Press | Vox Markets
EZJ
easyJet (EZJ) is set to become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its entire network, after announcing it would offset all jet fuel emissions. The British budget airline said it would start offsetting all flights from Tuesday, which it said would cost about £25m in the next financial year through schemes to plant trees or avoid the release of additional carbon dioxide. Johan Lundgren, the airline’s chief executive, said longer-term solutions were also needed. “We recognise that offsetting is only an interim measure, but we want to take action on our carbon emissions now,” he said. “Aviation will have to reinvent itself as quickly as it can.” EasyJet’s move surpasses the recent pledges of rival airlines, including British Airways, whose parent company, IAG, promised last month to be carbon-neutral by 2050 and to start offsetting all domestic flights next year. The German airline group Lufthansa has launched a business fare where European flights are automatically offset for corporate customers from 2020.
COB
The government is set to wave through the £4bn takeover of the British defence company Cobham (COB) by Advent after the US private equity group offered to address national security concerns. The business secretary, Andrea Leadsom, on Tuesday announced that the government would consult on legally binding steps to be taken by Advent, adding she was “minded to accept” the undertakings – despite objections expressed to competition regulators by unnamed parties about the private equity firm’s potential short-term hunt for profits. Advent International and Cobham announced the all-cash deal on 25 July, but the government intervened on 17 September. The MoD expressed concerns that the takeover could expose military information held on Cobham’s systems and that key capabilities could be undermined if Advent decided to exit parts of the business. Cobham, which specialises in the air-to-air refuelling technology used by UK and US military jets, is a supplier to the Ministry of Defence as well as making a broad range of systems for aviation and space industries. However, the Dorset-based company, which employs about 10,000 people worldwide, only earns about 8% of its revenues in the UK. The company’s new owners will be prevented from withdrawing from important military services for five years, as well as ensuring that board structures keep British nationals in charge of key defence services.
VOD
Vodafone Group (VOD) German cable unit accused of obstructing deal inquiry.Kabel Deutschland deleted ex-CEO’s emails despite probe into acquisition by UK group
AML
Aston Martin Holdings (AML) enters the sizzling SUV market. DBX designed after building profile of typical buyer — Charlotte, a mother in her 40s
EZJ
Lex – easyJet (EZJ)/CO2: that sinking feeling. Shares rose because Tuesday’s annual results were decent, not because the planet has been saved
AO.
AO World (AO.) ditches Dutch arm to focus on UK and Germany. Shares jump 13% as online electrical goods retailer pulls out of Netherlands
COB
UK government set to approve Cobham (COB) takeover by Advent. Ruling follows 3-week inquiry into deal’s national security implications
KAPE
Teddy Sagi’s Kape Technologies Plc (KAPE) to buy US rival LTMI. UK-listed cyber security group doubles customers with $128m purchase of VPN rival
EZJ
easyJet (EZJ) plans to offset carbon emissions from all its flights. Budget airline outlines move to launch package holiday business as profits fall
SSE
SSE (SSE) warns on Labour proposal to nationalise networks. Chief Alistair Phillips-Davies calls plan a ‘huge mistake’ as sector is ‘high-performing’
COB
The Government has moved a step closer to waving through the £4billion private equity takeover of Cobham (COB). Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said she is ‘minded to accept’ a number of pledges put forward by the British defence firm’s US suitor Advent International to ease concerns that the deal poses a threat to national security. But critics hit back at the move, warning it was ‘bargaining away’ Britain’s security and that allowing the deal to go through will do ‘long-term damage’ to the defence sector. In order to get the green light, Leadsom said Advent must ‘continue and strengthen’ existing security arrangements that are designed to protect ‘sensitive government information’. It will have to put Britons in charge of sensitive contracts, as well as maintain and honour any existing contracts for the next five years. And Advent must also inform the Ministry of Defence if it wants to sell all or even just part of Cobham.
EZJ
easyJet (EZJ) has raked in almost £1.4billion from extra charges over the past year after introducing ‘surge pricing’, which ramps up the cost of booking a seat during busy periods. The budget airline said its so-called ‘ancillary revenues’ jumped by almost 14% to £1.38billion in the year to the end of September. This is equivalent to just under £3.8million a day, and includes income from baggage and seat reservation fees. The carrier said the bonanza was fuelled by the introduction of ‘seasonal pricing on allocated seating’. It has upgraded its system to introduce computer algorithms to regulate its seat reservation fees. This monitors supply and demand, meaning passengers pay more during peak times such as the school holidays and less during quieter periods. Surge pricing is widely used in the travel industry, meaning the cost of holidays can soar when there is high demand.
GFS
G4S (GFS) could be booted out of a leading ethical index as soon as next month after it was blacklisted by Norway’s state wealth fund for its human rights track record. The security services group has been a member of the FTSE 4 Good Index – run by the London Stock Exchange Group’s FTSE Russell subsidiary – for the past three years. The index puts an ethical stamp on companies that are judged to be environmentally and socially responsible. But G4S’s inclusion has come under fire after the £780billion Norwegian government pension fund last week excluded it from its investments over an ‘unacceptable risk’ it contributed to abuses against its staff in the Middle East.
AML
Aston Martin Holdings (AML) launches its £158,000 SUV today – hoping the vehicle will revive its fortunes after a disastrous stock market float last year. The 106-year-old car maker will unveil the DBX, which it is aiming at families, at simultaneous events in China and the US. The car features ‘ambient lighting’, ample room in the boot for golf clubs… and can go from zero to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds. Customers will be able to put in orders for the SUV – which has a top speed of 181mph – but they will not receive it until the spring. Aston will make the DBX at its St Athan factory in South Wales. Commercial production will start in the new year.
AO.
Shares in AO World (AO.) rose in early trading yesterday despite the retailer’s earnings remaining firmly in the red. The stock, which has taken a bruising in recent months, gained more than 13% to reach 65p on Tuesday after the electricals seller said it is pulling out of the Netherlands after less than four years in the country amid ongoing woes at its European arm. Although the company’s overseas venture racked up widening losses of £13.6million in the six months to October, AO said it will plough on with attempting to turn around its business in Germany until at least the summer of next year. Sales at the ailing European division fell 3.4%. The retailer hailed ‘green shoots’ in the UK, where comparable sales jumped 4.5% and half-year profits nudged up 13% to £7.8million.
EZJ
easyJet (EZJ) has shaken up the air travel business with a pledge to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel of all of its flights by planting trees and investing in green energy. The budget airline said today it will invest in forestry, renewables and community-based projects to offset its carbon impact. The firm highlighted that it is ‘only an interim measure’ while new technologies are being developed, including efforts to make hybrid and electric planes. ‘Regular fliers often fret about their carbon footprint so EasyJet’s move, at a significant but not unmanageable cost of £25m a year, could pay off, ‘ said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ bell. ‘Well, at least if it is seen as a genuine strategy and not just window dressing.’
KAPE
Kape Technologies Plc (KAPE) has bought an American online privacy specialist in a £74million deal. The mixed cash and share takeover of Private Internet Access is expected to complete early next year, if regulators give it the green light. Kape’s customer base will almost double to 2m if the deal goes through, and several executives from PIA are expected to stay on the board or in consulting roles.
HSV
Shares in Homeserve (HSV) touched a record high after the company told investors it expects to make more money this year. Revenues in the six months to the end of September rose 13% to £458million. Profits edged 2% higher, as business boomed in the US. It also revealed it is plotting an even bigger push into the North American market, where it picked up 13% more customers in the first-half, by spending £108million on a controlling stake in US group Elocal. Homeserve has bought 79% of Elocal, which connects customers with tradespeople, and can buy the rest of the company at a later date. Homeserve said it expects Elocal to add £3.9million to its profits this year, which sent its stock to a record high of 1282p.
HLMA
ITRK
Halma (HLMA) barrelled to the top of the Footsie’s leaderboard after it reported a better-than-forecast rise in half-year profits and a revenue jump of 12% on the back of five acquisitions. The company pumped up its first-half dividend to 6.54p per share, up from 6.11p in the same period of last year. Halma’s performance lifted fellow safety group Intertek Group (ITRK), which specialises in product testing and certification. Intertek shares rallied and were also boosted by an upgrade from ‘hold’ to ‘buy’ by Jefferies analysts.
 
HMSO
Hammerson (HMSO) was on the up after it sold a retail park in Gloucester for £54million to a local council. It is assumed this is Gloucester City Council, as other local councils have denied they were the buyer, but Hammerson did not name it directly.
 
DIA
The US-China trade war took a bite out of LED maker Dialight (DIA), whose shares crashed as it too released a profit warning and said the uncertainty around its trading relationship with China was a major drag on its performance.
AO.
DC.
The boss of white goods seller AO World (AO.) is banking on its mobile phone business to boost sales and take on rivals such as Dixons Carphone (DC.) after pulling the plug on its Netherlands operation. John Roberts is hoping for growth at Mobile Phones Direct, which it bought last year for £38m, amid fears over sluggish demand for the fridges, freezers and other expensive products which have long been his company’s mainstay as consumers hold off on spending. Competitor Dixons Carphone has been struggling for years with its mobile phone division in Britain as fewer people renew their devices and demand for mobile contracts falters.
AV.
Pressure is mounting on Aviva (AV.) boss Maurice Tulloch as he prepares to face investors for the first time amid a growing clamour for a change of strategy. Mr Tulloch faces fresh calls from disgruntled shareholders for a major shake-up, ahead of a strategy update on Wednesday. A letter from the Investor Forum, a group of 49 major City institutions, demanded that the company presents a credible plan to increase the long-term value of its shares, according to a Sky News report. Mr Tulloch is expected to lift the lid on his plans for the business on Wednesday, in the first major update since he took over in March.
COB
National security pledges by the US private equity firm seeking to buy Cobham (COB) do not go far enough, the defence company’s founding family has warned. American business Advent is on the brink of sealing its takeover of Cobham, after Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said she is minded to accept binding undertakings designed to protect its valuable technology. But Lady Nadine Cobham, daughter-in-law of the firm’s founder Sir Alan, said that allowing the deal to go ahead would put the safety of the country at risk.
FRAN
Questor: ambitious growth plans and a healthy balance sheet make Franchise Brands (FRAN) a hold. Questor share tip: the shares are not cheap but there is scope for further acquisitions to supplement the firm’s organic growth
HL.
Questor: can Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) shares recover from the Neil Woodford collapse? Questor share tip: the investment shop was a key backer of the former star manager and the market seems to fear for the effects on its customers’ loyalty
COB
The £4 billion takeover of Cobham (COB) by an American private equity group is back on track after the business secretary said she is minded to clear the deal. Shares in the British defence company rose after the announcement by the business department. However, the shares still trade at a small discount to the 165p offer price, reflecting the view that the deal might yet be derailed. The deal had been put on hold while the government investigated whether the sale of the air-to-air refuelling equipment maker posed a threat to national security.
HMSO
Gloucester city council has bought a local retail park for £54 million, almost four times its net annual budget. It acquired St Oswalds from Hammerson (HMSO), the shopping centre owner that is seeking to sell all its out-of-town properties. Tenants at the site include B&Q, Homesense and Mothercare, which went into administration this month. A spokeswoman for the council said that it could not yet comment on the acquisition because of a non-disclosure agreement. Councils have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on commercial property in recent years as they try to create a rental income stream to plug funding cuts from central government. Some have sought to buy neglected shopping centres in their areas as part of regeneration plans.
EZJ
Plans to relaunch easyJet (EZJ) package holiday business were confirmed yesterday as it reported pre-tax profits down by more than a quarter after what had been “a difficult year”. However, the budget airline said that it had finished the period with a strong performance, including a record summer, enabling it to hit its full-year results expectations. Although headline pre-tax profits were £427 million, down 26% on last year, this was at the top of the £420 million to £430 million range it had estimated in October. Revenue in the year to the end of September increased by 8.3% to £6.3 billion, helped by a near-9% rise in passenger numbers to a record 96.1 million.
ICP
A strong first half in which it won more than £4 billion of investment mandates has prompted Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) to lift its key margin target. Assets under management were up by 11% to €41.1 billion after the group raised €4.6 billion from institutional investors buying into 14 funds. Intermediate Capital, which once specialised in mezzanine finance, has diversified into a wide range of asset categories, from private equity to property. Clients include sovereign wealth funds, insurers and pension funds. It manages about €2.7 billion of its own assets as principal, as well as €38.4 billion of third-party assets.
DIA
A second profit warning in just over four months darkened the mood around an industrial lighting company yesterday, sending its shares to a nine-year low. Dialight (DIA) said that it now expected its 2019 earnings before interest and taxes to be between £5 million and £8 million, after adjusting for about £6 million of additional costs. The lighting manufacturer reported earnings before interest and taxes of £8 million last year and in July had said that it expected to report underlying operating profit of between £10 million and £13 million. “We have seen early signs of recovery, but this has been hampered by the slowdown in the global markets,” Dialight said in a trading statement yesterday.
PLP
Polypipe Group (PLP), one of Britain’s biggest building materials suppliers has issued a profit warning, blaming a Brexit-driven slowdown in construction and the impact of flooding in the north and the Midlands. Polypipe said that it expected underlying operating profit for the year to be “just below” analysts’ expectations of between £72 million and £75 million. In a trading update for the ten months to the end of October, it said that group revenue was £381.7 million, up 4.3% on the previous year. However, trading over the past four months was only 1.7% higher because of difficult market conditions.
AO.
One of Britain’s leading online retailers is reining back its ambitions to expand overseas by closing its Netherlands operation after only four years. AO World (AO.), the online electricals retailer, will take a €3 million hit from shutting its Dutch base, which loses €6 million annually, after failing to turn it around. John Roberts, chief executive, said that he had “real conviction” that AO could improve its German operations, but gave himself a deadline of next summer. If he was wrong, he said, the German division also would be closed, at a cost of £20 million.
HSBA
A customer corporate account held at HSBC Holdings (HSBA) that helped to fund protest-related activities in Hong Kong is being shut down. The bank moved to close the account after discovering that it was being used contrary to its initial documentation, according to reports. HSBC is among several leading companies grappling with the issue of conducting business in Hong Kong after five months of anti-government demonstrations and amid rising tensions between Beijing and the former British colony. The client, whose identity is not known, was informed by HSBC last month that it would close the account after a 30-day notice period which ends this week, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
LGEN
Legal & General Group (LGEN) has pulled in another £23 billion of investment mandates since June, but sales of equity release mortgages have faltered. The insurer and asset manager gave a brief snapshot of second-half trading yesterday as it prepared to tap bond investors for an unspecified amount to take advantage of favourable market conditions. Nigel Wilson, 63, chief executive, said: “Our business continues to go from strength to strength. Our year-to-date operating performance across all five of our divisions is good, reflecting the strong execution of our stated strategy.” L&G is planning to take advantage of rock-bottom gilt yields, which reduce its debt costs, with the launch “shortly” of a sterling-denominated subordinated debt issue.
HSV
Homeserve (HSV), the company behind Checkatrade has doubled down on its bet to create a worldwide platform matching local tradespeople with householders by making a $140 million acquisition in the United States. Homeserve said that it was acquiring 79% of the Philadelphia-based Elocal as part of its strategy to expand and extend its “local experts” division. Shares in the group, whose main business is providing emergency home insurance cover, rose after news of the deal emerged and following the publication of its interim results.
HAT
H&T Group (HAT), one of Britain’s biggest pawnbrokers has suspended its unsecured cash loans business and warned that it may have to pay compensation to customers as the City regulator reviews its operations. H&T, which operates 254 pawnshops across the UK, said it is “working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority following a regulatory review of certain aspects and files of its high-cost short-term credit (‘HCSTC’) unsecured loans business … The group has ceased all HCSTC unsecured lending, at least temporarily, as it works through this review process.” H&T’s various business arms charge interest on an annualised basis of between 49.9% and 1,288%, and the announcement gives a rare insight into the scale of interest paid on what appear to be relatively small amounts lent. The company said the review would cover six years of lending by H&T in the HCSTC market. It said the value of its loan portfolio over the period averaged £3m, but customer interest payments were £24m.
LSE
GFS
Human rights campaigners have criticised the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) for including G4S (GFS) on ethical investment indices, after the British security company was accused of contributing to human rights violations. The FTSE4Good index, run by the London Stock Exchange Group’s FTSE Russell subsidiary, has included G4S for the past three years. During that time, G4S, one of the world’s largest public sector employers, with 546,000 employees in 90 countries, has been at the centre of multiple controversies over its treatment of workers. In September, it said it will end its involvement in the immigration and asylum sector following a scandal at a detention centre near Gatwick. Norway’s $1.1tn (£850bn) government pension fund last week announced it had excluded shares in G4S from its investment portfolio, after its ethics watchdog found an “unacceptable risk of the company contributing to systematic human rights violations” among workers in the Middle East.
 
SSE
SSE (SSE) warns on Labour proposal to nationalise networks. Chief Alistair Phillips-Davies calls plan a ‘huge mistake’ as sector is ‘high-performing’
FGP
FirstGroup (FGP) shareholders urge sale of all US assets. Coast Capital and Robert Tchenguiz demand changes at bus and train operator
AV.
Lombard – Aviva (AV.) Asia U-turn raises questions on strategic direction. Review of Far East businesses led some to hope for a break-up to release value
AV.
Aviva (AV.) narrows list of potential Asian disposals. UK insurer plans to hang on to its businesses in Singapore and China
TUI
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) seeks personal touch to prosper where Thomas Cook failed. Anglo-German package tour operator not immune to pressure on travel sector
EZJ
easyJet (EZJ) will today unveil a package holiday business – just weeks after Thomas Cook went bust. Customers will be able to book hotels at some of its top destinations, including the Canary Islands and the Alps. The business will offer flexible breaks that can be booked at any time of the week coinciding with its flights, instead of the traditional model of offering one or two-week holidays with flights at fixed times. The airline has spent almost a year striking deals with hundreds of hotels on its most popular routes. Easyjet Holidays launches before Christmas as families book winter skiing holidays and summer breaks. The move will be unveiled with the firm’s annual results today, when profits are set to tumble from £587m to between £420m and £430m.
GENL
Recent numbers from Genel Energy (GENL) underlined the improvement both in its situation and in the part of Iraqi Kurdistan where it operates. Production was up, but so was the amount of cash generated by the oil group. In total, Genel has generated $413million so far in 2019 and had net cash of $115million at the end of September. Unsurprisingly, sentiment towards the stock closely follows the political and economic situation in Kurdistan. ISIS’s gradual decline means the region is increasingly stable, while increased revenues from oil sales and a series of economic reforms has helped to transform the economy. Under former chief executive Murat Özgül, who stepped down in early April, and his successor, the company’s former chief operating officer, Bill Higgs, Genel’s balance sheet has been transformed.
AV.
Aviva (AV.) decision not to sell its operations in Singapore and China was met with scepticism from the City. Aviva was the worst performer on the Footsie after it said investors would benefit the most from keeping the Singapore division and its joint venture in China, where there are ‘high growth prospects’ and a huge market. Media reports suggested it would use an investor day tomorrow to confirm a sale of the Singapore division, after it kicked off a review of its Asian business earlier this year. It is still mulling whether to flog its units in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Indonesia. Analysts consider Aviva’s structure to be clunky and in need of a shake-up – but the roll-back on Singapore has raised fresh questions over what new chief executive Maurice Tulloch actually has planned for the group.
HAT
H&T Group (HAT) shed around a quarter of its value in early trading after it revealed it is working with City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority to review its high-cost, short-term credit business, which could result in H&T paying customers compensation. Boss John Nichols said the company is working with regulators but that its cash-strapped customers could be forced to turn to loan sharks in the run-up to Christmas.
IQE
IQE (IQE) had a dour start to the week. Its shares plunged after it cut its revenue forecast for the second time in five months and warned this would trigger an annual loss compared with a profit of £16m last year. IQE said it had been hit hard by the raging US-China trade war and had ‘experienced very challenging market conditions in 2019’. Hedge funds will be sitting pretty after yesterday’s share price drop – almost 9% of its stock was out on loan to short-sellers by the end of last week.
ESL
Two City heavyweights are among firms being courted by the former boss of Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) as he races to put together a rescue plan for the ailing trucking firm. Fund managers M&G and Ruffer have held discussions with Andrew Tinkler, who hopes they will sign up to a deal to inject £50m into the business. Mr Tinkler is hoping to overcome a rival bid from Dbay Advisors, one of the biggest investors in Eddie Stobart. The crippled firm, which was spun off from former parent the Stobart Group in 2014 and listed three years later, shocked investors last week when it revealed delayed half-year losses before interest and tax of at least £12m.
Major high street chains have been forced to close almost 6,000 stores so far this year amid a raging crisis on the high street. A total of 5,834 shops were shut by large retailers with 10 or more stores since the start of the year to September 30, according to the Centre for Retail Research. This is a 77% rise on the whole of last year, when 3,303 sites were closed by larger retailers. It suggests job loses this year will top the estimated 70,000 in 2018. The figures underline the challenge facing the high street ahead of the crucial Christmas period as customers shun traditional stores to buy online instead.
FGP
FirstGroup (FGP) has been plunged into a fresh crisis after suffering a double attack from major investors. Multi-millionaire property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz slammed First’s strategy and said there should be a shareholder vote on its future. In a separate broadside, activist Coast Capital Management, First’s second biggest investor, demanded the firm immediately begin a formal sale of US assets. Mr Tchenguiz hit out at First’s executives for making “ambiguous, confusing and misleading” statements about a potential sale of its US arm and claimed that chairman David Martin is “scaring off shareholders” by not splitting the business in two.
HAT
Lending practices at H&T Group (HAT), the largest pawnbroker in Britain are being probed by regulators – sending shares slumping by more than a fifth. H&T is being investigated over how it judges whether customers who take out an unsecured loan can afford to pay the money back. The review by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) covers H&T lending practices over the last six years, during which customers paid £24m of interest. H&T has now stopped offering unsecured loans while the review continues, and is putting new policies in place. The firm said it is working with the FCA, and is committed to maintaining high standards without harming customers.
AV.
Aviva (AV.) has abandoned plans to sell its Singapore and China operations, despite carrying out a strategic review that had been widely expected to lead to a $2.5 billion sale of the businesses. Shares in the British insurer fell after it said that it would retain them, making it the biggest faller in the FTSE 100 yesterday. Aviva said yesterday that it would keep its business in Singapore — its largest in the region, generating £140 million in profit last year — and its joint venture in China. It is thought to have failed to attract a high enough price for the divisions as most international insurers already have operations in those markets.
 
CSRT
Consort Medical (CSRT) has agreed a £505 million takeover by a Swedish rival. Shares leapt yesterday after news broke of the cash offer from Recipharm, which values Consort at £10.10 a share. The British business’s directors plan to unanimously recommend the bid. The offer represents a 39.1% premium to Consort’s share price of 726p on Friday. Consort employs about 2,000 people, of which 1,400 are in Britain at sites including Hemel Hempstead, King’s Lynn, Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Cramlington, Northumberland.
FGP
Robert Tchenguiz, the colourful financier and property investor, has heavily criticised the management of FirstGroup (FGP) and threatened to push for an extraordinary general meeting to force a break-up of the trains and buses company. Mr Tchenguiz, who has a 4.7% economic interest in First Group, accused the company’s management of being “ambiguous, confusing and misleading” about the group’s future in statements it made to the stock market last week that took 20 per cent off the value of the shares. He was immediately supported in a statement released to the Stock Exchange by Coast Capital, the activist US investor which has built up a 10% stake in First Group
DPLM
A provider of specialist industrial parts and goods yesterday committed itself to continuing double-digit growth and increased its dividend by 14%. Shares in Diploma (DPLM) reached a new peak after it reported pre-tax profits up £11.7 million at £96.5 million on revenues 12% higher at £544 million in the year to the end of September. With the promise of more to come in a time of global trade uncertainty, the upbeat outlook was seen as a big tick for Johnny Thomson, 47, the company’s new chief executive. He was recruited from Compass earlier in the year after he had failed to land the top job at the contract caterer.
IQE
The value of one of Britain’s biggest microchip producers tumbled by a quarter yesterday after it warned that upheavals in the smartphone market would push it to an annual loss. IQE (IQE), which sells wafers to chip manufacturers, cut its revenue forecast because of what it called “very challenging market conditions”. It said that it expected turnover of £136 million to £142 million, weaker than its previous forecast of £140 million to £160 million, and a “mid-single-digit adjusted operating loss” for the full year. That sent shares in IQE down capping a miserable period in which the semiconductor maker was hit by a slowdown in sales of Apple iPhones last year and by the effects of the US-China trade talks.
HAT
A leading pawnbroker has stopped lending to some of its customers amid a review by the City regulator. H&T Group (HAT) said that it was working with the Financial Conduct Authority and was looking at its creditworthiness assessments and lending processes for high-cost, short-term unsecured loans over the past six years. The average high-cost, short-term unsecured loan portfolio over the period was £3 million and the total in customer interest payments was £24 million. Excluding impairments, revenue was £11 million.
SGE
Sage Group (SGE) has abandoned its attempts to compete head-on with the likes of Paypal and Stripe in online payments. Sage agreed yesterday to sell its Sage Pay business to America’s fifth largest commercial bank for £232 million. The deal with Elavon, which is owned by US Bancorp, will result in Sage bowing out of the fast-growing but brutally competitive market. The division offers businesses access to online payment software, card terminals and point-of-sales technology through phone and tablet apps. Sage said that it would continue to offer payments services to its clients through a partnership with its soon-to-be-former subsidiary.