Below are the key morning headlines from today’s papers, featuring the Financial Times, The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail & more - see the full Press section here.
Indivior fights to survive $3bn indictment threat. Shares crash after US attack on ‘deceitful’ opioid scheme. The UK-listed drug maker faces a battle to survive after it was hit by a US indictment which could cost it more than $3 billion. Shares in Indivior fell more than 70% after it was accused by a federal grand jury in Virginia of engaging in an “illicit nationwide scheme” to drive sales of prescriptions for its blockbuster treatment for opioid addiction. The indictment, including 28 felony counts, was issued after a six-year federal criminal investigation by the Department of Justice, but caught Indivior and the City by surprise.
– Virgin Trains off the rails as two operators barred from franchise bids. Britain’s railways faced a deepening crisis after a second major train operator was barred from bidding on franchises as part of a clash between industry and the Government over pensions. The Telegraph can reveal that Arriva, the rail and bus operator backed by German behemoth Deutsche Bahn, submitted a “non-compliant” bid for the East Midlands rail network and was excluded from the process. The decision raises further questions about the sustainability of the rail franchising system. Arriva has already been put up for sale as its owners seek an exit from the difficult British market
Drastic Dave’s Tesco shakeup pays off. said the “vast majority” of its financial turnaround was complete after it reported a double-digit rise in profits and accelerated dividend growth. Britain’s biggest supermarket said every part of its business, including its troubled international division, contributed as pre-tax profit jumped by 28.8% to £1.67 billion. This was well ahead of the stock market’s expectations and came on revenue that rose 11.2% to nearly £64 billion, its third consecutive year of growth. Tesco’s operating profits also jumped 17.1% to £2.1 billion in the year to February 24. Dave Lewis, 54, the chief executive parachuted in from Unilever nearly five years ago to help revive a business that was on its knees, was in bullish mood yesterday as he said the grocer had “restored its competitiveness” and could look ahead to further growth and “untapped value opportunities”.
G4S shares soar on takeover talk by Canadian rival. Aformer professional baseball umpire who built what claims to be the world’s largest privately-owned security company has taken a swing at with a potential takeover bid worth at least £3bn. GardaWorld, controlled by French-Canadian entrepreneur Stephan Crétier, confirmed reports on Wednesday it was in “the preliminary stages of considering an approach” to G4S about a “possible” cash offer for some or all of the company, sending its shares soaring out of the park. Mr Crétier, who is from Montreal but now lives in Dubai, founded GardaWorld in 1995 with a C$25,000 second mortgage on his home.
Rolls-Royce speeds up Trent engine checks over wear alert. has agreed with the European safety regulator to an accelerated inspection plan for some of its aircraft jet engines because of the issues over turbine blades wearing out faster than expected. The aerospace engineer said that as part of its work to tackle premature deterioration of turbine blades in a small number of its Trent 1000 Ten engines in Boeing Dreamliners, it would inspect the remaining fleet. Rolls-Royce said this would enable it to “confirm the health” of the engines over the next few months.
Dunelm defies retail slowdown with sales surge. has bucked the high street trend by posting better-than-expected third quarter results and raising its profit guidance for the year. The home furnishings retailer now expected annual pre-tax profit to be slightly ahead of the highest analyst estimates of £115.6m to £118.5m. Total group sales rose 6.1% in the latest three months to £284.5m, with like-for-like sales jumping 9.8% to £225.9m. A 32% rise in online sales more than offset the loss of revenue from the Worldstores, Kiddicare and Achica websites, which were closed earlier in the financial year as it sought to streamline its offering under one brand. Closing the sites also improved margin and sourcing.
‘fixing errors’ after profits plunge. The online fashion group said that it had made a pre-tax profit of just £4 million after it was hit by rival promotions, weakness in its French, German and American markets, and £24 million of costs as it developed its supply chain around the world. The 87% fall in profits came despite the fact revenue rose by 14% to just over £1.3 billion in the six months to February. Asos said that its Black Friday campaign last year had been less successful than before. This was partly because it did not offer large enough discounts compared with its rivals and because its own-label products failed to capture the imagination of its young shoppers. The company said that it was “capable of a lot more” and was taking action to improve its performance in the second half. It is increasing its marketing, improving design and working more closely with social media influencers to lure shoppers
boss Jes Staley has slammed corporate raider Edward Bramson for short-selling the bank’s stock while he pushes for a seat on the board. The chief executive said it didn’t ‘make sense’ for Bramson to seek a non-executive director role while he gambles on a drop in Barclays’ value. Bramson has a 5.51% stake through his fund Sherborne Investors. But he has also short-sold 500m of shares – meaning he will make money from them if the price falls – to offset losses in the rest of his portfolio if Barclays’ stock drops
Shares in seating and hospitality business surged after the firm released strong results for 2018. Revenue at the company, which provides seating to ITV’s Dancing on Ice and the 2018 Ryder Cup, was up 24% to £135million, and the dividend was raised by 11% to 1.5p. Boss Greg Lawless said he expected more growth, especially in 2020 which will see the US Open tennis tournament, the US Ryder Cup and the Tokyo Olympics.
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Amerisur said: “In light of the high level of recent activity in the Colombian E&P sector, it has decided to conduct a formal review of the various strategic options available to the Company to maximise value for shareholders.”
SP Angel research note on commodities and miners, featuring: BlueRock Diamonds* (BRD LN) – 12.2ct diamond sold for US$105,000 Cora Gold* (CORA LN) – Drilling returns good grades in the sulphide mineralisation at Selin Highland Gold (HGM LN) – Q2 production update Solgold* (SOLG LN) – Expanding the drilling fleet to expedite the PFS
The bidder behind the £2.5billion takeover of Inmarsat has pledged to keep its key operations in Britain, Stonegate – the company behind Slug and Lettuce, Walkabout and Yates – is on the verge of snapping up Britain’s biggest pub company, EI Group