The Times 03/12/19 - Vox Markets | Vox Markets

The Times 03/12/19

The fashion retailer Ted Baker (TED) is at the centre of an accounting scandal after the company discovered that the inventory valuation on its balance sheet had been overstated by between £20 million and £25 million. It has appointed the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to undertake a comprehensive review and will also appoint independent auditors. KPMG has audited Ted Baker’s accounts since 2000. The discovery comes a month after the arrival of Rachel Osborne, 54, the former chief financial officer at Debenhams. She took over as finance chief at Ted Baker from Charles Anderson, 49, who left to join Mulberry after 17 years at the company.

The chairman of Amigo Holdings (AMGO), Britain’s biggest guarantor loans provider, and one of its top executives have sold shares worth more than £1.6 million in the troubled company despite a slump in its stock price. Yesterday Amigo Holdings disclosed that Stephan Wilcke, its chairman, had offloaded 1.8 million shares, equivalent to 15% of his stake in the business, in sales worth £1.15 million to cover a personal tax liability. Naynesh Patel, chief analytics officer, has also sold stock worth about £460,000 for the same purpose. The disposals, which took place after Amigo reported half-year results last week, come as the lender’s shares languish near their all-time low.

 

Ocado Group (OCDO) is raising £500 million to help pay for dozens of robot-powered warehouses around the world. The online grocer and technology licensing group is to issue bonds that will turn into equity if its stock climbs by between 40% and 45%. The convertible bond will mature in six years’ time and pays a coupon of between 0.75% and 1.25%. Shares in Ocado fell more than 7% on the back of the fundraising, reversing some of the gains from Friday when it signed an agreement with Japan’s largest supermarket chain.

A shareholder revolt over executive pay broke out at Bovis Homes Group (BVS) despite the housebuilder winning significant backing for its £1.1 billion takeover of Galliford Try (GFRD) residential business. More than 30% of shareholders at yesterday’s annual meeting voted against approving both the directors’ remuneration policy and the long-term incentive plan. Directors will be entitled to collect long-term share bonuses of up to 200% of their salary, compared with 150% previously. They will also be eligible to receive cash bonuses of up to 150% of their salary, compared with 100%. Greg Fitzgerald, the chief executive, earned £2.2 million last year, of which £666,000 was base salary.

CityFibre Infrastructure Holdings (CITY) has run into problems in its most advanced project. City Fibre, one of the leading players in efforts to upgrade the broadband network to faster full-fibre, is under scrutiny by Milton Keynes council after it faced a high level of complaints and inspections over “poor practice”. A document from the council’s scrutiny management committee last month shows the project has been given a “red warning”, noting that “as well as a reputational risk there is a financial risk to [the council] to fix poor quality workmanship issues in the future”.

The consortium that has agreed a £2.6 billion takeover of Inmarsat (ISAT) has warned that it will abandon the deal if the High Court allows a group of hedge funds to reopen negotiations. The bidders refused to raise their recommended offer for the British satellite operator before a court hearing today unless a counter-offer emerged. They ruled out extending the completion date, which is next Tuesday. The statement raises the temperature in the battle over Inmarsat. In May, shareholders voted to sell the London-based company to a consortium that included the buyout firms Warburg Pincus and Apax Partners and two Canadian investment funds. The two-day hearing, which begins today, was supposed to rubberstamp the deal.

Hurricane Energy (HUR) lost more than a fifth of its value after a promising well west of the Shetland Islands flowed at a lower rate than hoped. The company said that the Warwick West well, which it drilled as part of a partnership with Spirit Energy, flowed at a rate equivalent to 1,300 barrels of oil per day. Analysts at Berenberg said that was too low to be commercially attractive and suggested further drilling would be needed in the area. Hurricane is exploring in fractured basement rock formations that lie below where oil has typically been found. There are estimated to be up to 2.6 billion barrels contained in the licences it has interests in.

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Mentioned in this post

AMGO
Amigo Holdings
BVS
Bovis Homes Group
CITY
CityFibre Infrastructure Holdings
GFRD
Galliford Try
HUR
Hurricane Energy
ISAT
Inmarsat
OCDO
Ocado Group
TED
Ted Baker