Proactiveinvestors RSS feed en Mon, 19 Feb 2018 23:19:49 +0000 Genera CMS (Proactiveinvestors) (Proactiveinvestors) <![CDATA[News - Philip Green faces questions from MPs over reported sale of Arcadia ]]> Retail tycoon Sir Philip Green is facing questions from MPs over his reported plan to sell the Arcadia business to a Chinese textile company.

Green is said to be looking to sell Arcadia, the owner of high street brands TopShop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge, as bricks and mortar retailers come under pressure from fast-growing online rivals such as ASOS plc (LON:ASC).

Jining-based Shandong Ruyi, which controls British clothing brand Aquascutum and owns a 51% stake in Trinity Listed, has held initial talks about a proposed acquisition of Arcadia, the Sunday Times reported.

MP wants to avoid repeat of BHS scandal

But Frank Field, the Labour MPs who led the parliamentary investigation into Green’s disposal of loss-making BHS, said he is writing to Arcadia and the pensions regulator with questions about the possible sale of the business.

Field and Green have butted heads in the past over BHS. Green threatened to sue the Labour MP on multiple occasions, accusing him of running a "kangaroo court" in his search for answers about BHS.

Green washed his hands of BHS in 2015, selling the fashion and homewares chain to Dominic Chappell, formerly bankrupt with no retail experience, for £1.

A year later, BHS collapsed with the loss of 11,000 jobs and a pension deficit of as much as £571mln.

Arcadia in pension deficit 

Field wants to avoid a repeat of the BHS scandal and said he will ask for assurances that Arcadia’s pensioners won’t be affected in any sale of the business.

“The committee will be writing to try to ascertain how this might affect the pension funds because they are in deficit,” Field told The Daily Telegraph.

“There is a repayment plan in operation. What is going to be promised to the pensioners if there is a sale?”

Arcadia’s pension deficit stands at around £1bn on a buyout basis or £565mln on an ongoing basis, according to estimates published last year by MPs. 

Retail experts have estimated that a sale of Arcadia could fetch just £500mln given the potential cost of overhauling its store estate.

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 09:11:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Energean Oil to tap gas opportunity in Israel with US$500mln float ]]> A company hoping to tap gas opportunity in Israel is set to list in London in March.

Energean PLC aims to raise around US$500mln from the premium listing, money that has earmarked to develop the Karish and Tanin gas fields in Israel.

On listing, Energean and specialist oil investor Kerogen will own roughly half of the Israeli assets, but the company’s economic interest eventually can rise to 70%.

The company has been operating in the Eastern Mediterranean for over ten years, principally focusing on the Prinos Basin offshore Greece, where production was running at the equivalent of 2,800 barrels per day.

BP buys the production from Prinos, which is expected to rise to 4,864 barrels daily this year and by more further out following a US$353mln investment programme.

In October, Energean's total 2P reserves were 50 MMbbls (mln) of oil and 6.0BcF (billion cubic feet) of gas and its total 2C resources were 55.8 MMbbls of oil and 2.4 Tcf.

Secondary listing

Of that, Karish and Tanin had an estimated 2.4 Tcf of natural gas and 32.8 MMbbls of condensate and light oil (contingent 2C resources).

Energean has scheduled first gas from the Karish field for 2021, while the company said it will consider a secondary listing in Tel Aviv.

Mathios Rigas, chief executive, said: “Energean has built a strong production, development and exploration portfolio in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“The offer will provide us with a platform to secure this next phase of growth for our pipeline of attractive exploration projects."

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 08:18:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Fedr8's Green Rain: Cloud-ready solutions from complex legacy software applications ]]> Sat, 17 Feb 2018 12:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - South Africa's new leader likely to spur economic growth ]]> Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:38:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - KNEIP focused on transforming financial services to better serve investors ]]> Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:50:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Renewi shares gain as it maintains full year outlook after 'positive' second half trading ]]> Waste Management company, Renewi PLC(LON:RWI) said trading in the seasonally quieter second half has been “positive” and in line with expectations, sending its shares higher on Monday.

The group, which was spun out of a merger between Shanks Group and Van Gansewinkel Groep last year, said it was on track to deliver at least €12mln of savings for the financial year to March 31 2018.

Renewi expects total cost synergies of €40mln on the back of the merger.

Shares rose 1.65% to 98.8p in morning trade.

Trading meets expectations

The performance of its commercial division in the Netherlands and Belgium was well ahead of the prior year despite a decline in volume growth in the third quarter due to a seasonal slowdown in the construction and demolition (C&D) sector.

Renewi said margins fell as it was forced to find alternative outlets for its products due to an import ban on paper and plastic recyclates in China.

The company has increased prices since the start of 2018 to offset cost pressures on wages, insurance and waste outlets.

The hazardous waste and municipal divisions have both performed in line with expectations while the monostreams unit is trading well.

Renewi reviews onerous contracts

However, operating contracts of Wakefield and Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham (BDR) in the municipal division continue to be loss-making despite operational improvements. 

The group reviewing onerous contracts and other items, which will result in increased exceptional charges for the year.

Yet “the board remains confident that the trading outturn for the full year ending 31 March 2018 will be in line with its expectations”, Renewi said.

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 08:54:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Nationwide predicts strong end to year despite dip in third quarter mortgage lending ]]> Nationwide Building Society PLC(LON:NBS) said it expects a strong end to the year despite reporting a drop in mortgage lending in the third quarter.

Mortgage lending fell to £24.1bn in the third quarter from £26.2bn the same period a year ago amid a slowdown in the housing market. Profit fell to £886mln from £946mln last year as consumer spending and confidence weakened following the Brexit vote. The British lender said subdued economic activity and the ongoing squeeze on household incomes from rising inflation is “likely to exert a modest drag on housing market activity and house price growth”.

Low interest rates will also continue to put pressure on its margins, it added.

Nationwide expects house prices to be flat in 2018

British house prices rose modestly in January but fell in London, data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed on Thursday.

Nationwide chief executive Joe Garner said the company expects house prices to be broadly flat in 2018 with “perhaps a marginal gain” of around 1%.

“We expect competition in the mortgage market to continue and we will prioritise quality over volumes in the long-term interests of our members,” Garner said.

The group expects the economy to continue to grow but only modestly as consumer spending slows, holding back the housing market.

Nationwide has improved its capital strength in response to Brexit uncertainty and a clampdown from the Bank of England on lenders. The common equity tier 1 ratio, a measure of capital, rose to 30.5% from 25.4% on April 4.

Nationwide predicts strong fourth quarter 

Nationwide said it predicts a strong final quarter of gross lending as mortgage reservations in the third quarter were much higher than a year ago.

The group’s net interest margin, the gap between what it pays savers and what it charges borrowers, was steady at 1.33% but sees this falling this financial year and next.

The cost to income ratio increased to 59.6% from 57.6% on higher defined benefit pension costs.

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 09:16:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Lloyds Banking Group makes its debut in Proactive’s ‘Dogs of the Footsie’ portfolio ]]> Thu, 08 Feb 2018 16:13:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - Weakness in gold price after market volatility eases ]]> Thu, 08 Feb 2018 15:10:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Online takeaway site Appetise to raise £500,000+ as it looks to take on Just Eat & co. ]]> A competitor to Just Eat PLC (LON:JE.) is looking to raise upwards of £500,000 to help boost its presence in the growing and lucrative online takeaway food market.

Appetise – which is chaired by current Revolution Bars Group PLC (LON:RBG) chairman and former Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman – is raising the cash through online equity crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube.

370 restaurants and 60,000 customers already signed up

The company already has a small foothold in the industry, with 370 restaurants and more than 60,000 customers having signed up to its platform.

Its proposition is pretty straightforward: to replicate the model of Just Eat and Hungryhouse but offer more value to both ends of the chain – restaurants and customers.

Whereas Just Eat charges a hefty up-front fee and chunky commission rates to restaurants, there are no joining fees on Appetise, which also takes a lesser cut of the order.

Customers don’t have to pay any ‘service fees’ either, like the one recently introduced by FTSE 100-listed Just Eat.

Unlike UberEATS and Deliveroo, Appetise is just a marketplace to match customers and restaurants and doesn’t handle deliveries of the food orders.

“Value competitor”

“Following Just Eat’s announced acquisition of Hungryhouse, Just Eat will have a near-monopoly position as an online marketplace for takeaway restaurants,” said the firm.

“Appetise believes this will create a vacuum and an opportunity for Appetise to enter the market as a value competitor.”

The UK takeaway market is worth an estimated £6bn currently, but analysts expect that figure to jump to £8bn within a couple of years, fuelled by the rise in online ordering.

Half of all takeaway orders are still made over the phone, but that number is expected to decline over the coming years as online tightens its grip on the industry.

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 11:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Market volatility highlights gold's attractiveness as an 'effective portfolio diversifier' ]]> Tue, 06 Feb 2018 12:36:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - Crash in sentiment sees European shares tumble ]]> Tue, 06 Feb 2018 11:18:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - ‘It’s a bloodbath!’: A look at what the commentators are saying as global stocks slump ]]> Following on from Tuesday’s bloodbath over on Wall Street, the FTSE 100 fell almost 250 points at the opening bell this morning, although it has since recovered around half of those losses.

Overnight, the Dow Jones plunged more than 1,100 points, recording its worst one-day performance since 2011.

READ: FTSE 100 plunges at opening bell WATCH: 'Massive decline raises serious market structure questions'

It marked a second day of heavy losses for US equity investors amid interest rate hike fears with the current wobble sparked by wage data released on Friday.

Here, we’ve compiled snippets from various commentators’ responses to the recent falls:

‘A perfect storm’ Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets

“Whilst the roots and drivers are sure to be discussed for days, it looks to emanate from a perfect storm of reasons including, but not restricted to, a strong 2017 rally extending into January, low volatility, low interest rates, over-optimism and complacency, over-leverage and financial engineering, all coming to a head as investors react to the possibility of higher/faster interest rates rises with bond yields creeping higher to jeopardise the current market situation.”

‘No place to hide’ Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group

“There has not been a place to hide in the market today. Every sector on the FTSE 350 is seeing significant losses. Basic Resources and industrials have been amongst the worst performers with utilities down the least, acting as a relative haven. A slump in the oil price has sent shares of BP down despite some generally healthy fourth quarter results. Profit-taking is a key factor in the minds of investors. It’s clear to see in the reaction to Ocado’s earnings update that on a bad day in the market and after a big run up in the share price, investors are pulling out profits while they can.”

‘Just a sobering correction’ Jacob Deppe, head of trading at Infinox

"While the fall in global equity markets looks dramatic, it is no more dramatic than the record rises we have seen since the end of November. For that reason alone many would argue a correction was on the cards. The party may be over for now but this could be more of a sobering correction than a rout. There have been plenty of warnings over the past few weeks that equities were overvalued and that US stock markets in particular were overheating. Aside from the FTSE 100, which is populated by a large number of Dollar-denominated firms, there’s little economic reason for the contagion to spread to other European indices.”

‘Next financial crisis on the horizon?’ Jim Reid, strategist at Deutsche Bank​

“The last few days have really emphasised how easy it would be to get the next financial crisis if inflation really started to misbehave as most of this price action stems from a hint of it. [In a recent note], we said the next crisis was inevitable soon and that the most likely cause over the next 2-3 years was if what we called the great withdrawal of unconventional policy coincided with higher inflation, especially given what are still record high levels of global market debts. If higher inflation materialised then central banks would be unable to respond in the way they have done in recent years (and even decades).”

‘Heart-stopping drop’ Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex​

“Seemingly the only hope for the markets at the moment is that investors suddenly decide that the sell-off has been a bit overdone – though in a way it is fitting, matching the astonishing, record-breaking recent rise of the global indices with an equally astounding, heart-stopping drop. Admittedly the Bank of England could go some way to allaying investors’ fears of rising interest rates on Thursday, if Mark Carney issues a more dovish statement than forecast.”

‘A healthy correction, nothing more’ James Knightley, chief international economist at ING

"This appears to be more of a “healthy” correction rather than the start of a broader re-evaluation for earnings. Indeed, the US economy is in great shape right now and the financial sector is in a more robust position than it was ahead of the last major sell-off. That is not to say that we won’t see further falls in coming days, but in an environment where growth is good and earnings are expected to rise globally, there are decent underpinnings."

‘Global political and economic outlook still positive’ Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital

“While this has been a bit of an equity bubble, there are some signs that investors are putting their cash into bonds for safety with yields coming back down a touch. This is indicative of a broader risk-off move and logical as investors take profits and park cash in relative safety. Nevertheless we are yet to see a significant flight to safety – the yen and gold are barely moved by events. That’s mainly because the geopolitical outlook is unchanged and global economic outlook still very positive.”

‘Corporate earnings still justifying valuations’ Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor

“Many of the previous reasons for optimism remain. Corporate earnings continue to justify valuations, the general synchronised economic recovery is still intact, and even an aggressive increase in the interest rate across the pond would still likely leave them at relative historic lows. Meanwhile, for the moment, yields remain attractive with many considering equities to be the investment destination of choice. Providing that the current situation of letting some air out of the tyres does not result in a puncture, this reset could be seen as a justified reaction to recent exuberance.”

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 10:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Mining Capital's Alastair Ford talks up strong gold prices in 2018 ]]> Fri, 02 Feb 2018 13:35:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - The Conversion Fund: 'Exponential growth' in fun lifestyle events ]]> Fri, 02 Feb 2018 12:39:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Independent energy group Ovo to be probed over bills by regulator ]]> One of the UK’s foremost independent gas and electricity suppliers is facing a regulatory investigation into how much energy it said some customers were using.

Ovo Energy will be investigated over readings it gave for the winter 2016-17 and also the accuracy of the consumption figures in annual statements.

Regulator Ofgem said it would investigate whether Ovo Energy breached its licence conditions by providing misleading estimates.

“The opening of this investigation does not imply that we have made any findings about non-compliance by Ovo Energy,” said Ofgem.

Ovo was founded in 2009 by Stephen Fitzpatrick and employs 1,200 people.

In February 2017, the group had 680,000 customers and a 2.5% share of the UK domestic energy market.

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 07:59:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Loot's rapid rise highlights challenge facing Lloyds, Natwest and HSBC's established order ]]> Not many students leave university so fed up with their bank they set up a rival.

But that’s the story behind Loot, where Ollie Purdue decided that if Natwest could make money from the service he was getting, surely he could do better.

Almost three years later and Loot is one of a number of card–based, digital challenger banks that have emerged to challenge the established high street giants.

Like rivals Monzo, Starling and Atom it is targeting the market shares of Natwest, Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays and Santander, especially among young people.

Millennials the focus

Just 24 himself, Purdue says Loot’s focus is firmly on 18-25 year olds - the millennials and students sector.

The plan is to make acquire customers cheaply by providing better functionality, such as running totals and budgeting, and services more tailored to that age group than the big five currently offer.

Loot took a big step last year when it set up its own current account.

Purdue says that means everything you can get from a mainstream bank current account is now available on a Loot card.

“The basic functions are exactly the same as a bank account.

WATCH: LOOT to expand product offering & accelerate user growth after £2.2mln raise

“You get an account number and sort code, the same as any high street bank, and you can transfer in a salary, or student loan payment.”

Payment can be made through Apple pay or debit, or money transfers by using a picture of an existing bank card through a 3D secure window. International transactions also incur no added currency fees.

There are limitations. Loot does not offer a credit card facility.

Overdrafts next

Overdrafts are also not yet available, though this is something that should be remedied this year, Purdue says.

Deposits are held through an arrangement with FCA regulated e-money group Wirecard, which also means customer accounts are ring-fenced and secure.

That arrangement means Loot needs less capital but it also restricts it from lending, the area where banks traditionally make most of their money.

At present, Loot earns revenues from a charge on transactions and when money is transferred in from overseas.

So far, the arrangement with Wirecard has meant the company has managed to function and grow without the need for a bank licence.

But once it moves into overdrafts, a partnership with a company already with a consumer credit accreditation is likely.

The partner will provide the capital, which means lower margins but additionally Loot will not have the regulatory burden that comes with a full bank licence.

Currently, Loot employs around 40 people, split between London and Poland.

One million users by 2020 the target

A recent funding round raised £2.2mln and was led by Power Corporation and Austrian venture capital firm SpeedInvest.

It brought total funding to £6mln since Loot was established.

Purdue, who says he owns a significant controlling stake though less than a majority, adds the money will go to support the rapidly growing customer base and marketing.

More than 50,000 people hold accounts already and that number is growing at 12% per month with monthly transactions volumes rising even faster at 25%.

Another funding round is likely this year to keep up with the demand and its size will determine how fast Loot develops.

The aim is for one million users by 2020 by which time the bank should also be in profit.

At that point, Purdue and the other investors will consider the options. That might be an exit through a sale, IPO or to go for a banking licence.

A £15mln funding will get it to that point, but a £30m-40mln funding would do it quicker.

Why would an 18-year old go to HSBC?

“We are doing really well as a transactional banking account,” says Purdue, but adds to make sure customers who sign up now stick, Loot has to have a full suite of products.

And the prize is a big one with plenty of room for Loot and its rivals says Purdue.

“My thinking is that if we can make sure every 18-year old chooses between Loot, Starling and Monzo we’ve all won.

“We should make it a target than an 18-year old never wants an HSBC account, though I think we are already there.”

Tue, 30 Jan 2018 07:39:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - A strong global economy and dwindling supply pushing zinc price higher ]]> Mon, 29 Jan 2018 10:31:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Rejuvenated Cradle Arc focused on copper and gold ]]> Copper-miner, Cradle Arc PLC(LON:CRA),  made a steady start on its return to AIM following the reverse takeover of the Mowana copper mine in Botswana.

Shares were trading at 11p, valuing the group at about £22mln.

Cradle Arc has been refinanced through a £3.25mln convertible loan issue prior to the re-listing and a £2.4mln placing at 10p. 

Fund raise

In addition, Cradle Arc intends to raise up to a further £500,000 for shareholders from an open offer.

Mowana’s vendor Kevin Van Wouw is the new chief executive with a 57.4% stake in the enlarged company.

The purchase of 60% of Cradle Arc, which owns 100% of Mowana, was eventually concluded on November 13 last year.

Mowana and Matala

Mowana, in north-east Botswana, has a mineral resource of 686,000 tonnes copper in the Measured and Indicated categories (JORC-code compliant) with an additional 758,000 tonnes in the Inferred category.

The company also has gold assets in Zambia, where the Matala project has a JORC-compliant gold resource of 568,000 oz at a grade of 2.7g/t.

Cradle Arc bought its 60% stake in Mowana for £12.3mln, compared to a cost of more than US$170mln originally to get into production.

Mowana also has a net present value currently of US$87mln, which can rise to US$245mln following certain planned plant upgrades, said the company.

Kevin van Wouw added: "The central pillar of our portfolio is Mowana, an established copper mine in Botswana, which is currently in production and ramping up to approximately 12,000tpa of saleable copper per annum, at an all in cash cost of US$4,400/t versus a current copper price of US$6,897/t. 

"Our plans to expand and optimise Mowana, primarily through the implementation of a DMS pre-concentration process, considerably improve the economics of this asset and can potentially raise the total project NPV significantly, to US$245mln. 

"Our strategy is centred on applying new mining models and techniques, to achieve cash positive production from proven mining assets, having secured JV partnerships for our Mali assets, to maximise value in the near term for our shareholders. " 

Wed, 24 Jan 2018 10:35:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Bacardi agrees buyout of high-end tequila maker Patron Spirits in US$5.1bn deal ]]> Bacardi has agreed to buy out Patron Spirits International in a deal valuing the top high-end tequila maker at US$5.1bn.

The deal comes five months after Diageo plc (LON:DGE) bought George Clooney's Casamigos tequila for up to US$1bn.

READ: Diageo to reopen two 'lost' Scottish whisky distilleries to meet strong single malt demand

Patron, founded more than 25 years ago, was a high-end brand pioneer, but now competes with a range of brands such as Diageo's Don Julio, Pernod Ricard's Avion and Brown-Forman's Herradura.

Global tequila sales rose 5.2% in 2016, according to industry research, while the overall market for alcoholic drinks fell 1.3%.

Bermuda-based, family-owned Bacardi was founded in Cuba in 1862, selling its namesake rum. It now owns some 200 brands including Bombay Sapphire gin and Grey Goose vodka. It has owned a minority stake in Patron since 2008.

The acquisition marks the first major deal under Bacardi's Mahesh Madhavan, who was appointed chief executive in October. It is expected to close in the first half of 2018.

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:01:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Proactive Investors New York bound after £3.3mln funding ]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:32:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - LOOT to expand product offering & accelerate user growth after £2.2mln raise ]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:01:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Investment platform pioneer IntegraFin to list in March ]]> One of the original online platforms for financial advisers is to list on the London Stock Exchange in March.

IntegraFin set up the Transact platform in 1999 and it now services 150,000 investors for 5,100 financial advisers with £29.7bn funds under direction at the end of 2017.

Over 80% of the group’s top advisory customers have had a relationship with the group in excess of 5 years, it added.

Ian Taylor, chief executive, said: "It is 19 years since our foundation as the UK's first B2B platform company and we are delighted to announce our intention to list on the London Stock Exchange.”

No details yet

No details of the price of the float and how much IntegraFin will be worth were issued, but existing investors are expected to sell over 25% of their shares.

Wrap services/investment platforms consolidate investors' investments and financial plans into one place and Taylor sees demand for financial advice growing with the advent of pensions freedom and growth in wealth management.

The group posted a profit of £29.9mln in the year to last September, a 43% increase while gross inflows rose by 49% to £5.31bn.

IntegraFin has paid a dividend and/or bought back shares every year since 2007 and seen funds under direction grow every years since it launched.

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 08:47:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Proactive Investors New York bound after securing £3.3mln of private equity investment ]]> Proactive Investors is opening a New York newsroom after securing £3.3mln of private equity funding.

The expansion into the US will be overseen by Proactive’s co-founder and chief executive, Ian Mclelland, who has recruited an experienced team to assist him.

Business development will be led by Brian Loper, a technology start-up specialist, while the US editorial team will be headed by Paul Curcio, former managing editor of TheStreet and a senior financial news reporter for the Associated Press.

Headquartered in London and with offices in Sydney and Vancouver, Proactive is the go-to source for breaking news on growth companies.

Events and research 

It also boasts a highly-regarded events business and has branched into digital services and sell-side research.

The plan is to replicate the UK operation in New York, the only other tier-one capital market in the English speaking world.

The funding is being provided by Mobeus Equity Partners, which is taking a small minority stake in the business.

Amit Hindocha, who led the deal for Mobeus, will be joining the Proactive board alongside Colin Garrett, a veteran non-executive with a track record of growing UK businesses into North America.

Pleased and excited

Proactive CEO Mclelland said: “It is extremely pleasing to have closed this funding with Mobeus – an investment we believe will transform Proactive.

“As this is the first outside funding we have ever received it was crucial we found the right financial partner and people for what we believe is going to be an exciting journey.

“In Mobeus we believe we have the former and in Amit and Colin the latter.

“It is worth noting that to date Proactive has been self-funding. It is testament to the committed and professional team and their efforts that we have secured this financial backing.”

Proactive was founded in 2007 when Mclelland and UK managing director Craig Ribton decided to turn their investor blog into a business.

The company now works with around 500 clients in the UK, Australia and Canada.

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:28:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Mining sector very well positioned to meet increasing energy demands ]]> Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:21:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Nestle offloads Crunch, Butterfinger and other US confectionery brands to Ferrero ]]> Nestle is to sell its US confectionary business to Ferrero Group for 2.7bn Swiss Francs in order to focus on other areas.

The Swiss food company said it will offload brands such as Crunch, Runts, Butterfinger and Nerds, in the US where it lags behind Hershey, Mars and Lindt.

READ: Unilever and Switzerland's Nestle both boost natural food offerings with acquisitions

Nestle said its confectionary business accounts for just 3% of its US sales.

The company has started to focus on healthier products following a consumer shift away from junk and sugary foods.

Since Mark Schneider took over the reins as chief executive last year, the Swiss business has bought companies that make vegetarian meals, vitamins and luxury coffee.

Schneider said in a statement that the disposal of the US sweets and chocolate business would allow it to “invest and innovate” in other areas where it sees future growth or where it is already a market leader. Such areas include pet care, bottled water, coffee, frozen meals and infant nutrition, he said.

Ferrero to become third largest confectionary company in the US

For Italy’s Ferrero, the deal will see the maker of Nutella and Ferrero Rocher become the third largest confectionary company in the US.

Ferrero said the acquisition will allow it to build scale quickly in a key market, where it has done two other deals in the past year.

The deal is expected to be completed in March. 

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:59:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Alpha FX expects revenue to beat market forecasts after successful IPO ]]> Foreign exchange service provider Alpha FX Group PLC (LON:AFX) expects revenue to beat market forecasts following a successful initial public offering last year.

The company, which began trading on London’s AIM in April, predicts revenue for the year ended 31 December 2017 of £13.5mln, after making progress across all its key goals.

Delivering on growth ambitions

Its currency management software has attracted new clients and the company has recruited more staff to meet demand with the headcount rising to 51 from 30 over the year.

The underlying operating profit margin is expected to be in line with expectations despite further investment in growing staff numbers.

"I am delighted to report that the benefits of being publicly listed are being realised and we are delivering on our growth ambitions,” said founder and chief executive, Morgan Tillbrook.

“Along with a strong trading performance, we have put in place several building blocks to help us develop a very special business.“

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:26:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Kropz names Ian Harebottle as CEO ]]> Kropz SA Ltd. said Monday that it has hired Ian Harebottle as its new chief executive, effective March 28.

A 17-year mining-industry veteran, Harebottle has been CEO of Gemfields PLC since 2009, authoring a transformation there that increased revenue from less than US$1mln at the time to US$169miln in 2016. He’s also credited with creating new demand for coloured gemstones internationally.

“Ian has a built an enviable reputation as being a positive ‘disruptor’ and one to challenge traditional practices,” said Kropz founder and non-executive director Mike Nunn in a statement. “We believe Kropz is ideally suited to his skillset to bring about a new player in the African plant nutrient sector.” 

The privately held fertilizer maker said it is exploring the formation of Kropz PLC, as well as securing funding options and possible listing on the London Stock Exchange. Kropz has an advanced-stage phosphate mining project in South Africa, and a plant-nutrient distribution business targeted at alleviating hunger in the sub-Sahara region.

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 14:53:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - German discounter Lidl boasts record-breaking sales and footfall in December ]]> German discounter Lidl has claimed it was the “fastest growing supermarket” in the Britain over the Christmas period after it generated record UK sales in December.

Sales at Lidl – which is now the nation’s seventh largest grocer – rose 16% last month as it welcomed more shoppers through the door than ever before.

READ: Sainsbury’s lifts full-year profit guidance after record Christmas sales

It said December 22 was a record trading day in its UK history, adding that the week before Christmas was its “strongest ever”.

Lidl reckons it sold roughly 600 tonnes of Brussel sprouts in December, 17mln mince pies and more than 800,000 litres of Prosecco and champagne.

“Lidl UK has had a fantastic 2017 and this was capped by our strongest Christmas trading period to date,” said UK chief executive Christian Hartnagel.

“Customers came into our stores to buy more of their Christmas items, knowing they could find high quality products at market-leading prices.”

READ: Morrisons delivers sales growth over festive season

Nine new stores opened in December, taking its total to 693 and it expects to open its 700th later this year.

It also has plans to open a new distribution hub in Luton which will potentially create up to 1,000 new jobs in a move that Aldi says underlines its expansion plans in the UK.

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 10:01:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Crowdfunding platform ENVESTORS says equity investments via its investor network surpass £100mln ]]> ENVESTORS, the regulated corporate finance adviser with a network of over 3,250 sophisticated investors, has said that equity investments made through its investor network have surpassed the £100mln milestone.

To date, ENVESTORS has facilitated investments in 212 companies, with multiple funding rounds resulting in over 810 deals in those businesses.

The average investment secured by these companies was around £475,000, with investors making an average investment of £40,000.

The company that secured the investment that broke ENVESTORS’ £100mln threshold is CARELINELIVE, a cloud-based management platform for the home care industry, which successfully raised £330,000 - the maximum funding required to support its platform.

Investors gain access to an expanded investment universe

Businesses supported through the ENVESTORS network include early stage companies seeking £250,000 to £10mln from sophisticated private investors, family offices, venture capitalists and investment funds.

Notable successful fundraisings through the network include Parking Eye, which raised £175,000 before being sold to Capita PLC (LON:CPI) for £50mln, netting investors a 77 times return.

ENVESTORS matches investors and businesses through its ENVESTRY platform, an FCA-regulated equity crowdfunding platform.

Organisations and networks that match investors and investment opportunities can license the platform to help them to manage their investors and deals.

Oliver Woolley, CEO & co-founder of ENVESTORS said: “Our ENVESTRY platform greatly simplifies the investment process, giving young companies the tools they need to manage their investor relationships, and providing investors with access to an expanded investment universe.

“As the platform grows, the benefits to all parties will multiply and we look forward to supporting many more successful investments in promising young businesses".

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:14:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Gold hits new highs on weak dollar, momentum buying and political uncertainty ]]> Gold consolidated above the US$1,300 level in the first day of trading in 2018, continuing a strong run that’s now lasted for two years.

Gold is now at touching highs only reached a couple of times since its fall from grace in  2010. All told, it’s has risen by more than 25% against the dollar since the beginning of 2016.

The reasons for this strength in gold are many and varied, but underlying it all is the weakness of the dollar. In 2017, the dollar endured its weakest year of trading against a basket of currencies and commodities since 2003, which was really before the last commodities boom got going.

Since then gold has peaked at close to US$1,900 in 2011, and then troughed again at around US$1,050 nearly five years later.

The subsequent recovery has come even as the Fed has continued to tighten its quantitative easing programme, and in tandem with a broad-based and general recover in the global economy.

That’s marked a strength in metals markets generally, and in recent months copper and zinc in particular. In terms of the precious metals, palladium is benefitting from dollar weakness and supply constraints – in the first week of 2018 its hit a 17-year high.

Worth noting that that’s a higher price than it traded at throughout the mining boom of the last decade.

Some indicators argue that we are in a new, albeit more muted mining and commodities boom. Sentiment towards that idea is mixed, depending on which market you’re in, with Australians currently notably more bullish than their Canadian, and in particular their European counterparts.

But gold mining as an industry is in reasonable shape, and so far seems to be seeing off the twin threats of a recovery in the resolve of Central Bankers to raise rates, and bitcoin.

Strength in other markets, in particular, the Dow Jones, is in some ways competing for the capital that’s going in to gold. But in fact, the strength in the Dow and other American indices has also been significantly supported by dollar weakness so this is a trend that’s acting in tandem with the gold market rather than in opposition to it.

Buyers are still coming in to some extent too on the uncertainty generated by Donald Trump. The attractiveness of gold as a safe haven remains marked in a world where nuclear powers are able to exchange insults on Twitter. The US’s latest argument with Pakistan is interesting, with both sides arguing that they don’t need each other.

But it would be interesting to see who blames whom if Pakistan is chased out of the US global power structure and into Chinese arms by a US President seeking simple explanations for complex solutions.

The Kitco website handily separates out the effects of the US dollar on the gold price. For example, on Tuesday January 2, roughly three-fifths of the US$8.00 upward move that had been booked by 12pm GMT was attributable to weakness in the US dollar, with the remaining strength coming from active on-market buying.

However, elsewhere on Kitco, comes a word or two of caution. The gold market is always thin around Christmas time, and has frequently been distorted at the end of calendar years by investors balancing books and undertaking other similar tidying-up exercises.

That the strength has continued into the first day of trading in January is perhaps encouraging, but it probably won’t be until the first full week of trading in the year that we get a real idea of the direction gold will take.







Tue, 02 Jan 2018 12:49:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Trump’s US tax reform could help Dow reach 30,000 but headwinds remain ]]> The Dow Jones Industrial Average could be headed towards 30,000 in the new year after enjoying strong run in 2017 as stocks benefit from a brighter economic outlook and sweeping tax reforms.

Optimism that President Donald Trump’s overhaul of US tax legislation would be approved by lawmakers pushed the US blue chip index past the 24,000 mark in late November.

Now that the US House of Representatives has given the tax bill the final go-ahead, many analysts expect the bull market to continue in 2018.

The deepest rewrite of the US tax code in more than three decades will see the corporation tax rate slashed to 21% from its current rate of 35%.

“Tax cuts in the US could help boost the American economy and stock market which, in turn, will positively impact global economic growth and global stocks,” said Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of financial consultancy deVere Group.

Meanwhile, Barclays estimates that 2018 earnings per share will be raised by an average of 6.3% with consumer staples, financials and industrial companies among the top stocks to be given a leg-up from the tax reform.

Energy, mining, accommodation and food services are also expected to benefit from a tax break allowing immediate expensing for spending on shortlived capital equipment.

Maneesh Deshpande of Barclays said he sees some scope for share prices to increase further since markets have not yet fully anticipated the tax cuts. 

Trump’s campaign promise for deregulation would also bring some relief to highly-regulated sectors such as banking and biotech stocks.

US economic growth to buoy stocks

Trump has said he expects US economic growth to reach 4% over the next few years.

The latest official data showed the US economy grew at a 3.3% annualised rate in the third quarter, the strongest since the same period in 2014.

Should economic growth continue to accelerate, stocks could gain further, giving the Dow a good chance of hitting 30,000.

“Strong GDP growth is translating into good corporate earnings growth, which supports share prices,” said deVere’s Green.

Recovery in energy stocks

Energy stocks could pick up in 2018 if the recovery in crude prices continues.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and 10 other producers led by Russia in November agreed to extend production cuts of 1.8mln barrels of oil until the end of 2018.

The move to curb production is aimed at addressing a global supply glut, which has been blamed for subdued oil prices.

The production cuts, which began at the start of 2017, have seen the price of crude edge higher after a prolonged slump.

Given that energy companies have had a historically higher tax burden than other companies, the tax reform will also provide a further uplift to earnings. 

Tech rally set to continue

Technology stocks surged in 2017 and many analysts predict the rally will continue in the new year.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to become the first company to reach a market capitalisation of US$1trn on the back of its new iPhone release in November, while Inc. shares are expected to head higher as its rapid expansion continues.

“If you ignore the idiosyncrasies of global index compilation, then the world’s seven biggest-cap stocks are all technology names – Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

“While valuations may not be as barmy as they were in 2000 they are still lofty and leave little room for disappointment – and it may not even take earnings disappointment for enthusiasm for these stocks to cool.”

Headwinds to consider

While there are plenty of reasons to suggest the Dow will reach 30,000 in 2018, it is not an open-and-shut case.

US market sentiment could be hurt by geopolitical worries over North Korea’s threat to national security, Brexit uncertainty and China’s economic slowdown.

“Concerns, over what President Trump may or may not do, North Korea, China’s economy, the Brexit talks and a gradual series of US Federal Reserve interest rate increases were all swept aside (in 2017) as global stock markets moved higher and bonds did not suffer the accident many had feared,” said Mould.

“Yet such optimism could leave investors exposed to the danger of ‘sliding down the slope of hope’ in 2018.”

The Federal Reserve hiking interest rates at a quicker-than-estimated pace could also impact US equities, he said.

Interest rates have remained low for some time as inflation continues to undershoot the Fed’s 2% target despite falling unemployment.

For this reason the central bank said at its December policy announcement that it expects future interest rate hikes to be gradual.

But it is possible that tight labour markets result in wage increases that lift inflation and prompt the Fed to markedly tighten monetary policy by raising interest rates or withdrawing quantitative easing.

“Any faster-than-expected removal of central bank liquidity could be a shock to a range of asset classes – stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, art, you name it – which have feasted off cheap money,” warned Mould.

Stocks that could remain under pressure

Trump’s tax cuts are expected to provide a lift to corporate earnings but some hard-hit industries could continue come under pressure regardless.

Bricks-and-mortar retailers have been affected by the growing shift towards online shopping and by the high level of discounting used to lure customers into stores.

Retail stocks, such as Macy's, JCPenney and Kmart owner Sears, have been under the cosh due to sluggish sales, leading to store closures and job cuts.

Amazon has led the rise of online shopping and is also reportedly considering entering the pharmacy market.

The prospect that the e-commerce giant could enter that space has recently weighed on the stock prices of drug distributors.

The industry has also been hit by Trump’s vow to bring down drug prices.

In October Trump said in a Cabinet meeting that drug prices “are out of control” and repeated his promise to “bring our prices down to what other countries are paying”.

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Global investors celebrate as 2017 becomes fish in barrel bonanza ]]> Hindsight has now told us the biggest mistake in 2017 was not to be invested to the gunwhales in global markets.

Almost anywhere you put your money you made more of the green stuff, and in some cases spectacularly so.

Investors refused to be distracted by economic uncertainties, political unease and incessant tweeting from the new US President and piled into the world’s markets.

Fill your boots with tech and online retail

When the Dow Jones Industrial Average rises 25% to 24,739 and hits 70 new record highs (and counting) you know it’s a good year to be buying shares.

But even the Dow’s impressive showing was comfortable shaded by Nasdaq where tech dominated and huge gains for such behemoths as Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and others pushed the index up 30%.

President Trump’s tax reforms getting the nod in December added icing to what was an already substantial cake, with an appetite not dampened even by a couple of interest rate rises.

Asia also strong

But it was not just a US rally in 2017.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng outshone Nasdaq with a 32% gain, while elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo rose 20%, Singapore 18% and Australia with its mineral riches sat at a new ten–year high.

These are huge gains for what are substantial stock markets, but those prepared to take greater risks were rewarded even more as emerging markets reawakened after a few years in the doldrums.

Latin America proved especially fruitful. Argentina’s return to the international fold under its new business friendly government under Mauricio Mauri sent its stock market rocketing along with neighbour Chile.

Both of those countries are designated frontier markets as they are not sufficiently developed to be included in the emerging markets category, but many pundits are tipping both South American countries as two to watch in 2018.

London not so good

What of the laggards. Sad to say London’s FTSE 100 was one of the worst performers with a modest 5.7% rise at 7,537

Brexit uncertainty undoubtedly played a part and the UK also undershot its European neighbours in Frankfurt and Paris, which posted gains respectively of almost 16% and 11.3%.

China, too, was lagging well behind other countries in Asia even with a strong rally since May when the Shanghai Composite was one of the few indices in the red.

The index rallied subsequently and is up by more than 6% currently over the start of the year, which would be fine in most years but looks a little sub-standard for 2017 compared with its rivals in Asia.

And for those who expected Pakistan to continue the fantastic performance seen in 2016, commiserations.

As one local newspaper reported: “From Asia’s best stock market to Asia’s worst.” The index has shed 20% over 2017 ahead of elections next year.

More to come

So more importantly what for 2018. With most stock markets at or close to all-time highs logic might suggest down is the likely direction.

Not necessarily. Adrian Lowcock at fund manager Architas believes China will reassert itself as the leader of Asia as underlying economic data is supportive of strong single digit growth and valuations remain attractive. 

“Emerging markets closest to China will benefit from a halo effect so prefer Asian Emerging Markets.”

 India is also worth a mention as structural reform there should begin to work through.

Among established markets, business and consumer confidence has been improving across Europe and also is much earlier in the economic cycle than the UK and the US.

“The recovery and expansion phases of the economic cycle tend to be the phases where there is the largest movement in terms of economic growth,” says Lowcock.

Japan is on a recovery trend and corporate earnings have also been rising offsetting the rise in company ratings. Real wages are also rising for the first time since 2010.

And in the crucial US markets global recovery, flat US wage and low volatility have helped as well as tax reforms and pundits see these trends continuing.

Wild cards include North Korea or the phenomenal run of tech and online companies coming to an abrupt halt, but those arguments were heard at the beginning of 2017 and look how that turned out.

-- Statistics as at 19/12/17 --

Mon, 01 Jan 2018 08:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - The winners and losers of Proactive's 2017 virtual stockpot portfolios ]]> Fri, 29 Dec 2017 07:44:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - 2017 a stellar year for AIM with record trades and big fundraisings ]]> Fri, 29 Dec 2017 07:35:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - Stock market volatility to return in 2018 - WH Ireland's Mike Ingram ]]> Thu, 28 Dec 2017 07:36:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - IWG confirms takeover bid, shares soar ]]> IWG plc has confirmed that it has received a takeover bid from funds managed by affiliates of Brookfield Asset Management, Inc. and Onex Corporation.

The FTSE 250 company gave no other details of the bid. 

"There can be no certainty that any offer will be made for the Company, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made," it said.

The company's shares soared in early trading, rising nearly 30% to 260p.

IWG is the global leader for flexible workspace with over 3000 centres in more than 100 countries and 1000 cities across the world.

Wed, 27 Dec 2017 09:34:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - 2018 crystal ball throws up familiar themes: Bitcoin, Brexit, and corporate consolidation ]]> What will be the key themes for 2018? A look in the Proactive crystal ball throws up Bitcoin, Brexit, sterling, and corporate consolidation - once again.

Bitcoin bubble to burst?

2017 will forever be remembered as the ‘Year of Bitcoin’. Okay that may be a slight over exaggeration, but cryptocurrency and blockchain have definitely been two of the year’s biggest buzz words.

Bitcoin, probably the best known digital currency, has seen its value soar to a peak of over US$20,000 this year, although a year-end drop took it back nearer to US$13,000, while other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Litecoin have also enjoyed huge rises in value.

But a lot of market commentators have warned about the future of cryptocurrencies.

Earlier in December the Wolf of Wall Street himself, Jordan Belfort, called digital currencies a “huge scam”.

Speaking to CNN, Belfort said: “You will see [Bitcoin] skyrocket, there will be a short squeeze, it will go even higher and then eventually it will come caving in – it’s almost a guarantee.”

He’s not the only one predicting the cryptocurrency’s demise either. The Financial Conduct Authority’s head Andrew Bailey recently told the BBC that investors should be prepared to “lose all their money”.

But people have been predicting cryptocurrencies’ downfall for months now and they’re yet to be proven right, so 2018 will be interesting – will the tech geeks or the City spivs get it right?

Brexit progress to reignite sterling?

Sticking with currencies, the pound has been in focus ever since the 2016 Brexit vote and that will likely continue into 2018.

The fall in the value of the pound has helped to push inflation up to above 3% making everyday life more expensive for Britons, while it has also meant that our money doesn’t go as far when we travel abroad.

Sterling did perk up towards the end of the year though as progress was made in talks between the UK government and the European Union on the divorce details.

How those discussions move forward next year will again be the main driver for whether or not the pound can creep back towards where it was on 23 June 2016 – the day before the Brexit referendum.

There seems to be a growing sense among political commentators that a ‘hard’ Brexit is now unlikely and any positive breakthrough in the divorce talks should see sterling rally.

Don’t forget that another UK interest rate rise in 2018 isn’t out of the question either and that could serve as a further boon for the pound.

That said, however, not everyone is bullish. Lloyds Bank reckons the pound-euro exchange rate could fall further, perhaps almost to parity, in 2018.

Quantitative strategist Gajan Mahadevan recently said both Brexit talks sides face “challenges…in coming to a comprehensive agreement” and he is forecasting an exchange rate of €1.09 next year, some 3.5% lower than where it currently is.

Foreign buyers to re-emerge?

Should that be the case, it would make sense for UK companies to be targeted by foreign firms looking to expand on the cheap.

The pound has been relatively low for a while though and that theory hasn’t really rung true. While luxury handbags and extravagant clothes have been flying off the shelves of UK stores this year, the same can’t be said for British companies.

Indeed, two of the biggest takeovers this year actually fell through – Deutsche Börse and the London Stock Exchange, and Unilever and Kraft-Heinz. Another one, Sky and Fox is still waiting on regulatory approval more than a year after the offer was made.

There are a few reasons why foreign takeovers have been limited: the government tightened the Takeover Code amid concerns that UK firms were particularly vulnerable to foreign poachers, while the US has cracked down on tax inversion – buying a company to take advantage of the lower tax rates.

Consolidation expected instead

As a result, what’s more likely to happen next year is UK businesses merging with other UK businesses.

Given the toxic combination of stagnant wage growth and above-target inflation, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for retailers to get their customers to part with more of their money.

One way to get around that is to grow revenues and profits through acquisitions – just look at Tesco and Booker or Sainsbury’s and Argos, and there could be more of that next year.

The gambling industry has also had to consolidate in recent years to overcome intense competition – quick factoid: there are 33 betting shops in and around Grimsby – and regulatory changes.

Paddy Power and Betfair merged back in 2016, while Ladbrokes Coral and GVC have finally struck a deal having been sniffing around one another for most of the year.

With analysts predicting the big bookies could lose as much as £150mln in annual revenues from the latest changes to regulations and as it is becoming harder to find a high street not saturated with several gambling shops, more mergers could be on the cards in 2018.

On a more European front, City number crunchers expect some consolidation in the airline sector, especially given that the price war ravaging the industry claimed the lives of Monarch, Alitalia and AirBerlin in 2017.

Tue, 26 Dec 2017 08:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - A question of trusts: Just what is an investment trust? ]]> If you want to invest but don’t want to take the risk of plumping all of your capital into a single company what are the options?

Well, for 150 years, investors have been putting their savings and faith into investment trusts.

Set up as a limited companies with a manager appointed by a board of directors, these are collective vehicles so-called because the money they receive is pooled and spread across a number of investments.

They are also called closed-end vehicles, because the amount of money they can invest is fixed by the number of shares issued when the trust is launched.

Later, the amount of funds available can be increased through subsequent share issues and through borrowing or gearing.

The ability to borrow to boost potential returns is an important difference between investment trusts and other types of collective vehicle such as unit trusts and OEICS.

A question of trusts

As investment trusts are companies, they trade on stock markets in the same way as any other listed firms, they pay dividends and the board of directors are accountable to shareholders at annual meetings.

When launched, a trust will usually specify its strategy such as to pay a certain level of dividends and also the benchmark index it is using to judge the performance of its manager.

Because the share price reflects demand, or lack of, for a trust’s shares at any particular time, they can trade at a premium or discount to the underlying worth of the trust’s portfolio.

Called the net asset value, this worth is the portfolio’s value divided by the number of shares in issue at the time.

If a premium gets too large, a board might decide to issue more shares to satisfy the demand or conversely if the discount is too great a trust can borrow and buy shares back to reduce the gap.

This is one way the ability to borrow gives investment trusts arguably more flexibility than other investment vehicles.

Dividend boosts

Trust rules mean they are also only obliged to pay 85% of any income they receive in a year as dividends, which gives scope to build up a buffer for lean years.

This has sparked a resurgence of interest in recent years, especially among those paying healthy dividends as alternatives such as bank accounts have offered meagre returns.

They are also allowable for inclusion in tax efficient wrappers, such as ISAs and SIPPs, which has also boosted their appeal as any dividends or capital gains are free of tax.

The first investment trust was launched well over 100 yers ago and is still going strong.

Indeed, so successful has been the structure that there are now more than 400 for investors to choose from covering all regions, types of investment and speciality trusts such as split caps and venture capital trusts or VCTS.

A potted history

The first investment trust was set up by Foreign and Colonial back in 1888, but far from being an outdated form of investment, interest in trusts is thriving.

Why is this?

The obvious answer is because it offers a tax-efficient way to spread risk and avoid dilution.

Legally-speaking, the investment trust is closed-ended, meaning that although investors can buy and sell to each other on the London stock exchange, the units themselves cannot be redeemed for cash. This means that in times of trouble investment trusts tend to hold firm while other funds are sent reeling through a combination of redemptions and collapsing asset values.

As a result, investment trusts have proved an enduring and popular way to invest, because as followers of Warren Buffet know, the way to win big is to buy and hold.

An investment trust is a public listed company. It’s designed to generate profits for its shareholders by investing in the shares of other companies. But it also means that shareholders have the right to decide on important issues, such as the appointment of directors.

Because an investment trust has a fixed number of shares, the fund manager can invest and sell assets when they feel the time is right, not when investors join or leave a fund. This allows the fund manager to draw on his own wells of experience rather than being dictated to by the market and it also means the underlying capital investment base is relatively stable.

Investment trusts usually have smaller operating costs than Funds also known as OEICs (Open Ended Investment Companies) so their charges are generally lower.

They can also borrow money to take advantage of investment opportunities. Borrowing can increase the returns for shareholders, but if the assets fall in value, it can also increase the potential for losses.

However, like other asset classes traded on the London stock exchange, the valuations of investment trusts can change significantly over the short term. The BlackRock World Mining Trust is a good example of this, liable to be pushed up strongly by positive sentiment in a rising commodities market, and punished heavily when sentiment turns down again.

For the steadier investor, the most popular trust in recent months has been Scottish Mortgage, which is heavily slanted towards technology and which entered the FTSE-100 in the latter part of 2017.

Mon, 25 Dec 2017 10:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Investors could be adventurous and consider Venture Capital Trusts for exposure to growth companies ]]> In an era of historically low interest rates, investors have had to find other places to stick their money to try to bag some decent returns rather than just tucking it away in a bog standard savings account.

One such place for the more adventurous investor might be a venture capital trust – or a VCT in City speak.

VCTs work in a similar way to an investment trust in that they pool money from thousands of people and then invest that cash on their clients’ behalf.

Finding them early

Whereas investment trusts tend to put their money into mature, often big-name companies though, VCTs will use their resources – generally around £3mln-£5mln each time – to help fund a number of start-ups and other early-stage businesses.

Because they invest in young, growing companies with potential, VCTs are seen as a slightly more risky investment – hence why they appeal to the ‘adventurous’ investor.

There are some perks which mitigate this risk though, in particular the generous tax breaks which are probably the biggest draw.

Investors can claim up to 30% upfront income tax relief on investments of up to £200,000 a year as long as they keep the shares for at least five years.

So if you invest £10,000 into a VCT, £3,000 can be taken off your income tax bill, although it’s important to remember that the amount of relief you claim cannot exceed the amount of tax due.

On top of that if the VCT pays a dividend – most do every now and then once they’ve sold a company – no tax is due on that, while if you decide to sell out for a profit, there is also no tax to pay.

Of course the fact that an investors’ money is effectively split between multiple companies also helps to spread and minimise the risk.

As mentioned above, those perks are there for a reason though.

Risk and return

The companies VCTs invest in, while having serious growth potential, will equally be several times more likely to go bust than say a Shell or GlaxoSmithKline, so getting all of your money back isn’t guaranteed.

Without a readily available market value it can also be difficult to gauge the value of a particular company and, by extension, the value of the trust’s portfolio.

It’s important to remember, too, that you’ll only get tax relief when you buy newly-issued VCT shares which can make them highly illiquid even though they’re listed on a recognised exchange.

Some VCTs will have a buyback scheme but how you plan to close your investment is worth thinking about.

Despite the higher-than-average risk of failure, some well-known (and now pretty big) UK companies have benefited from the more than £7bn raised by VCTs since their inception in the mid-90s.

One of those is Secret Escapes – the members-only travel deals website – which has been backed by VCTs, among other investment firms, since it was founded back in 2010. Last year it turned over £83.5mln.

DVD-by-post company LoveFilm is another example, despite it shutting down earlier this year. The business was backed by VCTs including Octopus Investments in its early stages before it was sold to Amazon in 2011 for a rumoured £200mln.

Sun, 24 Dec 2017 10:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Bitcoin plunges as investors cash in for a Christmas bonus ]]> Are we finally seeing the Bitcoin bubble burst?

Earlier this week, the cryptocurrency set a new record as it hurtled to just shy of US$20,000.

READ: UK and EU regulators to ‘crackdown’ on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency platforms

Since then it has shed almost a third of its value to US$13,830 – its fifth 30+% correction in 2017.

Fellow digital currencies Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash have also both sustained heavy losses over the past couple of days.

“Whilst there have been some hacks, public infighting in the mining community, lots of rumoured forks and regulatory pressure building on some fronts, this is likely to be a simple bout of risk-off selling as investors rebalance towards year-end,” claimed ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson.

“It looks like it’s time to cash in the gains and spending the winnings on a bumper Christmas.

Bitcoin has managed to withstand all of the issues noted by Wilson, gaining more than 13,000% since January.

Several analysts and market commentators – including the Wolf of Wall Street himself, Jordan Belfort – have been speculating that Bitcoin’s value was primed to plummet.

Wilson isn’t convinced though, especially given Bitcoin’s ability to recover relatively quickly from big dips.

READ: Bitcoin Bubble Watch: UK group sells F1 cars to Chinese buyer in crypto-only deal

“It’s hard to see the bell tolling just yet. Large price swings have become so normal that it’s hard to decide – we can easily see this market bounce back in very short order.”

Fri, 22 Dec 2017 09:04:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Is money starting to flow back into the oil gas market? ]]> Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:50:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - Fort Bay Capital expecting investors to remain cautious heading into 2018 ]]> Wed, 06 Dec 2017 11:15:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Sabre Insurance looks sharp as shares rally 10% on LSE debut ]]> British car insurance underwriter Sabre Insurance Group PLC (LON:SBRE) saw its shares jump 10% on its market debut on Wednesday.

Shares were priced at 230p apiece in its initial public offering but leapt to 255p early on Wednesday morning, valuing the company at £630mln.

Focus on UK private motor sector

Sabre - which was founded in the early ‘80s - generated gross written premiums of £197mln last year and said it intends to maintain its focus on the UK private motor insurance market.

The sector came under pressure earlier in the year when a change in the way personal injury claims were calculated pushed up the size of those claims and dented the insurer’s profits.

But the UK government backtracked on those plans somewhat in September, changing the rate for calculating payments in a move that was seen as favourable for insurers.

According to Reuters, Sabre’s private equity owners BC Partners looked to the London Stock Exchange following an unsuccessful joint approach from US investment group Centerbridge and Qatar Reinsurance Company.

“We are delighted with the response we have received from investors,” said chief executive Geoff Carter.

“This reflects the strong and profitable track record the business has built over previous years, as well as the bright future that lies ahead of us.”

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 09:37:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Technology Enhanced Oil boss on the cheap, green tech that can quadruple production ]]> Tue, 05 Dec 2017 15:35:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - 'Improving and Advancing' sales for Collagen Solutions ]]> Tue, 05 Dec 2017 15:14:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - Blue Bear Capital providing the unusual link between energy firms and blockchain ]]> Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:05:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - Twister poised to blow industry away with gas separation tech ]]> Mon, 04 Dec 2017 15:35:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - Warburg Pincus MD on the lookout for oil opportunities in Africa ]]> Mon, 04 Dec 2017 14:55:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - UK and EU regulators to ‘crackdown’ on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency platforms ]]> After a month of extreme volatility, the regulators are reportedly circling Bitcoin cryptocurrency, with both the UK and European Union believed to be planning a ‘crackdown’.

Specifically, the governments are worried about the potential for the digital currency to be used in money laundering and tax evasion.

READ: Bitcoin blows past the US$11,000 level; Elon Musk denies being its mysterious inventor

The UK Treasury, according to the reports, intends to bring Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies under regulation, in line with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financial legislation.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the plan is to put regulation on the online trading platforms that host cryptocurrency transactions ensuring that the sites conduct customer due diligence and report suspicious transactions.

Julian Dixon, chief executive of anti-money laundering firm Fortytwo Data, highlighted that the British authorities are lagging those in the United States.

“The US is way ahead in terms of regulating cryptocurrencies,” Dixon said.

“The US Treasury classified bitcoin as a convertible decentralised virtual currency in 2013. Two years later, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission classified bitcoin as a commodity in September 2015.”

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 11:59:00 +0000