Morning Financial Press Review
Paul Kettle
AM Press Round-Up -3 min read
06:30, 12th June 2019

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

The future of Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire hangs in the balance after a major landlord confirmed it would not back a revised deal to be put to creditors on Wednesday. Sources close to Intu Properties (INTU) FOLLOW, the owner of 17 big shopping centres across the UK including the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester and the Metrocentre in Gateshead, said it was not prepared to accept rent cuts averaging 40% across Arcadia Group shops in its centres. Arcadia, which has 570 shops, including Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Evans, Wallis and Outfit, was forced to postpone a vote on a rescue restructure last week when it became clear that not enough landlords were backing Green’s plan. If the restructuring does not go ahead, Arcadia has warned it is “highly likely” to go into administration, putting 18,000 jobs at risk.

Retirement firm Saga (SAGA) FOLLOW is joining forces with Goldman Sachs to offer savings accounts to the over-50s. The tie-up will give Saga’s 2.1m customers access to market-beating interest rates offered by Marcus, the consumer bank launched by Goldman in Britain last year. The deal – which is to start this autumn – will replace a partnership Saga has with Lloyds, where it offers rates of 0.55%. It is expected that Saga will use its own brand to market the accounts, rather than the Marcus name.

Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.)FOLLOW  has been ordered to explain why it repeatedly plugged Neil Woodford’s toxic flagship fund. As City regulators launched a probe into best-buy lists, Hargreaves was sent a string of questions about its practices by MPs on the Treasury select committee. The fund supermarket has come under heavy pressure over its close links to Woodford, whose Equity Income fund was included on Hargreaves’ prestigious Wealth 50 list of top investments right up until it suspended trading on Monday last week. This table of supposedly star performers is used by thousands of savers as an authoritative guide to where they should put their money. Hargreaves has long insisted that the Wealth 50 is compiled solely based on analysis of funds’ performance and the value for money which they offer investors in terms of fees.

More than £170m was wiped off the value of Ted Baker (TED) FOLLOW on Tuesday after the retailer blamed its second profit warning in four months on torrid high street trading conditions. The profit alert came as the brand distances itself from its founder and former chief executive Ray Kelvin, who stepped down in March following allegations he had acted inappropriately towards staff, subjecting them to “forced hugs” and ear kissing. Lindsay Page, the company’s longstanding finance chief who was promoted to the top job in April, admitted being “off our game” with some its spring clothing but said the weather and price cuts by rivals had proved bigger problems: “Some brands launched their spring/summer collections in February at a discount. We are not immune to that. We have to balance the integrity of the brand with the wider market volatility.”

Sports Direct launches legal challenge to Debenhams (DEB) FOLLOW rescue plan. Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International (SPD) FOLLOW has reignited its battle with Debenhams by launching a legal challenge to the department store’s rescue plan. Sports Direct’s legal challenge is understood to be supported by one Canadian landlord, CPC. Meanwhile property investor M&G, which will also take part in Arcadia’s crunch vote on Wednesday, is understood to have launched separate legal action against the company voluntary arrangement (CVA). Debenhams last month secured landlord approval for a CVA that will shut 22 shops after Christmas and slash rents on a further 61 stores. Terry Duddy,who revealed in an interview this weekend that he would like to reduce some of the space in other Debenhams stores,said that he believed the “challenges to the CVAs to be without merit”.

Halma advances on all fronts thanks to its accent on safety. The most successful British industrial company of the 21st century so far hit new heights yesterday, with Halma (HLMA) FOLLOW reporting record profits, worldwide sales growth, a fortieth consecutive year of dividend rises and a share price that topped the FTSE 100 leaderboard as it moved to a new peak. Andrew Williams, the engineering group’s chief executive, said that being in the right sectors, completing successful takeovers and identifying the best local management had helped it to shrug off the worst effects of Brexit and the US-China trade war.“Safety, healthcare, environmental — these are all closely regulated markets and therefore good markets for long-term growth,” Mr Williams, 52, said. “We aim to double the size of our business every five years, half through organic growth, half through acquisitions.”

Shaftesbury shareholder sues for £10m over share placing. The Hong Kong billionaire who is the biggest shareholder in West End landlord Shaftesbury (SHB) FOLLOW has launched a lawsuit against the company in the latest round of hostilities related to a £265m fundraising in 2017. Sammy Tak Lee alleges that the Carnaby Street owner deliberately set out to reduce his stake by not giving him enough time to participate in the cash call. He is demanding £10.4m in compensation for the fall in the value of his shares following the fundraise and also wants to see Shaftesbury’s bosses censured for allegedly breaching their duties as directors. Shaftesbury said it “considers the claims to have no merit” and intends to defend the allegations “robustly”, adding that it was “disappointed that Mr Lee is continuing with this course of action”.

The impact of a lawsuit filed in California by Uber reached the City yesterday when an Aim-listed company revealed that it had been dragged into a long-running row between the American ridesharing app and its advertising agency. Nearly 40% was wiped off the value of Taptica International (DI) (TAP) FOLLOW after it said that it was one of up to a hundred companies subjected to a legal challenge by Uber Technologies, which is alleging fraudulent concealment, negligence and unfair competition. “Based on the information available to the company to date, the claims appear to be without merit,” it said, adding that it would “aggressively defend against these claims”. The claim against Taptica and others stems from a case in late 2017 in which Uber sued Fetch, its advertising agency, now part of Dentsu Aegis, for $40 million, claiming that millions of dollars it had spent on adverts had been wasted. It alleged that the advertising technology companies employed by Fetch were claiming payment for users who downloaded the Uber app organically and not after clicking on one of its adverts. The UK-based Fetch countersued for $20 million early last year over unpaid invoices and said that Uber was a “faithless business partner”. Uber subsequently voluntarily dismissed the case against Fetch, but now it has extended its legal fight to the businesses that Fetch used to place its adverts.

Disclaimer & Declaration of Interest

The information, investment views and recommendations in this article are provided for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any financial product relating to any companies under discussion or to engage in or refrain from doing so or engaging in any other transaction. Any opinions or comments are made to the best of the knowledge and belief of the writer but no responsibility is accepted for actions based on such opinions or comments. Vox Markets may receive payment from companies mentioned for enhanced profiling or publication presence. The writer may or may not hold investments in the companies under discussion.

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