Afternoon Financial Press Round-Up
Paul Kettle
PM Press Review -2 min read
15:21, 7th December 2018

Below are the key afternoon headlines from today’s papers, featuring the Financial Times, The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail & more - see the full Press section here.

Bookmakers agree to stop advertising during live sports on TV. Some of Britain’s biggest bookmakers are poised to agree a voluntary ban on advertising during live sports broadcasts following growing concerns over their impact on children. The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), which includes Bet365, GVC Holdings (GVC)  FOLLOWwhich own Ladbrokes, William Hill (WMH) FOLLOW and Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) FOLLOW among its members, is understood to have agreed the outline of a collective move to stop advertising during live sports on TV. Although a formal deal has yet to be signed off the mooted “whistle-to-whistle” ban is a response to growing concerns that the weight of advertising on TV is “normalising” betting, contributing to problem gambling and fuelling under-age gambling. The proposal is similar to one put forward by the Labour Party and Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, said he was delighted at the news. “With over 430,000 problem gamblers in the country, many of them children, the number of adverts during live sports had clearly reached crisis levels,” he said.

Two former Tesco directors have been cleared of fraud in relation to the supermarket’s £263m accounting scandal after a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence, in what is being seen as a “significant defeat” for the Serious Fraud Office. Chris Bush, ex-UK managing director, and John Scouler, the then UK food commercial director, were accused of being aware that income was being wrongly included in the company’s financial records to meet targets and make Tesco (TSCO)  FOLLOWlook financially healthier than it was. When Tesco unveiled that it had overstated profits by £250m in October 2014 its shares plummeted by nearly 12%, wiping £2bn off its market value. The SFO began investigating the following month, brought charges against a trio of directors in September 2016 and a trial commenced the following year.

Packaging giant Smith (DS) (SMDS) FOLLOW has denied plans to sell its plastics division are a response to growing controversy around the material’s environmental impact as it unveiled another set of bumper profits. Excluding the plastics business, pre-tax profits rocketed 27% to £162m in the six months to October as new acquisitions and higher prices spurred 15% growth in revenues to £3.1bn. Miles Roberts, chief executive, refuted suggestions the sell-off was a reaction to the recent backlash against plastic, insisting the division, which makes crates, foam construction blocks and bag-in-a-box packaging, was a “very nice business”. He said: “The underlying demand is very strong, the business continues to grow and is profitable. It is quite a big market, we’re a good player but we see better opportunity for us to invest in our core business of corrugated boxes.”

Clipper Logistics (CLG) FOLLOW reveals rise in cigarette stockpiling ahead of Brexit. Cigarette stockpiling has surged ahead of Britain’s looming departure from the EU, transport and warehousing firm Clipper Logistics said on Thursday. Chief executive Tony Mannix told the Evening Standard: “Brexit has created a shadow and a number of our customers are building up inventory to prepare in case there are any import problems after March 2019. Tobacco is one of the biggest sectors we have seen stockpiling so far. That includes cigarettes and vaping products.” He would not name which customers. Mannix also pointed to higher demand from some UK clients to store more products in Europe to get to customers on the Continent faster. Clipper Logistics, which works with retailers such as Asda and Asos, posted a 14.1% jump in first-half revenues to £227.9 million. Pre-tax profits rose 16.9% to £9.3 million.

Insurer Beazley (BEZ) FOLLOW says it will lose £31m from damage in California wildfires. Insurer Beazley’s shares weakened on Thursday after it forecast a $40 million (£31 million) loss from the California wildfires which were raging in the US last month. The devastating fires have been the west coast State’s deadliest on record, with 85 people killed in the Camp fire alone. The blazes have also attracted significant attention from the world’s media as Hollywood celebrities, including singers Neil Young, Miley Cyrus and actor Gerard Butler, losing their homes. Moody’s has estimated total insured losses at between $10 billion and $15 billion but said losses would be “manageable” for the industry. The Beazley loss, which is net of reinsurance, is around 4% of its typical half-year losses but UBS pointed out it was at the high end of a $30 million to $40 million range.

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