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Update 2 m&s finance chief defects to tesco


´╗┐* Tesco says M&S CFO Alan Stewart to join firm in same role* No start date given for Stewart* Stewart likely to be held to 6mth notice and non-compete clause* M&S shares down 1 pct, Tesco shares up 0.5 pct (Adds detail, analyst comments, shares)By James DaveyLONDON, July 10 Marks & Spencer Chief Finance Officer Alan Stewart has quit to join Tesco in the same role, jumping ship from one struggling British retailer to another. Just two days after helping M&S Chief Executive Marc Bolland present first-quarter sales, Stewart has left Britain's biggest clothing retailer to join the world's third-biggest stores group on an increased salary and with a 1.7 million pounds ($2.9 million) golden hello. His appointment will be a boost to Tesco CEO Philip Clarke, who is currently the only executive on Tesco's PLC board, and who is facing questions over whether he has the right strategy to turn around the 95-year-old group."We wanted a candidate who had the right blend of experience, leadership and values to play a leading role in the transformation of Tesco. We have found all three in Alan," Clarke said.

Stewart abruptly left M&S' central London headquarters after handing in his notice early Thursday, a source familiar with the situation said. But he was unlikely to start work at Tesco before the end of this year due to a six-month notice period and the triggering of a non-compete clause in his contract, the source said. Shares in M&S were down 1 percent at 1209 GMT, while Tesco's shares were up 0.5 percent. Tesco's shares are hovering near 10-year lows, while M&S's are down over 40 percent since their peak in 2007. Tesco, which has been looking for a new finance chief since Laurie McIlwee announced his intention to quit in April, said Stewart would join "following satisfaction of existing contractual obligations."

OPPORTUNISTIC Stewart has held the CFO role at M&S since October 2010 and had responsibility for property added to his role just 11 days ago when Bolland shuffled the remits of his executive team. Stewart is a former finance director of WH Smith and has also held executive roles at HSBC and Thomas Cook. He leaves Bolland, who is also battling against tough trading and who was criticised by private shareholders at the firm's annual investor meeting on Tuesday.

"I can see why he wants to jump ship, given the gloomy outlook for M&S, and that is a telling blow to the M&S recovery story," independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said."Why he thinks Tesco is a better story is a more interesting question. And whether he will be any more investor friendly than his predecessor at Tesco remains to be seen."Other analysts view Stewart's departure as opportunistic, and did not regard him as central to the delivery of M&S's plans. Tony Shiret, retail analyst at Espirito Santo Investment Bank, said Stewart had operated at M&S in broadly the same way as when he was at WH Smith - on a lower level than the CEO in both organisations, rather than as a counter-balance and source of strategy origination."We expect that this will continue at Tesco and see no reason to adapt our negative stance on that stock following today's news," he said. Stewart will see his basic annual salary rise from the 579,000 pounds ($985,200) he was on at M&S to 750,000 pounds at Tesco. He will also be granted replacement share awards with a value of 1.74 million pounds in lieu of his deferred share awards from M&S that he will forfeit when he joins Tesco. M&S said Stewart's responsibilities will be carried out on an interim basis by Paul Friston, a former director of financial group control who was recently appointed as executive assistant to Bolland. It said a search for Stewart's successor has started. ($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)

Valeant predicts tough 2017 with revenue to decline


´╗┐Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX. N) (VRX. TO) on Tuesday said that 2017 would be another year of transition with revenues falling as much as 8 percent amid drug price pressure and fewer prescriptions. Valeant in 2016 changed its business model from selling products through a specialty pharmacy Philidor, which had boosted sales of high-priced dermatology items like toenail fungus treatment Jublia. It had paid for an option to buy the business, but cut ties under investor pressure. Now Valeant relies on a deal with Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA. O) pharmacies and on contracts with managed care companies, but it cannot charge the same prices and volume has fallen. Still, Valeant predicted that it could grow dermatology and said it sees single-digit growth in the gastrointestinal business, which it gained with its purchase of Salix Pharmaceuticals last year, as well as in Bausch & Lomb eyecare. The company, which is working to pay down tens of billions in debt it has built up through acquisitions, said that it expects to be able to pay down $5 billion in debt during the 18 month period that began in August of 2016.

It said it has paid down about $1 billion in debt so far and would put the sale of its Dendreon cancer treatment business and three skincare brands for $2.12 billion, announced last month, to that purpose. Valeant reported a wider fourth-quarter net loss and said it had a better-than-expected quarterly profit before taxes, interest and other items. It said its Bausch & Lomb eyecare business did better than expected. U.S.-listed shares fell 8.1 percent to $15.36 in early trading compared with a close of $16.71. A year ago, shares closed at $76.95.

Since taking the helm last year, Chief Executive Joseph Papa has been trying to regain investor confidence after the company came under investigation over its accounting and pricing practices."It still doesn't appear that management has a realistic outlook on its organic growth," Mizuho analyst Irina Koffler wrote in a research note. Laval, Quebec-based Valeant has also faced intense political scrutiny for hiking its prices for treatments such as heart drugs Nitropress and Isuprel.

With businesses split on U.S. border tax, wider reform looks shaky WASHINGTON Major U.S. corporations are going to war in Washington over a Republican 'border adjustment' tax proposal meant to boost exports over imports, with lawmakers in Congress coming under pressure from some of the nation's biggest employers.

U.S. economy slows in the fourth-quarter; consumer spending remains bright spot WASHINGTON U.S. economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter as previously reported, with robust consumer spending offset by downward revisions to business and government investment.

Comcast to buy remaining 49 percent stake in Universal Studios Japan U.S. cable and media company Comcast Corp said on Tuesday it would buy the 49 percent it does not already own in Universal Studios Japan (USJ) in a deal valued at 254.8 billion yen ($2.27 billion).