 7 per cent during the past year.

Some of the decline was due to milder temperatures, with SSE estimating that the weather-adjusted reduction in consumption of both fuels to be 4 per cent.

 

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