Proactiveinvestors RSS feed en Thu, 26 Apr 2018 22:05:32 +0100 Genera CMS (Proactiveinvestors) (Proactiveinvestors) <![CDATA[News - Cyber security firm Avast BV targeting market cap of between £2.5bn to £3.2bn in IPO ]]> Cybersecurity group Avast BV is targeting a market cap of between £2.5bn to £3.2bn in its initial public offering (IPO), which potentially makes it the biggest London listing since July last year, according to Reuters.

The news group said the bookrunner for the float gave a price range of between 250p to 320p per share, and is aiming to sell 25% of the firm to raise around US$200mln from the issue of new shares, which will be admitted to the London Stock Exchange main market on 10 May.

READ: Cybersecurity provider Avast Holding intends to float on London Stock Exchange in May

Avast - headquartered in the Czech Republic - is a security software provider with more than 435mln users worldwide as at 31 December 2017, including more than 290mln personal computer software users, around six times more than the group's nearest competitor, and more than 145mln mobile users.

The company offers products in two segments - consumer products and products for the small and medium business market. Avast said its products protect users’ security, privacy and improve device performance.

In 2017, the group’s adjusted revenue was US$780mln, adjusted billings was US$811mln and adjusted cash underlying earnings (EBITDA) was US$451mln.

The current record for biggest London listing is held by Russian gold company Polyus, whose float gave it a £6.3bn market value.


Thu, 26 Apr 2018 15:19:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Challenger Bank Starling aiming to be in 10 countries across Europe by 2022 ]]> Thu, 26 Apr 2018 15:00:00 +0100 <![CDATA[Media files - BTL Group CEO McCann excited about launch of blockchain platform Interbit ]]> Thu, 26 Apr 2018 13:47:00 +0100 <![CDATA[Media files - Mining Capital's Alastair Ford says copper is shining and lithium continues to rise ]]> Thu, 26 Apr 2018 12:58:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Clipper Logistics to use new warehouse in Sheffield for boohoo/PLT contract ]]> Clipper Logistics PLC (LON:CLG) is to use a new 600,000 sq ft site in Sheffield to fulfil a contract for subsidiary Pretty Little Things.

The new contract with start in July and eventually see 1,200 staff taken on for a seven-day working week, though Clipper expects automation and mechanisation to be introduced over the next five years.

READ: Boohoo skyrockets upwards: sales nearly double, revenues up 97% year-over-year

Steve Parkin, Clipper’s executive chairman, said it was one of its most significant contract wins.

Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane, joint CEOs of PLC (LON:BOO), added they hoped it would be the start of a long, successful and prosperous partnership.

Clipper already provides logistics and e-fulfilment to many of the major UK online and traditional retailers including ASOS, John Lewis and Sainsbury’s.

Shares in Clipper rose 3% to 455p.

Wed, 25 Apr 2018 09:48:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Apple supplier AMS warns of a sales slowdown ]]> AMS (SWX:AMS), the Austrian chip maker that supplies optical sensors to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), has warned of a slowdown in second-quarter sales due to weaker demand from one of its big customers, Reuters reports.

While AMS declined to name the customer, the group makes components for the iPhones put out by Apple, which has seen its shares take a beating recently over mounting concerns over a slowdown in iPhone demand.

As a way of explanation, Moritz Gmeiner, AMS head of investor relations told Reuters: “We are not able to discuss the specific customer, but we are seeing significantly lower business from a large smartphone program and that I having a strong impact on the consumer business and the company as a whole.”

Looking ahead to its second quarter, AMS now expects its sales figures to fall between US$220mln and US$250mln, a steep drop from the US$452.7mln in sales it saw in the first three months of 2018.

Read: European regulators launch probe into Apple's takeover of Shazam

The diminished outlook stems from a slowdown in both present and forecasted orders. Alterations to upcoming products, which stops the pre-production of parts, will impede production at its factory and also hit profit margins at the company, which manufactures sensors for cars and industrial gear as well.

Analysts have reported in the past that AMS receives about 35% of its revenue from Apple and that mobile phone parts account for most of its business with the company, according to Reuters.

In the first quarter, the group’s net profit climbed to US$99.9mln from a loss of US$19.9mln in the first quarter of last year.

AMS shares were down 0.4% at US$95.62 in afternoon trade while Apple Inc’s shares dipped slightly as well, losing 0.6% to trade at US$164.72.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 14:50:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Vape-to battery group Supreme to list on AIM ]]> One of the UK’s leading battery distributors is set to list on AIM later next month.

Supreme PLC has distribution agreements with Duracell, Panasonic, Energizer and Eveready and supplied 200mln batteries and 35mln lighting products in the year to March 2017.

The group also has a vaping liquid manufacturing plant in Manchester and produced 130,000 bottles of vaping liquid, 690,000 vape kits and 4mln bits of associated accessories in 2017.

Revenues in the year to March were £70.7mln with underlying profits [EBITDA] of £7.2mln.

The group’s own brands are 88vape and KiK, while ownership of the e-liquid manufacturing facility is a differentiator, it said, and particularly attractive to third-party manufacturing.

Sandy Chadha, chief executive, said: "Over the last two decades we have established Supreme as a leading manufacturer and distributor of batteries and lighting, and more recently vaping, demonstrating our ability to leverage our extensive distributor and customer relationships to drive growth.“

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 08:29:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Scottish Power to raise UK electricity prices by £63 on average per year ]]> Scottish Power Ltd will increase its standard variable domestic gas and electricity prices by £63 from 1 June, it announced on Friday - a week after EDF Energy and Centrica’s PLC (LON:CAN) British Gas said they would raise energy bills.

In a statement on its website, the company said its direct debit customers will see an average price increase of 5.5%. On average a typical annual dual fuel bill will increase by £63 to £1,211 from £1,147.

READ: EDF Energy to raise UK electricity prices by £16 on average per year

Scottish Power said this change will affect approximately 960,000 households. The other two-thirds of homes are on tariffs or payment methods unaffected by this price change.

The company blamed the increase on rising wholesale energy costs and compulsory non-energy costs.

READ: Centrica’s British Gas to increase energy bills by £60 a year for more than 4mln customers

Neil Clitheroe, CEO Retail, said: “Unfortunately our standard variable prices are having to go up.”

He explained: “We will be contacting all customers affected by the price change to give them the opportunity to move to a fixed price tariff alternative and avoid this increase.”

Scottish Power has become the latest energy supplier to announce an increase in prices. A week ago, EDF Energy raised UK electricity prices by £16 on average per year. A few days before, British Gas had said it will increase the price by £60.

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:43:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - BLOK Technologies CEO Dawson says blockchain not blowing smoke on cannabis ]]> Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:03:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Young's Seafood up for sale as talks continue over the company's Annan site ]]> Young's, the seafood company that is the biggest private employer in Grimsby, has been put up for sale.

"We intend to start a structured and open bidding process with all interested parties,” a spokesman for Young's said.

Dave Monaghan from the Unite union said the decision did not come as a surprise as it had been in the offing for a couple of years.

"We would hope any further investor comes from the fish and food processing industry; time will tell,” the BBC quoted Monaghan as saying.

Monaghan said he hoped that whoever purchases the business would maintain investment in the Grimsby area; Grimsby has been home to Young's for more than 50 years.

Young's also has five specialist sites across Scotland, employing nearly 5,000 people, although the future of jobs at the company's seafood plant in Annan in the south-west of Scotland is in doubt.

.@PaulWheelhouse will today hold talks with the Chief Executive of Young’s Seafood over the future of the Pinney’s site in Annan. @PaulWheelhouse: “I will convey our concern & reinforce the message we keen to work with with Young’s Seafood to secure the employment at the site.”

— scotgoveconomy (@scotgoveconomy) April 19, 2018

Young's is one of Britain's longest-established companies, having been in business since 1805. It remained a family-run business until the late eighties and is currently owned by private equity firm Lion/Gem Luxembourg.

Latest on Pinneys of Annan - the owner of the factory, Young's Seafood, has itself been put up for sale today. Not understood to affect plans to close Pinneys factory

— Gregory Hoare (@GregoryHoare) April 19, 2018 ]]>
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:23:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Malcolm Graham-Wood on Echo, SDX & Hurricane Energy ]]> Fri, 13 Apr 2018 12:00:00 +0100 <![CDATA[Media files - Copper miners positioning to meet increased demand from electric vehicles ]]> Fri, 13 Apr 2018 11:18:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Heathrow Airport brings in record 6.5 million passengers in March ]]> Heathrow Airport said on Friday it brought in a record 6.5 million passengers in March as people travelled for the Easter bank holiday weekend and half-term.

The airport, which is planning to build a third runway, said the number of passengers marked a 5.5% increase compared to 2017 and its 17th consecutive record month.

Heathrow experienced its busiest ever departures day on March 30 with more than 136,000 passengers jetting off for Easter and the school holidays.

Long-haul emerging destinations were some of the best performers with 12% growth in African markets, a 11% rise in the Middle East and a 7.3% gain in Latin America. That offset a 1.5% decline in the UK.

A vote in summer?

 "The booming growth in passenger numbers and cargo, particularly from emerging markets, underpins the urgency to secure Britain's economic future with a third runway at Heathrow - which has now been backed by the cross-party Transport Select Committee,” said chief executive John Holland-Kaye.

MPs are expected to vote on whether to approve Heathrow’s expansion plan in the summer.

The Transport Select Committee said in March that it believed that the runway should go ahead but only after the government addressed concerns about the environmental impact, air quality and noise.

Heathrow is the second busiest airport in the world in international passenger traffic terms after Dubai International, making it prone to flight delays due to capacity problems. 

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 08:22:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - EDF Energy to raise UK electricity prices by £16 on average per year ]]> EDF Energy has announced its electricity prices for UK customers will increase by an average of 2.7%, just two days after Centrica’s PLC (LON:CNA)  British Gas raised energy bills by £60 a year for more than 4mln customers.

In a statement on its website, the French energy company said its standard variable dual fuel direct debit tariff will rise by 1.4%, or £16 a year to £1,158 in total from June 7. The firm said the increase reflected ‘pressures with energy, policy and costs of installing smart meters’.

READ: Centrica's British Gas to increase energy bills by £60 a year for more than 4mln customers

The company said there will be no change to gas prices for direct debit customers.

The firm will also increase charges for customers choosing to pay by cash or cheque by £6 per year "to be closer to the real cost of serving these customers".

EDF Energy said 59% of its customers who are already on a fixed tariff, have a direct debit gas only account, or are on the safeguard tariff or prepayment meter will be unaffected by this change.

Beatrice Bigois, EDF Energy’s managing director of customers, said: “We know that price rises are not welcome and we have worked to offset rising energy and policy charges by cutting our own costs.”

She added: “We will be writing to affected customers this month to encourage them to choose a fixed price tariff or to pay by direct debit to save on their bills.”

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 11:35:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Cybersecurity provider Avast Holding intends to float on London Stock Exchange in May ]]> Avast Holding B.V, a leading global cybersecurity provider, has announced plans to float on the main market of the London Stock Exchange in early May.

As part of the offer, the firm - headquartered in the Czech Republic - intends to raise approximately US$200mln of primary proceeds and use it to reduce its overall indebtedness and drive its future growth.

Immediately following admission, the company intends to have a free float of at least 25% of its issued share capital, and it will be eligible for inclusion in the FTSE UK indices.

According to Reuters, the company could be valued at around US$4bn.

Varied products

Avast is a security software provider with more than 435mln users worldwide as at 31 December 2017, including more than 290mln personal computer software users, around six times more than the group's nearest competitor, and more than 145mln mobile users

The company offers products in two segments - consumer products and products for the small and medium business market. Avast said its products protect users’ security, privacy and improve device performance.

In 2017, the group’s adjusted revenue was US$780mln, adjusted billings was US$811mln and adjusted cash underlying earnings (EBITDA) was US$451mln.

Commenting on current trading and the 2018 outlook, Avast said: "The Group has performed in line with its expectations in the first three months of 2018. The Group continues to deliver attractive organic growth and outperform the market. As a result, the Group continues to expect high-single digit revenue growth at constant currency in 2018".

Vincent Steckler, CEO of Avast, said: “As a leading European tech company, a listing on the London Stock Exchange is a strategic and natural fit, providing us with wider access to the capital markets and supporting the future growth of our business in the years ahead.”


Thu, 12 Apr 2018 09:20:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Littlewoods owner Shop Direct to shut three sites with nearly 2,000 job losses ]]> Shop Direct, the owner of and said it will close three of its distribution sites in Greater Manchester, making nearly 2,000 employees redundant.

In a statement on its website, the group - the UK’s second largest pureplay digital retailer - said it will replace the sites at Shaw, Little Hulton and Raven with a new warehouse in East Midlands Gateway, putting the jobs of 1,177 employees and 815 agency workers at risk.

The company said the new warehouse will employ around 500 people when it opens in 2020, and this is expected to increase by an additional 200 to 300 agency colleagues during peak periods.

Derek Harding, interim chief executive of the company, commented: “This is a tough day for the business and we know how difficult this news will be to hear for our teams in Shaw, Little Hulton and Raven. However, these proposals are necessary for our future and to enable us to continue to grow and meet rising customer expectations."

Shop Direct is owned by billionaire twins David and Frederick Barclays, who also owns the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 15:18:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - PolicyCastle: Bringing the mobile age to insurance broking ]]> For many people getting an insurance quote or changing the details of a policy still involves picking up the phone.

Edmund Dilger wants to change that and a year ago established PolicyCastle, an app that allows brokers and customers to deal with insurance issues on their mobile.

WATCH: PolicyCastle to raise up to £1mln to grow tech team and boost sales

His aim is to modernise the way brokers transact with clients and to allow greater self-service for customers.

“Insurance brokers still use third-party technology, much of which is legacy software and that is holding the industry back.”

Online bank customers carry out transactions on the way home, so why can’t people amend their insurance policy, he says.

Insurers also benefit as the quality of the information passed improves, enabling better underwriting and fewer claims.

Affluent customers

PolicyCastle is targeting the specialist homes market initially, where people often have a specific insurance need.

Here, most interactions between brokers and customers are voice telephone-based and fall outside of the commoditised part of the market served by price comparison websites.

“We are talking about affluent customers, people wanting insurance for a second home, a listed building or a non-standard construction.”

About 30% of customers in the UK still buy home insurance this way, estimates Dilger.

PolicyCastle has also developed a ‘white label’ platform for businesses such as mortgage brokers, letting agents, or holiday home lets, a ‘natural synergy’, to help them digitise their processes.

The platform saves costs, develops the existing customer base and again sends better information back to insurers, says Dilger.

Smart devices

Smart device technology figures prominently in Dilger’s thinking and he believes it will become a feature of the insurance business going forward.

Using their mobile phone PolicyCastle customers already can monitor leaks or be notified when a big storm is heading their way.

The thinking even stretches to warning someone in a high crime area if their locks are sub-standard, while discounts are available for using specified devices. 

Funding round

PolicyCastle is going through a funding round to raise £1mln in seed capital or angel finance.

The sales and marketing function will be strengthened while the platform will be upgraded with artificial intelligence/machine learning to speed it up and allow new features such as online updating of inventory lists.


Wed, 11 Apr 2018 08:48:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Vivo Energy intends to float on London and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges in May ]]> Vivo Energy, a retailer and marketer of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSA) branded fuels and lubricants in Africa, has announced plans to float on the main market of the London Stock Exchange and the secondary inward market of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in May 2018.

The group said it has Shell-branded retail operations in 15 countries across Africa with 227mln consumers and had a 23% share of its markets in 2017.

Further grow and strengthen position across Africa

The float will see the company undertake a 100% secondary sell-down of existing shares by selling shareholders with no proceeds going to the firm.

Vivo Energy expects to have a free float following admission of at least 25% and expects to be eligible for inclusion in the FTSE UK indices.

In conjunction with the intention to float, Vivo Energy announced the appointment of John Daily, chairman of soft drink maker Britvic PLC (LON:BVIC), as its chairman.

Established in December 2011 through the carve-out of Shell's African downstream business excluding South Africa and Egypt, the firm said it believes the IPO is a “logical step in the development of Vivo Energy and appropriate given the Group’s current scale and level of maturity.”

The group recently agreed a share transaction with Engen which, subject to regulatory approval, will add nine new retail countries and more than 300 service stations to its portfolio. 

In 2017, Vivo Energy's underlying earnings (EBITDA) were US$326mln, up from US$286mln in 2016.

Christian Chammas, the group's CEO, said: “Bringing Vivo Energy to the public markets will enable us to further grow the business and strengthen our market leading position across Africa.”

Tue, 10 Apr 2018 08:26:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Oval Money interacting with customers to help them better manage their cash ]]> Mon, 09 Apr 2018 13:43:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Demand for staff at record levels as UK business output reaches seven month high ]]> Hiring intentions at UK businesses are reaching record levels while business output has hit a seven month high, new research has indicated.

Improvements in manufacturing and services output are driving the demand, according to data compiled by accountant and business advisor BDO.

Rises in employment index unaffected by reduced business optimism

BDO’s employment index in March recorded its highest ever reading, as companies invested in people rather than capital due to low wage growth.

Both the services and manufacturing sub-indices rose in rose in March as a result of strengthening domestic outlook and a better inflation outlook.

One cautious note was a decline in BDO’s optimism index, which reflects how firms expect output to develop in the next six months, although this was not enough to dampen hiring intentions.

Peter Hemington, a partner at BDO, said: “The performance of both the manufacturing and services sectors is encouraging for the health of the UK economy and the data suggest that there will be an improvement in GDP growth over the next few months.

He added: “Businesses are retaining a positive outlook, and this may add to the pressure that the MPC feels to raise rates.

"But the recovery remains patchy and febrile with Brexit looming the MPC must hold fast and keep interest rates to a minimum to encourage confidence and growth for UK businesses.”

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 01:01:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Ongoing negotiations 'crucial' to easing US-China trade stand-off ]]> Fri, 06 Apr 2018 13:25:00 +0100 <![CDATA[Media files - Markets weaken as tit-for-tat tariff war between US and China intensifies ]]> Fri, 06 Apr 2018 11:43:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Co-op swings to full year profit as it unveils new strategic plan ]]> The Co-operative Group returned to a full year profit in 2017 on the back of cost cuts and announced a new strategic plan to deliver further growth.

The mutual, which sold off its final 1% shareholding in the Co-op Bank last September, reported pre-tax profit of £72mln for 2017, compared to a loss of £132mln a year earlier.

The 2016 loss reflected a £185mln hit after the group slashed the value of its 20% holding in the Co-op Bank to 1% as a black hole in the lender’s balance sheet forced it to seek outside investment.

Excluding one-off items, underlying pre-tax profit rose to £65mln last year from £52mln in 2016 as the company reduced costs.

Food sales flat as Co-op closes supermarkets

Revenue was unchanged at £9.5bn, as expected, as a decline in the insurance business and flat food sales at Co-op supermarkets offset growth in the funeral business and wholesale divisions.

Food sales were flat on a reported basis as the company closed down some of its larger supermarkets in response to the popularity of convenience stores. On a like-for-like basis, food sales rose 3.4% and core convenience sales edged up 4.3%.

Wholesale sales increased 7% and funeral and life planning revenues increased 4%.  

Revenues in the insurance division dropped 24% due to a new reinsurance contract but gross written premiums rose 3% and like-for-like net earned premiums increased 8%.

The Co-op cut its debt to £775mln from £885mln.

Membership in the mutual rose by 15% to 4.6 million after launching a new rewards scheme.

“With profits up 25%, debt down and membership up by more than 1.2 million since we launched our new scheme, we are stronger than ever before and ready to create a new, modern Co-op that is fit for the future,” said non-executive chairman Allan Leighton.

“It is vital that our Co-op continues to innovate and be relevant to meet the changing needs of our stakeholders. The plans we have in place to do this are rightly challenging. We have much to do, but we are confident in our ability to deliver our ambition and create an even stronger Co-op.”

Co-op announces strategic plan

The group also unveiled its so-called ‘Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities’ plan, which includes initiatives to lower food prices and broaden product ranges and expanding its convenience store estate with 100 new stores planned for 2018.

In its funeral business, Co-op said it will continue to hold funeral prices and invest in products and services. The company also plans to expand its product range in insurance.

Given its plans for investment, the company said it does not expect any surplus profits being available for distribution in 2018.

Co-op awaits regulatory approval of Nisa takeover

Last November the Co-op agreed to buy wholesaler Nisa for up to £137.5mln but the deal is awaiting regulatory approval.

READ: Nisa members narrowly approve £143mln takeover by Co-op

It has also secured a deal to become exclusive wholesale supplier to Costcutter Supermarkets Group (CSG) and the 2,200 Costcutter, Mace, Simply Fresh, Supershop and kwiksave convenience stores across its network from spring 2018. 

Separately on Friday, the group announced the acquisition of probate provider Simplify Probate for an undisclosed sum. Probate is the legal process for proving the validity of a will of a deceased person.

Fri, 06 Apr 2018 08:23:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - PolicyCastle to raise up to £1mln to grow tech team and boost sales ]]> Thu, 05 Apr 2018 15:07:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Fiat Chrysler to spin off components business Magneti Marelli ]]> Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE:FCAU) plans to spin off its components business, Magneti Marelli, to focus on its core portfolio and strengthen its capital position.

The company said the separation is expected to be completed by early 2019 after which shares will be distributed to Fiat shareholders. Shares of Magneti Marelli will be listed on the Milan Stock Exchange.

Spin-off part of 5-year business plan

Chief executive Sergio Marchionne said in a statement on Thursday that the move would allow the carmaker to focus on its core business.

"The separation will deliver value to FCA shareholders, while providing the operational flexibility necessary for Magneti Marelli’s strategic growth in the coming years,” Marchionne said.

The spin-off is part of the company’s five-year business plan to be announced in June before Marchionne steps down early next year.

The plan is subject to regulatory approvals and final approval by Fiat's board of directors.

The news comes as the auto industry comes under pressure to respond to the shift away from diesel and petrol vehicles towards electric and hybrid.

GKN PLC (LON:GKN) had planned to separate its automotive business, Driveline, and merge it with Dana Inc (NYSE:DAN) after failing to meet targets to improve profit and cash flow.

However, GKN shareholders voted in favour of a hostile takeover bid from Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRO) instead.

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 12:46:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - RAC has to apologise to customers after failing to implement FCA transparency rules ]]> The RAC must contact its customers after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found that the roadside recovery and insurance group failed to properly implement transparency rules and provide a shopping around message as key information in its breakdown policy renewal documentation.

The FCA rules, introduced in April 2017, require firms to clearly show the insurance premium a customer paid last year alongside their proposed renewal premium. They also require firms to show a prominent, clear and straightforward message to encourage customers to shop around for the best deals.

Customers due compensation?

In a statement on the regulator's website, Jonathan Davidson, executive director of supervision at FCA, said: ”It is simply unacceptable to see that some firms are still not being properly transparent with their customers a year on from the introduction of the rules.”

The RAC said it would contact affected customers over the coming months, Reuters reported. One source familiar with the situation said some customers could be due compensation.

A spokesperson for the private equity-owned firm told Reuters that the company recognised that some information in its letters had not been clear enough.

“While our breakdown policy renewal documentation did accurately contain all the necessary information, we recognise that some of the key information in our letters was not as prominently displayed as it should have been,” he told the newswire.

The FCA said RAC was the latest firm to apologise to its customers. Last year, insurer Admiral Group PLC (LON:ADM) apologised after the FCA said customers who renewed their policies may have received inaccurate information.

Tue, 03 Apr 2018 14:25:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Polarean Imaging PLC begins first day of trading on AIM ]]> Thu, 29 Mar 2018 15:08:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Nissan and Renault said to be in talks to merge after two decade long alliance ]]> Japanese car giant Nissan Motor and French automaker Renault are reportedly in talks to merge after working as in a strategic alliance for almost two decades.

Renault currently owns 43% of Nissan while the Japanese carmaker has a 15% stake in its French counterpart, but now the companies are discussing become one entity with a single stock, Bloomberg reported.

Carlos Ghosn to lead the merged entity?

A merger would allow the companies to better bring together their resources as the market shifts towards electric and hybrid vehicles.

The alliance between the companies, which has included sharing engines and building smaller vehicles on a common architecture, has delivered cost savings but the fragmented ownership has held them back from reaping the full benefits of a merger.

Carlos Ghosn, the chairman of both companies, is understood to be leading the merger negotiations and would head the combined group.

Neither Renault or Nissan have commented on the report.

Earlier this month, Reuters said Nissan was seeking to buy up must of the French government’s 15% holding in Renault.

The state’s shares could provide the biggest hurdle for a merger, Bloomberg reported, citing an analyst at Macquarie in Tokyo.

“The concern has always primarily been the French government, and somewhat Japan, because both France and Japan like to keep their national champions,” the analyst, Janet Lewis, was quoted as saying.

Shares in Renault were up 6.4% in afternoon trading. 

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 13:19:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Billington Holdings PLC doing well despite rising steel prices ]]> Thu, 29 Mar 2018 07:55:00 +0100 <![CDATA[Media files - Gold should respond well to trade war rhetoric ]]> Fri, 23 Mar 2018 11:57:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - Mining sector withstanding Russian uncertainty and Trump moves ]]> Fri, 16 Mar 2018 12:25:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - SimplyBiz to float on London Stock Exchange on April 4 ]]> SimplyBiz Group Ltd will have a value of £130mln when it floats on the AIM stock market in London on April 4.

The compliance and business services provider has raised £30mln at 170p from an institutional placing, while its owners are selling a further £34.6mln worth of shares.

Membership base of over 3,400

SimplyBiz said proceeds from the placing will be used to reduce the company's debt.

Matt Timmins and Neil Stevens, the joint CEOs, have run the business since 2010.

Over the period, revenues have grown 366% to £44mln from £12mln.

Timmins said: “We have become a disruptive force in financial intermediation, building a membership base of over 3,400 adviser firms and associated proprietary network of 135 financial institutions.”

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 08:17:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Investment platform AJ Bell exploring IPO on London Stock Exchange main market, retail offering exclusive to customers ]]> AJ Bell, one of the UK’s leading investment platforms, has appointed Numis Securities to explore an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the main market of the London Stock Exchange which reports said could value the group at upwards of £500mln.

In a statement, the firm – which operates in both the direct-to-consumer and advised markets – said the IPO would include a retail share offer, available exclusively to AJ Bell customers and is expected to take place towards the end of 2018 or early 2019.

The group added that it does not intend to raise new capital as part of the IPO given “its financial strength, highly profitable business model and debt-free balance sheet.”

Cornerstone shareholding

It said the group’s two largest shareholders, co-founder and chief executive Andy Bell and Invesco Perpetual, will both retain cornerstone shareholdings post-IPO.

Andy Bell, commented: “An IPO is a natural next step in our journey and will provide a further boost to our future growth through the increased profile a stock market listing will give us. We believe the outlook for our business is extremely positive.”

He added: “Our highly profitable, proven model continues to deliver outstanding performance. In 2017 revenues grew 17% to £75.6mln whilst our efficient operating model delivered a 29% growth in profit before tax to £21.7mln.“

The group said trading continued to be strong in the company’s first quarter to 31 December 2017 with customer numbers increasing to 172,000 and assets under administration (AUA) of £42bn.


Mon, 12 Mar 2018 08:07:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Alastair Ford on Trump, North Korea and Congo's new mining code ]]> Fri, 09 Mar 2018 11:54:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - Proactive’s virtual fund manager ‘keeping it simple’ with new strategies ]]> Fri, 09 Mar 2018 08:56:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Crypto Investor Show aims to open up cryptocurrency sector to ‘everyday’ investors ]]> The Crypto Investor Show, taking place on March 10 at the QEII Centre in Westminster, aims to open up and demystify the sector to more traditional and ‘everyday’ investors, says One Stone Media’s Patrick Dooley.

Dooley said that what sets this show apart from previous crypto industry events is the appeal to those who don’t already engage with the sector, as well as markedly cheaper ticket prices.

WATCH: One Stone Media opening up crypto to the 'everyday investor'

Topics discussed during the event will include the history of the cryptocurrency sector, crypto-economics, and the application of blockchain technology across different industries.

The show will be the largest of its kind in the UK, with further shows expected globally in the future.

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 11:13:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - One Stone Media opening up crypto to the 'everyday investor' ]]> Thu, 08 Mar 2018 10:55:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Developments in flying cars mean they could come sooner than expected, says city broker ]]> Development of flying car technology is gathering pace and they may become a commercial reality much sooner than expected.

Fan technology currently used in small drones could be adapted to larger transport vehicles without much more development, opening up a massive market for efficient batteries to power them.

WATCH: 'Transformational' developments in flying cars as battery metal miners take focus

The demand for batteries will require large amounts of rare earth metals including Niobium, Lithium and Cobalt, music to the ears of several mining companies focused on the sector.

With the power density of batteries predicted to double within the next ten years, the battery metals market is looking far more attractive to some brokers.

John Meyer from broker SP Angel has recommended that junior mining companies working in the sector, such as African Battery Metals (LON:ABM), Strategic Minerals (LON:SML), and Savannah Resources (LON:SAV), would be worth attention given the potential of the market.

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 15:10:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - 'Transformational' developments in flying cars as battery metal miners take focus ]]> Wed, 07 Mar 2018 13:40:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Control of House of Fraser changes hands ]]> Ownership of one of Britain’s oldest department store groups, the House of Fraser, is to change hands … from one Chinese entity to another.

Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store will sell its 51% stake in the 169-year-old retail chain to Wuji Wenhua, a Chinese tourism development company.

House of Fraser was acquired in 2014 for around £450mln by Sanpower Group, which owns a 27.3% stake in Nanjing Xinijiekou.

Sanpower had planned to open up “Oriental Fraser” outlets in China but it seems the Chinese are no more enamoured of the department store format than the British, as only one branch was opened.

Intriguingly, Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley owns a minority stake in House of Fraser and also has a stake in another department store group, Debenhams PLC (LON:DEB).

The sale of House of Fraser comes less than a week after the Maplin and the UK arm of Toys R Us went into administration.

Tue, 06 Mar 2018 14:41:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Cyber security trainer and consultant GRC International joins AIM ]]> Cyber security and data compliance group GRC International Group plc (LON:GRC)  has joined AIM after completion of a £5mln fundraise.

Early quotes for the shares had them trading well above the placing price of 70p. At that price, the market value is £40mln.

Alan Calder, chief executive, said: “The current legal cyber security and data protection requirements, combined with the initial funding secured, will allow us to scale up and execute our development plans in order to generate significant value for shareholders."

GRC has three divisions: training, consultancy and publishing all aimed at IT governance and for different skill levels.

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 08:47:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Trump's steel tariffs to have 'serious international knock-ons' ]]> Fri, 02 Mar 2018 10:22:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - A new acquisition vehicle focused on the industrial/engineering sectors is set to join AIM early next week ]]> Stirling Industries PLC, a newly incorporated company, will raise just short of £9mln prior to admission to AIM, while it follows an “acquire, develop, sell’ strategy.

In a statement, the company said it is targeting companies operating in the industrial sector in the UK, Europe or North America.

Stirling to debut on AIM early next week

Its first acuqisition is expected to be in the region of £100mln - £500mln.

Stirling plans to take a controlling interest through a reverse takeover and look to improve markedly the performance of the acquired business.

Richard Illingworth is chief executive and Robin Williams chairman.

A number of institutions have subscribed for shares ahead of the listing, with admission scheduled early next week..

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 13:14:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - BDO sees recovery for AIM listed oil and gas companies ]]> AIM-listed oil and gas companies are set to rally as they re-establish their link to the oil price according to accountant BDO.

In ‘Drilling Down 2018,’ its annual review of the performance of junior market oil and gas companies, BDO said though it expects a more stable oil price this might spur further investment in shale, which may constrain oil price growth. in the future.

 “Expect an increased focus from investors on the quality of assets, quality of management teams and the quality of corporate messaging, particularly for juniors.”

“Investors are not going to hand over their cash lightly, said the report, which is available at



Fri, 23 Feb 2018 06:30:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Alastair Ford on rare earths, gold & Apple getting serious on cobalt ]]> Thu, 22 Feb 2018 11:14:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Rovio shares now 50% below IPO price after Angry Birds maker’s latest sales miss ]]> Rovio Entertainment Ltd shares plunged on Thursday after the Angry Birds maker missed fourth-quarter sales expectations and warned full-year revenues in 2018 would, at best, be flat.

As a result, shares in the Finnish video games developer dived almost 50% to €5.16 - less than half of September’s initial public offering price.

No net income guidance

Rovio said sales grew 17% to €73.9mln in the three months to end December, compared with €63.2mln a year ago. But that was still well below the €79.1mln analysts had been expecting.

As for the rest of 2018, group revenue is expected to be between €260mln and €300mln - not much better, if at all, than the €297mln it generated last year. It declined to give any net income guidance.

The company’s biggest sales driver continues to be its Angry Birds brand and the various spin-offs, but without any recent big hits, it is having to spend more to recruit and keep new gamers.

The cost per acquired user has risen significantly and Rovio expects to spend around a third of its revenues on user acquisition - essentially ads and other marketing tricks to try to entice new customers.

It’s not the first time Rovio has disappointed investors since its September flotation on the Helsinki exchange - back in November the firm reported disappointed earnings.

Full-year results for 2017 are due in early March.

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 08:08:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Financial services company SimplyBiz prepares for £150mln London IPO ]]> SimplyBiz, a financial services firm, is preparing for a flotation on the London stock market with plans for a listing that could value the group at more than £150mln, according to a Reuters report.

The newswire said the company, which provides compliance and business support to financial advisers, is working with stockbroker Zeus Capital on a possible initial public offering (IPO).

SimplyBiz is targeting a market capitalisation of between £140mln and £155mln in a listing that would raise £30mln of new money, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The company considered an IPO in 2015 but decided to secure alternative financing instead. The listing could boost demand for company’s services and make its shares attractive to investors.

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 15:33:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - The Conversion Fund rides the wave of food and drink events ]]> Food, wine, arts, or media events regulars would likely have run across The Conversion Fund, though they may not have realised.

One of the foremost events stagers for a range of leisure and creative industries, the profile is deliberately kept low says Allen Gibbons, chief executive and managing director.

“We don’t want to be the name upfront, it’s the event that we want recognised,” he told Proactive.

‘Phenomenal growth’

That is becoming harder as the size of the business increases, especially when Gibbons describes growth at the moment as ‘phenomenal’, particularly in food and drink events.

Conversion Fund is probably best known for the highly prestigious International Wines and Spirits Competition, which it has run since 1969.

IWSC Group used to be name of the whole business, but the growing breadth of the events in its stable meant that was becoming too restrictive says Gibbons, hence the change to The Conversion Fund.

Watch: The Conversion Fund: 'Exponential growth' in fun lifestyle events

Undoubtedly, timing and a little good fortune have played a part in its recent expansion.

Who could have guessed twenty-five years just how big the food business would become?

Gibbons credits Delia Smith as the start of this foodie trend, but the Fund had already been looking at the potential opportunity even back then.

One of its first diversifications was Whiskies of the World in San Francisco, which has now increased to five events annually.

Gibbons says it started to look at other markets following that success and food was an obvious next step.

Events it runs now include the Atlanta Food and Drink festival, a must-attend event for specialists in Southern US cuisine, he says.

Sugar Land, meanwhile, is one of the biggest food and wine events in Texas, while Heritage Fire celebrates barbecuing, with 50 chefs demonstrating the art of outdoor cooking.

The Fund is involved with around fifty major festivals a year, though if daily events such as teach-ins are included this number rises to about 250.

Gibbons says it doesn’t run many of the events itself, rather the model is to provide capital and support the event’s organiser or founder.

“We prefer to find a business an entrepreneur has started and who wants to get bigger and needs capital.”

The fund normally limits its stake to a maximum 70%, though in certain circumstances it will have full ownership.

Live events prove their worth

Gibbons says live events have proved to be exceptionally resilient to the ups and downs of the global economy.

Young people especially are flocking to music festivals such as Glastonbury.

Gibbons admits he would like to run an event as sizeable and popular as that iconic event.

“To have an event that sells out before you even know who is appearing is unheard of in our universe,” he says.

Music festivals, though, will not be a new area for The Conversion Fund – “Too capital intensive, too many large established players” - but it is branching out.

Events in newly established disruptive creative and media sectors are growing.

The fund is now also involved in two restaurants and is looking at both a hotel and an online platform for trading fine wines and spirits.

Art, too, is becoming a major focus for the group due to strong synergies with sponsors and attendees at its food and drink events.

Events generate income through sponsorship, entrance money and exhibitor fees.

A family-run, private business, The Conversion Fund does not have any outside investors and is coy about the financials.

A substantial operation

Given the number and size of the events it handles, however, it is fair to assume it now a substantial operation and, according to Gibbons, getting bigger.

Gin is the next big thing in wines and spirits he says, while the art operation is also starting to motor.

How big can the business become? Again, Glastonbury is the benchmark.

The Conversion Fund is not on the same scale yet in its areas, says Gibbons but who knows, he adds.

“We are undoubtedly riding a very interesting wave.” 

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:29:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - High street electronics giant Maplin in talks with potential buyers to head off threat of administration ]]> Maplin, one of Britain's biggest electronics retailers, is in talks with potential buyers amid reports it is seeking to head off the threat of administration, according to a report on the BBC News website.

The high street firm which has more than 200 stores and 2,500 staff, hopes to strike a deal this week, the BBC report said.

"Solvent sale" within days

News of a possible sale of the retailer, which is owned by private equity firm Rutland Partners, comes after Sky News recently reported that the firm’s insurers withdrew credit cover last year because of falling profits.

In a statement on Tuesday, Maplin said it expected to be able to unveil a "solvent sale" within days.

"Once secured this will stabilise the business to the benefit of all stakeholders and provide Maplin with the financial firepower to deliver its 2020 multi-channel strategy focused on smart tech," the company said.

Sky News reported that the potential buyers include Edinburgh Woollen Mill, the clothing company that owns Peacocks, Country Casuals and several other retailers.

It was also reported that if Maplin fails to find an outright buyer, it would consider a so-called pre-pack sale. That would see the firm go into administration, with the new buyer emerging almost immediately with the most profitable assets.

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 14:54:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Augmentum Fintech to raise £100mln to cash in on Europe's financial disruption ]]> A new trust aimed at Europe’s fast-growing fintech sector is looking to raise £100mln ahead of a float in London.

Augmentum Fintech PLC said the financial services sector is ‘ripe for disruption and disintermediation’ but, unlike other sectors such as retail and travel, this has yet to happen.

Europe is at the centre of this disruption due to a confluence of factors including regulation and sector "DNA", it added.

According to Neil England, the Trust’s chairman: “The substantial demand for post-seed venture capital funding in the European fintech market is being underserved and the company will be well positioned to capitalise on the best opportunities available in the market and deliver attractive long-term returns for investors.”

Investment trust RIT Capital Partners will invest £10mln and management a further £2.7mln.

Current investments

Augmentum currently has five investments in its portfolio: peer-to-peer lending platform Zopa; precious metals trading platform BullionVault; share trading platform interactive investor; crowdfunding platform Seedrs and family office platform SRL Global.

Shares in the float will be priced at £1 and listed on the premium section of the LSE with a maximum of £125mln to be raised in the float.

Currently, the portfolio is worth £33mln. Augmentum expects to invest any additional money raised within twelve months

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 08:13:00 +0000