The Mail 09/09/19 - Vox Markets | Vox Markets

The Mail 09/09/19

Standard Chartered (STAN) faces a high-profile court battle that will lay bare allegations it helped facilitate deadly attacks on British and US troops.¬†The 166-year-old bank is accused of helping companies connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and enabling the pariah state to sidestep sanctions.¬†The Mail on Sunday revealed the impending legal battle earlier this year and a court hearing over a potentially embarrassing whistleblowing claim for compensation under US law is expected in the coming months.¬†Briton Julian Knight, a former senior figure at Standard Chartered, has agreed to go public for the first time after years of legal battles in the US hit the bank with fines of nearly $2 billion (¬£1.6 billion).¬†The former RAF pilot told of his reaction when he first realised the bank was breaking sanctions: ‘I was angry.¬†‘I served in the military for eight years and I was taught that terrorists were bad people yet here was a British bank allowing Iran to circumnavigate sanctions.’

Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) is making aggressive price cuts in an attempt to win back customers, it has been claimed.¬†Analysis of Kantar data by Barclays suggested that 46.2% of Morrisons’ revenues in the 12 weeks to August 11 came from discounted goods. This compared with the sector average of 32.3% and was 5.3 percentage points higher than any other retailer.¬†A sharp rise in promotions at Britain’s fourth largest supermarket comes amid warnings that it is vulnerable to a foreign takeover, with a slump in its share price and the weak pound making it a target.

City sources said Premier Foods (PFD) had appointed Wall Street bank Morgan Stanley to run a ‘strategic review’ under pressure from activist investors. Its share price has nearly halved since directors rejected a 65p-a-share takeover bid from America’s McCormick in 2016.¬†Last month, Premier Foods announced a boardroom shake-up following a nine-month search for a chief executive.¬†It named the head of its UK arm, Alex Whitehouse, 50, as its new chief executive, and appointed Colin Day, a former Reckitt Benckiser finance director, as its new chairman.¬†Premier Foods looked at selling its Ambrosia rice pudding brand, but abandoned the sale in February after failing to get a good price from bidders.¬†A spokesman said: ‘The strategic review is ongoing and we will update the market when it is completed.’

The ¬£900m deal to save Thomas Cook Group (TCG) has been threatened by a row over pensions.¬†Trustees of the travel company’s retirement scheme have demanded reassurances that annual contributions of ¬£25m will continue, amid a takeover being mounted by China’s Fosun and creditors. The pension trustees could withhold backing if funding assurances are not received.¬†Thomas Cook’s board is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) has slashed the price of a pint of beer in a bid to demonstrate the benefits of Brexit.¬†The pub chain, run by Brexiteer Tim Martin, has cut the cost for a pint of Ruddles ale by an average of 20p across almost all of its 1,000 watering holes.¬†Martin said it was an example of how leaving the customs union with the EU could reduce prices.¬†He said: ‘Provided we leave the Customs Union on October 31, the Government can end these protectionist tariffs, which will reduce prices in supermarkets and pubs.¬†In order to illustrate this point, Wetherspoon has decided to reduce the price of Ruddles bitter, brewed by Greene King.’

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MIDAS SHARE TIPS UPDATE: Bricks are in short supply in the UK and brickmaker Michelmersh Brick Holdings (MBH) is on the rise.  Midas verdict: Michelmersh is a well-managed firm, with a clear growth strategy focused on making premium bricks, improving efficiency and nurturing relationships with the people who matter. The company is not immune to economic shocks but it has shown resilience in the past and can do so again, if need be. At 95p, the shares are a strong hold.

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Mentioned in this post

JDW
Wetherspoon (J.D.)
MBH
Michelmersh Brick Holdings
MRW
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets
PFD
Premier Foods
STAN
Standard Chartered
TCG
Thomas Cook Group