Mike Ashley pulls his offer to buy Patisserie Holdings (CAKE) just two days after announcing his interest. The Sports Direct International (SPD) founder, who has been building up his High Street empire with the purchase of House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, has complained of being shut out of the bidding process. Patisserie Valerie slumped into administration last month after the discovery of a potential fraud and the arrest of its chief financial officer, Chris Marsh. The Mail revealed Ashley’s interest last month.
Debenhams (DEB) was scrambling to secure a lifeline from its lenders last night in a desperate bid to survive. The department store chain had hoped to announce progress last Friday but investors were left in the dark and expected an update this morning. However, the Mail understands this could be pushed back to late today or later in the week. The shifting deadlines will only fuel fears over the future of the High Street chain, which issued three profit warnings last year and has £286m worth of debt. Its current lending arrangements are set to expire next year, and Debenhams is aiming to grab the lifeline from banks and bondholders before it settles a potentially crippling rent payment, due on March 25. Talks with creditors are ongoing. Debenhams is also working on a controversial Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) which would allow it to negotiate chunky rent reductions with landlords and axe a number of stores.
Angry investors in Metro Bank (MTRO) approach lawyers after accounting gaffe wipes almost £1bn off value. Metro has been targeted by litigation funder Therium, which bankrolls major lawsuits by disgruntled investors in return for a cut of any winnings. Now Stewarts Law and a second unnamed London law firm have been approached by Metro shareholders to represent them.
Bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) set to cut its senior staff’s bonus pot for tenth year in a row. The lender, which is still majority-owned by the taxpayer after a bailout at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, will reveal its second consecutive annual profit on Friday since the rescue deal. But bonuses have shrunk, from £342m in 2017 to £335m for the 2018 financial year and senior RBS investment bankers are said to be annoyed. The Government still has more than 62% of the bank.
Ocado Group (OCDO) boss Tim Steiner triggered a highly-ambitious plan to triple the value of his food delivery firm only days before its prized robot-run warehouse was engulfed in flames. The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the plan would see the company’s stock market value soar to almost £20billion – putting it in the same league as corporate titans Rolls-Royce, Tesco and BT. Steiner, who in recent weeks has held secret talks about launching a new food delivery service for Marks & Spencer, stands to net up to £100million in bonuses in the next five years if he can deliver such seismic growth. But details of the scale of his ambitions have come to light following one of the bleakest weeks in Ocado’s history, with the inferno causing its high-tech warehouse in Andover, Hampshire – one of four it owns – to burn to the ground. Sources said the fire, which raged for several days, could set the company’s domestic plans back by a year or more. Ocado has been busy in recent days calming the nerves of business partners which include Waitrose, Morrisons and £95billion US supermarket Kroger.
Fury at Ryanair chief’s ‘ludicrous’ £90m bonus as shares trade at four-year lows. Ryanair Holdings (RYA) boss Michael O’Leary was facing a backlash last night after his new £90million bonus scheme was branded ‘ludicrous’ by a major investor. O’Leary, who has been in charge for 25 years, will be in line for the bonus if profits or the share price double over the next five years. Ryanair shares have recently been trading at four-year lows. Ashley Hamilton Claxton, head of responsible investment at the £117billion giant Royal London Asset Management, said: ‘Asking shareholders to pay directors more than €100 million for achieving a marginal improvement over its share price high in August 2017 is ludicrous.
MIDAS SHARE TIPS: Need a hand picking a few stocks? Frontier has some very clever ideas…Midas verdict: Frontier IP Group (FIPP) is an interesting company performing a valuable service for business and academia. The stock is certainly not risk-free, but at 82p the shares should deliver rewards to the more adventurous investor.
MIDAS SHARE TIPS UPDATE: Electronics firm Discoverie Group (DSCV) we tipped plugs into profit to rise 75%. Midas verdict: DiscoverIE has soared in value during Jefferies’ stewardship and investors have benefited. But there should be more to come. At £4.07, the shares remain attractive.