Press | Vox Markets
KIE
Lombard – Is Kier Group (KIE) the next Carillion? ‘Spot the difference’ says not. Superficial similarities between government contractors are not borne out by analysis
HSBA
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) rocked by claim of investment bank’s ‘failure’. Memo from whistleblowing executives questions group’s commitment to the unit
RBS
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) in discussions with BoE over share buyback. Bank aims to speed up privatisation
DGE
Diageo (DGE) warns currency volatility will hit profits this year. Chief executive says performance in line with expectations but points to ‘increased volatility’
SAGA
Saga (SAGA) appoints new CFO after 6 month search. The over-50s travel and insurance company has faced some trouble in the past 12 months
TSCO
‘There’s so much stuff in the bargain bins!’: Shoppers give Tesco (TSCO) new discount store Jack’s the thumbs up and say prices are ‘on par with Lidl and Aldi’. Hundreds queued up in the rain as the first Jack’s discount store opened for business today, with customers boasting that prices are ‘on a par with Lidl and Aldi’. The store in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, opened its doors to the public first thing this morning alongside a second store in Immingham, north-east Lincolnshire.
BARC
‘If you’re considering banking with Barclays, don’t!’ Bank faces fury of customers as its online and mobile services collapse for six hours. Millions of Barclays (BARC) customers were locked out of their accounts yesterday when the bank’s online, mobile and telephone systems crashed. Users complained they were unable to log in for most of the day, leaving them unable to pay bills or transfer money. They also faced problems in branches, where some systems were down and cash machines allowing people to withdraw larger amounts of money were not working.
ULVR
Charity set up by the founder of Unilever (ULVR) pulled into row over the group’s possible HQ move to the Netherlands. A charity set up by the founder of Unilever and run by bigwigs with strong ties to the company could be crucial in its decision to ditch Britain. The Leverhulme Trust was launched with an endowment from William Lever when he died in 1925, and is one of Unilever’s biggest British shareholders with a stake of almost 6 per cent worth £2.8billion. This means the trust will play a key role in determining whether Unilever’s British headquarters is axed in a vote next month.
SKY
D-Day for Sky (SKY): Murdoch to go head to head with Comcast as bidding war ends with dramatic auction. The two-year battle for Sky will reach a climax this weekend in a high-stakes showdown between 21st Century Fox and Comcast. The two bidders will fight it out in a secret auction tomorrow night as they seek to win control of the broadcasting giant in one of the longest takeover battles in British history. Universal Studios owner Comcast and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox will make sealed, cash-only bids for Sky to decide the fate of the company.
RMG
New Royal Mail chairman approved ‘disgraceful’ pay for top bosses. Royal Mail (RMG) is facing a backlash over its new chairman, given his role approving ‘disgraceful’ pay packets for top bosses. Les Owen was on the pay committee that signed off a ‘golden hello’ worth almost £6million for new chief executive Rico Back, 64, who will run the company while he is living in Zurich. The committee also handed a golden goodbye worth up to £2.7m to outgoing Moya Greene, also 64.
RYA
I won’t be here in five years, declares Ryanair boss O’Leary as he fights off a shareholder revolt. Ryanair Holdings (RYA) boss Michael O’Leary hinted he will stand down as he fought off efforts to oust his chairman in the face of a shareholder revolt. The 57-year-old said the board wants him to stay as chief executive for five more years after his deal ends in 2019. ‘I’m not sure Mrs O’Leary would be happy,’ he told the firm’s AGM. ‘I’m not sure whether I want to sign up for another five. The board suggests I should sign up for a longer period. It’s not going to be a difficult conversation. I’m happy to stay for another couple of years.’
ISAT
Satellite business Inmarsat (ISAT) strikes deal with Panasonic to provide in-flight broadband for commercial airlines. Panasonic will use Inmarsat’s satellite signal to connect devices to the internet while Inmarsat will offer Panasonic’s services to its commercial airline customers. Broadband is available on 32% of aircraft but is patchy and firms want to get a grip on the market that could be worth £97billion.
RBS
A champion for women: Alison Rose tipped to become the first female chief at Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS). Alison Rose tipped to become the first female chief at RBS, is to lead a drive to help female entrepreneurs. She has worked at RBS for 24 years, heads its commercial and private banking business, and is widely expected to take over from Ross McEwan, though he has suggested he will stay on until 2020.
BATS
British American Tobacco boss to retire after nearly 37 years with the company. British American Tobacco (BATS) has confirmed that chief executive Nicandro Durante, 62, plans to retire after nearly 37 years with the company and eight years at the helm. He will step down from the Dunhill and Lucky Strike cigarette maker on April 1. The company said it had been considering successors for some time and had identified a lead candidate to succeed Durante.
ULVR
Protests mount over Unilever’s plan to go Dutch with Standard Life Aberdeen funds set to vote against the deal. Another major investor in Unilever (ULVR) is preparing to vote against the plot to axe its UK HQ amid a growing backlash. Fund managers at Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) are understood to have serious concerns about the Marmite maker’s plans to abandon Britain for a sole legal base in the Netherlands. And some of SLA’s biggest funds are expected to vote against the deal as they believe it will hurt their customers.
DGE
Guinness and Smirnoff maker Diageo warns that currency troubles will hit profits by £45m. Global drinks titan Diageo (DGE) has warned profits are expected to take a £45million hit due to currency fluctuations. The group, responsible for some of the most popular alcoholic drinks in UK pubs, said today there was ‘volatility’ in some of its markets that would hit sales by £175million. Diageo released the statement ahead of its AGM later today and said trading for the year had ‘started well’ and that performance was still in line with expectations.
FCCN
SPD
Mike Ashley’s High Street empire struck again as French Connection Group (FCCN) shares sink on news of spiralling losses and falling sales. Mike Ashley’s High Street empire took another hit today as widening losses at clothing chain French Connection hit its shares. The drop will shave nearly £1.2million off Sports Direct International (SPD) 27% stake in French Connection, which revealed that half-year losses had widened to £15.1million, from £5.9million a year earlier. It put the losses down to a series of writedowns, including a £800,000 hit from the collapse of House of Fraser, in which it has concessions.
BRBY
The debut collection from the new Burberry Group (BRBY) creative director, unveiled this week, has failed to wow either the fashion or investment world. Riccardo Tisci, who joined from Parisian fashion house Givenchy just six months ago, showcased his spring/summer 2019 collection for the British brand at London Fashion Week on Monday. While some commentators criticised the slew of beige clothing and slightly modified trench coats as ‘mundane’, financial analysts were also unimpressed, causing Burberry to become one of the FTSE’s biggest fallers  yesterday.
FRES
Miners helped heave the blue-chip index higher, after China said it was planning a broad import tax cut to counteract tariffs proposed by the US. Fresnillo (FRES) made the biggest gains among the miners, which are sensitive to economic changes in metal-hungry China.
IGG
IG Group Holdings (IGG) plummeted as its first-quarter revenue dropped 5% to £128.9million from last year’s record levels. The firm admitted it was feeling the pressure after a regulatory crackdown by European authorities to better protect inexperienced traders dealing in assets like shares and currencies. Its shares fell 84.5p, to 779.5p, as it warned clients had completed ‘significantly lower’ volumes of trading in August than the previous month.
STOB
Southend Airport’s owner Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) kept investors happy, as shares rose 3.5p, to 246p despite announcing that its annual results would be lower than predicted. It warned its biomass fuel business would undershoot expectations. Its rail unit was a particular disappointment. Stobart expects to pull in less revenue on long-term rail contracts, and its results for the year would again miss  projections. But results from its airport branch would be ‘broadly in line’ with expectations, as it remained confident that a new agreement with Ryanair would help it build passenger numbers at Southend Airport to 5million by 2022.
N4P
N4 Pharma (N4P) is ditching the generics division that aims to make cheaper unbranded versions of popular drugs. It follows disappointing results from its trial of a fast-acting alternative to Viagra which didn’t have the desired effect.
SKY
Sky battle lines drawn as Fox, Disney and Comcast prepare for £27bn auction. The protracted battle over ownership of Sky (SKY) will be all but settled over 24 hours this weekend in a rare auction in which three global media heavyweights will go three rounds. Comcast will take on the tag team of 21st Century Fox and Disney, with investors expecting the winning side to value Sky at at least £27bn. The Takeover Panel, the City’s regulator of merger processes, will act as referee between the Murdoch family, who contol Fox and will line up alongside Disney chairman Bob Iger, and Brian Roberts, the Comcast chief.
BARC
Barclays customers vent their anger after banking services go down for several hours. Barclays (BARC) has become the latest major bank to suffer a high-profile outage to its IT systems, after online, telephone and branch services went down for several hours today. The banking giant was inundated with hundreds of complaints from angry customers on social media as people found they were unable to access their accounts.
RYA
Aberdeen Standard issues Ryanair with ultimatum amid investor revolt. Ryanair Holdings (RYA) has been handed a dramatic ultimatum by fund management giant Aberdeen Standard as investors revolted at the low-cost airline’s annual general meeting. Almost a third of shareholders rejected the re-appointment of billionaire chairman David Bonderman, who has led the board since 1996. The re-election of senior independent director Kyran McLaughlin also  attracted widespread disapproval, with 33.2% voting against.
DGE
Diageo profits hurt by currency moves ahead of AGM. Global drinks giant Diageo (DGE) has warned that its full-year profits will be dented by the recent sell-off in emerging market currencies. The company, which owns the Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker brands, announced on Thursday that it expects to lose £175m off net sales and £45m off full-year profits.
PURP
Connells closes online estate agency Hatched. Estate agency Connells has announced it will be closing its online business Hatched with immediate effect, saying the “online-only/hybrid” business is commercially unviable. The company is one of the largest estate agents in the UK but said the digital model is “fundamentally flawed”, which may be a subtle swipe at online rival Purplebricks Group (PURP), which describes itself as a “hybrid” estate agency with online and local office operations.
SIA
UK oil company M&A reignited by deals worth half a billion pounds. London-based oil companies are leading an M&A resurgence worth hundreds of millions of pounds following the summer break as oil market confidence returns. North Sea operator Verus Petroleum said it plans to scoop up its smaller rival Cieco Exploration and Production in a $400m (£301m) deal which will more double its current oil production. Meanwhile, London-listed oil and gas explorer Soco International (SIA) is venturing into the Middle East with a $215m (£161m) acquisition of privately owned Egyptian explorer Merlon Petroleum.
KIE
Kier profits rise as it shrugs off short selling pressure. The boss of Kier Group (KIE) has shrugged off interest from short sellers as the construction company reported a swing to profit for the year. Kier benefitted from a strong performance in its property and residential departments as well as construction, in what has been a turbulent time for the industry following the collapse of rival Carillion earlier this year.
KIT
Questor: if your portfolio lacks a ‘value’ fund, buy Keystone Inv Trust (KIT) at a discount of 13.4%
RYA
Investors demand change as Ryanair Holdings (RYA) survives revolt. Calls grow for chairman to quit amid criticism of governance. Ryanair has suffered a major shareholder revolt, with nearly a third refusing to back the re-election of its chairman and leading City institutions publicly criticising its corporate governance. Amid growing concerns about the independence of the chairman and the management’s souring employee relations, 29.5% of shareholders voting at Ryanair’s annual meeting in Ireland yesterday refused to back the re-election of David Bonderman.
SDX
BP.
Egyptian oilfields set to change hands in $1bn transaction. SDX Energy Inc. (DI) (SDX) confirmed yesterday that it was in talks with the oil major, BP (BP.),  about “a significant package of assets” in the country, after a report by Bloomberg. The proposed $1 billion deal is understood to relate to BP’s stake in the Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company (Gupco), a joint venture with the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation set up in the 1960s. It produces about 70,000 barrels of oil per day.
SKY
Big players prepare for grand finale at Sky (SKY). The battle for Sky will be settled by Saturday evening after a rapid-fire one-day auction between three of the world’s largest media companies. The Takeover Panel yesterday published the rules for the pay-TV giant’s sale, with a contest being decided over three rounds of bidding, starting this evening, and pitting Comcast, America’s largest cable company, against 21st Century Fox, the media group, and Disney, the  Hollywood studio.
FCCN
House of Fraser debts hit French Connection Group (FCCN). Its links to House of Fraser left French Connection cursing its luck yesterday as the fashion chain revealed that it had plunged to another first-half loss. The business once best known for its FCUK label said that it had made a pre-tax loss of £15.1 million in the six months to July 31, worse than the £5.9 million it lost in the same period a year earlier.
ISAT
Broadband link takes off for Inmarsat (ISAT). Inmarsat will collaborate with Panasonic in providing in-flight broadband for commercial airlines. The British satellite company and the giant Japanese electronics group have signed a ten-year agreement, under which Inmarsat will become Panasonic Avionics’ exclusive provider of connectivity using its Ka-band satellite  network. In return, it will offer Panasonic’s portfolio of services to its commercial aviation customers.
TSCO
Busy first day makes happy Jack’s. Tesco (TSCO) first Jack’s discount store was packed with shoppers when it opened yesterday, with some queuing from 3am. The Chatteris store enjoyed a successful first morning, right, with hundreds pouring through the doors at 10am to be greeted with champagne, bacon sandwiches and cupcakes. By 11am the budget supermarket  was overflowing with customers filling trolleys with food and bargain household items.
KIE
Kier plans to ‘future-proof’ business with sales and cuts. A cost and debt-cutting drive has been launched by Kier Group (KIE) amid mounting pressure from hedge funds. The construction company unveiled plans yesterday to generate extra profits and cash of at least £20 million in 2020 and a further £30 million to £50 million from offloading non-core businesses. The  “future-proofing Kier” programme is designed to help to cut its average net debt to £250 million in 2021 and to deliver a net cash position.
EVE
Eve boss can sleep easy as sales recover. Maybe July’s profit warning was just the wake-up call Eve Sleep PLC (EVE) needed. The company bounced back yesterday from that summer low point after announcing that it would refocus on its key markets and scale back expansion efforts. The online mattress retailer, which appointed James Sturrock, the former Moonpig boss, as its chief executive this month, reported a 63% jump in half-year revenue to £18.8 million. The interim pre-tax loss rose to £12 million from £9.1 million previously.
PURP
Purplebricks Group (PURP) was seen by many as being truly in the pink, bursting with health and potential, but that perception is on the ebb in some quarters. Yesterday Anthony Codling, a long-time doubter at Jefferies, highlighted a decision by Connells, a rival estate agency, to close its online operation, saying that the digital model was “fundamentally flawed”.
BRBY
Burberry Group (BRBY) was out of fashion. A tour of its revamped store on Regent Street failed to create the “wow” factor among analysts, leading some to suggest that the debut collection by Riccardo Tisci, the designer, was insufficiently fashion-forward.
TSCO
Shares in Tesco (TSCO) ticked up 3p to 239p after Jack’s, its cheap and cheerful new brand, was well received — although questions remain about whether it can take on the likes of Aldi and Lidl.
FRES
LMI
ACA
AAL
STAN
Fresnillo (FRES) was among big board’s biggest risers, up 22p at 847½p. A mining rally that also took in Lonmin (LMI), Acacia Mining (ACA) and Anglo American (AAL), reflected relief that the trade war between the United States and China has been kept in check. The positive sentiment also benefited Standard Chartered (STAN), one of the largest providers of trade finance to Asian clients.
KIE
Kier Group (KIE) swung from a rise early in the day, which put the squeeze on short-sellers who had wagered it could be the next Carillion. The gain tailed off, though, and its shares closed almost flat at £10.39.
AVV
Aveva Group (AVV), which develops engineering and industrial software, rose 4.8% or 136p to £29.78 after upbeat comments from brokers.
WHI
W H Ireland Group (WHI) was one of the biggest risers on Aim. It has raised £2 million, which will satisfy Financial Conduct Authority capital requirements, and has gained M&G as a holder of 14 per cent of its stock.
MATD
Petro Matad Ltd. (MATD) shares plunged by a quarter after the Mongolia-focused oil company said that its first foray into a new region had failed to strike oil. The explorer said that Snow Leopard 1 was “the first oil exploration well ever drilled in the Valley of the Lakes basin complex of central Mongolia”. It estimated that it could find as much as 90 million barrels of oil. But after drilling to 2,930 metres, it found only an oil sheen in shallower geology and no oil or gas at all in a deeper prospect. It said: “The absence of hydrocarbon shows is being investigated.”
DGE
Tempus – Diageo (DGE): Hold long term. The currency hit is a minor setback for a group with plenty of long-term potential
RIO
Tempus – Rio Tinto (RIO): Avoid. Its investment drive and cash return are priced in
RMG
CWD
Royal Mail (RMG) chairman quits to focus on Countrywide (CWD). One-third of investors voted against Peter Long’s re-election at AGM
TSCO
Tesco (TSCO) unveils discount chain Jack’s. Britain’s largest supermarket group plans to open 10 to 15 stores during 2019
BAB
Babcock International Group (BAB) says revenue growth on course after cutting targets
SBRY
Asda-Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) merger faces in-depth competition probe. CMA says preliminary investigation found ‘sufficient concerns’ of effect on consumers
RMG
The Long goodbye: Royal Mail (RMG) chairman finally quits after fat cat pay backlash. Serial chairman Peter Long has quit his job at Royal Mail after presiding over one of the biggest shareholder revolts in British corporate history. The 66-year-old stepped down as chairman with immediate effect yesterday after finally conceding he had too many jobs.
SBRY
Sainsbury faces major probe into £14bn merger with Asda amid concerns shoppers could face higher prices. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the deal raised ‘sufficient concerns’ to warrant investigating the impact on prices, choice and customer service. Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) and Asda, the UK’s second and third largest supermarkets, are proposing to join forces in a deal that has pledged to lower prices while putting the squeeze on larger suppliers.
BAB
Babcock International Group (BAB) said it is trading in line with expectations, months after cutting full-year sales targets. It works with nuclear power stations, militaries, emergency services and oil companies and is on track to deliver low growth. It has around £32billion worth of goods on order or being made.
ULVR
Protests mount over Unilever’s plan to go Dutch with Standard Life Aberdeen funds set to vote against the deal. Another major investor in Unilever (ULVR) is preparing to vote against the plot to axe its UK HQ amid a growing backlash. Fund managers at Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) are understood to have serious concerns about the Marmite maker’s plans to abandon Britain for a sole legal base in the Netherlands. And some of SLA’s biggest funds are expected to vote against the deal as they believe it will hurt their customers.
GSK
Horlicks centre of £3bn bidding war: Coca-Cola and Nestle swoop as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) puts drinks brand up for sale. A bidding war has erupted for Horlicks after it was put up for sale by owner Glaxosmithkline. Some of the world’s biggest consumer goods giants – including Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever – this week tabled offers for the malt drinks maker which dates back to 1873. Glaxo chief executive Emma Walmsley put Horlicks and other nutrition brands up for sale in March to fund its £9billion buyout of a joint venture with Novartis.
FOOT
The children of troubled shoe seller Footasylum (FOOT) founder have earned almost £25m from its stock market float – despite profit warnings and a share price collapse. Chief executive Clare Nesbitt, 31, and her two siblings enjoyed the windfall because of the generosity of their father David Makin’s business partner and close friend, former Manchester City chairman John  Wardle.
AAL
GLEN
BLT
RIO
Miners rode to the rescue of the FTSE 100, lifting some of the gloom as trading rooms were gripped by fear of a potential escalation of hostilities between the US and China. Anglo American (AAL), up 5.1%, or 79.6p to 1655.8p, led the way followed by majors such as Glencore (GLEN), BHP Billiton (BLT) and Rio Tinto (RIO). Between them the diggers account for around 8% of the market.
GMS
Gulf Marine Services (GMS) floated 3.8p, higher to 45.3p after winning three long-term contracts in the Middle East and North Africa. The firm has done five-year deals to supply three support vessels for customers in the offshore oil, gas and renewable energy sector. The contracts are expected to start in the fourth quarter of next year or the first-quarter of 2019. Duncan Anderson, chief executive officer, said the contracts were testament to its strong track record.
AVV
Aveva Group (AVV) shares rose 24p to 2842p. They were reacting to new financial targets that were stronger than the market expected. Aveva also appears to be having no problems digesting Schneider Electric, a £3bn acquisition in March.
APH
It was a tough day for Alliance Pharma (APH), one of AIM’s largest companies. Shares lost 9.4p, at 81.64p as the drugs group said its profits had been weighed down by higher costs. Shares had advanced 35% from January to yesterday’s update, meaning management has to do quite a lot more these days to justify the premium stock market rating.
RENE
It was a dour day for ReNeuron Group (RENE), the stem cell specialist, which dropped 15p to 66p after an unnamed US company pulled out of a licensing deal for some of its technology.
IDP
InnovaDerma (IDP) did an about-turn that was hard to explain. Up 6% in early trade after announcing its popular Skinny Tan bronzing range would be stocked in Boots next year, the shares succumbed to a bout of late profit-taking to end down 13.7%, or 23p, at 145p.
AAZ
Anglo Asian Mining (AAZ), which digs for gold in Azerbaijan, rose 5p to 59p after it paid its first-ever dividend.
PAF
Pan African Resources (PAF) jumped 0.52p to 8.49p after its boss outlined plans to re-configure operations.
TMMG
Mission Marketing Group (TMMG) – David Morgan, Mission Marketing chairman, said the group is confident that not only would it deliver against 2018 forecasts but ‘remains frabjously optimistic about our long-term prospects’. The term aptly summed up investors’ reaction to results from the advertising and marketing outfit as the shares rose by 9%, or 4.5p, to 54.5p.
TSCO
Tesco boss vows to make discount chain Jack’s the ‘cheapest in town’. Tesco (TSCO) has vowed to be the “cheapest in town” as it threw down the gauntlet to Lidl and Aldi by launching the discount chain Jack’s. The supermarket giant has created 1,800 Jack’s own brand products as part of a £25m investment, which will lead to 10 to 15 discount stores being rolled out in the next year. Chief executive Dave Lewis said it would cater to the “economically challenged that need a bargain and the affluent shopper that wants a bargain,” as he revealed the chain in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.
SBRY
Competition watchdog confirms probe of Sainsbury’s-Asda merger. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is to move to a further in-depth investigation into the proposed merger between Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) and Asda. Earlier this year the CMA opened its Phase 1 investigation and have now opened a Phase 2 inquiry after confirming that the deal raises sufficient concerns.
NTG
Northgate (NTG) suffers investor rebellion over executive bonuses. Almost 60% of shareholders who voted at Northgate’s annual general meeting (AGM) voted against proposed changes to executive bonuses. These changes will remove the earnings per share (EPS) performance measure from bosses’ long-term incentive (LTI) plans. Instead, the awards will be judged on total shareholder returns.
SKY
Sky (SKY) will include Netflix in its pay-TV packages for the first time from November, using the popularity of the streaming service to increase uptake of its own on-demand programming and latest set-top box. Netflix will be bundled with Sky’s own boxsets of programmes such as Succession and Patrick Melrose in an add-on costing £10 per month on top of a subscription.
KGF
The head of supply chain at B&Q owner Kingfisher (KGF) is stepping down halfway through the company’s five-year transformation plan as the retailer unveiled tumbling profits. Arja Taaveniku, who joined from Ikea three years ago to shake up the operation as chief offer & supply chain officer, will be replaced by Henri Solère, who has worked for Kingfisher for 11 years and was previously in charge of its Bathroom range.
SGC
London buses take shine off Stagecoach’s regional growth. Stagecoach Group (SGC) has endured a mixed summer, with London bus contract losses taking the shine off a strong performance on its regional services. UK bus operations outside the capital grew by 3.2% on a like-for-like basis over the 16 weeks to August 18. However in London Stagecoach missed out on a string contract tenders and was hit by escalating fuel and staff costs. Like-for-like revenue in the capital shrank  by 2.2%
WTB
Questor: it may be selling Costa but Whitbread (WTB) will remain an ‘extraordinary’ business
RMG
CWD
Peter Long steps down at Royal Mail. Chairman stands down after investor pay revolt. Peter Long has stood down as chairman of Royal Mail (RMG) only two months after suffering one of Britain’s biggest ever shareholder rebellions over pay and his other corporate commitments. Royal Mail announced yesterday that Mr Long would stand down with immediate effect after he reviewed his board appointments and concluded that it was “no longer possible” for him to remain. He also will step down as executive chairman of Countrywide (CWD), the embattled estate agency group.
TSCO
Tesco’s Drastic Dave brings back Slasher Jack. New discount stores aim to hit rival German discounters where it hurts – at the checkouts. In advance of the opening of the first two Jack’s stores today, Dave Lewis, Tesco (TSCO) chief executive, claimed that the new discount stores would offer the “cheapest products in town” and were exactly what Sir Jack Cohen, Tesco’s founder, “would have wanted and what he would have done”.
NTG
The vehicle hire company seen as the go-to choice of “white van man” has suffered an embarrassing defeat in a vote over pay at its annual meeting. Shareholders speaking for almost 58% of Northgate (NTG) voted against the hire group’s pay report at Tuesday’s annual meeting after it tried to scrap the link between executive bonuses and the company’s earnings per share. Investors argued that if they were to suffer lost earnings, so, too, should directors.
KGF
Kingfisher springs a profit leak with home improvement still not finished. Declining profits at Kingfisher (KGF) and the departure of a key executive have triggered concerns about its turnaround plan and ability to hit full-year forecasts. The DIY group behind the B&Q and Screwfix chains yesterday announced a 30.1% drop in pre-tax profit to £281 million for the six months to the end of July.
SGC
Stalling rail growth hits Stagecoach. Stagecoach Group (SGC) has suffered a slowdown in growth on its East Midlands Trains franchise and a drop in revenues from London buses. The transport operator said yesterday that like-for-like revenue growth on East Midlands from May to August had slowed to 2.1%, down from 3.5% in the previous financial year. It also fell to  5.3% in its Virgin Trains venture, which operates services on the west coast main line between London Euston, Birmingham, the northwest and Scotland.
ITV
ITV hopes partner will help it come on stream. ITV (ITV) is in talks with potential partners for its planned British streaming service and hopes to agree an outline deal over the coming months. Dame Carolyn McCall, its chief executive, said yesterday that she was aiming to have drawn up a battle plan to counter Netflix and Amazon Video by February, when ITV publishes its annual results. “We’re working through a number of plans, but it depends on who we partner with,” she told investors.
SMIN
Smiths is analysts’ pick as a defence in trying times. Citi’s analysts decided that now would be a good time to man the defences, or at least consider the virtues of defensive stocks. They initiated coverage of Smiths Group (SMIN) with a “buy” rating. It’s long been a candidate for a demerger/spin-offs of its divisions, but a deal to marry its medical division with ICU, of the United States, was called off at the end of last week.Citi’s analysts wrote. “We see medical’s defensive attributes as an intrinsic advantage, given the macro risks worrying cyclicals’ investors at present.”
ANTO
AAL
KAZ
A rise in metals prices lifted miners after an apparent softening of the trade dispute between the United States and China, the world’s biggest metals consumer. Antofagasta (ANTO) climbed 46½p to 837p. Anglo American (AAL) jumped 79½p to £16.56. Kaz Minerals (KAZ), the copper company, rose to the top of the mid-caps after prices of the metal rose sharply. It closed up 38p at 520p.
NIPT
Premaitha Health (NIPT) rose by 12.6% after announcing that it had agreed a legal settlement and licence agreement with Illumina, the San Diego-based biotechnology specialist, over its patent for non-invasive prenatal testing.
STX
Shield Therapeutics (STX) leapt 13% after reporting that it had signed an exclusive license agreement with Norgine, a Dutch-based pharmaceuticals company, for the commercialisation of Feraccru, its first prescription medicine. The deal includes an £11 million immediate upfront payment.
QXT
Japan is Quixant’s next big bet. A British software company is hoping to profit from Japanese consumers’ love of pachinko, the arcade game, after the country’s legalisation of casino gambling. Quixant (QXT) said that it expected regulatory developments in key gaming markets, particularly Japan, to “result in significant market growth over the medium term” that the company was “well placed to exploit”. Japan’s parliament passed a law in July that legalised casino gambling in resorts that offer casinos alongside hotels, entertainment and conference facilities.
AVV
Tempus – Aveva Group (AVV): Hold long term. An impressively run business that under-promises and over-delivers. The shares should improve steadily over time
ACSO
Tempus – Accesso Technology Group (ACSO): Buy. Established in core markets, growing in others
ULVR
GSK
Nestlé, Unilever (ULVR) and Coca-Cola bid for Horlicks. Competition rises to secure GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) prized malted drink brand
BA.
BAE Systems (BA.) ties up £5bn Qatar deal for Typhoon fighters. UK defence group confirms contract for jets with receipt of first payment
CNKS
Investors take fright over 90% profit drop at Cenkos Securities (CNKS). City broker cuts dividend and cites Mifid II impact on research and commission revenue
OCDO
Ocado Group (OCDO) sees rate of retail revenue growth slow. Online grocer moves to scale up at speed with openings of automated warehouses
JLT
Marsh & McLennan to buy Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT) for £4.3bn. Latest deal in the fast-consolidating insurance sector
SPI
Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) profits drop after ‘unprecedented’ fall in patients. Increased costs for staff, drugs and new hospitals also weigh on earnings
KGF
Kingfisher (KGF) shrugs off doubts about turnround. Failure to deliver unification strategy could attract activist investors, say analysts
TSCO
Tesco (TSCO) unveils its discount chain Jack’s today as the major supermarkets continue to lose market share to Lidl and Aldi. Britain’s biggest supermarket will reveal its plans to take on the discounters with a cut price offer of its own as it battles to win customers. The name is a nod to Jack Cohen who founded Tesco in 1919.
BA.
BAE Systems (BA.) secures £5bn sale of 24 Typhoon fighter jets to Qatar to keep production lines open in Lancashire. The deal was first announced in December but first payment was delayed in June, triggering jitters in the market.
JLT
£5bn insurance deal to trigger £100m payday for bosses at broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT). The Lloyd’s of London stalwart accepted a takeover offer from Marsh & McLennan (MMC) worth 1915p a share, or £4.9billion. MMC, which is worth more than £42billion, has pledged to pay £100million in retention bonuses to some senior management and staff. But the bumper deal could also see almost 4,000 staff axed.
TSCO
Tesco (TSCO) has lost more of its market share to Aldi and Lidl as it prepares to launch a new discount store chain to counter the seemingly unstoppable rise of the German supermarkets in the UK. Britain’s largest grocer, which is poised officially unveil its new discount store Jack’s tomorrow, saw its market share shrink to 27.4% in the 12 weeks to 9 September from 27.9% in the same period last year, according to Kantar Worldpanel.
SPI
Private healthcare group Spire blames NHS cutbacks as profits slump 20%. Spire Healthcare Group (SPI) has blamed an ‘unprecedented’ drop in patients from the NHS for a slump in first half profits. The group, which owns 38 hospitals and treats NHS patients as well as those paying privately or through medical insurance, said profits fell 20.6% to £6.1million in the first six months.
OCDO
Ocado sales growth steadies but online grocer says its roll-out of new robot warehouses is on track. Ocado Group (OCDO) saw a slight slowdown in sales growth over the summer, but said it was still on track to meet its guidance for the year and to open ‘a significant number’ of new customer fulfillment centres – although it did not go into specifics. Revenues at the online supermarket, which licenses its technology using grocery-packing robots – Ocado Smart Platform – to other retailers, rose 11.5% in the 13 weeks to 2 September, a touch down  from 11.7% growth in the first half.
ITV
Misgivings over a possible bid by ITV (ITV) for Big Brother production firm Endemol Shine have given investors a headache. ITV has reportedly thrown its hat into the ring for Endemol. Private equity firm Apollo Global and 21st Century Fox, which jointly own Endemol, effectively hoisted the ‘for sale’ sign on the Dutch production company in July. It is thought cable TV giant Liberty Global and French production and distribution company Banijay Group are also interested in acquiring Endemol, which has been valued at around £3billion.
GLEN
ANTO
FRES
Selling pressure on miners eased, although US-China trade war fears lingered on after President Trump’s latest batch of tariffs. Investors moved back into the sector on reports that China intends to increase infrastructure investment. Glencore (GLEN) gained 2.8%, or 8.35p, to 308.7p, while Antofagasta (ANTO) added 1.8%, or 13.6p, to 790.6p. Mexican precious metals miner Fresnillo (FRES) was also boosted by broker comment, with RBC Capital assuming coverage on the stock with a ‘top pick’ rating, helping its shares add 1%, or 8.2p, at 796.4p.
CNA
Broker comment gave a lift to British Gas owner Centrica (CNA), which added 2.7%, or 3.9p, to 149.35p with the parent company of British Gas bolstered by a double-upgrade of its rating by Goldman Sachs. The US bank raised its stance to ‘buy’ from ‘sell’ as it believes recent underperformance of Centrica’s shares is overdone and that investors are overlooking the impact of year-to-date rallies for gas and power prices.
BATS
British American Tobacco (BATS) shares fell 1.9%, or 69p, to 3600p after Morgan Stanley initiated coverage on the stock with only an ‘equal-weight’ rating.
CYAN
Cyanconnode Holdings (CYAN) was the top riser in London, soaring 43.7%, or 2.95p, to 9.7p on the back of an £8.8million smart-metering contract with an unnamed Indian utility. Despite today’s surge, the shares are still worth less than half what there were at the start of the year but Cyan Connode’s house broker, Finncap, went into bat for the company, saying the deal ‘highlights the  huge opportunity in the Indian market, Cyan Connode’s strong position in that region and the imminence of major deployments after a raft of pilot project wins’.
MDZ
Shares in audio-visual company MediaZest (MDZ) rose 15%, or 0.02p, to 0.12p as it moved into profit in the first quarter. The company reported a net profit of £75,000 for the three months to the end of June, up from a £127,000 loss a year ago.