Evening Standard 13/03/19 - Vox Markets | Vox Markets

Evening Standard 13/03/19

Martin Gilbert loses out in Standard Life Aberdeen boardroom shake-up. Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) today ditched a co-chief executive management structure the City had always thought unwieldy as it fights to turn around sluggish investment performance. Keith Skeoch, the Standard Life man, becomes sole chief executive, leaving Aberdeen’s Martin Gilbert as vice-chairman, a role that will allow him to focus on charming clients. Today’s figures suggest they will need plenty of charm. SLA saw outflows of nearly £41 billion last year, 7% of its assets, funds under management overall plunging from £608 billion to £551 billion. Profits were flat at £860 million. Critics of the merger always felt that the co-chief executive scheme could not work and questioned whether Standard and Aberdeen were the right partners in the first place.

Dixons Carphone fined £30 million for mis-selling phone policies cover. Dixons Carphone (DC.) on Monday was slapped with a £30 million fine by the watchdog for mis-selling phone insurance to customers. The Financial Conduct Authority said the company’s sales staff didn’t have the right training and sold the Geek Squad insurance to people who didn’t need it between 2008 and 2015. During that period, Dixons raked in £444.7 million from selling the insurance policies. FCA’s Mark Steward said: “Without whistleblowers coming forward these practices may never have come to light. “The high-level of cancellations should have been a clear indicator to the management of mis-selling.” The electrical and mobile phones seller, which discovered a huge data breach last year, today said it has put the episode behind it.

Litigation funder Burford Capital (BUR) has been the star performer on the markets today unveiling profits up 23% to $354 million for 2018. Returns are the most important figure with litigation financiers as it reveals whether or not they are winning or losing the cases they back. Burford returns on the core litigation finance investment portfolio rose to a net 85% return on invested capital against 76% the previous year showing that not only can the firm grow but it can increase returns at the same time.

After resuming trading, recruitment company Staffline Group (STAF) said this session that it had won new contracts worth £35 million from the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s European Social Fund. Work starts next month. Yesterday Staffline said an inquiry into whether it had failed to pay some workers the minimum wage was ongoing.

Everyman Media Group (EMAN) which has been expanding rapidly reported a 27.7% jump in revenue to £51.9 million in the 53 weeks to January 3, boosted by a spate of new openings. Five new cinemas opened in the 12 months to date, taking the total to 26 sites with 84 screens. Underlying earnings were up 38.2% to £9.2 million. Everyman has committed to at least 14 more venues, including seven which are scheduled to open this year. Speaking to the Press Association, chief executive Crispin Lilly said he was actively looking at even more new sites and could see potential for between 50 and 60 cinemas nationwide. “I was very much brought in to oversee the expansion,” he said. “Because we just all felt that this lovely little return to cosy, magical cinema was something that wasn’t the preserve of north London.” Lilly joined four years ago when the chain had just 10 sites.

Manx Telecom (MANX) has recommended shareholders accept a takeover offer from Basalt Investment partners following a year in which revenues rose. The Isle of Man-based telco, which operates landline, broadband and mobile services, said “robust” performance across its core divisions and its Vannin Ventures international growth unit, led to the increase from £78.5 million to £81.5 million. The offer values the company at 215p per share.

The boss of Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) today said he has seen sales of painkillers and lavatory paper spike as some shoppers stockpile before Brexit. Dave Potts said: “We’ve seen quite a pick-up — high single digit — in painkillers and toilet rolls. Whether that’s got any bearing on how people are feeling about Brexit, I don’t know.” But he added it was “a very small amount”. Potts’s comments came as Morrisons — Britain’s fourth-biggest supermarket — said it was confident about its future despite facing increasing competition from German discounters Aldi and Lidl. It posted an 8.6% rise in pre-tax profits and is paying another special dividend, its third in a year. Revenues increased 2.7% to £17.7 billion, with same-store sales up 4.8% for the year to end of February 3. Retail same-store sales were up 1.5%, and growth in its wholesale business, which supplies corner shops chain McColl’s and Amazon, was up 3.3%.

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Mentioned in this post

BUR
Burford Capital
DC.
Dixons Carphone
EMAN
Everyman Media Group
MANX
Manx Telecom
MRW
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets
SLA
Standard Life Aberdeen
STAF
Staffline Group