The week ahead: Bahamas rebels look close to victory at Mitchells & Butlers

REBEL shareholders at All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers look set to be the victors in the bitter board room battle which will come to a head at the pub group's annual meeting on Thursday.

The dispute between the Bahamas-based "Sandy Lane set", led by Joe Lewis, and the M&B board stepped up a gear on the weekend when Lewis called on M&B to sack its banking advisers, increase disclosure and concentrate on improving profits.

Analysts say the rebels are likely to get the majority they need to install their four preferred independent directors, who include former Scottish & Newcastle managing director Jeremy Blood. Lewis is also hoping to block the appointment of Simon Laffin as group chairman and he has called on the board to present a new strategy to shareholders within 60 days of the meeting.

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Drugs giant AstraZeneca's fourth-quarter and full-year results on Thursday will be scrutinised for any comments on the implications of the receding threat of swine flu.

AstraZeneca upped profit expectations at the end of October, given the boost it had received from additional orders for the H1N1 flu vaccine.

But since then, the spread of swine flu has eased and a number of governments are rumoured to have been talking to pharmaceutical firms about scaling back vaccine orders.

However, Astra has also been boosted by the withdrawal of generic products for its beta-blocker Toprol-XL and analysts are expecting the company to deliver a 31 per cent leap in full-year pre-tax profits from $8.68 billion (5.39bn) to $11.38bn. Some in the market believe the group has been significantly undervalued.

Broadcasting giant BSkyB reports interim figures on Thursday after what analysts have described as a solid performance amid the recession.

But the group is likely to find attention focused on its next move after its latest appeal over the forced sale of most of its stake in ITV was rejected.

The Court of Appeal backed the government's decision to force BSkyB to reduce its 17.9 per cent ITV holding to 7.5 per cent

It is now believed that Sky may give up the legal battle and sell the shares to end the long running saga.

The group has lost about 500 million on the investment and the market will be glad of any clue on plans to offload the shares.

ITV aside, trading has remained robust and analysts at Numis Securities are anticipating a 10 per cent hike in interim revenues to 2.86bn. Meanwhile profits are expected to be up 10 per cent on a year ago to 360m.

Festive trading figures from retailer WH Smith due on Wednesday will be awaited with some apprehension after the firm's caution on prospects before Christmas.

In November, the company warned it was braced for "competitive trading" over the key period amid continuing nerves over the health of the consumer.

Imperial Leather soap maker PZ Cussons is set to post improved first-half profits on Tuesday after a strong trading performance.

In a bullish December update, the company said it had benefited "in particular from good trading momentum in the UK and strong export sales out of Poland".

Consensus forecasts put profits for the year to 31 May at 100.5m – compared with 88.5m for the previous year – but analysts will be looking for signs of continuing momentum in the interim figures.

On Friday, self-storage firm Safestore, which has a heavy presence in the Central Belt, is expected to unveil a jump in annual profits to more than 25m from 15m previously.