Press | Vox Markets
EZJ
easyJet boss Johan Lundgren says Brexit will be smooth for airline. The chief executive of easyJet (EZJ) on Tuesday pledged there “won’t be any disruption” at his budget airline once Britain leaves the EU, as he gave an update on its Brexit preparations. Johan Lundgren discussed plans alongside revealing that pre-tax profits soared 41% to £578 million in the year to September 30. He told the Standard: “We are prepared for any [Brexit] scenario and are confident that our flights will operate as normal after March 2019.” His FTSE 100 firm expects to increase European ownership of the airline from 47% to over 50% before Britain exits the bloc, which will allow it to comply with ownership rules and continue to operate within the EU.
CPG
Catering firm Compass draws up contingency plan for Brexit. Compass Group (CPG), the world’s biggest catering firm, on Tuesday cheered a sales jump and said a contingency plan to cope with any border chaos next year is being worked up. The FTSE 100 firm which provides meals at offices and stadiums, said it has identified “a potential impact on our food supply chain and labour force” from Brexit. Chief executive Dominic Blakemore said his firm is looking at sourcing some new non EU suppliers, as well as increasing inventory levels by a “sensible” amount. The boss said his firm remains “excited” about future global growth opportunities
EIG
Buyers circle Ei’s £350m pubs portfolio on the market. The boss of EI Group (EIG) on Tuesday said he has been “encouraged” by the number of investors eyeing a purchase of the pubs giant’s £350 million commercial property arm. Simon Townsend first confirmed in September that Rothschild had been hired to look at auctioning off 376 watering holes it owns the freehold of but does not operate. He today said: “A sale would allow us to concentrate on our core estate. I have been reassured by the level of interest we have received.”
KCOM
KCOM Group (KCOM) – The telecoms firm today posted a profit warning and reduced dividend for the current financial year, sending its shares down 34p, to 58.5p.  Weak sales mean that the company is expecting earnings for the financial year to be 5% below current market expectations.
ZAM
Zambeef Products (ZAM) produces cereal crops, beef, chickens, pigs, milk and stock feed, among other products, and also has operations in West Africa. Today the company said in a trading statement its earnings per share will be approximately 163% higher than for the year ended 30 September 2017. It also said it had achieved profit after tax of ZMW24.5 million compared to ZMW5.5 million in 2017.
PLUS
Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) said its full-year results would be ahead of market expectations, as strong third-quarter trading spilled over into the final quarter. “We believe we are in a good position for 2019 and continue to focus on acquiring high-value customers,” Chief Executive Officer Asaf Elimelech said in a statement. Like its peers IG Group and CMC Markets, the company has been under scrutiny as regulators tighten rules on products that allow anyone with a bank card to make highly-leveraged bets on financial markets through their apps and online platforms. However, a European Union ban on selling “binary options” to retail customers will be extended for three months from Jan. 2, the bloc’s securities markets watchdog said earlier this month. Despite tight regulation, the Israel-based company recently delivered upbeat third-quarter results as it benefited from the rise in volatility, cryptocurrency derivatives and other financial markets.
BON
Bonmarche Holdings (BON) the over-fifties fashion brand today insisted it will not close any shops despite fewer people buying its wares in store. Company finance chief Stephen Alldridge said: “Do we have plans to close any? No, because they are profitable.” But it will keep a close eye on its 300-store portfolio. Revenues were flat at £98 million for the first half of the year to September 29, while underlying pre-tax profit edged down from £4.2 million to £3.3 million. Same-store sales fell 4%, but online orders grew 28.9%. Chief executive Helen Connolly said that if sales during Black Friday through to Christmas go well, the underlying profits for the year should be £5.5 million.  The chain warned on profits in September due to warm weather hitting spending.
Lombard – For TSB’s new boss, the challenge is not IT but the crowd. Bank needs to gain the market share that its 550 branches should command
DPLM
Profits jump at UK engineer Diploma (DPLM). Shares rose 6% and were on track for their best day in a year
Virgin Atlantic pilots balloted over Christmas disruption. Strike threat over anger at review of flight crew benefits
City blow as bonds role moves to Milan before Brexit. A fifth of €13bn-a-day sovereign trades could leave London
Brexit forces UK satellite maker to send work to EU. Surrey Satellite Technology forced to put mitigation measures in place for contracts
CYBG
Shares in CYBG (CYBG), the group that recently bought Virgin Money, fell more than 10 per cent after it swung to a full-year loss and warned of lower levels of business confidence due to Brexit. It comes as CYBG, which is the parent company of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, is also being sued by hundreds of small businesses who claim they were mis-sold tailored loans.
AO.
Shares in AO World (AO.) sunk by more than 12 per cent in early trading today as weary investors shuddered at the cautious tone struck by the electricals firm. In an otherwise robust set of half-year results, in which it said losses narrowed and sales jumped 10%, the online retailer admitted that it had been plagued by a ‘challenging backdrop’ in its core markets. AO – founded by executive chairman John Roberts in 2000 and best known for its catchy ‘AO, let’s go’ jingle – specialises in white goods, such as fridges and washing machines, as well as laptops and small kitchen appliances.
EZJ
easyJet (EZJ) seems to have weathered turbulence from air traffic control strikes, wage rises and higher oil prices with a 41% jump in profits and forward bookings ahead of last year. The low-cost airline results were in line with expectations, with pre-tax profits of £578million for the year to September 30 and passengers numbers up by a record 10.2% at 88.5 million. The company benefited from Ryanair’s flight cancellations and the collapse of Monarch Airlines and Air Berlin, with total revenues rising 16.8% to £5.9billion during the year.
Shares on Wall Street tanked last night as some of America’s biggest tech companies took a hammering from investors. Apple fell nearly 4% – taking losses since its October peak to over 20% – following reports that the company has cut production orders for the iPhones unveiled earlier this year. Facebook followed suit, falling more than 5%. The social media titan’s shares have dropped 14% over the past month. Tech shares more broadly slid amid allegations from Chinese authorities that some of the world’s top computer chip-makers were engaging in anti-competitive behaviour. Even Amazon shed more than 5% ahead of Black Friday and the Christmas shopping period.
BARC
Corporate raider targeting Barclays expected to demand seat on board in coming weeks – sparking fight over its future. A corporate raider targeting Barclays (BARC) is expected to demand a seat on its board in the coming weeks – sparking a fight over its future. American Edward Bramson owns more than 5% of the bank through his fund Sherborne Investors and is thought to be pushing for a break-up of its prized investment arm. The 67-year-old is said to be close to declaring his hand around a year after first buying the stock. Investment insiders said Bramson is likely to seek a board seat if the bank does not do his bidding. Under the rules of his fund, this will put the New Yorker in line for a multi-million-pound bonus if the share price goes up.
LLOY
Noel Edmonds will launch a £60m lawsuit against Lloyds tomorrow over claims it wrecked his firm. The TV presenter argues that a clique of criminal bankers at the Reading branch of HBOS, which Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) had bought at the height of the financial crisis, destroyed his company Unique Group.
CYBG
TSB has poached a top female banker for its vacant chief executive post as it battles to recover from an IT meltdown that left its reputation in tatters. Debbie Crosbie will take over in the new year after Paul Pester resigned in September. He was ousted after the April disaster which locked as many as 1.9m customers out of their accounts. It will make Crosbie, 48, the most powerful woman in British banking with an empire covering 4.2m customers and £60 billion of deposits and lending. The appointment follows fears that TSB was struggling to find a chief executive. Senior finance figures, including former Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gadhia, had turned down the role. Crosbie is chief operating officer at CYBG (CYBG), where she has long been seen as a safe pair of hands and became the first woman to have her signature on a Scottish banknote.
STOB
Neil Woodford was dragged into a boardroom battle yesterday in yet another setback for the fund manager. The 58-year-old told the High Court he was shocked by what he described as ‘totally false’ allegations he was part of a conspiracy to harm Southend Airport-owner Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB). Woodford was called as a witness for Andrew Tinkler, the former chief executive of Stobart who is being sued by the company.
BAB

Babcock is battling to calm investors’ fears about its finances following a dramatic slump in the share price. The defence contractor, which maintains submarines carrying Britain’s nuclear deterrent, has seen its value more than halve in the past five years, leaving it valued at around £3 billion. The stock is down more than 30% since June. Babcock International Group (BAB) has been forced to speak out about the health of its finances, insisting a shake-up of its businesses would not result in ‘material’ cash costs when it reports results tomorrow. Sky News claimed the firm was preparing to unveil a £100m fall in the value of Avincis, the helicopter business Babcock bought in 2014 for £1.6 billion.

DPLM
Diploma (DPLM) – which supplies components for Formula One racing cars – revved ahead of its peers to end the day as the index’s biggest riser. The firm, which also supplies medical equipment and seals and wiring to transport and defence companies, revealed in its full-year results that revenue was up 7% to £485.1m. Profit before tax rose 9% to £72.7m. The firm has generated a total return of 1382.6% for investors over the past decade, while the FTSE 250 has made just 224.9% and the FTSE 100 a mere 155.1%
VRS
HAYD
Among the smaller companies on the London Stock Exchange, graphene businesses had a strong day. Versarien (VRS), which is looking to incorporate its Nanene version of graphene into clothes, wound dressings and aeroplane components, shot up 6.1%, or 7.5p, to 130p as it signed an agreement with a Chinese company to partner on building a manufacturing centre in China. Its smaller rival, Haydale Graphene Industries (HAYD), soared 36.7%, or 5.5p, to 20.5p as it signed a contract with Thai banknote printer TKS Siampress
BTG
US medical devices manufacturer Boston Scientific is seeking to buy British pharmaceutical firm BTG (BTG) for £3.3bn in cash. Boston Scientific has offered a price of 840p per share, a premium of 36.6% to BTG’s Monday closing price of 615p. It represents a 51% premium to BTG’s 90-day average share price for the period ending Nov 19. BTG said it planned to recommend the deal to its shareholders as it considers the terms of the acquisition to be “fair and reasonable”. Shares in the FTSE 250 company rose jumped 34% to 824.50p on the back of the news.
RTN
Restaurant Group (RTN) takeover of Wagamama has been dealt a huge blow after its second-biggest investor said it would oppose the £559m deal. Columbia Threadneedle, a near-8% shareholder, warned the acquisition “throws up too many red flags” and said it would vote against the proposal at a general meeting next week. The statement by the fund management titan threatened to overshadow a recommendation by leading proxy adviser Glass Lewis to support the deal. Glass Lewis did, however, say it was “ somewhat concerned that the proposed purchase price appears on the high side”.
EZJ
The boss of easyJet (EZJ) has issued a Darwinian call, saying larger airlines are poised to prosper as weaker rivals “disappear”. With airlines facing rising costs over the traditionally lean winter months, Johan Lundgren warned weaker airlines “are heading into difficult times”. Mr Lundgren, who took over as easyJet chief executive a year ago, said Brexit had led to “no drop in demand” in bookings next year. His comments came as annual pre-tax profits rose 15.6% to £445m, in line with City expectations.
ETO
Canadian TV and film group Entertainment One Limited (ETO) has suffered a £57m blow to its bottom line as DVD sales decline amid what it called “ongoing evolution” in the industry. The FTSE 250 firm, which is behind the hit cartoon Peppa Pig, swung to a £40.1m pre-tax loss in the six months to Sept 30, compared to a £2.3m profit a year ago, as it impaired some of its film distribution assets and spent money restructuring the business. Revenue fell almost 2% over the period to £404.9m as growth in its family division was offset by a 7% decline in its film and television arm.
SAE
The London-listed company owned by industrial tycoon Sanjeev Gupta has sold a stake in its ‘green’ power project to major infrastructure investor Equitix. Shares in SIMEC Atlantis Energy Limited (SAE) jumped 20% after it unveiled the deal to sell 25% of the Uskmouth power plant in Wales for £32.9m in cash. The deal values the coal conversion project at £131.5m, more than twice the company’s market cap. Simec, a subsidiary of Mr Gupta’s £10bn GFG Alliance, is undertaking a major two-year green overhaul of the plant that could eventually value Uskmouth at almost £300m.
CYBG
A surge in PPI compensation claims driven by an Arnold Schwarzenegger advert and increased activity among claims companies have dragged Virgin Money owner CYBG (CYBG) to a loss. CYBG, Britain’s sixth biggest bank, fell to a £145m loss for the year to September after swallowing a £352m hit for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) costs. The company said the City watchdog’s advert featuring the robotic head of the Terminator star urging people to claim for compensation was partly to blame, as claims management companies also ramped up their efforts to cash in before the August 2019 deadline to log complaints.
CPG
Compass Group (CPG) has begun stockpiling food and put in place plans to help European workers stay in the UK ahead of the country’s exit from the European Union. Dominic Blakemore, chief executive, said the company, which is the world’s biggest catering firm, had drawn up contingency plans to make sure that it could continue supplying its clients with meals in the event of problems importing goods from Europe. He said Compass was making “sensible increases to our inventories” which would happen “gradually over time”, with trigger points between now and Brexit day on March 29, if the prospect of a no-deal becomes more likely.
JPR
Pension Protection Fund raises concerns over Johnston Press collapse. The decision to put the newspaper publisher Johnston Press (JPR) into administration two days before it was due to make a monthly top-up payment into its underfunded defined benefit pension scheme faces scrutiny from regulators. The Pension Protection Fund (PPF), the lifeboat that is due to assume responsibility for the scheme following the collapse and pre-packaged sale of Johnston Press to lenders on Saturday, said it had “concerns” about the process and was in talks with the pensions watchdog. The Johnston Press board, led by chairman Camilla Rhodes, met on Friday evening following the end of a formal sale process launched in October.
Satellite deal cements UK space industry success. European aerospace giants Airbus and Eutelsat will sink millions into building satellite parts in Britain in a major vote of confidence for the booming space industry. The companies have struck a deal to manufacture and assemble components for two new satellites in the UK, securing investment of up to €40m (£36m) per year. Airbus’s plants in Portsmouth and Stevenage will build the parts for Eutelsat before they are sent to Toulouse for final assembly. Eutelsat chief executive Rodolphe Belmer shrugged off concerns that a no-deal Brexit would paralyse the manufacturing sector, saying that “the British space industry will remain one of the front-runners in Europe”.
SMWH
WH Smith (SMWH) among the British businesses campaigning for mental health first aid in the workplace. Britain’s biggest businesses are backing a major mental health campaign that seeks to ensure workplaces are required to make provisions for mental as well as physical first aid. The campaign, led by social enterprise Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, and signed by a consortium of high profile businesses, is asking the government to prioritise its manifesto pledge to amend the Health and Safety regulations so all employers make mental health first aid mandatory. Among the signatories is Stephen Clarke, chief executive of WHSmith, which has been at the forefront of promoting access to first aid for both mental and physical health.
STOB
Stobart investor accused of ‘dereliction of duty’. Star fund manager Neil Woodford has been accused of “dereliction of duty” after refusing to meet Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) chairman Iain Ferguson and backing a campaign for him to be ousted. The asset manager, one of Stobart’s biggest investors, faced scrutiny in the High Court as a bitter court case between the FTSE 250 company and its former chief executive moved into a second week. Mr Woodford denied allegations during cross-examination by Stobart’s legal team. He insisted he had been forced to pick sides in a boardroom battle between former chief executive Andrew Tinkler and Mr Ferguson earlier this year.
LSE
Mod Resources to list in London with Botswana copper project. A mining company is to announce a listing on the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) tomorrow as it looks to put a copper project in Botswana into production. Mod Resources, which is currently traded on the Australian Stock Exchange, hopes to complete its entry onto the main market of the LSE by next week. The exploration company will not be raising capital in the listing, which could give it market value of around £50m. Julian Hanna, managing director, said the move was intended to make the London market “become aware of the amazing asset we have in Botswana”.
BLT
BHP Billiton settles multi-million dollar row with Australian taxman. BHP Billiton (BLT) will pay A$529m (£300m) to settle a long-running dispute with the Australian Tax Office over profits that were routed offshore through its Singapore sales office. The deal, which covers back taxes from the years 2003 to 2018, means the FTSE 100 miner – the biggest in the world by revenue – does not have to admit tax avoidance. In addition, BHP’s Australian arm will take full ownership of the Singapore office to ensure that all future profits will be “fully subject to Australian tax”. The division had been 42% owned by BHP Billiton plc, the London wing of the dual-listed company.
AML
George Soros places £20m bet against Aston Martin. Billionaire financier George Soros has placed a £20m bet that the share price of Aston Martin Holdings (AML) will struggle to recover following its atrocious stock market debut. Mr Soros, the legendary Hungarian-American investor who “broke the Bank of England”, has shorted the James Bond carmaker’s shares after they shed a quarter of their value. Short-sellers have rushed to bet against the company as 2018’s most hotly anticipated initial public offering in London. Over 12% of Aston Martin’s shares are in the hands of short-sellers looking to profit from a share price plunge, according to S3 Partners data.
AHT
PSN
RMV
BDEV
Ashtead catches property market chill. Cooling property markets on both sides of the Atlantic dragged equipment rental giant Ashtead Group (AHT) to a 14-month low and extended the sharp slide in UK housebuilders. The first drop in UK asking prices since 2011 reignited fears of a spluttering market to send Persimmon (PSN), Britain’s second biggest housebuilder, tumbling to a 17-month low. Rightmove (RMV) data indicated that house prices slipped back 1.7% month-on-month in November amid rising Brexit uncertainty. The slump stopped housebuilding stocks from staging a recovery after falling sharply on fears that the political turmoil in Westminster will paralyse the property market. Barratt Developments (BDEV) sank a further 11.1p to 491.9p, worsening a 9.9% plunge.
OSB
Questor: battered by the Brexit blues, OneSavings Bank (OSB) now offers compelling contrarian value
BTG
The board and biggest shareholders of BTG (BTG), the UK drugs company, have recommended a £3.3 billion takeover by a bigger American rival. BTG and Boston Scientific have agreed terms on an all-cash offer which values BTG’s shares at 840p. The offer represents a 36.6% premium to BTG’s closing price in London yesterday. BTG’s directors, which include Dame Louise Makin, its long-running chief executive, hold 0.3% of the shares and have recommended the offer to its shareholders. The offer has also been backed by Invesco Asset Management, Woodford Investment Management and Novo Holdings, which together hold a third of the shares.
EZJ
Heavy losses from the takeover of Air Berlin’s operations at Tegel airport plus IT and Brexit costs have pegged back earnings at easyJet (EZJ). However, the short-haul airline still enjoyed a highly profitable year and the Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the carrier’s founder, who owns a 33% stake, will enjoy a dividend bonanza of almost £80 million. Easyjet is Britain’s busiest airline and the leading operator at Gatwick. Over the past year it has carried a record 88.5 passengers, 10% higher than in the previous year. It flies 315 aircraft, all Airbus planes, having added 36 in the past year. It employs more than 11,500 people throughout Europe.
RTN
One of the Restaurant Group (RTN) biggest institutional investors has come out against the proposed £559 million acquisition of the Wagamama chain. James Thorne, UK equities fund manager at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, said that he would be using the firm’s 7.7% stake in the Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito operator to vote against the deal at next week’s shareholder meeting. “The strategic appeal of combining two good businesses may be understandable but the size and price of the deal at this point in the cycle throws up too many red flags,” he said. “The share price plunge reflects the depth of concern there is.” However, in a sign of how the deal is dividing opinion in the City, Glass Lewis, the proxy advisory group, has today recommended that shareholders vote in favour of both the proposed acquisition and the £315 million rights issue to fund it.
JPR
Pressure over pension fund after Johnston Press (JPR) sale. The new owner of Johnston Press, publisher of The Scotsman, The Yorkshire Post and the i newspaper, came under pressure yesterday when the Pension Protection Fund and MPs questioned the treatment of its 5,000 pension fund members. The fund said that it had “concerns” about the pre-pack administration and the sale of Johnston assets to JPI Media that was announced on Friday evening. It is understood to be concerned that the pre-pack took place only 48 hours before Johnston Press was due to make its monthly contribution into the scheme, a sum thought to be about £800,000, and is also looking at whether the assets were properly marketed to other potential buyers.
CYBG
TSB picks new chief after tech meltdown. The recruitment of a chief executive will help TSB to put a disastrous year behind it, its chairman said yesterday. The bank has hired Debbie Crosbie, 48, a senior executive at CYBG (CYBG), as its new boss, two months after its previous chief was ousted amid anger at a bungled transfer of millions of accounts that led to an increase in fraud incidents and thousands of customers switching to other banks. Richard Meddings, TSB’s executive chairman, said that the appointment of Ms Crosbie was a “big step forward” and would allow it to get on with repairing the damage to its reputation. “This is the sword that cuts the mesh of a whole series of different issues,” said Mr Meddings, who has been running the group since Paul Pester stepped down as chief executive in September.
BLT
BHP Billiton pays out £300m to settle Australian tax dispute. The world’s biggest mining company has agreed to pay about £300 million to solve a long-running dispute with Australia’s tax authorities. BHP Billiton (BLT) said that it had made “no admission of tax avoidance” as part of the settlement over its Singapore-based marketing business, but had agreed to changes that would result in it paying an increased rate from now on. The Australian Taxation Office, which originally had sought more than A$1 billion, said that the “landmark” settlement of A$529 million set a precedent for the industry and meant that all profits from BHP’s sale of Australian commodities would now be taxed in that country.
Nestlé shrugs off speculation and stays sweet on its British brands. The chief executive of Nestlé has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to its British confectionery business, only months before Britain is to exit the European Union. Mark Schneider, who took charge in January last year, said that the food manufacturing group’s UK business, which includes Rowntree’s, was performing extremely well in a challenging market. “I have been very impressed with how the UK management team has been performing under difficult conditions, and that is in part driven by certain categories, with one good example being our confectionery category,” he said.
VOD
Vodafone chief vouches for Huawei in security debate. The new boss of Vodafone Group (VOD) has backed Huawei, the Chinese telecoms supplier that is under scrutiny from the government amid concerns about risks to national security. Nick Read said that Huawei was “actively engaged” with British and European cybersecurity agencies. “I think they’re doing everything possible to ensure they remain a very serious and credible supplier,” the Vodafone chief executive said. The government recently warned companies that supply chains for new fifth-generation, or 5G, networks that they could be affected by a review of telecoms infrastructure. Huawei was not named in the letter sent last week by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the national cybersecurity centre. It stated that the review was designed to ensure that national infrastructure remained “resilient and secure”.
RBS
CSP
MKS
It is still “too early” to invest in domestic British stocks such as banks, housebuilders, retailers and property companies, analysts at JP Morgan warned yesterday. Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), Countryside Properties (CSP) and Marks & Spencer Group (MKS), among the worst affected in their sectors last week, were steady yesterday as investors awaited further news on Brexit talks. However, JP Morgan said that investors should hold off buying back into domestic stocks. Its analysts argued that even if Britain did agree a deal with the European Union, the likelihood of it passing in the House of Commons initially looked slim. On the road to the eventual rubber-stamping of a deal, if the perceived risks of either a no-deal Brexit, leadership challenge or new elections arose, the analysts said, then UK domestic stocks would suffer a further sell-off. Only when a deal appeared to be secured would domestic stocks be “investable” again, they said, as the downside risks would disappear. At the same time, a rising pound would constrain the performance of exporters.
INDV
Indivior (INDV) rose 4p to 206½p after announcing that Perseris, its schizophrenia treatment, had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of adults.
DTY
Dignity (DTY) edged up, too, after it emerged that John Jakes, an investor who founded the Acorn Mobility Services stairlift company 25 years ago, had continued to raise his stake in the business, from 5.3% to 6%, according to a stock exchange filing. Dignity’s profits have been hit by a price war among the industry’s largest players.
SOU
Sound Energy (SOU) fell by 6p, or 24%, to 18p after it failed to find producible gas at the first of three exploration wells in the onshore Tendrara area.
VRS
Versarien (VRS) rose 7½p to 130p after announcing progress on its plans to establish a manufacturing centre in China. The company expects to receive funding from Jinan High-tech Financial Investment as part of a joint venture to manufacture and sell Versarien’s graphene products in Jinan, in eastern China.
MER
MTO
Mears Group (MER) slips down a few rungs. Shares in a social housing and property maintenance contractor fell by almost 9% yesterday after it announced a discounted placing to fund the purchase of Mitie’s social housing business. Mears Group raised £22.5 million from a placing of 6.8 million shares priced at 331½p a share — a 9.9% discount to Friday’s closing price. It will be used to buy assets and contracts from the property management division of Mitie, the outsourcing group. A further £12.5 million will be paid subject to conditions linked with earnings in the two years after completion. The division, which provides repairs and maintenance services to social housing providers, has been loss-making in the past 18 months. Mears said that it was working on a turnaround plan. Mitie Group (MTO) said that proceeds from the sale would be used to reinvest in its main businesses, strengthen its balance sheet and accelerate repayment of a pension scheme deficit. Analysts at Liberum said: “We have little doubt the business will be worth more in Mears’ hands than Mitie’s.”
FPM
Tempus – Faroe Petroleum (FPM): Buy. Faroe remains one of the more compelling independent players in Britain and Norway
RTN
Tempus – Restaurant Group (RTN): Hold. Shareholders should back the chief executive
Car crash for Nissan as chairman Carlos Ghosn fired for pay ‘misconduct’. One of the car industry’s most feted executives — Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn — was stunningly fired on Monday for “serious misconduct” including under-reporting his salary and misuse of company funds. The 64-year old — the first foreigner to lead a Japanese company — is chairman of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi after building a strategic alliance of the three car-making giants nearly 20 years ago. Combined sales by the trio reached 10.6 million cars last year, or one-in-nine passenger cars sold worldwide. Shares in Renault, where Ghosn is also chief executive, plunged 13% and Nissan’s Europe-traded stocks slumped 12% amid reports of Ghosn’s arrest in Tokyo after a probe by Japanese prosecutors.
CYBG
TSB lures rival chief Debbie Crosbie as it fights back from IT fiasco. TSB on Monday poached Debbie Crosbie from rival challenger bank CYBG (CYBG) to revive the company after a spectacular series of IT failures saw Paul Pester ousted as chief executive. Crosbie, a 20-year veteran of the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank owner which has just merged with Virgin Money, becomes one of the most senior women in UK banking. She will start on a higher basic salary than Pester, who got £930,000, and will be able to earn similar bonuses. Pester’s total pay topped £4 million in some years before the IT meltdown. Crosbie was paid towards £1 million a year at CYBG on a basic salary of £450,000.
DPLM
Diploma starts to stockpile parts ahead of Brexit. Diploma (DPLM) has started building inventory levels of parts ahead of Brexit, the engineering firm which supplies components for Formula 1 cars said on Monday. The FTSE 250 firm is stockpiling some of its “faster-moving product lines” in the UK. That includes wires and fasteners used by motor and aerospace clients. Although the UK only accounts for 26% of the group’s overall revenues, Diploma warned it could be hit when Britain leaves the bloc. Executive chairman John Nicholas said a “prolonged disruption at the UK’s borders” could affect its supply chain here. It is hoped that increasing inventory will mitigate the hit from any potential significant disruption after March 2019.
Nissan Renault chief Carlos Ghosn faces arrest in Japan. Shares slide after executive is alleged to have understated income on financial statements. Carlos Ghosn, the chairman of Nissan and chief executive of Renault, faces arrest in Japan and will be sacked by the car manufacturers for alleged financial violations. Renault’s market value dived by €2bn (£1.78bn) to €17bn after the report, with shares falling by 11%. The value of Nissan securities listed in Germany fell by 12%. Ghosn was suspected of having understated his income on financial statements and had agreed to voluntarily speak to prosecutors. He was exposed by a whistleblower, Nissan said.
LLOY
Noel Edmonds likely to file £60m Lloyds lawsuit on Wednesday. TV star, expected to join I’m a Celebrity this week, says gains will fund charity to help banking victims. The TV and radio star Noel Edmonds, who is expected to join ITV’s I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here jungle camp this week, is also likely to fire the starting gun on a £60m lawsuit against Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY). The Deal or No Deal star has also pledged to use a portion of any gains from the pending lawsuit to fund a charity for banking victims. Edmonds’ lawyers are expected to serve Lloyds Bank with a pre-case letter this Wednesday, although the formal claim may not be filed until early December. Lloyds Bank said: “We are still waiting for Mr Edmonds to file his legal claim. If he does file his claim, it will be contested‎.”
CYBG
TSB appoints Debbie Crosbie as new chief in wake of IT meltdown. CYBG (CYBG) executive will replace Paul Pester, who stepped down after crisis, next year. TSB has appointed CYBG’s Debbie Crosbie as its chief executive to succeed Paul Pester, who stepped down following an IT meltdown in April that locked up to 1.9 million customers out of their accounts. Crosbie will join from Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank owner CYBG, where she has worked for more than 20 years and has been chief operating officer since January 2015. She will take up her new role in 2019. Until then, Richard Meddings will continue to run TSB as executive chairman. While Meddings stopped short of divulging Crosbie’s pay packet, he told journalists her basic salary will be higher than her predecessor’s, which last stood at £913,500.
LSE
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) looks to shift debt trade to Italy in Brexit hedge. A fifth of €13bn-a-day sovereign bond business could leave London
JPR
JPI Media assumes Johnston Press (JPR) mantle. New company moves to reassure staff and readers in spite of shareholder anger
FLYB
Top investors continue to dump Flybe Group (FLYB) shares. Chief’s stock options lose £1.2m in value
VOD
Vodafone Group (VOD) looks forward to benefits of restructure. Group expects rate of underlying ebitda growth in the UK to accelerate
Chairman of Nissan and Renault is arrested for alleged misconduct and using company money at the Japanese carmaker for personal use. Nissan’s chairman is to be fired after the firm said an internal probe found he under-reported his income by millions of pounds and engaged in other ‘significant misconduct’. Brazilian-born Carlos Ghosn, 64, was arrested today after he voluntarily submitted to questioning by Tokyo prosecutors, according to reports in Japan. The Yokohama-based company, one of the world’s largest automakers, said the alleged violations were discovered during an investigation over several months that was instigated by a whistleblower. Ghosn, who is also chairman of Renault and Mitsubishi, also allegedly engaged in personal use of company assets, it said. Nissan said it was providing information to the prosecutors and cooperating with their investigation. The allegations also concern a Nissan representative director, Greg Kelly, it said.
CYBG
Troubled TSB hires CYBG (CYBG) veteran Debbie Crosbie to replace outgoing boss Paul Pester as bank tries to turn fortunes around after IT debacle. Debbie Crosbie has been appointed chief executive of TSB as the bank looks to move on from an IT debacle which caused trouble for thousands of customers. The chaos ultimately led to the departure of boss Paul Pester in September. Crosbie will take up the role in 2019 and joins after 20 years at rival CYBG, most recently as chief operating officer. Chairman Richard Meddings said under the new leadership the bank will focus on ‘putting things right for customers’.
GSK
GlaxoSmithKline to raid Silicon Valley: UK firm lures tech stars to create blockbuster drugs. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) technology chief has vowed to poach top talent from the likes of Google and Facebook as it overhauls its approach to discovering new drugs. Karenann Terrell, who was made Glaxo’s first chief digital and technology officer last year, said pharmaceutical firms needed to adopt Silicon Valley’s tactics or face the reckoning that industries such as retail have endured at the hands of online rivals. The former Walmart executive, 57, said she would aim to poach top staff from internet giants and acquire tech companies if necessary to tap into their expertise. This includes analysing vast troves of data, which she believes can help uncover lucrative new medicines.
ULVR
Unilever strikes 10-year agreement for Colman’s mustard production to continue in Norfolk. Unilever (ULVR) has struck a ten-year agreement for Colman’s mustard production to continue in Norfolk. The deal with mustard and mint farmers, known collectively as Condimentum, will see a new £10m factory built near Norwich. It comes after the firm announced it would shut its Carrow Works site in Norwich, where Colman’s has been produced since 1858. Manufacturing of some other products will move to Staffordshire, while packaging of dry condiments will be done in Germany.
FGP
US hedge fund boss threatens to launch coup against executives at FirstGroup (FGP), amid growing investor anger about its performance. A US hedge fund boss has threatened to launch a coup against executives at transport company First Group, amid growing investor anger about its performance. James Rasteh, of Coast Capital Management, said: ‘They are driving the bus off the cliff. If they are deadly intent on continuing to do that they must be ejected from their seats.’ First Group has lost 78% of its value in the past ten years. Rasteh claimed Coast could get more than the 5% support necessary to convene an investor vote on the board.
Carlos Ghosn, the joint chairman of Renault-Nissan, has been arrested in Japan on suspicion of falsifying financial statements and is due to be removed from his position by the board on Thursday. Mr Ghosn is chairman of the Renault-Nissan alliance as well as chief executive and chairman of Renault. The companies have worked as an alliance for almost a two decades, adding Mitsubishi to the fold last year, of which Mr Ghosn is also chairman. The Brazilian-born Frenchman has led a dramatic turnaround at Nissan over the last two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy.
CYBG
CYBG (CYBG) veteran Debbie Crosbie is to take the reins at TSB as the embattled lender tries to move on from an IT meltdown that left it on its knees. Ms Crosbie, who is the chief operating officer of CYBG, will become chief executive of TSB next year following the departure of former boss Paul Pester in September. Mr Pester left the bank with a near-£2m bonus after a botched IT upgrade caused months of chaos and wiped out the bank’s expected profits. The fiasco has cost TSB around £250m.
DPLM
Industrials group Diploma (DPLM) has increased its dividend by 11pc after reporting a jump in profits in its last financial year. The maker of industrial seals, fasteners and medical products reported a 9% rise in pre-tax profits to £72.7m in the year to the end of September, while sales were up 7% to £485.1m. The good results were boosted by Diploma’s US business, where the economy is growing strongly and corporation tax has fallen.
Investment giant AJ Bell has confirmed it will go ahead with its stock market debut next month in a deal that will give staff a £2m Christmas boost. The company, which has 750 staff, has decided to list in December despite a backdrop of market volatility and a raft of disappointing London listings which bankers say have subdued appetite among City investors. The business is expected to be valued at £500m once it lists, valuing founder Andy Bell’s 28% stake at £140m. Staff will also share a £2m windfall once it goes public.
SMWH
Britain’s biggest businesses are backing a major mental health campaign that seeks to ensure workplaces are required to make provisions for mental as well as physical first aid. The campaign, led by social enterprise Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, and signed by a consortium of high profile businesses, is asking the government to prioritise its manifesto pledge to amend the Health and Safety regulations so all employers make mental health first aid mandatory. Among the signatories is Stephen Clarke, chief executive of WH Smith (SMWH), which has been at the forefront of promoting access to first aid for both mental and physical health.
Shares in the FTSE 250 group rose 6pc to 1,373p by midday as investors welcomed the news. The annual dividend was raised by 11pc to 25.5p.
The upbeat results came despite Diploma being without a chief executive. The company ditched its former boss, Richard Ingram, in…
Private investors to spark UK’s first subsidy-free solar boom. Astring of subsidy-free solar farms will move ahead within weeks, marking the first fresh private investments in renewable energy without government handouts. Private equity fund Horus Capital said its new solar development arm, Suncore Energy, will begin construction of three new solar farms totalling 45MW from next month. The first of the trio will move ahead in Worsted, near Gatwick, after clinching the last ever government feed-in tariff for solar power, but the pair that follow will be the first new projects to power the grid with subsidy-free renewable electricity.
Sales growth stagnates for Britain’s top pubs, bars and restaurants. Britain’s top pubs, bars and restaurants, including Pizza Hut, YO! Sushi and TGI Fridays, saw slow sales growth last month as business costs squeezed margins. Leading managed pubs and restaurants saw a 0.2% increase in like-for-like sales in October, according to the Coffer Peach Business tracker, which is produced by the consultancy CGA. It found large regional disparities between London, which recorded growth of 2.5%, and the rest of the UK, where sales contracted by 0.5%. Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA said: “There is little or no growth in the market – and stronger London trading is making up for poorer sales outside the M25”.
Litigation funding house float driven by rise in high-profile lawsuits. A Sydney-based litigation funding house is preparing to float in London next month as more investors in Europe take a punt on lawsuits in the hope of pocketing chunky damages. Litigation Capital Management (LCM), which claims that 95% of its cases have reached settlement, is placing its bets on the growing popularity of litigation funding in Europe by opening an office in London and delisting from the Australian Securities Exchange to instead float in the UK.
Russian gold miner confirms future hopes of 30% free float. Russian gold miner Polyus has put back plans to sell down more of its shares in London as markets turn volatile and the gold price slides. The company, which is 82% owned by Said Kerimov, has a 17.5% free float of its shares in London and Moscow. But Mikhail Stiskin, chief financial officer, said that while the goal of a 30% float was a “long-term objective”, there was now “no timeline” for a selldown. “We confirm the ambition [to have a 30% free float]: we think it is necessary and a prerequisite for a re-rating of our shares, given that liquidity is not sufficient at this point,” he said.