http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk Proactiveinvestors RSS feed en Mon, 24 Sep 2018 06:36:49 +0100 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Genera CMS action@proactiveinvestors.com (Proactiveinvestors) action@proactiveinvestors.com (Proactiveinvestors) <![CDATA[Media files - Mining Capital's Alastair Ford on the outlook for gold and rare earths ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10557/mining-capital-s-alastair-ford-on-the-outlook-for-gold-and-rare-earths-10557.html Fri, 21 Sep 2018 11:13:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10557/mining-capital-s-alastair-ford-on-the-outlook-for-gold-and-rare-earths-10557.html <![CDATA[News - Lloyd’s of London returns to profit in first half after 2017 loss ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205411/lloyds-of-london-returns-to-profit-in-first-half-after-2017-loss-205411.html Lloyd’s of London, the 330-year-old insurance market, returned to profit in the first half after a series of natural disasters led to a loss in 2017.

The specialist insurance and reinsurance market posted a pre-tax profit of £600mln, driven by improvements in pricing and growth in some profitable lines. Pre-tax profit in last year’s first half was £1.2bn.

Slashing costs

Lloyds’s of London slashed costs and improved its underwriting performance after one of the costliest years for natural catastrophes in the past decade resulted in an annual loss of £2bn in 2017. It marked the group’s first loss in six years.

The underwriting result increased to £500mln in the first half from £400mln the previous year after reducing loss-making lines in its portfolio.

The combined ratio, a measure of underwriting profitability, rose to 95.5% from 96.9% last year. A figure below 100% indicates a profit.

“Whilst these results are welcome, Lloyd's continues to concentrate on improving the Lloyd's market's long-term performance by taking action to address underperforming areas of the market,” said chief executive Inga Beale.

On the company’s Brexit plan to ensure it will be able to continue to serve clients in the European Union after Britain leaves the bloc, Beale said: “We have also worked tirelessly to secure the Lloyd’s market’s access to the EU27 and our Lloyd’s Brussels subsidiary will start writing business in the European Economic Area from 1 January 2019.” 

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Fri, 21 Sep 2018 08:19:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/205411/lloyds-of-london-returns-to-profit-in-first-half-after-2017-loss-205411.html
<![CDATA[Media files - Mixed messages on global markets for commodities investors ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10480/mixed-messages-on-global-markets-for-commodities-investors-10480.html Fri, 14 Sep 2018 15:41:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10480/mixed-messages-on-global-markets-for-commodities-investors-10480.html <![CDATA[News - Gaming software group GAN lawyers up as it looks to protect its IP over in the US ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204912/gaming-software-group-gan-lawyers-up-as-it-looks-to-protect-its-ip-over-in-the-us-204912.html Gaming software group GAN PLC (LON:GAN) has hired a US intellectual property law firm as it looks to sue internet gambling operators using its technology without permission.

GAN was awarded a patent in 2014 for its technology, which enables punters to link their in-casino reward card to their online account in order to verify their identity.

READ: GAN shares jump after US sports betting deal

An “anonymous industry actor” contested the validity of the patent last year, but officials dismissed the challenge.

GAN’s software has been licensed to many of the largest US casino operators, including MGM Resorts and Station Casinos.

But it appears others have been using the software without permission, and the company said the offending firms had been “substantially and progressively placed on notice” of GAN’s patents.

Chicago-based law firm Irwin IP LLP will now seek “commercial settlements” for any infringements, which, along with patent licensing, represent a “potentially high-margin incremental income stream for GAN”.

Shares rose 1.6% to 66p in early deals on Friday.

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Fri, 14 Sep 2018 08:52:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204912/gaming-software-group-gan-lawyers-up-as-it-looks-to-protect-its-ip-over-in-the-us-204912.html
<![CDATA[News - Nuformix receives £500,000 milestone payment ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204900/nuformix-receives-500000-milestone-payment-204900.html Nuformix PLC (LON:NFX) has passed a pre-clinical milestone for its cancer drug, NXP001, triggering a £500,000 milestone payment from partner Newsummit Biopharma.

The AIM-listed group will receive a further £2mln if it is able to demonstrate bioequivalence to a reference product. In layman’s terms, this means NXP001 must have the same pharmaceutical effect as the reference drug.

Nuformix uses cocrystal technology to re-engineer crystalline drugs. This helps unlock the therapeutic potential of already-approved small molecule treatments.

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Fri, 14 Sep 2018 07:46:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204900/nuformix-receives-500000-milestone-payment-204900.html
<![CDATA[News - The Multifamily Housing REIT plotting £175mln London IPO ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204728/the-multifamily-housing-reit-plotting-175mln-london-ipo-204728.html Exeter-based real estate investment trust The Multifamily Housing REIT PLC has unveiled plans to snap up a 658-home property portfolio if it can get away a £175mln flotation.

The housing fund wants to sell 175mln shares at 1,000p apiece, with around £70mln of that going towards the purchase of the portfolio of pre-built privately rented homes, as well as five commercial units.

The portfolio is located across regional England, with properties in Bristol, the West Midlands, East Anglia, Manchester and Leeds, amongst others. Each home is expected to fetch between £500-700 a month in rent.

Alternative to buy-to-let investments

TMH is positioning itself as an alternative to buy-to-let investments, with the company planning to pay out the equivalent of a 5% annual yield in dividends, comparable with what landlords receive.

The UK rental market has boomed in recent years as a shortage of affordable homes and rising house prices take ownership out of reach for many.

“The provision of, and access to, good quality and affordable privately rented accommodation has been lacking in the UK and it remains one the undersupplied and fragmented, yet fastest growing, parts of the housing market,” said non-executive chairman Nick Jopling.

“Through the assembly and performance of the seed portfolio, the highly experienced management team has demonstrated that The Multifamily Housing REIT model is a compelling proposition, delivering a highly visible and improving income stream year on year and giving us confidence that we can deliver significant market outperformance and attractive returns for shareholders.”

The plan is for the company to join the main market of the London Stock Exchange at the end of September.

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Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:01:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204728/the-multifamily-housing-reit-plotting-175mln-london-ipo-204728.html
<![CDATA[News - Leading potato producer Produce Investments agrees to around £52.95mln recommended cash takeover offer ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204599/leading-potato-producer-produce-investments-agrees-to-around-5295mln-recommended-cash-takeover-offer-204599.html One of the UK’s leading potato producers Produce Investments PLC (LON:PIL) has agreed to around a £52.95mln recommended cash takeover offer from a Jersey company ultimately owned and controlled by funds managed by Promethean Investments LLP.

The AIM-listed group – which also produces daffodil bulbs - said April 1983 Bidco Limited is offering 193p in cash for each Produce Investments share, around a 35% premium to the stock’s 142.50p closing price on Monday, with an Unlisted Partial Share and Loan Note Alternative also available.

READ: Ashtead profits soar on growing demand in equipment rental market

It added that the offer is conditional, amongst other things, on valid acceptances being received in respect of more than 50% of the Produce Investments shares.

Commenting on the offer, Produce Investments’ chief executive officer, Angus Armstrong said: "This transaction will allow Produce Investments to move to a more suitable private market environment for a company of its size, thereby eliminating the regulatory burden, constraints and costs of maintaining a public listing.

“Existing management will continue to run the business, and, along with them, I look forward to continuing to grow the business and serve our customers."

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Tue, 11 Sep 2018 07:41:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204599/leading-potato-producer-produce-investments-agrees-to-around-5295mln-recommended-cash-takeover-offer-204599.html
<![CDATA[News - Cryptocurrencies fall once again as Ethereum founder warns days of explosive growth are over ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204554/cryptocurrencies-fall-once-again-as-ethereum-founder-warns-days-of-explosive-growth-are-over-204554.html The cryptocurrency bear market sank to fresh lows on Monday amid a sharp sell-off in Ether, Bitcoin’s biggest rival, and US regulators suspending trading in two securities linked to digital assets.

Ether, the second-largest virtual currency, fell 10% from its level at 5 pm New York time on Friday, according to Bloomberg data.

Bitcoin lost 2.6%, while the market capitalisation of digital assets tracked by CoinMarketCap.com shrank to just below US$200bn. In January, it peaked at US$240bn.

The value of cryptocurrencies has fallen in five of the past six weeks amid concern that a wider adoption of digital assets will take longer than some had expected.

News over the weekend that US regulators temporarily suspended trading in two exchange-traded notes linked to cryptocurrencies didn’t help.

Ether has come under extra pressure after its co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, told Bloomberg that the industry is unlikely to enjoy the kind of growth it saw towards the end of 2017 ever again.

Bitcoin rallied back above US$6,300 in afternoon trading in London though.

That was after New York state’s Department of Financial Services approved Gemini Trust Company's and Paxos Trust Company's dollar-linked digital currencies, the first stable coins to get the nod from the regulator.

--Updates for New York DoFS decision--

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Mon, 10 Sep 2018 15:20:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204554/cryptocurrencies-fall-once-again-as-ethereum-founder-warns-days-of-explosive-growth-are-over-204554.html
<![CDATA[News - English whisky maker Lakes Distillery plans to raise £15mln in London flotation ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204456/english-whisky-maker-lakes-distillery-plans-to-raise-15mln-in-london-flotation-204456.html English whisky maker, Lakes Distillery, is planning to raise £15mln in a London stock market flotation.

The distillery, which sold the world's most expensive bottle of English whisky at an auction in July, has appointed N+1 Singer as its advisor and broker for the initial public offering. It is looking to list on London’s junior market AIM by way of a placing with institutional shareholders.

READ: Online beauty retailer The Hut Group touted as next to join growing list of IPOs

At the auction in July, the company’s first bottle of Lakes Genesis single malt produced at its distillery near Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District National Park was sold for £7,900.

The Lakes Distillery, which was formed in 2011 and started operations in 2014, also has a portfolio of blended whiskies including The One and Steel Bonnets as well as a range of spirits including The Lakes Gin and Vodka.

The company generated a turnover of £4.3mln last year, up from £3mln in 2016.

While it did not provide a market valuation in its IPO announcement, a recent £1.6mln fundraising on Crowdcube implied a valuation of £44.4mln.

Chief executive Nigel Mills said the proceeds from the flotation will support its plans to ramp up production, boost sales and invest in stock.

“Ultimately this will help us to achieve our ambition to build a global luxury whisky brand,” he said.

The news marks the latest in a string of companies announcing IPO plans such as Aston Martin and the Funding Circle.

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Fri, 07 Sep 2018 15:37:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204456/english-whisky-maker-lakes-distillery-plans-to-raise-15mln-in-london-flotation-204456.html
<![CDATA[News - Waterstones snaps up Foyles as book retailer tries to fend off Amazon and co ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204451/waterstones-snaps-up-foyles-as-book-retailer-tries-to-fend-off-amazon-and-co-204451.html UK book shop Waterstones is buying the 115-year-old family-owned chain Foyles as it looks to halt Amazon’s rampant rise in the book retail industry.

Waterstones, which itself was acquired by activist investment fund Elliot Advisors earlier this year, said the addition will help to “champion” high street book stores, which have been losing sales to online players in recent years.

Terms of deal not disclosed​

The enlarged chain will have 283 shops across the UK and northern Europe.

Foyles was run for more than 50 years by the famously eccentric Christina Foyle before she handed it down to her nephew, Christopher Foyle.

Speaking about the sale, he said: “I look forward to witnessing the exciting times ahead for the company founded by my grandfather and his brother 115 years ago.”

Like most of its bricks-and-mortar peers, Foyles has struggled to turn a profit of late. While sales crept higher last year, the company still reported a loss of almost £90,000.

Waterstones chief executive James Daunt, under whose watch the company has returned to profit, said the acquisition would leave the business “stronger and better positioned to protect and champion the pleasures of real bookshops in the face of Amazon's siren call”.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, although it is expected to close before the end of the year.

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Fri, 07 Sep 2018 14:46:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204451/waterstones-snaps-up-foyles-as-book-retailer-tries-to-fend-off-amazon-and-co-204451.html
<![CDATA[Media files - Battery metals projects continue to enjoy strong investor support ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10401/battery-metals-projects-continue-to-enjoy-strong-investor-support-10401.html Fri, 07 Sep 2018 14:10:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10401/battery-metals-projects-continue-to-enjoy-strong-investor-support-10401.html <![CDATA[News - Bob Diamond cautiously optimistic about Atlas Mara after bad debts boost ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204219/bob-diamond-cautiously-optimistic-about-atlas-mara-after-bad-debts-boost-204219.html Atlas Mara PLC (LON:ATL), the African bank founded by former Barclays boss Bob Diamond, got a first half boost from its stake in Union Bank of Nigeria.

Profits rose to US$28.6mln (US$11.5mln), with the contribution from UBN accounting for most of the increase.

Cautiously optimistic about the future​

Atlas Mara now owns close to 49% of the Nigerian bank, with a substantial reduction in its bad debts lifting UBN’s contribution to US$17.4mln.

Elsewhere, appetite for loans in other African countries was subdued with the loan book declining to US$1.28bn and total income down 8.1% with some margin pressure.

Diamond, chairman, said he was cautiously optimistic about the future even so and it had maintained a largely stable balance sheet over the first half of the year while weathering substantial macroeconomic challenges in some key markets.  

Atlas appointed John Staley as chief executive in May.

Diamond set up Atlas Mara in 2013 and at that time UBN was its largest investment.

In June, it upped its holding further after a US$200mln fund raise and subscription by Fairfax Africa.

Diamond established Atlas Mara following his resignation as chief executive at Barclays following the scandal over the bank’s manipulation of Libor interest rates in 2012.

Barclays was fined £59.5mln by the Financial Services Authority for rigging Libor and Euribor rates.

In May last year, Diamond was part of a group that took control of old-school London stockbroker Panmure Gordon.

Shares rose 2% to US$2.40.

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Wed, 05 Sep 2018 09:11:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204219/bob-diamond-cautiously-optimistic-about-atlas-mara-after-bad-debts-boost-204219.html
<![CDATA[News - Terry Smith-backed new investment trust will invest in small and medium-caps ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204123/terry-smith-backed-new-investment-trust-will-invest-in-small-and-medium-caps-204123.html New investment trusts don’t come along that often but a new one – Smithson Investment Trust PLC – is warming up on the sidelines.

The trust intends to raise up to £250mln via a placing, an offer for subscription and an intermediaries offer as it seeks a listing on the London stock exchange.

New fund from Fundsmith focused on small and mid cap companies - Smithson. Read the full announcement here https://t.co/oSNOGpuleH and https://t.co/Ow2BqNp0yg

— Fundsmith (@FundsmithLLP) September 4, 2018

Interestingly, there will be no fees associated with the launch, “meaning that for every £10 invested in the issue shareholders will receive £10 of value on day one of trading,” the company said.

Focus on small and medium-sized companies

Smithson's investments will primarily invest in global companies with a market capitalisation of between £500mln and £15bn (with an average of £7bn).

The company's investment manager will be Fundsmith LLP, a fund management company established in 2010 by former Tullett Prebon chief executive, Terry Smith, which currently manages more than £18bn.

Fundsmith said it will charge a 0.9% annual management fee based on Smithson's market capitalisation, rather than the more common pricing method of linking the fee to net asset value.

The Smithson investment management team will be led by Simon Barnard as an investment manager and Will Morgan as assistant investment manager while Terry Smith, in his capacity as chief investment officer of Fundsmith, will also provide advice and support.

In its stock market announcement, Smithson said its focus will be on small and medium-sized companies, which have been shown to outperform large companies; they also have fewer research analysts covering them, so the opportunities to uncover neglected bargains are greater.

“Fundsmith's analysis shows that small and mid-cap companies tend to have higher expected returns but also higher expected risk, defined as price volatility, when compared to larger companies; however, adding a small and mid-cap portfolio to a large-cap portfolio can raise expected returns without increasing risk, due to the different risk and return characteristics that small and mid-cap companies provide,” the statement said.

Smith said he would be investing £25mln in Smithson at launch, while other Fundsmith partners and employees would collectively be lobbing in an additional £5mln.

Simon Barnard, the investment manager of Smithson Investment Trust, said he, along with other members of the team, will be investing significantly in the fund at launch.

"Over the last year, the Smithson team has identified and researched an investable universe of 83 compelling companies, from which we will select 25 to 40 portfolio companies at launch, that we believe can compound in value over many years, if not decades,” Barnard said.

A good time to set up a small and medium-cap focused fund

Laura Suter, a personal finance analyst at wealth management firm AJ Bell, said Terry Smith is “perennially popular with investors”.

“His no-nonsense approach and buy-and-hold strategy with a concentrated portfolio of stocks has attracted investors in their hoards, with the flagship fund reaching £17bn since its launch in 2010.

“He has also handed investors impressive returns, delivering 19.7% a year annualised return since that fund was launched eight years ago, compared to 12.8% from the MSCI World index,” she noted.

“However, the Fundsmith Emerging Equities Trust, launched more recently in 2014, has not performed as well, significantly underperforming the market: it has returned 28.8% since inception compared to 47.6% from the MSCI Emerging and Frontier Markets index,” she added.

“Despite this underperformance investors continue to buy, with the trust consistently trading on a premium. Investors in the new trust should be aware of this, as demand could well be high, driving the trust to a premium, and they should ensure they don’t overpay for the new fund,” she cautioned.

On the plus side, she said the market conditions could be right for an investment trust of this sort.

“The market rally in the past couple of years has been narrow and focused around a few sectors, which potentially creates an opportunity to gain access to high-quality small and medium sized companies at attractive prices,” she suggested.

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Tue, 04 Sep 2018 10:14:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204123/terry-smith-backed-new-investment-trust-will-invest-in-small-and-medium-caps-204123.html
<![CDATA[News - Online beauty retailer The Hut Group touted as next to join growing list of IPOs ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204069/online-beauty-retailer-the-hut-group-touted-as-next-to-join-growing-list-of-ipos-204069.html Online beauty retailer The Hut Group (THG) could be the next company to float following reports that it has turned down a string of takeover offers that value it at almost £4bn.

THG is one of Britain’s fastest growing technology companies, having recently purchased spa brand ESPA and subscription service Glossybox. It also owns brands such as Mio Skincare, Grow Gorgeous and Lookfantastic.com.

On Monday, the group announced that it would add skincare products maker Acheson & Acheson to its portfolio as it seeks to bring production in-house.

THG did not disclose the value of the acquisition but Sky News reported on Sunday that the deal would be worth about £50mln to £100mln.

The news comes amid rumours that the company has rejected investment and takeover offers, fuelling speculation that it could eventually launch an initial public offering (IPO).

Aston Martin and Funding Circle IPOs

IPO activity has picked up pace recently with the likes of Aston Martin and the Funding Circle announcing plans to float on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Luxury car maker Aston Martin said last week that it would list in London later this year. It is expected to fetch a valuation of between £4bn to £5bn, which would put it at the top end of the FTSE 250.

READ: Aston Martin gears up for £5bn London IPO as it unveils record half-year profits

The Funding Circle, which offers loans to small businesses in the UK, the US, Germany and the Netherlands, on Monday revealed plans to raise £300mln by listing in London. The peer-to-peer lender is expected to be valued at up to £2bn.  

Monzo eyes London float 

Online bank Monzo, whose bright orange debit cards and smartphone app have grown in popularity among millennials, is also eyeing an IPO. Tom Blomfield, founder and chief executive, has previously told the Daily Telegraph that it could float on the LSE in as little as two to seven years.

READ: Monzo said to be planning £20mln crowdfunding as it eyes unicorn status

Monzo is understood to be planning to raise £20mln from customers through an equity crowdfunding round. 

The company, which has raised £4mln from crowdfunding investors to date, is also seeking to raise about US$150mln of funding from investors. 

That fundraising is expected to value the bank at up to US$1.5bn, giving it the so-called “unicorn” status alongside privately-held technology companies such as Deliveroo and Skyscanner valued at US$1bn or more.

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Mon, 03 Sep 2018 13:32:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/204069/online-beauty-retailer-the-hut-group-touted-as-next-to-join-growing-list-of-ipos-204069.html
<![CDATA[Media files - Positive outlook for global trade bodes well for miners ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10299/positive-outlook-for-global-trade-bodes-well-for-miners-10299.html Fri, 31 Aug 2018 11:51:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10299/positive-outlook-for-global-trade-bodes-well-for-miners-10299.html <![CDATA[News - UK DIY retailer Homebase saved from collapse as creditors back rescue deal ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203949/uk-diy-retailer-homebase-saved-from-collapse-as-creditors-back-rescue-deal-203949.html Homebase’s creditors have approved the struggling DIY retailer’s rescue deal that will see 42 stores close and rents slashed on the remaining sites.

Owner Hilco Capital wanted the people it owes money to – usually landlords, suppliers and the taxman – to agree to the company voluntary agreement (CVA) as it believed it would help to turn the business around and restore profitability.

READ: Homebase to shut 42 stores, with restructuring group Hilco expected to confirm CVA plans

Some landlords had reportedly been planning to vote against the CVA, claiming it treated them too unfairly. Had that been the case, Homebase said it would “very likely” have been forced into administration.

Private equity firm Hilco, which bought Homebase for £1 in June from Australian firm Wesfarmers, can now to implement a three-year turnaround plan to revive the ailing chain.

Wesfarmers bought Homebase in 2016 for £340mln and planned to rebrand the chain with its Bunnings brand.

However, the Australian company struggled to turn the business around and admitted to making a number of "self-induced" blunders.

Homebase, which has about 250 stores and 11,500 staff, plans to bring back popular brands and concessions such as Laura Ashley and Habitat, BBC News said.

READ: CVAs explained: What is a company voluntary arrangement?

Hilco has revived the fortunes of other retailers and is best known for rescuing music chain HMV from administration in 2013, although it also tried to rescue department stores firm Allders and Allied Carpets, both of which later went into administration.

There has been growing anger among landlords about CVAs, which have been used to rescue struggling retail businesses such as in recent months, including Carpetright PLC (LON:CPR), Mothercare (LON:MTC) and New Look.

--Updates for result of vote--

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Fri, 31 Aug 2018 07:38:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203949/uk-diy-retailer-homebase-saved-from-collapse-as-creditors-back-rescue-deal-203949.html
<![CDATA[News - Wonga appoints administrators as payday loans firm collapses, having stopped accepting new loans ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203888/wonga-appoints-administrators-as-payday-loans-firm-collapses-having-stopped-accepting-new-loans-203888.html Payday lender Wonga entered into administration late on Thursday, having earlier that day stopped accepting new loans in the wake of reports that it is on the brink of collapse.

Sky News reported on Sunday that the company had filed for administration with professional services firm Grant Thornton after receiving a slew of customer compensation claims amid a government crackdown on payday lenders.

In a statement on Thursday, Wonga said: "While it continues to assess its options Wonga has decided to stop taking loan applications. If you are an existing customer you can continue to use our services to manage your loan."

Tighter rules

Wonga was ordered to pay £2.6mln to compensate 45,000 customers in 2014 when the Financial Conduct Authority accused the company of unfair debt collection practices. The rules on payday loans companies since then have tightened.

The government clampdown dented Wonga’s earnings as it was forced to overhaul its procedures to meet the new rules. In 2016, the company posted pre-tax losses of nearly £65mln.

Wonga has continued to face legacy complaints, leading the company to seek a bailout by its backers this month.

In a statement on its website, confirming Wonga had entered administration under Grant Thornton, finance industry watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, said it would continue to supervise the firm and seek fair treatment for customers.

But it added: “Customers should continue to make any outstanding payments in the normal way. All existing agreements remain in place and will not be affected by the proposed administration.”

Wonga's collapse leaves an estimated 200,000 customers still owing more than £400mln in short-term loans, with the administrators expected to sell Wonga’s loan book to another lending firm.

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Thu, 30 Aug 2018 12:44:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203888/wonga-appoints-administrators-as-payday-loans-firm-collapses-having-stopped-accepting-new-loans-203888.html
<![CDATA[News - Could demand from retail investors drive Aston Martin onto the FTSE 100? ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203783/could-demand-from-retail-investors-drive-aston-martin-onto-the-ftse-100-203783.html Aston Martin’s expected popularity among retail investors could help drive the luxury carmaker onto the FTSE 100, according to analysts.

The company, best known for making James Bond’s motors, revealed on Wednesday that it plans to list in London later this year, having returned to profitability under chief executive Andy Palmer.

READ: Aston Martin gears up for London IPO

“Aston Martin could be valued at between £4 to £5bn, which would put it at the top end of the FTSE 250 ahead of companies like Travis Perkins and William Hill, and nipping at the heels of FTSE 100 stalwarts like M&S and Royal Mail,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Laith Khalaf.

That’s when it first lists, though. AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould reckons the brand’s popularity could make it a must have for swathes of retail investors, especially if the numbers continue to hold up.

“A very strong brand, a return to profitability and clear momentum with new product innovation would suggest it could command a premium stock market valuation once it joins the market,” said Mould.

Assuming it is valued at £5bn once it joins the London Stock Exchange, that would place it at number 93 on the FTSE 100, ahead of companies such as Royal Mail PLC (LON:RMG) and Direct Line Insurance Group PLC (LON:DLI).

“One would expect the IPO to be very successful and the shares to be in demand from the general public, potentially pushing up its valuation soon after listing and almost certainly securing it a place in the blue-chip index at the next quarterly reshuffle,” Mould adds.

Money talks though

He does caution that it won’t all be plain-sailing for Aston Martin, given that it has gone bankrupt seven times and only returned to profitability in 2017 after racking up years of losses.

That could weigh on investor sentiment and dampen demand, preventing the stock from earning its place on the FTSE 100, unless management can demonstrate that the past year is more than a one-off.

“The brand strength is unquestionable but at the end of the day some investors will only want to get involved if the business can sell more units than it did in the previous year and at a higher price, and continue this trend ad infinitum.”

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Wed, 29 Aug 2018 10:45:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203783/could-demand-from-retail-investors-drive-aston-martin-onto-the-ftse-100-203783.html
<![CDATA[Media files - CRYPTALGO to offer institutions secure, quality access to global crypto exchanges ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10264/cryptalgo-to-offer-institutions-secure-quality-access-to-global-crypto-exchanges-10264.html Wed, 29 Aug 2018 08:39:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10264/cryptalgo-to-offer-institutions-secure-quality-access-to-global-crypto-exchanges-10264.html <![CDATA[News - Aston Martin gears up for £5bn London IPO as it unveils record half-year profits ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203766/aston-martin-gears-up-for-5bn-london-ipo-as-it-unveils-record-half-year-profits-203766.html Aston Martin is gearing up to float on the London Stock Exchange later this year after the luxury British sports car maker reported a record set of half-year results.

The maker of James Bond’s cars saw sales rise 14% in the first six months of 2018 to £444.9mln, buoyed by strong demand for its special edition Vanquish Zagato range and growing interest in Asia.

That helped pre-tax profits to creep up to £20.8mln from £20.1mln this time last year.

Turnaround plan

It marks quite a turnaround for the business under chief executive Andy Palmer and his ‘Second Century Plan’.

Last year, Aston Martin turned its first annual profit since 2010, with pre-tax profits coming in at £87mln, reversing the £163mln loss from 2016.

Palmer has been positioning the company for a stock market float since he arrived from Nissan back in 2014 and, with Aston back in the black, it seems he will now finally get his way.

Reports suggest at least 25% of the shares will be floated as part of the initial public offering (IPO), which is expected to value the group at around £5bn.

Aston’s current backers, Italian group Invest Industrial and the Kuwaiti investment fund Investment Dar, will sell down some shares, while Mercedes Benz-owner Daimler, which owns 5% Aston and has a technology sharing agreement with the company, will remain a shareholder.

'Key milestone'

"Today's announcement represents a key milestone in the history of the company, which is reporting strong financial results and increased global demand for its award-winning sports cars,” said Palmer.

“Since launching the Second Century Plan in 2015, Aston Martin Lagonda has been transformed into a luxury business focused on creating the world's most beautiful high-performance cars.”

He added: “This transformation has delivered significant growth in revenues, unit volumes and profitability.”

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Wed, 29 Aug 2018 08:15:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203766/aston-martin-gears-up-for-5bn-london-ipo-as-it-unveils-record-half-year-profits-203766.html
<![CDATA[Media files - Sell off in Echo Energy Plc shares is overdone - Malcolm Graham-Wood ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10257/sell-off-in-echo-energy-plc-shares-is-overdone-malcolm-graham-wood-10257.html Tue, 28 Aug 2018 16:07:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10257/sell-off-in-echo-energy-plc-shares-is-overdone-malcolm-graham-wood-10257.html <![CDATA[News - IG Design to buy Impact Innovations for £56.5mln, announces £50mln share placing ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203679/ig-design-to-buy-impact-innovations-for-565mln-announces-50mln-share-placing-203679.html IG Design Group PLC (LON:IGR) has agreed to buy US gift packaging firm Impact Innovations for £56.5mln on a cash and debt free basis.

The company, which makes celebration, gifting and stationery products, also said it has raised £50mln through a share placing to help fund the acquisition. The placing price of 510p represents a discount of 0.06% to the volume weighted average price of 510.3p for the five days to August 24.

Placing significantly oversubscribed

IG Design said the placing was significantly oversubscribed with strong support from new and existing institutional shareholders.

Some £31.9mln of the proceeds will be used for the acquisition of Impact Innovations, which is expected to be completed around August 31 after the first tranche of placing shares are admitted to trading on AIM.

In the year to 31 December 2017, Impact Innovations generated underlying earnings (EBITDA) of US$15mln on revenues of US$155.9mln.

IG Design said it believes the deal will create the world’s largest consumer gift packaging business and deliver significant earnings accretion in each of the next three financial years.

It also expects the acquisition to bring annual synergies of more than US$5mln by the third year following completion.  

The deal will allow IG Design to expand in the seasonal décor product category in the US, the company added.

"The combination of Impact Innovations with Design Group not only doubles the scale of our business in the Americas, it further enhances the overall performance and growth potential of our whole Group whilst continuing to illustrate our delivery of the group's stated strategy," said Paul Fineman, chief executive of IG Design.

IG Design said trading in the year to date has been “strong” and maintained its full year guidance.

Shares gained 4.5% to 547p in morning trading. 

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Tue, 28 Aug 2018 08:31:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203679/ig-design-to-buy-impact-innovations-for-565mln-announces-50mln-share-placing-203679.html
<![CDATA[News - Wonga lines up administrator as compensation claims soar ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203681/wonga-lines-up-administrator-as-compensation-claims-soar-203681.html Payday lender Wonga is reportedly on the brink of collapse following a surge in mis-selling compensation claims.

Claims management companies are said to be targeting payday lenders such as Wonga in the run-up to the deadline for payment protection insurance (PPI) claims in 2019.

Grant Thornton has been lined up as an administrator according to Sky News, which added the lender was considering either a pre-pack administration or a sale of assets such as its Polish subsidiary to shore up its finances.

Talks have already been held with the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK financial regulator, over its situation.

In a statement, the lender said: "Wonga recently raised £10mln from existing shareholders to address the significant increase in legacy loan complaints seen across the UK short-term credit industry.

"Since then, the number of complaints related to UK loans taken out before the current management team joined in 2014 has accelerated further, driven by claims management company activity.

"Against this claims backdrop, the Wonga board continues to assess all options regarding the future of the group and all of its entities."

Wonga was fined £2.6mln in 2014 for the way it collected debts, a ruling which sparked a wave of comensation claims.

A cap on interest charges and and limits to how much borrowers could be charged for default were also introduced. 

The company posted losses of £65mln in 2016.

Wonga received a £10mln cash injection from its backers at the start of the month.

 

 

Despite a recent £10m lifeline from investors to keep Wonga afloat, Grant Thornton is understood to be waiting in the wings if it does collapse into administration.

 

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Tue, 28 Aug 2018 08:20:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203681/wonga-lines-up-administrator-as-compensation-claims-soar-203681.html
<![CDATA[Media files - Gold to continue to weaken in the run up to Christmas - Alastair Ford ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10238/gold-to-continue-to-weaken-in-the-run-up-to-christmas-alastair-ford-10238.html Fri, 24 Aug 2018 11:35:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10238/gold-to-continue-to-weaken-in-the-run-up-to-christmas-alastair-ford-10238.html <![CDATA[Media files - Titanium demand to grow 6% in 2018 as applications set to expand ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10237/titanium-demand-to-grow-6-in-2018-as-applications-set-to-expand-10237.html Fri, 24 Aug 2018 11:00:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10237/titanium-demand-to-grow-6-in-2018-as-applications-set-to-expand-10237.html <![CDATA[News - Property developer Henry Boot brushes off Brexit as first-half profits soar ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203549/property-developer-henry-boot-brushes-off-brexit-as-first-half-profits-soar-203549.html Property developer Henry Boot PLC (LON:BOOT) has hinted it could look at upgrading its guidance if the momentum built up in the first half of this year continues.

A particularly strong performance from its Hallam Land Management division, which buys up plots of land, gets planning permission and then either sells or develops them, helped pre-tax profits climb 16% to £26.2mln in the six months to June 30.

Its northern housebuilding arm Stonebridge Homes also enjoyed a solid first half. The increased profitability helped Henry Boot to slash its net debt to £26.0mln from £62.2mln a year earlier. The Sheffield-based company also hiked its dividend by 14% to 3.2p (H1 17: 2.8p).

“We are very pleased to report another impressive performance in the first half of 2018, achieving improved profit, earnings per share, net asset value and dividends, while significantly reducing debt, compared to a year ago,” said chief executive John Sutcliffe.

Optimism over outlook

“So long as market conditions remain stable as we transit through the political and economic uncertainties, we look to the future with confidence.”

Sutcliffe added that the second half has “started well”, while he seemed to hint that guidance for 2019 could be revised further down the line.

“Given the level of forward contracted business, the board is confident in meeting its expectations for the full year and those for 2019 which, at this early stage, remain unchanged.”

Shares opened flat at 269p.

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Fri, 24 Aug 2018 08:19:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203549/property-developer-henry-boot-brushes-off-brexit-as-first-half-profits-soar-203549.html
<![CDATA[News - Monzo said to be planning £20mln crowdfunding as it eyes unicorn status ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203474/monzo-said-to-be-planning-20mln-crowdfunding-as-it-eyes-unicorn-status-203474.html Monzo is reportedly planning to raise £20mln from customers through an equity crowdfunding round ahead of a traditional fundraising that would value the online bank at more than US$1bn.

The London-based bank, whose bright orange debit cards and smartphone app have grown in popularity among millennials, is expected to turn to Exeter-based platform Crowdcube to facilitate what will be one of the UK’s largest crowdfunding round to date, according to City AM.

'Unicorn' status?

Monzo used Crowdcube for its first crowdfunding in 2016 when it raised £1mln in 96 seconds. The bank has raised about £4mln from crowdfunding investors to date.

Venture capital funds and other investors have also put in more than US£100mln into the company.

The latest crowdfunding round comes as Monzo seeks to raise about US$150mln of funding from investors, including Silicon Valley’s Accel Partners, which was an early investor in Wonga.

That fundraising is expected to value Monzo at up to US$1.5bn, giving the bank so-called “unicorn” status alongside privately held technology companies such as Deliveroo and Skyscanner valued at US$1bn or more. The valuation is about four times the £280mln value placed on the bank when it last raised money in November 2017.

Monzo is among a growing number of financial technology companies that are considered a threat to traditional retail banks that have been late to bringing their online banking up to speed.  

Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY), Barclays PLC (LON:BARC), Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:HSBC) have been playing catch up by ploughing money into their digital services to prevent customers from leaving to online-only banks like Monzo. 

Whereas most banking apps take up to three days to show how much customers have spent on their cards, Monzo's smartphone app shows purchases instantly. The app gives users a breakdown of spending over the month. Monzo also offers interest-free overseas purchases and free overseas withdrawals of up to £200 per month. 

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Thu, 23 Aug 2018 11:36:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203474/monzo-said-to-be-planning-20mln-crowdfunding-as-it-eyes-unicorn-status-203474.html
<![CDATA[News - Superdrug hit by data breach as hackers access accounts of 20,000 online customers ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203369/superdrug-hit-by-data-breach-as-hackers-access-accounts-of-20000-online-customers-203369.html Superdrug has warned its online customers to change their passwords after the company was contacted by hackers claiming to have accessed thousands of accounts.

The health and beauty retailer said the attackers claimed to have stolen the details of 20,000 customers although it had only seen evidence that 386 customers had been affected.

Among the stolen information were names, addresses, date of birth and phone numbers, but Superdrug stressed no credit card details had been accessed.

The chain believes there is “no evidence” to suggest its systems it had been hacked, claiming the criminals had got email addresses and passwords from other sites and used them to log into their Superdrug accounts.

After trying to prove that it had access to the accounts, the hacking group allegedly tried to extort a ransom.

pic.twitter.com/Vq3133VZtG

— Superdrug (@superdrug) August 21, 2018

In a statement posted on social media late Tuesday night, the company said: “We are very sorry for the inconvenience and concern this has caused.”

“We take our responsibility to protect your personal information very seriously and that is why we have let our customers know as soon as we could.”

It added: “We have contacted the Police and Action Fraud (the UK’s national fraud and cyber-crime arm) and will be offering them all the information their need for their investigation.”

Superdrug is by no means the first big company to have customer account details hacked. Earlier this summer, Dixons Carphone Plc (LON:DC.) revealed that a 2017 cyber attack resulted in the details of 10mln customers being compromised.

Talktalk Telecom Group PLC (LON:TALK) and Equifax Inc (NYSE:EFX) have also reported massive data breaches in recent years.

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Wed, 22 Aug 2018 08:10:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203369/superdrug-hit-by-data-breach-as-hackers-access-accounts-of-20000-online-customers-203369.html
<![CDATA[Media files - US President Trump takes aim at Federal Reserve for rates hike ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10191/us-president-trump-takes-aim-at-federal-reserve-for-rates-hike-10191.html Tue, 21 Aug 2018 16:10:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10191/us-president-trump-takes-aim-at-federal-reserve-for-rates-hike-10191.html <![CDATA[News - Russian sanctions: Which companies are feeling the pinch? ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203298/russian-sanctions-which-companies-are-feeling-the-pinch-203298.html On Wednesday, August 8, the United States announced that it would be imposing fresh sanctions on Russia as a response to its use of the novichok nerve agent in the attempted murder of former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia in the UK.

The new sanctions, expected to come into force on 22 August, join a list of other restrictions imposed on Russia by the US since 2014 following its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

Yet with all this geopolitical upheaval between two global powers, the market reaction seems to be relatively subdued.

This may be a result of the ‘business as usual” mentality that sees the sanctions as a continuation of the restrictions from 2014; however, there are other economic and political factors in play that could also be allowing the market to shrug off what might otherwise be viewed as ominous news.

Energy, Money, and Oligarchs

Before the latest censure, the 2014 sanctions mostly targeted top Russian energy companies and the inner circle of President Vladimir Putin, with state-owned oil & gas giants Rosneft and Gazprom in the crosshairs alongside financial behemoths Sberbank and VTB Group.

Individuals targeted by the sanctions, which include travel restrictions and asset freezes, included Russian billionaires such as Oleg Deripaska, an aluminium magnate, and Viktor Vekselberg, owner of Russian conglomerate Renova Group.

Deripaska also suffered in his capacity as chief executive of Rusal, the second largest aluminium company in the world, which was limited in its access to the US$140bn global aluminium market in a round of sanctions imposed in April.

Putin’s political allies, including former chief of staff Sergei Ivanov and former deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, were also censured through the Specially Designated Nationals list, a record of people, organisations, and vessels with whom US citizens and residents are prohibited from doing business.

The sanctions announced this month are of a different hue altogether to what went before as they target exports to Russia of sensitive technology such as gas turbine engines, electronics, integrated circuits and calibration equipment used in avionics.  

What could the retaliation be?

While the Russians are unlikely to take this latest round of sanctions lying down, there may be restrictions on what form the response could realistically take.

“I don’t really see a round of counter-sanctions as being likely to be implemented by Russia,” said James Nixey, Head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House.

“What I do think is that it will further entrench the gulf between us … the Russian/Western fallout, particularly in regard to the US.”

However, he adds that the Russians may wish to maintain reasonable relations with the US as the country is fast running out of friends. “On the one hand they’ll want to tackle America, but on the other hand they won’t want to alienate their ally in Trump … they [the Russians], will hope that Trump can do something to ameliorate the situation to Russia’s advantage,” Nixey added.

It’s a similar story regarding the economic impact, with the Russia expert saying there could be a “shadow effect” beyond businesses that are already invested in the local market.

“It’s not just about the companies that are already [there] and exposed, it’s the ones who are thinking about going in and are definitely not going to now,” Nixey said. This will inevitably have an impact of foreign direct investment, the lifeblood of a truly international economy.

Feeling the Pinch

Post-communism, Russia’s economic transformation has been funded by its vast oil and gas resources, which initially at least was bankrolled by Western capitalism.

In fact, many of the high rollers of the industry remain heavily invested in the country – and by extension are probably still feeling the pinch from the last sanctions round.

BP PLC (LON:BP.), for example, currently owns around 20% of Russian natural resources giant Rosneft, worth around £11bn, so is particularly susceptible to issues related to Russian oil exports.

Another FTSE 100 oiler, Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSA), is also affected. It holds a 27.5% interest in the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, as well as a 50% stake in the Salym fields project in Western Siberia, where it was forced to suspend oil exploration activities following EU and US sanctions in 2014.

The other key industry with exposure to Russia is the mining sector, with metals accounting for around 10% of exports.

However, according to Paul Renken, senior geologist and mining analyst at VSA Capital, it is not the trade restrictions or the sanctions that cause the most worry in the metals markets, but rather the volatility of the Russian rouble against the US dollar when they are implemented.

The concern around the currency is well founded, with the rouble having fallen 5% against the dollar since the prospect of further censure was raised earlier this month, and 45% since the first round of US sanctions were introduced four years ago.

A key example of this is FTSE 250 miner Polymetal International PLC (LON:POLY), who said in its results on 21 August that the Dollar/Rouble exchange rate has a “significant effect” on the operating costs of its projects, which are located in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Armenia.

Away from the natural resources sector, another UK firm feeling the squeeze will be exhibitions and conference organiser ITE Group PLC (LON:ITE), which has a 20% share of the Russian exhibition market.

In recent months, ITE seems to be trying to reduce its reliance on the Russian market through the acquisition of non-Russian focused marketing businesses such as Ascential Events which it purchased in July from FTSE 250 media group Ascential PLC (LON:ASCL) for £300mln.

How are investors and companies responding?

According to some analysts, the sanctions will be received with fairly little reaction in certain sectors, mainly due to the much longer-term perspective of their investments.

Simon Gardner-Bond, mining analyst at City broker Peel Hunt, says that while investors may be reluctant to put more money into Russian mining projects at the moment, companies with established interests won’t be considering the sanctions as a long-term issue.

Gardner-Bond says that most mining projects are often long processes, with many developments taking years before reaching production, so to some companies, the sanctions will be seen more as a temporary blip in a much longer process.

However, he says a more indirect consequence of the sanctions is not diverting investment from Russia but rather a knock-on effect on investment across the entire sector due to the volatility in commodity prices.

The only UK-listed companies that may suffer from the sanctions, Gardner-Bond says, are those with assets located solely in Russia or its sphere of influence, such as KAZ Minerals PLC (LON:KAZ) which operates in Kazakhstan, and Petropavlovsk PLC (LON:POG), a gold mining company with operations in the far east of the country.

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018 11:41:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203298/russian-sanctions-which-companies-are-feeling-the-pinch-203298.html
<![CDATA[News - Charter Court kicks off dividend payments as buy-to let market remains buoyant ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203284/charter-court-kicks-off-dividend-payments-as-buy-to-let-market-remains-buoyant-203284.html Specialist buy-to-let lender Charter Court Financial Services PLC (LON:CCFS) posted bumper interim profits and upped its full-year expectations as the professional lettings market remains strong.

Demand from landlords remains healthy said the challenger bank with the mortgage loan book rising by 29% to £5.7bn including a 4% rise in new mortgages to £1.36bn.

Net interest margin dropped a little to 3.08% but costs also fell as a proportion of income.

Overall, profits in the six months to June rose to £93.1mln (£59.1mln), which included a £36.4mln gain from the sale of a batch of securitised mortgages.

Dividend

The bank also announced an inaugural dividend of 2.8p and raised its future payout ratio to 25% of earnings.

Ian Lonergan, chief executive, said it had seen strong uptake of its specialist buy to let products with the quality of the loan book reflected in arrears of only 0.1%.

Charter raised its forecast for originations to £2.7bn for the full year from £2.5bn previously with the net interest income to remain above 3%.

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Tue, 21 Aug 2018 08:13:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203284/charter-court-kicks-off-dividend-payments-as-buy-to-let-market-remains-buoyant-203284.html
<![CDATA[News - London-based luxury fashion website Farfetch plans New York flotation ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203246/london-based-luxury-fashion-website-farfetch-plans-new-york-flotation-203246.html London-based luxury fashion website Farfetch is planning to float on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company, which sells designer brands including Gucci and Burberry, said it has not decided on the number or price of the shares it plans to issue.

But it is understood the initial public offering could value the firm at up to US$5bn.

Milestone

Jose Neves, the Portuguese entrepreneur who founded the company in 2008, told the BBC in 2016 that a share flotation would be "the next financial milestone" for the company.

The group has filed a registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission but it has not yet become effective.

Fartech signed a deal with Burberry in February to sell its clothing worldwide and last year it began offering a 90-minute delivery service for Gucci products to consumers in 10 cities including New York, London, Dubai and Los Angeles.

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Mon, 20 Aug 2018 15:57:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/203246/london-based-luxury-fashion-website-farfetch-plans-new-york-flotation-203246.html
<![CDATA[News - Stock Exchange Veterans charity opens London Stock Exchange session on Thursday, August 16 ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202918/stock-exchange-veterans-charity-opens-london-stock-exchange-session-on-thursday-august-16-202918.html The Stock Exchange Veterans charity had the honour of pressing the button on the opening of the London Stock Exchange session this Thursday, August 16.

The LSE invited the charity to take part in the ceremony as it is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, having started life as an offshoot from a stock exchange football team.

With the closure of the Stock Exchange floor, it became more difficult to continue the football team and the last fixture was played against Winchmore Hill in 1995.

However, the Vets Golf Society is still well supported and the Stock Exchange Vets annual dinner is a highlight of the City calendar.

Nick Bealer, the current chair of the Stock Exchange Vets said taking part in the LSE ceremony is “a big honour and a privilege.”

In a speech delivered at the event, Bealer – known as the ‘Vicar’ in the City – told attendees: “The disappointment of the loss of our lovely cosy Club, the Floor of the Exchange, has been balanced out by the pride we have in how well the London Stock Exchange has driven us forward on the world’s trading stage.”

The charity chairman added: “As we escape, by hook or by crook, the clutches of Europe the Exchange will continue to thrive, innovate and move forward.

“The key to our success as Vets and as an Exchange is quite simple. It’s something people will notice and which will set us apart. Let Our Word Be Our Bond.”

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Wed, 15 Aug 2018 11:00:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202918/stock-exchange-veterans-charity-opens-london-stock-exchange-session-on-thursday-august-16-202918.html
<![CDATA[News - Homebase to shut 42 stores, with restructuring group Hilco expected to confirm CVA plans: media reports ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202849/homebase-to-shut-42-stores-with-restructuring-group-hilco-expected-to-confirm-cva-plans-media-reports-202849.html Homebase is set to close nearly a fifth of its 241 stores, with media reports saying restructuring group Hilco - which acquired the DIY chain for £1 in May - is expected to confirm plans for a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) on Tuesday.

Hilco, which bought the troubled chain from Australia's Wesfarmers, is expected to shut 42 stores, putting about 1,500 jobs at risk, according to the BBC News website.

READ: CVAs explained: What is a company voluntary arrangement?

A total of 17 Homebase stores have already closed this year and the business has also cut 303 jobs at its head office in Milton Keynes, it added.

Wesfarmers bought Homebase in 2016 for £340mln and planned to rebrand the chain with its Bunnings brand.

However, the Australian company struggled to turn the business around and admitted to making a number of "self-induced" blunders

Restructuring experts at Alvarez & Marsal will carry out the CVA, which will require the support of Homebase’s landlords, the BBC report said.

CVAs have been adopted by a number of retailers in recent months, including Carpetright PLC (LON:CPR) and Mothercare (LON:MTC), as high street stores group start to buckle under the weight of property costs combined with reduced footfall as online sales grow. 

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Tue, 14 Aug 2018 11:51:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202849/homebase-to-shut-42-stores-with-restructuring-group-hilco-expected-to-confirm-cva-plans-media-reports-202849.html
<![CDATA[News - Jacketpotjoy owner JPJ Group gains in Spain ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202839/jacketpotjoy-owner-jpj-group-gains-in-spain-202839.html Tighter regulation and intense competition for punters offset good revenue growth at online gaming group JPJ Group PLC (LON:JPJ) in its latest half-year.

Profits dropped at JackpotJoy, the group’s main brand, thanks to a combination of higher customer acquisition costs and point of consumption taxes. Other brands notably Botemania (online bingo) in Spain and Starpins (online casino) did better, while half-year revenues through its own platform - Vera&John and InterCasino - grew by 37%.

Underlying profits [adjusted EBITDA] dropped 4% to £56.9mln in the half year to June, while revenues rose by 10% to £161mln. Debt dropped to £362.9mln or gearing ratio of 3.41 times assets.

Once that ratio drops to 2.5 times, JPJ will look at returning cash to shareholders it said.

Neil Goulden, executive chairman, added average active customers per month rose 7% driven by growth globally especially at Botemania in Spain.

Underlying profits should grow in the second half said Goulden, following the end of a TV advertising campaigns and as last year’s rise in UK gaming taxes washes through.

The group today also sold its social gaming operation for £18.1mln.

Shares eased 3% to 985p.

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Tue, 14 Aug 2018 08:51:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202839/jacketpotjoy-owner-jpj-group-gains-in-spain-202839.html
<![CDATA[News - GBGI shares on the up after bullish trading update ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202661/gbgi-shares-on-the-up-after-bullish-trading-update-202661.html GBGI PLC shares jumped more than 7% after the provider of international benefits insurance said annual profits would likely meet its expectations.

The provider of employee benefits to multi-national corporations said in a trading update that it had seen good growth across the business in the first half of 2018 and that it expects annual earnings to be in line with expectations. 

Strong start to the third quarter​

The AIM-listed firm, which exited the Angolan market in 2017, also said it expected to incur one-off expenses of US$2.8mln during the year, including a US$2mln investment in the group's distribution channels.

"We have a strong start to the third quarter and we are confident in our business model and that we are making good progress on our 2018 initiatives,” GBGI’s CEO Bob Dubrish said in a statement.

Shares in GBGI were up 7.11% at 105.5p in early morning trade.

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Fri, 10 Aug 2018 09:27:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202661/gbgi-shares-on-the-up-after-bullish-trading-update-202661.html
<![CDATA[News - TI Fluid eyes electric vehicle opportunity as currencies put brake on sales ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202469/ti-fluid-eyes-electric-vehicle-opportunity-as-currencies-put-brake-on-sales-202469.html TI Fluid Systems PLC (LON:TIFS) shares perked up on hopes for rising orders in the burgeoning electric vehicle market.

Interim profits were 5% higher at £124mln, on flat sales of £1.77bn.

Light vehicle production key to TI's performance​

Foreign exchange movements hampered first-half sales, which rose by 4.5% on a constant currency basis and were again better than the overall light vehicle (cards and vans) market.

Originally a fuel tank specialist, TI is working with two hybrid and electric car makers on contracts worth potentially €700mln.

Light vehicle production is key to TI’s performance. Output overall 1.7% to 48.2mln vehicles in the first half of 2018 with growth everywhere bar North America.

The interim dividend was €3.02.

Shares rose 6% to 266p. TI listed in London at 255p last October.

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Wed, 08 Aug 2018 10:10:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202469/ti-fluid-eyes-electric-vehicle-opportunity-as-currencies-put-brake-on-sales-202469.html
<![CDATA[News - Jadestone Energy makes premium debut in London ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202461/jadestone-energy-makes-premium-debut-in-london-202461.html Jadestone Energy Inc (LON:JSE, CVE:JSE) got off to a premium start as its shares made its debut in London today.

The Asia-Pacific oiler, with assets in Australia, saw its shares quickly traded up to as high as 41.5p before settling just above the 36p marker.

Placing raised around US$110mln​

Jadestone also confirmed it had now closed its placing, raising some US$110mln, with the new shares sold at 35p each.

The new funds cover the cost of the Montara acquisition, supports the drilling of the Stag infill well, and the cancellation of debt.

"We are delighted by the successful completion of our admission onto AIM, following our oversubscribed placing of $110 million,” said Paul Blakeley, Jadestone chief executive.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank new and existing shareholders for their support and look forward to providing further updates as we realise our ambition to become a leading player in the Asia-Pacific region, while delivering exceptional value to shareholders."

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Wed, 08 Aug 2018 08:43:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202461/jadestone-energy-makes-premium-debut-in-london-202461.html
<![CDATA[Media files - Big oil firms disappoint despite bumper crude prices ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10061/big-oil-firms-disappoint-despite-bumper-crude-prices-10061.html Tue, 07 Aug 2018 15:57:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10061/big-oil-firms-disappoint-despite-bumper-crude-prices-10061.html <![CDATA[Media files - Verv: Using AI to create a clever new data marketplace for energy ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10058/verv-using-ai-to-create-a-clever-new-data-marketplace-for-energy-10058.html Tue, 07 Aug 2018 13:36:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10058/verv-using-ai-to-create-a-clever-new-data-marketplace-for-energy-10058.html <![CDATA[News - Veteran stock picker Mark Mobius mulling plan to launch emerging markets investment trust in London ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202265/veteran-stock-picker-mark-mobius-mulling-plan-to-launch-emerging-markets-investment-trust-in-london-202265.html The veteran emerging markets fund manager, Mark Mobius, has confirmed he is ‘exploring’ plans to launch an investment trust in London.

Mobius Capital Partners, which he co-founded along with Carlos Hardenberg and Greg Konieczny in May, said the new trust would “provide access to the firm's highly specialised active ownership strategy”.

Frontier markets

That strategy would focus on small- and mid-cap companies in emerging and frontier markets, an area that has “changed dramatically over the last 30 years”.

“At Mobius Capital Partners we believe our approach to investment must also evolve to stay relevant,” stocks guru Mobius said.

“That is why we are adopting an innovative and specialised strategy built around actively partnering with our portfolio companies.

“The recent correction across emerging and frontier markets has presented the perfect conditions to be launching MMIT, with currencies at an all-time low and company valuations looking increasingly attractive."

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Mon, 06 Aug 2018 07:45:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202265/veteran-stock-picker-mark-mobius-mulling-plan-to-launch-emerging-markets-investment-trust-in-london-202265.html
<![CDATA[Media files - Tech demand for gold continues to grow with H1 2018 reaching three-year high ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10022/tech-demand-for-gold-continues-to-grow-with-h1-2018-reaching-three-year-high-10022.html Thu, 02 Aug 2018 14:05:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10022/tech-demand-for-gold-continues-to-grow-with-h1-2018-reaching-three-year-high-10022.html <![CDATA[Media files - Can Barclays match Lloyds confidence ? ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10011/can-barclays-match-lloyds-confidence--10011.html Wed, 01 Aug 2018 16:00:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/10011/can-barclays-match-lloyds-confidence--10011.html <![CDATA[News - IMI downgraded by Liberum on valuation grounds as upside expected to shrink ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202005/imi-downgraded-by-liberum-on-valuation-grounds-as-upside-expected-to-shrink-202005.html IMI PLC (LON:IMI) has been downgraded to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ by City broker Liberum on valuation grounds after a strong set of first-half results sent shares climbing towards the firm’s target price.

Analysts at the broker said that while the FTSE 250 engineering company had seen an outstanding performance from its Critical Engineering division, which delivered organic growth of 6% in the period, they saw “lIMIted potential upside” from its Precision Engineering arm, which accounts for 60% of the group’s earnings.

READ: Morgan Stanley boosts IMI with upgrade to ‘overweight’ but blights Rotork with the reverse move

“We expect organic growth [for the Precision division] to slow from the 8% in [the first half] to 4.5% in [the second half] as comps get much tougher, and this will also be the case in [the first half of 2019]” the broker said.

“We therefore see only small upgrade potential for next year. Continued recovery in Critical would offer upside risk to our estimates, but we do not have the confidence to extrapolate one strong set of results. In addition, we also see some risk to the 4.3% organic growth consensus is forecasting for Precision next year,” they added.

Despite the downgrade, the broker left its target price for the firm unchanged at 1,275p.

In its half-year results released on Tuesday, IMI reported a 16% increase in pre-tax profits to £113mln compared to the first half of 2017, while revenues climbed 8% to £915mln and the dividend was upped 3% to 14.6p.

In mid-morning trading Wednesday, IMI shares were down 1.6% at 1,222p.

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Wed, 01 Aug 2018 10:30:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/202005/imi-downgraded-by-liberum-on-valuation-grounds-as-upside-expected-to-shrink-202005.html
<![CDATA[Media files - Trump moves to shore up US agriculture after latest tit-for-tat tariffs ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/9976/trump-moves-to-shore-up-us-agriculture-after-latest-tit-for-tat-tariffs-9976.html Fri, 27 Jul 2018 16:04:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/9976/trump-moves-to-shore-up-us-agriculture-after-latest-tit-for-tat-tariffs-9976.html <![CDATA[Media files - Facebook shares tank; Diageo soaks up strong gin sales ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/9961/facebook-shares-tank-diageo-soaks-up-strong-gin-sales-9961.html Thu, 26 Jul 2018 11:50:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/9961/facebook-shares-tank-diageo-soaks-up-strong-gin-sales-9961.html <![CDATA[Media files - Investor Paul Johnson on AIM, energy metals and the next big opportunity ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/9928/investor-paul-johnson-on-aim-energy-metals-and-the-next-big-opportunity-9928.html Mon, 23 Jul 2018 08:28:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/9928/investor-paul-johnson-on-aim-energy-metals-and-the-next-big-opportunity-9928.html <![CDATA[Media files - President Trump's criticism of Federal Reserve pushes gold higher ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/9917/president-trump-s-criticism-of-federal-reserve-pushes-gold-higher-9917.html Fri, 20 Jul 2018 10:45:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/9917/president-trump-s-criticism-of-federal-reserve-pushes-gold-higher-9917.html <![CDATA[Media files - Unilever Plc reports sales growth despite Brazil strikes ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/9902/unilever-plc-reports-sales-growth-despite-brazil-strikes-9902.html Thu, 19 Jul 2018 13:18:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/stocktube/9902/unilever-plc-reports-sales-growth-despite-brazil-strikes-9902.html <![CDATA[News - Jadestone Energy to list on AIM as it snaps up more assets off Australian coast ]]> http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/200934/jadestone-energy-to-list-on-aim-as-it-snaps-up-more-assets-off-australian-coast-200934.html Toronto Venture Exchange-listed oil group Jadestone Energy Inc is to raise US$95mln and list on AIM following a major acquisition in the Timor Sea, offshore Australia near Darwin.

The group has acquired the Montara oil project from PTT, Thailand’s state-owned oil company, for US$195mln in cash to add to its existing oilfields offshore Australia, and assets in Vietnam and the Philippines.

Montara consists of three fields that are currently producing 10.3 thousand barrels of oil (mbl) daily. The acquisition will triple Jadestone’s output to 13.9mbl/d and boost reserves to 45.3mln barrels (from 17.1mln) on a 2P basis.

A reserve-based lending facility of US$120mln will fund the deal alongside the placing.

Two existing institutional shareholders, directors and senior management will put up US$46mln of the share issue with pricing expected to be announced early August.

The acquisition is scheduled to complete in September or October.

Jadestone’s current assets are a 100% working interest in Stag, offshore Western Australia, a 100% operated working interest in three gas development blocks in Southwest Vietnam and a partnership with Total in the SC56 exploration block in the Philippines where it holds a 25% working interest.

Montara suffered a major oil spill in 2009, described as Australia’s worst, due to a wellhead blow-out.

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Tue, 17 Jul 2018 08:44:00 +0100 http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/200934/jadestone-energy-to-list-on-aim-as-it-snaps-up-more-assets-off-australian-coast-200934.html