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DN Meyer plots strategies to return to financial stability 
By IHEANYI NWACHUKWU  - BusinessDay
  
DN Meyer plc is optimistic about its future financial stability, notwithstanding the very difficult and challenging operating environment.  The optimism follows the board and managements, restated commitment to meeting the challenges through a combination of strategies. 
Remi Omotoso, chairman, DN Meyer plc told shareholders at its 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held Friday in Lagos that steps duly taken in 2011 would reduce the negative effects of the legacy issue of financial burden and “with measures being adopted to rationalise and optimise resources through internal restructuring. We expect these ultimately lead us to greater financial stability.”
He said: “The Union Bank of Nigeria plc loan, the only loan outstanding for restructuring, has now been restructured with AMCON as promised at the last Annual General Meeting.”
The company said: “A window of escape is being explored through the Bank of Industry (BoI)/Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention fund. This will not only reduce our heavy financial charges but will also naturally improve our cash flow, thereby making funds available for business expansion and consequently profitability.”
According to Omotoso, additional products of DN Meyer plc are being introduced into the market. He added: “We are already implementing a robust distribution channel for our products and greater reach to our existing customers. We shall also continue to implement our depot upgrade and expansion programme, in line with the new corporate identity and brand strategy of our company.”
He said the board’s resolve to manage the company profitably in the face of huge environmental challenges and ever escalating input costs, called for increase in selling prices.
“Although selling prices were increased, we were constrained by the market from passing on the entire cost to the market, particularly in view of weak demand, arising from consumer low purchasing power,” the chairman told shareholders who also approved  the board’s decision of not paying dividend for 2011 financial year.

The company recorded turnover of N1.36billion, as against N1.18billion in 2010. Profit before interest and tax was N31.28million and the impact of financing charges brought profit before interest and tax, to a loss before tax of N93.74million as against N231.94million profit in 2010.

Livestock Feeds seeks to accelerate growth with UACN partnership 
By BusinessDay Staff
Livestock Feeds Plc, a pioneer animal feed milling company in Nigeria with over 48 years in animal feed industry, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UAC of Nigeria Plc, a move that will see them raise additional equity from the capital market to finance investment and working capital needed to grow the company. 
Management of the company in a release made available to BusinessDay said what informed the proposed synergy, is the depressed nature of the capital market, which has made it challenging to raise capital.
According to management, the proposed investment is driven by potential synergies and complementarities between the two companies in the animal feed industry.
“Key synergies envisaged are in the areas of technology, supply chain, innovation and funding, and are expected to further accelerate the growth agenda of Livestock Feeds Plc in delivering value to all stakeholders,” it said.
The statement further disclosed that, a resolution in this regard will be proposed to the Shareholders of Livestock Feeds Plc for consideration and approval at the 48th Annual General Meeting.
Consequently, shareholders are advised that if successfully concluded, the transaction may have an effect on the share price of Livestock Feeds Plc and should therefore exercise caution when dealing in the Company’s shares until a final announcement is made.
Meanwhile, the companies expect to conclude discussions upon receipt of all the requisite approvals.
UAC of Nigeria Plc (UACN) is a leading diversified conglomerate with over a century of active engagement in Nigeria and has ten business units with interest in edible foods and drinks, animal feeds, real estate, paint and logistics.

IHMS optimistic over future growth with new products 
By IHEANYI NWACHUKWU - BusinessDay
International Health Management Services Limited (IHMS) is looking forward to a rewarding future as the company puts in place cutting-edge market expansion and product innovation initiatives to take optimum advantage of the various macro-economic policies designed to broaden health insurance penetration. 
T.A.J Ogunbiyi, chairman, International Health Management Services Limited told shareholders at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos that the company will continue explore opportunities to diversify its operations by developing new products and improve its cost management.
At the meeting, the company’s board got shareholders approval to pay a total dividend of N7.3million which translates to 5kobo for every ordinary share each, held by members of the company.
“The recommended dividend is in line with our dividend policy, and will be paid net of Withholding Tax to all shareholders in the register of members as at December 31, 2011,” Ogunbiyi said.
The company’s gross premium income grew from N974million in 2010 to N991 million in the financial year ended December 31, 2011, a marginal increase of 1.7 percent. Operating expenses increased from N952million in 2010 to N970million in 2011 due to increased cost of medical services. The company recorded a profit after tax of N12million, a positive reflection of the sustained efficiency of the company’s core HMO business.
“The board of directors is working with the management to boost future profits. The operating results reflect the high medical loss ratios that are typical of the health insurance industry, the impairments suffered from the residual impact of the global economic meltdown, and the tough challenges that the company went through between 2007 and 2009,” Ogunbiyi said.
In year 2011, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) introduced some new programmes such as the Voluntary Individual Social Health Insurance Programme, and the Community-based Social Health Insurance Programme in an effort to increase insurance penetration.
The minimum paid-up share capital for Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) was also increased from N100million to N400million. The National Health Bill which would have injected more than N60billion into the industry was not signed into law by the President despite the passage of the bill by the National Assembly.

Japan approves merger of Tokyo, Osaka exchanges

by Punch’s Agency Reporter - PunchNewspaper
Japan’s competition watchdog has approved the planned merger of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Osaka Securities Exchange.
Once completed, it will create the world’s third-largest and Asia’s largest stock exchange.
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation report on Thursday, the move comes as demand for new share sales in Japan has been falling amid an overall slowdown in its economy.
Meanwhile, other regional bourses, especially in China and Hong Kong, have seen a growth in new listings.
The Japan Fair Trade Commission said in its ruling that “given the remedies proposed by the parties concerned, competition in any particular field of trade might not be substantially restrained”.
The two exchanges are scheduled to merge on 1 January next year.
Japan’s growth has been slowing in recent years and it lost its position as the world’s second largest economy to China last year.
The slowdown in its economy has also resulted in a decline in the number of companies looking to list on stock exchanges in Japan.
According to data compiled by Ernst & Young, only 22 companies carried out an initial public offering of their shares in Japan, down from 198 firms in 2006.
The amount of money raised also fell to $15bn (£9.6bn) in 2010 from $19bn in 2006.
On the other hand, stock exchanges in Hong Kong and China have seen a surge in IPOs.
Bourses in the two countries saw as total of 440 companies carry out share sales in 2010, up from 123 in 2006.
These firms raised a combined $130bn in new capital through the share sales, compared with $54bn in 2006.

HTC defeats Apple in swipe-to-unlock patent

by Punch Agency Reporter - Punch
HTC is claiming victory in a patent dispute with Apple after a ruling by the High Court in London.
The judge ruled that HTC had not infringed four technologies that Apple had claimed as its own, according to aBritish Broadcasting Corporation report on Thursday.
He said Apple’s slide-to-unlock feature was an “obvious” development in the light of a similar function on an earlier Swedish handset.
Apple has also cited the patent in disputes against firms using Google’s Android system software.
HTC launched the London-based lawsuits a year ago as part of an effort to invalidate European patents Apple had referred to in a German court case. Apple subsequently countersued.
The four patents at stake were: Unlocking a device by performing a gesture on an image.
The use of a multilingual keyboard offering different alphabets on portable devices, including mobile phones.
A system to determine which elements of a screen were activated by single-finger touches; which were activated multi-finger touches and which ignored touches altogether.
Letting a user drag an image beyond its limits and then showing it bounce back into place to illustrate that they had reached its furthest edge.
 Apple had claimed HTC’s Arc unlock mechanism infringed its technology
The judge ruled that the first three patents were invalid in this case, while the fourth did not apply to HTC’s devices.
Lawyers fighting other lawsuits against Apple are likely to pay close attention to the decision regarding its slide-to-unlock patent.
The judge said that HTC’s “arc unlock” feature – which also involves a predefined gesture along a path shown on-screen – would have infringed Apple’s technology had it not been for a device released in 2004.
The Neonode N1 showed a padlock on its screen with the words “right sweep to unlock” when it was in its protected mode. A later version replaced the text with an arrow.
The judge said it would have been an “obvious” improvement for the developers to have offered users visual feedback in the form of a “slider” in the way that Apple later used.
He added that the concept of a “slider” was not new since it had already appeared in Microsoft’s CE system.
As a result Apple’s claim to the innovation was rejected.
A statement from the Taiwanese firm said: “HTC is pleased with the ruling, which provides further confirmation that Apple’s claims against HTC are without merit. We remain disappointed that Apple continues to favour competition in the courtroom over competition in the marketplace.”
Apple declined to comment on the specifics of the case.
Instead it re-issued an earlier statement, saying, “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”
Apple has previously defended its slide-to-unlock patent in other disputes against Samsung, HTC and Google’s Motorola unit with some success.
The Neonode N1 originally had text instructing the user to swipe its screen before opting for an arrow

Most recently a US court ruled the patent was valid in a dispute that led to a sales ban being imposed on the Google-branded Nexus Smartphone.
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