Bet of the Day: Spread-betters were back nibbling on Tesco’s share price a day after Britain’s biggest retailer was rattled by the discovery of horsemeat in its beef burgers. Punters dismissed analysts’ concerns about possible longer-term reputational damage and backed the scandal to blow over quickly.
Deal of the day: Quadrise Fuels International improved 7.4% to 123/4p, after positive results from recent tests of its cheaper alternative to heavy fuel oil for the shipping, refining, and power generation industries. They were carried out late last year by Maersk, the Danish shipping group. Quadrise expects commercial production from the middle of the year.
Gilts: U.K. Government bonds eased after an auction of Spanish debt drew strong demand and fanned hopes that the country may not need to ask to be bailed out before the end of the year. The March gilt future settled 42 ticks lower at 116.73, further pressured by better U.S. economic data. In the cash market, the yield on ten-year gilts rose five basis points to 2.05%.
Nightmare for Boeing as Dreamliner fleet is grounded over fire danger: The future of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is in serious doubt today as it emerged that the official investigation into electrical and battery failures could take months to complete.
Citigroup wants more time to bury the financial crisis ghost: The legacy of the 2008 financial crash continued to haunt two of America’s biggest banks as they posted disappointing results. Michael Corbat revealed $2.3 billion (£1.5 billion) of charges for layoffs and lawsuits as he presented his first set of financial results.
Brothers fled after £100 million loans scam: A mortgage fraudster who fleeced Barclays and other banks out of more than £100 million has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison.
Cash curbs on scrap-metal dealers save church roofs: A Government crackdown on unscrupulous scrap dealers has helped to cut the number of metal thefts from church roofs to the lowest for six years. Last year, metal merchants were banned from paying cash to buy scrap metals such as copper and lead.
Iraq considers deal with BP for disputed Kirkuk oil field: Iraq is contemplating a deal with British Petroleum to ramp up production at a giant oilfield in the region of Kirkuk. The British company confirmed that it had offered “short-term assistance” to reverse the declining fortunes of the Kirkuk field but insisted that it was early days in the negotiation process.
Developers find common ground for new Croydon shopping centre: Hammerson and Westfield Group have buried the hatchet and agreed to work together to create a new giant retail centre in Croydon, South London. The two developers have been deadlocked in a complicated struggle for the past year over the rights to redevelop Croydon’s Whitgift Centre.
Stobart warns of a slowdown: The lorries and logistics group Stobart has warned its operating performance will miss expectations this year, blaming the “uncertain economic environment”. Stobart is to close its chilled operation but said its newest venture, the relaunch of Southend Airport, has beaten expectations for its first year, flying more than 600,000 passengers.
Asos defies downturn with festive sales surge: The online clothing retailer Asos has shrugged off the consumer downturn and Eurozone crisis to report storming sales over Christmas. The surge in domestic sales at Asos, which delivers to 160 countries, was driven by its core twenty something customers shopping more frequently, driven by lower prices on clothing and delivery charges.
Key Boom Board demand can’t stop Mothercare dive: Shoppers snapped up Key Boom Boards from the Early Learning Centre this Christmas, but it wasn’t enough to save Owner Mothercare from another steep fall in sales. The music station – which allows youngsters to sing, drum and DJ – was a rare success for the retailer, whose U.K. stores open for at least a year saw sales slide 5.9%.
Tablets are a tonic for Currys and Argos: Buoyant demand for tablet devices powered better-than-expected sales at Dixons Retail’s Currys and Home Retail’s Argos over Christmas, but neither group sees any improvement in U.K. consumer spending in the year ahead.
Aberdeen sees risk-taking rise: Investors are taking risks because they are fed up with buying government debt, according to the Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, Martin Gilbert.
The Daily Telegraph
Financial Times touted by banks for £1 billion: The Financial Times is being touted for sale by investment banks including Nomura and Bank of America Merrill Lynch for up to £1 billion.
S&P sees deeper house price falls in Eurozone as slump engulfs core: Europe’s housing slump is engulfing large parts of the Eurozone core as recession deepens, with prices to keep sliding for another two years, Standard & Poor’s has warned.
More than 50 expressions of interest in collapsed retailer: HMV called in Deloitte as administrators on Tuesday, putting at risk more than 4,000 jobs across the U.K. and kicking off a dire week for the retail industry that has also seen DVD rental group Blockbuster collapse.
Bumi weighs claim against Nat Rothschild and banks over failed float: Bumi, the coal miner at the centre of a bitter power struggle, plans to use a law firm report into more than $2 billion (£1.25 billion) of alleged missing funds to launch potentially explosive compensation claims.
Winners emerge from high street wreckage: Primark and Asos revealed soaring fashion sales despite the economic downturn, while Dixons and Argos revealed strong sales, albeit helped by the demise of the electricals store Comet.
YouTube Owner Google poised to take stake in Vevo: YouTube Owner Google is poised to take a stake of close to 10% in Vevo, the music video website founded by record company majors Universal and Sony, in a deal thought to be worth about $50 million (£42 million).
Tesco Chief uses Talking Shop blog to rein in horsemeat burger scandal: Philip Clarke, the Chief Executive of Tesco, has taken to his Talking Shop blog to hammer home the message that the supermarket chain is taking the horsemeat scandal head on.
US homebuilding is booming – and so are foreclosures for struggling Owners: The U.S. housing market is surging back far faster than experts predicted, and banks and homebuilders are reaping the benefits – but a large swath of homeowners, at the bottom of the financial food chain, are still struggling with the mess of foreclosure and uneven access to loans.
Premier Foods has its cake as results put cherry on top: Mr Kipling group Premier Foods on course to report an exceedingly good set of results. Over the last three months the company has put in ‘a solid performance’ in spite of weak consumer spending, it said.
Rio Tinto boss Tom Albanese quits over £8.7 billion write-down: Rio Tinto boss Tom Albanese joined a growing list of unemployed mining bosses, after the London-listed giant said it would take an £8.7 billion write-down on a pair of ill-fated acquisitions.
The Scottish Herald
Gilbert warning on economic turmoil: Aberdeen Asset Management Chief Executive Martin Gilbert has warned of years of economic woe in developed countries but he remains confident his investment house can prosper as it recorded £1.1 billion of net fund inflows in the latest quarter.
Merson Signs to expand after loan fund deal: East Kilbride-based Merson Signs, which has supplied Heathrow Terminal 5 and the London 2012 Olympics, has become the latest recipient of debt finance from the Scottish Loan Fund (SLF) as it targets further growth.
Tax relief powered 90% of North Sea projects: More than 90% of North Sea developments approved in 2012 qualified for tax breaks following last year’s Budget, paving the way for the continued boom in activity in the area.
Room for improvement at hotel group Chardon Trading: Independent hotel management group Chardon Trading has seen turnover rise more than 4% from £9.5 million to £9.9 million but profits were hit by a £1 million write-down on asset values.
Equator looks to expand: Digital marketing agency Equator is on the hunt for 15 additional staff as it expands on the back of new business wins. The roles include developers, designers, Account Directors and Managers.
Ofgem has no vision, claims SSE Chief Marchant: SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant has criticised Ofgem and the Department of Energy and Climate Change for having “no clear vision” on how to reform the retail energy market.
Boom year for oil and gas sector shines bright ray of light on 2013: High oil prices and the introduction of North Sea tax breaks led to bumper investment in U.K. waters last year, fuelling hopes of a strong 2013 for the industry. An annual review published by Deloitte’s petroleum services group shows 65 exploration and appraisal wells were drilled on the U.K. Continental Shelf (UKCS) in 2012, a 33% hike on the previous year’s total of 49.
Asos sitting pretty as growth rockets: Online fashion house Asos kept up its stellar growth over Christmas with a 41% jump in December sales. Chief Executive Nick Robertson said a better-than-expected 34% rise in U.K. sales was driven by investment in the clothing range, lower pricing and a better conversion rate of site visits. International sales grew 47% while the group’s attention to price led to a slight fall in gross margin.
Mothercare defiant after store cuts leave it nursing a fall in U.K. figures: The boss of baby products and clothing retailer Mothercare yesterday insisted its turnaround plan was on track despite struggling to attract Christmas shoppers. The group – which launched a clothing range from Jools Oliver, wife of TV chef Jamie Oliver last year – said same-store sales in the U.K. were down 5.9% in the 13 weeks to 12 January.
Lomond Homes in administration: House builder Lomond Homes fell into administration last night after Fife Council demanded £500,000 in outstanding payments. Graham Frost of accountancy firm PwC said Lomond had no employees and had “almost no construction activity being undertaken at present”. He will try to sell its land banks in Fife and Clackmannanshire “with a view to realising value for creditors”. The Fife-based firm is understood to have outstanding debts of more than £25 million.
Virgin Media adds 60 Bellshill jobs: VIRGIN Media yesterday unveiled plans to create 60 jobs at its call centre in Bellshill to cope with demand for its broadband and TiVo television services. The company already employs about 750 staff at the site, from where it also carries out work for the public sector and small businesses. Finance secretary John Swinney visited the centre yesterday, alongside Virgin Media chief operating officer Andrew Barron.
Temasek dismisses Dell deal: Singapore state investor Temasek is not interested in investing in computer giant Dell as part of a consortium led by private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, a source said. Temasek was named as one of the potential investment partners Silver Lake has tapped to join.
BlackRock sees profits surge on equity demand: Fund titan BlackRock soared to a three year share price high after posting a 24% increase in profits, led by high demand for its exchange traded funds (ETFs).
Abu Dhabi capital inks Northacre deal: Abu Dhabi Capital Management-owned Spadille has agreed a £25.65 million deal to buy Northacre, the residential property developer that has a portfolio of prime London addresses across Mayfair and Kensington, including The Phillimores.
Amazon fights U.S. tax claim: Online retailer Amazon is fighting the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over a $234 million (£146 million) international tax bill, a dispute similar to others in which the agency has struggled to collect corporate taxes.
SDL warns of lower profits: Translation software firm SDL said profits would be lower than expected for the second time in three months, even as turnover improves.
Fiasco over results tests M&S’s loyalty to Tulchan: There is little more certain in life than this: one firm’s misfortune will be seized on by rivals desperate to take advantage of another’s woes. So it is that a host of financial public relation agencies have been bending the ears of Marks & Spencer executives to test the retailer’s loyalty to its incumbent agency Tulchan.
Panmure gains from new hires: Broker Panmure Gordon said its expanding corporate transaction business had driven it to profit in the second half of last year.
AmEx and Capital One disappoint Wall Street: Credit card firms Capital One Financial and American Express both reported disappointing fourth quarter results. Capital One said net income for the fourth quarter rose to $843 million (£527 million), or $1.41 per share, from $407 million, or 88 cents per share, a year earlier.