Proactiveinvestors United Kingdom Proactiveinvestors Proactiveinvestors United Kingdom Proactiveinvestors RSS feed en Mon, 21 Jan 2019 05:58:09 +0000 Genera CMS (Proactiveinvestors) (Proactiveinvestors) <![CDATA[News - Property and construction firm Henry Boot beats Brexit gloom ]]> Property and construction firm Henry Boot PLC (LON:BOOT) said it would have been on course to exceed guidance but for a one-off pension contribution.

Its performance came in the face of more challenging trading conditions as negotiations around the UK's departure from the EU “served to increase the level of uncertainty within the UK real estate market”.

The company said its Hallam Land Management business “performed exceptionally well”, Stonebridge Homes turned over £35mln and construction “held up well”.

Henry Boot Developments' results were affected by the aforementioned macro uncertainty.

That said boss John Sutcliffe was guardedly optimistic on prospects: "Although we remain mindful of some uncertainty in the UK real estate market, these transactions, added to the already committed and contracted activity for 2019, give us a good start to the year."

Fri, 18 Jan 2019 07:55:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Markets subdued, pound rallies ahead of no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat ]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 11:52:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Uncertainty rolls on in Zimbabwe, as rioters hit the streets and internet access is shut down ]]> Rioters took to the streets of Bulawayo and Harare this week as the economic situation in Zimbabwe continues to fester, despite earlier hopes that new President Emmerson Mnangagwa would be able to deliver much-needed reform.

The country is currently suffering from severe fuel shortages, in the wake of price hikes imposed by the President a couple of days ago.

President on four-nation tour

Private internet access has also been cut off across most parts of the country, as Mnangagwa’s regime seeks to stifle the potential power of the social media in coordinating a rising tide of protest.

In Harare, streets were blocked by burning tyres and angry youths, while most businesses shut down in response to a call from trades unions to protest the ongoing economic uncertainty.

Mnangagwa himself, however, appeared unconcerned, and left Zimbabwe for a four-nation tour, starting with a trip to Russia.

Inflation remains a significant problem in Zimbabwe, which has no currency of its own. What's more, there is an ongoing shortage of US dollars to oil the country’s economic wheels, partly because there isn’t enough export activity to bring the money in.

In addition, the issuance of so-called bond notes that are supposed to be pegged to the US dollar has led to a revival of the Zimbabwean currency black market, as the real value of the bonds is less than a third of the US dollars they’re supposed to be tied to.

Many government workers, including doctors, are paid in these bond notes and argue that they are not earning enough to live on.

However, some hopes still remain that Zimbabwe will turn an economic corner.

READ: Vast Resources asking for shareholder support to back debt funding plans

This week, Vast Resources asked shareholders to approve additional capital raising powers that would allow it to fund the development of a diamond mining operation in Zimbabwe. Vast hasn’t yet been granted a concession but wants to be able to move fast if it does get one.

The company is well-hedged against any uncertainty though, with operating mines in Romania providing the bulk of its cashflow.

Wed, 16 Jan 2019 11:07:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Amid the current global uncertainty, how bearish should we be on copper? ]]> What should we make of the current price of the bellwether metal, copper?

It’s been on a significant downtrend lately, as a succession of poor economic numbers out of China have spooked markets and led to speculation that demand could slow.

In part, this is because of the economic warfare between China and the USA. As a headline grabber, Apple Inc’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) recent warning on Chinese revenues was second to none, but underlying the woes of the world’s ex-biggest tech company are the deeper woes of China.

Exports are slowing, consumer demand is slowing, there are fears about bursting credit bubbles, and on top of all that, in spite of all the progress in recent years, it’s still an opaque country that’s hard for market participants really to read.

Will President Xi crack under this tariffs pressure and sign up to a trade deal that’s advantageous to the US and which will allow Mr Trump to claim victory? Or will he double down, reckoning that the country that’s endured the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution is more than capable of weathering the effects of a mere tariff war?

At this stage, the uncertainty is almost more problematic than the eventual outcome, as markets don’t know which way to look.

There seems a very real possibility that as a result of the tariff war, and ongoing economic weakness in Germany and Japan, that global growth will slow markedly this year. It’s been enough to make the Federal Reserve put the brakes on its monetary tightening, even thought the US itself is still booming, and its been enough to spook stock markets world wide.

Commodities too, with the honourable exception of gold, have taken a hit.

The copper price has fallen by more than US$1,000 per tonne since the optimism peaked in the spring of 2018, and current sentiment would have it fall further. On the other hand, looking back slightly further, the price is still above the 2016 troughs. So, mixed signals then.

Broker Liberum talks of “difficult dynamics” for the next six months, while conceding that copper remains the favoured commodity for most major miners. That being so, and with the balance sheets of the majors all in good shape at the moment, there may be an opportunity for buying the likes of Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) or Glencore (LON:GLEN) on further dips.

However, Liberum reckons greater value is to be found amongst the more significant of the companies with large projects moving through the development stages.

On this thinking Liberum highlights Asiamet (LON:ARS) and Solgold (LON:SOLG) as offering the best value, while it recommends steering clear of KAZ Minerals (LON:KAZ), on the basis of Russian risk.

Another company worth considering is Kincora Copper (CVE:KCC), which is at an earlier stage, but which may well be sitting on most of the useful ground in the next major district play to emerge in copper mining: Mongolia.

Liberum reckons most of the speculative positions that were taken up in copper in 2018 have now washed out through the system. However, in terms of pricing, negotiations between the US and China will continue to be crucial.

“We believe the issues around industrial output can and probably will be solved, however the controls on intellectual property transfers will be far greater hurdles and we do not expect to see a solution in the next six months,” the broker said.



Wed, 16 Jan 2019 10:36:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Ovo Energy appointed by regulator to take on supplying collapsed Economy Energy’s domestic customers ]]> Ovo Energy has been appointed by regulator Ofgem to take on supplying Economy Energy’s 235,000 domestic customers after the independent power supplier ceased trading earlier this week.

In a statement on its website, Ofgem said the appointment follows a competitive process run by the regulator to get the best deal possible for customers.

READ: Economy Energy ceases trading, leaving 235,00 customers orphaned

It pointed out that Ovo Energy is offering Economy Energy’s customers a competitive tariff and will honour all outstanding credit balances, including money owed to both existing and former customers.

Philippa Pickford, Ofgem’s director for future retail markets, said: “Ovo Energy has also agreed to absorb the costs of taking on these customers and outstanding credit balances, which means the extra costs will not fall on the industry or households.

“Ovo Energy will be in contact with customers over the coming days with further information. Once the transfer has been completed, customers can shop around for a better deal if they wish to.”

Economy Energy ceased trading on Tuesday, having entered a credit default on Monday - the ninth small UK power supplier within a year to fail - a move expected after Ofgem last week banned the independent firm from taking on new customers due to customer service issues.

Ofgem said it would appoint a new supplier for its Economy Energy’s customers.

Fri, 11 Jan 2019 16:12:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Gold climbs on expectations of pause in further US interest rates hikes ]]> Fri, 11 Jan 2019 11:34:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Heathrow unveils record year of passenger traffic ahead of planned expansion ]]> Heathrow had a record 80 million passengers travelling through the UK airport in 2018 ahead of an expansion that has been approved by the government.

Passenger numbers were 2.7% higher in 2018 than a year ago, supported by the use of larger and fuller aircraft. In December alone, 6.5 million people travelled through Heathrow, up 2.5% on the previous year.

Africa and Latin America were popular destinations for people seeking winter sun in December with passenger traffic up 9.3% and 7.0%, respectively.

"2018 has been an exceptional year for Heathrow, with record passenger numbers and service levels, and with MPs voting overwhelmingly in support of expansion,” said Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye.

“We are on track to deliver an expanded Heathrow in the early years of Brexit, which will keep Britain as one of the world's great trading nations."

Third runway

Heathrow is set to build a third runway after MPs voted in favour of the controversial proposal last June. Environmental activists have protested against the plan over worries about increased emissions.

The airport has said it would take action to reduce carbon emissions from the increase in flights that would be created by an additional runway, including investments in peatland restoration and free landing fees for the first electric flight.

There a number of projects seeking to create an electric aircraft. easyJet PLC (LON:EZY) has teamed up with US firm, Wright Electric, to create a 150-seat plane capable of flying up to 300 miles.

Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens are also working together on an electric-hybrid plane. 

Fri, 11 Jan 2019 08:55:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Economy Energy ceases trading, the ninth small UK power supplier to fail within a year, leaving 235,00 customers orphaned ]]> Economy Energy ceased trading on Tuesday, the ninth small UK power supplier within a year to fail, a move expected after regulator Ofgem last week banned the independent firm from taking on new customers due to customer service issues.

In a statement on their website, the company – which entered a credit default on Monday – said Ofgem is appointing a new supplier for its 235,000 customers.

READ: Ofgem bans Economy Energy from taking on new customers over service issues

It added: “Customers need not worry, their supplies are secure and credit balances are protected. Ofgem’s advice is not to switch, but to sit tight and wait until the new supplier has been appointed.”

On Ofgem's website, Philippa Pickford, the regulator's director for future retail markets said: “Our message to energy customers with Economy Energy is there is no need to worry, as under our safety net we will make sure your energy supplies are secure and your credit balance is protected.”

She added: “We have seen a number of supplier failures over the last year and our safety net procedures are working as they should to protect customers.”

Tue, 08 Jan 2019 15:36:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Ofgem bans Economy Energy from taking on new customers over service issues ]]> Independent energy supplier, Economy Energy, has been banned by the UK market regulator from taking on new customers due to "unacceptable" services. 

Ofgem said the ban would be in place for up to three months initially for Economy Energy to resolve its customer service issues, including complaints on handling processes and standards as well as billing and payment procedures.

READ: British Gas owner Centrica to challenge energy price cap

Economy Energy has been told to improve its customer contact procedures via email and webchat, address billing and payment failures and issue customer refunds in a timely manner.

Ofgem can extend the ban if the company fails to make improvements within three months and can revoke the supplier’s licence if it fails to improve after that.

"Ofgem is taking action to protect customers from suffering more harm from the unacceptable level of customer service provided by Economy Energy," said Anthony Pygram, Ofgem’s director of conduct and enforcement.

"We expect the supplier to take immediate action to rectify its failings or face having its ban extended."

The regulator has been cracking down on energy suppliers over customer services and bills.

A new energy price cap came into force at the start of the month, saving 11 million people an average of £76 a year. 

Fri, 04 Jan 2019 08:07:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Iceland faces £21mln bill from HMRC over staff Christmas savings scheme ]]> Iceland Foods faces a £21mln bill from HM Revenue & Customs over a Christmas savings scheme offered to staff.

According to The Times, HMRC has told the supermarket group that the scheme –which allows low-paid staff to voluntarily set aside money from their weekly wages over the year to help to pay for Christmas – means it was technically paying below the minimum wage.

HMRC also said Iceland should have compensated staff for the “sensible shoes” they were told to wear to work.

Iceland provides safety shoes free of charge for use in warehouses and any employee can request them. Store staff are not required to wear the shoes.

The tax authority claims Iceland has underpaid about £3.5mln a year for six years, even though staff decided to take part in the scheme and received all the money they had set aside.

Iceland may have to pay a fine that could be double the amount of the alleged underpayment, which amounts to £21mln over the six-year period.

Iceland founder says HMRC dispute 'just madness'

Sir Malcolm Walker, Iceland’s founder and chief executive, said the dispute over the scheme was “just madness”.  He intends to fight the HMRC claim and is prepared to go to court if necessary.

Walker said the government’s own Money Advice Service website has recommended that people should use “dedicated Christmas savings schemes [which] can help you to avoid dipping into your cash too early”.

He has also prepared a document called The Campaign for Common Sense, which describes the “growing red tape and bureaucracy affecting business”.  But he said there were few in government interested in addressing the issue.

“They [HMRC] will not give in, so I went to see the business secretary Greg Clark. He promised he would look into it — never heard from him again,” he said.

 “I sat next to Theresa May at a dinner and gave [The Campaign for Common Sense] to her. She said, ‘Give it to Philip as I don’t have my handbag.’ And I said, ‘Promise you will read it?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I then spoke to the secretary for Wales who was full of ‘yeah yeah, this isn’t right”, but I never heard from him.”

Iceland is meeting with Kelly Tolhurst, a junior minister in the business department, this month.  Malcolm said that he was “confident we will get a positive outcome”. 

Wed, 02 Jan 2019 08:43:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Rail commuters stage protests at stations across the UK as fares rise 3.1% ]]> Rail unions, politicians and campaigners are planning to stage protests outside stations across the country on Wednesday against rail fare increases.

Rail fares rose by an average of 3.1% in England and Wales for commuters on the first day back to work after the Christmas break, marking the highest increase since January 2013. In Scotland, fares were raised by almost 3.0%.

The price hikes come despite a series of issues across rail networks last year that caused disruptions for many commuters. One in seven trains has been delayed by at least five minutes in the past 12 months, according to the Press Association.

READ: London Waterloo travel chaos: South Western Railway hit by overrun engineering work

Campaign group Railfuture described the fare increase as “yet another kick in the wallet”.

The Labour Party has said its analysis shows the average commuter is paying £786 more for their annual season ticket since the Conservatives came into power in 2010.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said the latest fare rises were an "an affront to everyone who has had to endure years of chaos on Britain's railways".

Railways lining shareholders' pockets, says TUC

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said the fare increases were higher than the expected 2.5% rise in wages this year.

TUC research has found UK passengers pay up to five times as much on season tickets as other European travellers. A rail passenger travelling from Chelmsford to London spends 13% of their average earnings on a monthly season ticket, compared with 2% for an equivalent commute in France, the study revealed.

Customers should be reminded that this year's price rise is directly proportionate to the proposed increase in delays. No free rides for you fuckers, we're not running a doss house. You clog up our stations you pay for it. #SouthWesternRailway #HonestRailwayTweets

— South Western Failways (@SW_Failways) 2 January 2019

The TUC said private rail operators in the UK have paid out more than £1bn in dividends to shareholders in the past six years.

"The most reliable thing about our railways is the cash that goes to private shareholders each year, but with the most expensive fares in Europe, that can't be right. It's rewarding failure and taking money away that should be invested in better services,” said TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady.

"It's time to take the railways back into public hands. Every penny from every fare should go back into the railways. The number one priority should be running a world-class railway service, not private profit."

Transport secretary defends fare increase

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has defended the rail fare hike, saying the government has made a record investment in improving the network. He said the investment into the network will help passengers get the "frequent, affordable and reliable journeys they deserve".

Grayling also announced a new railcard extending child fares to 16 and 17-year-olds, which will be available before the new academic year in September.

Figures from the Office of Rail and Road show that UK railways are funded mostly by customers’ fares. Last year customer fares yielded £9.7bn while the government provided £6.4bn, excluding loans from National Rail.

This year’s fare increase was capped at the July 2018 retail price index inflation of 3.2%.

The government has said fares could be raised in line with a lower index of inflation if unions agree rail workers’ wages also rise at the same rate.  

Annoyingly Chris Grayling is right and Labour are wrong when it comes to protesting the 3.1% rail fare increase:

If you don't want fares to go up you have to tell the unions to use CPI.

— Kieran Kunhya (@kierank_) 2 January 2019

Unite national officer Harish Patel said: "Given last year's rail timetable chaos, presided over by the hapless Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, there should be no rail fare increases for hard-pressed travellers in 2019 - fares should have been frozen. The 3.1% rise is an insult.”

The protests will be held at a number of stations across the UK on Wednesday, including London King’s Cross, Cardiff, Liverpool, Bristol and Birmingham.

#BringBackBritishRail#RMT protesting at this year's ripoff fare increases.
25 years of the great rail ripoff
End Privatisation Now

— UniteCommCamden (@UniteCommCam) 2 January 2019

This year’s Rail increases are beyond a joke. Plymouth to Exeter season tickets have increased 35% since 2010.

Join us or say hello at Plymouth station this morning as part of a national rail action day

— Charlotte Holloway (@CharlotteHollo) 2 January 2019 ]]>
Wed, 02 Jan 2019 07:51:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - HMV collapses into administration for second time in six years ]]> HMV has collapsed for the second time in six years after poor sales over the key Christmas trading period.

The music retailer has appointed administrators at KPMG, putting more than 2,200 jobs at risk. The company said 125 stores in the UK will remain open while talks with suppliers and potential buyers continued.

HMV collapsed into administration in 2013 when it was rescued by restructuring firm Hilco.

The company has been hit by slowing demand for CDs and DVDs as more consumers download content online.

Paul McGowan, the executive chair of HMV and Hilco, said: “During the key Christmas trading period the market for DVD fell by over 30% compared to the previous year and, while HMV performed considerably better than that, such a deterioration in a key sector of the market is unsustainable.

“HMV has clearly not been insulated from the general malaise of the UK high street and has suffered the same challenges with business rates and other government-centric policies which have led to increased fixed costs in the business.

“Business rates alone represent an annual cost to HMV in excess of £15mln. Even an exceptionally well-run and much-loved business such as HMV cannot withstand the tsunami of challenges facing UK retailers over the last 12 months on top of such a dramatic change in consumer behaviour in the entertainment market.”

On top of a challenging market for CDs and DVDs, the group has also been affected by a wider downturn on the UK high street as more consumers shop online and reign in spending amid Brexit uncertainty.

Fri, 28 Dec 2018 10:52:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - French group snaps up majority stake in Gatwick Airport a week after drone chaos ]]> French group Vinci has bought a majority stake in Gatwick just a week after the drone scare that saw thousands of flights disrupted in the run-up to Christmas.

Nicolas Notebaert, the head of Vinci’s airports arm, said he had "every confidence" in the teams currently in place and it will work to make Gatwick “as resilient as it can be in the face of these new risks"

Gatwick’s chairman Sir David Higgins will stay on along with senior management.

The deal was a “vote of confidence in Gatwick and it’s future potential,” he said.

Vinci has been growing its airport interests substantially over recent years.

The French group acquired Airports International in April, a deal that included Belfast International and boosted its portfolio to 45 airports in places including Sweden, Costa Rica, the US and Liberia. The group already runs three airports in each of France and Portugal.

Vinci is paying £2.9bn for 50.01% in Gatwick, which values the airport at £5.8bn.

The existing owner, a consortium led by GIP, will hold the reminder of the shares.

The GIP consortium bought Gatwick from BAA in 2009 for £1.5bn and has since spent £1.9bn on upgrades and modernisation.

Notebaert played down concerns that Brexit might affect passenger numbers, adding that the uncertainty had helped Vinci achieve a 'reasonable price'.

The airport handled 42mln passengers last year, but this number is expected to grow to 60mln as the airport allows more and larger planes to use its runway.

Vinci agreed the before Christmas but the announcement was delayed by the drone scare that saw Gatwick closes its runway, disrupting flights for 140,000 passengers.

Thu, 27 Dec 2018 13:31:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - SPONSORED CONTENT: Making the most of available tax wrappers ]]> THIS IS SPONSORED CONTENT PAID FOR BY NETWEALTH

When investing there are several factors that are out of your control, such as market performance, volatility and inflation. Yet one thing that you can influence – that significantly impacts your wealth – is the use of tax wrappers that contain your investments, and ensuring that tax-free allowances and exemptions are also used. 

There are two main types of tax-incentivised wrappers for investments in the UK: pensions and ISAs. Both wrappers benefit from tax-free investment returns but pensions offer two key further advantages. 

Find out more today by clicking here

The advantages of pensions 

Firstly, money paid into your pension benefits from tax relief at your marginal rate, which can mean that paying £20,000 into your pension costs you as little as £8,000. Twenty five per cent of the total pension can then normally be taken tax-free when you retire. Secondly, pensions do not form part of your estate for the purposes of inheritance tax, which can provide an additional benefit to the beneficiaries of your estate. 

Changes to pension legislation, such as the reduction of the lifetime allowance to £1.03m and the introduction of the tapered pension annual allowance for those earning more than £150,0002, have not only earned HMRC an additional c£250m this year3, but also mean that it is sensible in many cases for clients to look to other tax-efficient wrappers to bolster their savings for retirement (or any other financial goal they have). 

That said, even high earners impacted by the tapered annual allowance can contribute up to £10,000 per annum (gross of tax relief) to a pension, while maintaining the tax advantages discussed above. It is also possible for one spouse to provide cash that allows the other spouse to make a pension contribution (or indeed to fund a child’s pension contribution4). 

Why ISAs are such a solid choice for investors 

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) have become a slightly more attractive investment vehicle in recent years as the inheritability, flexibility and amount you can invest have all improved. They are therefore suitable for many types of clients, although the tax shelter ISAs provide is still limited to £20,000 per annum per person. 

Unlike pensions, investors do not receive tax relief on contributions into an ISA, but they do benefit from tax-free growth and income, and withdrawals are tax-free rather than being treated as income as they are with pensions. 

Further benefits for clients who need extra 

It may be that the annual level of savings you can make is covered solely by pensions and ISAs, although for many clients, something beyond this limit is also required. The solution is often to invest through a General Investment Account (GIA) that can replicate the same investment strategy that is present in a pension and ISA portfolio. 

Investing through a GIA is not as advantageous as investing via an ISA or pension, but using a GIA does allow you to take advantage of your annual capital gains tax exemption (£11,700 currently), your annual dividend allowances (£2,000 currently), and your annual Savings Interest allowance (up to £1,000 currently). 

Between a married couple, for example, these allowances can still add up to a reasonable degree of income or capital gains before tax is due – especially if managed in conjunction with an ISA or pension portfolio. 

Two different routes with very different outcomes 

The following case study shows how an investor could use their various tax wrappers, and the allowances within, to invest a total of £936,000 over 45 years.


Case Study Key Facts

Client Age


Netwealth Risk Level


£600 per month for 5 years

Retirement Age


Income in Retirement

£4,000 (net) per month

Inflation Assumption

2% per annum


45 years (to age 95)




Scenario A

Scenario B


Pension Starting Value




Pension Contributions

✔ (£600 p/m net)



GIA Starting Value




GIA Contributions


✔ (£600 p/m net)


Annual ISA Funding from GIA



The projection below shows a range of outcomes for Scenario A whereby the investor appropriately uses the various tax wrappers available and is also carefully drawing upon those tax wrappers in retirement to fund their income of £4,000 per month, increasing in line with inflation. 




In summary, although there are many factors to consider when investing that are out of your control, They should still be frequently assessed and taken into account so that action can be taken where necessary. 

Making use of the appropriate tax wrappers (along with minimising fees, ensuring you stay invested and that you are well diversified) is very much within your control and can have a huge impact on your net returns over the long term. To focus on this is time well spent.

For more information click here ]]>
Tue, 18 Dec 2018 14:14:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - HPQ Materials planning on IPO next year as it advances flagship project in Australia ]]> Tue, 18 Dec 2018 14:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - SDCL Energy Efficiency Trust shares steady on first day of trading ]]> SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust (SEEIT) PLC shares were steady on their first day of trading on the London market.

The energy efficiency investor earlier this month said it had raised £100mln through the issue of 100mln shares at 100p a share.

READ: Echo Energy will shortly shoot seismic on Tapi Aike, chief executive moves to non-exec role

Shares in the company were flat at 103.0p in early afternoon trade.

The company, which is targeting a total return of between 7% and 8% per annum, said its initial dividend yield target will be 5.0%, rising to 5.5% in March 2021.

"Today, we are delighted to be listing SEEIT as the first investment company on the main market of the London Stock Exchange to focus exclusively on energy efficiency infrastructure. It is a testament to the proposition that we have been able to attract high-quality investor support in challenging markets. We look forward to delivering a stable and growing income stream from our seed portfolio and from attractive acquisition opportunities,” CEO Jonathan Maxwell said in a statement.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:29:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Baker Tilly and RGL Forensics merge to create 'global forensic accounting practice' ]]> Tue, 11 Dec 2018 10:15:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Huawei agrees to meet UK security demands for 5G after CFO arrest ]]> Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has reportedly agreed to meet the UK’s security demands for future 5G mobile networks after its chief financial officer was arrested in Canada.

According to the Financial Times, Huawei agreed to a series of technical demands to address risks found in its equipment and software at a meeting between the Chinese telecom provider’s executives and senior officials from GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre.

Huawei will change its practices in the UK to avoid being locked out from future 5G telecoms networks.

BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A) said earlier this week that it would not use Huawei's equipment for the core of its 5G service when it is rolled out in the UK amid security concerns.

The telecoms giant also said it would strip out Huawei's equipment existing 3G and 4G mobile networks following security concerns.

READ: BT scraps Huawei's equipment from core mobile networks amid security concerns

The US, Australia and New Zealand have blocked the use of the Chinese firm's equipment in infrastructure for 5G.

US lawmakers have claimed that Huawei’s technology could be used by the Chinese government to spy on the country, therefore representing a threat to national security.

Western governments are concerned that China will gain access to 5G and other communications networks through Huawei and expand its ability to spy. However, Huawei has denied having any ties to the Chinese government beyond paying its taxes.

Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou has been detained in Vancouver on allegations of breaching US sanctions against Iran and for cyber espionage. She was arrested on Saturday but the details only surfaced on Thursday.

Canadian officials said the Chinese government has demanded the release of Wanzhou, whom the US was seeking to extradite. 

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said: "The detention without giving any reason violates a person's human rights."

"We have made solemn representations to Canada and the US, demanding that both parties immediately clarify the reasons for the detention, and immediately release the detainee to protect the person's legal rights."

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 08:56:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Bitcoin drops to a new low for 2018 amid market sell-off ]]> Bitcoin, the digital asset synonymous with cryptocurrency, has hit a yearly low of around $3,400 as of Friday morning, with altcoins following suit.

The price of Bitcoin plummeted nearly 8% to $3,421.87 by the time of publication.

Bitcoin slipped more than 20% this week and nearly 50% this month, according to Cointelegraph’s Bitcoin Price Index.

“Bitcoin is very cheap right now. This should be the bottom of the bear market before the bounce, but it isn't / won't be. A lot of people are waking up to the crumbling economy and upcoming recession and are either one, not choosing to enter a highly speculative asset class or two, are pulling their money out of the most volatile markets, crypto included,” said Viktor Bunin, a former token designer at Brooklyn-based blockchain company ConsenSys, in an exclusive interview with Proactive Investors.

Ripple, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, fell about 10% to $0.30 as of time of publication.

READ: NetCents releases its first SaaS-based cryptocurrency payments processing platform

The price of Ripple is down nearly 24% this week and down 40% in monthly losses.

Ethereum, Litecoin, EOS and Stellar were all deep in negative territory, falling by double digits.

The market cap of all cryptocurrencies totaled $107.1 billion as of this morning, a 20% drop from the nearly $136 billion market total at the beginning of the week.

Crypto Lawsuit

Cryptocurrencies are notoriously volatile, but that’s not to say there’s no rhyme or reason to the double-digit drops.

Tech development firm UnitedCorp has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Chinese mining computer manufacturer Bitmain,, the Kraken Bitcoin Exchange and early Bitcoin investor Roger Ver over the recent split of Bitcoin Cash.

WATCH: Crypto tax-reporting software maker NODE40 buys assets back from HashChain

Bitcoin Cash split off from Bitcoin’s original blockchain in August 2017 in what’s known as a hard fork, or a separation from the Bitcoin protocol.

Bitcoin Cash underwent a hard fork of its own, splitting off into Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV, short for founder Satoshi’s Vision.

Interestingly, Bitcoin SV was an exception to the drop, surging 9% to $102.50.

UnitedCorp is accusing the parties of using unfair methods to manipulate the Bitcoin Cash network to their benefit.

“UnitedCorp believes that the defendants colluded to effectively hijack the Bitcoin Cash network after the November 15, 2018 scheduled software update with the intent of centralizing the network — all in violation of the accepted standards and protocols associated with Bitcoin since its inception,” states the suit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The Bitcoin ETF Dream Dashed

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has once again crushed the dream of a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, which may be a possible explanation for the drop.

The SEC has postponed its decision on an application for a Bitcoin ETF submitted by VanEck and Solid X until February, following a previous postponement.

“Don’t hold your breath. I do caution people to not live or die on when a crypto or Bitcoin ETF gets approved. You all know that I am working on trying to convince my colleagues to have a bit more of an open mind when it comes to [crypto]. I am not as charming as some other people,” said SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce.

The SEC did not give an exact time frame for the potential approval of an ETF, with Peirce saying it could see approval tomorrow or in 10 years.

--Updated to include commentary and recent price movement


Contact Lenore Fedow at

Follow her on Twitter: @LenoreMariee

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 08:38:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Catenae Innovation signs first deal for platform using its blockchain technology ]]> Catenae Innovation PLC on Thursday said it has signed a deal with STM Security UK - its first contract for a solution using its blockchain technology, sending its shares higher.

The digital media and technology company said it would supply STM with OnGuard Plus, a business management solution specifically developed for the security industry.

READ: NetCents Technology draws nomination for blockchain company of year award

The integration of Catenae’s Sequestrum distributed ledger technology provides organisations with the ability to store critical and regulatory reports in an immutable form within the Sequestrum repository, providing auditable proof of both the existence of the report as well as its original content.

Revenue is generated via an annual ‘in advance’ licence fee as well as a transaction fee on a ‘per report’ basis.

Catenae also said it had recently completed final testing of Sequestrum, its digital repository running on the hyper ledger blockchain platform. This recent technical development opens up the opportunity for Sequestrum to be run on the client’s choice of Blockchain platform, significantly broadening its potential application, the company said.

The blockchain firm also announced the launch of its management and inspection platform – OnSite, a product developed specifically for the construction industry. The product provides the ability for companies to manage and schedule their workforce and provides a universal inspection and reporting tool that can be adapted to meet the regulatory reporting standards for this industry.

Shares in Catenae were 16.2% up at 0.12p in early afternoon trade.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 13:45:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - O2 apologises after mobile phone data network crashes ]]> Mobile phone operator O2 has apologised to customers after its data network was down across the UK on Thursday morning.

O2, owned by Telefonica, is investigating reports of issues with 3G and 4G data, leaving customers without internet access.

Problems were first reported at around 5.30am with about 1,662 complaints made before 7 am about outages in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and other UK areas, according to the Downdetector website that tracks internet service issues.

Other mobile phone providers that share the O2 network, including GiffGaff and Mobile, were also affected.  Transport for London's electronic bus timetable was also hit by the problem.

O2 said calls were still working but data connections were broken.

“We apologise for any inconvenience,” the firm said.

I can’t use my phone for Anything no data no calls no texts ????

— Amy-Lou Hudson (@MissLou86) 6 December 2018

Yo people on at @O2 for money back cause the service is down ????????‍♂️ iv been with O2 for 16 years or so and can count on one hand how many times this has happened. Chill the fuck out. #o2down

— Jus (@JustinSizzle) 6 December 2018

The news comes a day after BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A) customers were affected by a network outage. Customers said they couldn't send or receive text messages.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at, said the issue with O2 was worrying for some 32 million UK customers.  

"For the millions of users who are out and about and rely on smartphone maps to get around, it's worth considering that apps like Google Maps allow customers to download maps on WIFI and view them offline,” he suggested.

"With little idea of when this problem will be sorted, it's worth preparing before heading out to make sure you're not caught out by this data downtime." 

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 09:29:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - ContourGlobal to consider more minority sales after Spanish solar assets deal ]]> Renewable power specialist ContourGlobal PLC (LON:GLO) will look to sell more minority stakes in its portfolio following the sale of a 49% stake in a group of Spanish solar power assets.

CounterGlobal, which listed in London last year, has agreed to sell a 49% stake in the Spanish assets to a fund run by Credit Suisse Energy Infrastructure (CSEIP) for €134mln.

The price represents a €65mln premium to the investment on a pro-rata basis. ContourGlobal will continue to manage, operate and maintain the five assets.

Joseph Brandt, chief executive, also indicated the company would be interested in selling more minority stakes if the right opportunity arose.

"We continue to see opportunities to enhance shareholder returns and redeploy capital into our significant growth pipeline by selling minority stakes in our global portfolio of businesses to dedicated infrastructure investors looking to invest long-term with strategic operating partners."

It was 'comfortable' with its 2018 guidance of Adjusted EBITDA of US$600-630mln on a constant currency basis, said the statement and business performance has been good recently despite struggles in some markets.

Brandt added: "We are very pleased to expand our partnership with CSEIP in Europe with our second sale of minority interests this year.“

CSEIP is a committed long-term partner and a leading investor in the infrastructure field, he said.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 09:22:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Lyft races towards IPO with confidential SEC filing ]]> Uber’s closest rival Lyft disclosed Thursday it has confidentially filed a draft registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission related to its proposed initial public offering.

The move has been expected and is a key step for the closely held company toward becoming a publicly traded company.

IPO Roundup: Uber and Lyft race towards IPOs as bank s line up

Lyft selected underwriters, including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Credit Suisse Group AG and Jefferies Group LLC, for the offering, which is expected in the first half of next year, The Wall Street Journal reported in October.

The Journal said Lyft’s valuation is expected to top the $15.1 billion it was valued at earlier this year, though private valuations can change until the company prices its IPO.

Lyft’s decision to take the big step toward an IPO comes as rival Uber is also weighing an early 2019 listing and recently received proposals from banks valuing it at as much as $120 billion.

Lyft, which is part of the sharing economy, makes money by taking a commission on rides booked through its app.

It did not specify how much it's seeking to raise or how much it believes it's worth.

The San Francisco-based company reported revenue of $563 million, up 88% compared with the year-earlier period, the Journal has reported. It lost $254 million in the quarter, versus a $195 million loss last year.


Contact Uttara Choudhury at

Follow her on Twitter: @UttaraProactive 

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 08:41:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - International Council on Mining and Metals adopts UN business and human rights principles ]]> Mon, 03 Dec 2018 08:10:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Insolvency claims finance specialist Manolete to list on AIM ]]> Corporate bankruptcy claims finance specialist Manolete Partners PLC is to list on AIM with a value of £76.3mln.

Some £16.3mln of new money is being raised for the company, while existing owners are selling £13.1mln of their equity.

Total case ROI exceeds 200%​

Set up in 2009 by Steve Cooklin, the business acquires or funds insolvency-related claims for unpaid creditors of bankrupt companies.

These can involve the recovery of directors’ unpaid loans, breach of contract, negligence, illegal dividends and wrongful trading.

Revenues in the year to March were £10.6mln, with after-tax profits of £3.26mln.

By end September 2018, Manolete had invested in 249 cases, generating gross recoveries on the 173 completed cases of £27.9mln.

The average case duration is less than 12 months.

Cooklin said: “Our total case ROI [return on investment] exceeds 200%, delivering returns to Insolvency Practitioners that are often transformational to creditor recoveries.”

Fri, 30 Nov 2018 10:43:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Smallbone of Devizes owner Canburg reportedly facing collapse ]]> Canburg, the owner of bespoke furniture maker Smallbone of Devizes, is reportedly set to collapse into administration this week after falling victim to the high street downturn.

Sky News reported that Canburg, which also owns Mark Wilkinson Furniture, has filed a notice of intention to appoint accountancy firm, Grant Thornton, as administrator.

READ: Debenhams to close up to 50 stores after making record annual loss

A collapse of the company would mark one of the biggest corporate failures to be backed by the £2.5bn Business Growth Fund, which was set up by the UK’s largest banks following the 2008 financial crisis.

The BCF invested £8mln in Canburg in 2014 in return for a 20% stake. A recent filing from Companies House showed the BCF now held more than 25% of the shares.

Canburg, the BGF and Grant Thornton all declined to comment on the report.

Canburg founder Leo Caplan recently stepped down as chief executive and the company appointed Ian Gray as its executive chairman.

High street retailers have been struggling in the face of subdued consumer spending and tough online competition along with higher costs related to a rise in inflation, the minimum wage, business rates and rents.

A difficult retail environment has led to the collapse of Maplin and Toys R Us while other retailers have been closing multiple stores to cut costs, including New Look, Marks & Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS), House of Fraser and Debenhams PLC (LON:DEB).

Mon, 26 Nov 2018 14:56:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Theresa May warns MPs on risks of rejecting Brexit deal as business leaders back the plan ]]> Prime Minister Theresa May has warned MPs that voting against her Brexit deal will take Britain “back to Square one”, according to a pre-written Commons speech to be delivered on Monday.

EU leaders approved the agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc on Sunday after 20 months of negotiations.

The deal still needs to be approved by the UK Parliament, which is expected to vote on the deal on December 12.

However, Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the DUP and many Conservatives MPs are expected to vote against the plan.

May will deliver a statement on Brexit in the Commons at around 3.30pm, urging MPs to get behind her deal.

She will say MPs have a choice between backing the deal and ending the uncertainty surrounding Brexit or rejecting it and going back to the drawing table.

“We can back this deal, deliver on the vote of the referendum and move on to building a brighter future of opportunity and prosperity for all our people,” she will say.

“Or this house can choose to reject this deal and go back to Square one. It would open the door to more division and more uncertainty, with all the risks that will entail.”

Business leaders back May's deal

Business leaders have supported the deal, calling on MPs to do the same to avoid a no-deal Brexit scenario that would harm the UK economy.

TheCityUK, which represents banks and insurers in the Square Mile, said the focus must now be on securing the withdrawal agreement and the transition period, which is “critical for our industry and many others”.

“There is much still to be negotiated to define the future relationship. The sooner that can get started, the better,” said Miles Celic, the organisation’s boss.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) said they were also against an outcome that leaves Britain without a deal. The IoD’s director general Stephen Martin said the deal “provokes a wide range of reactions across the political spectrum, and indeed among business leaders, but the steer from our members is that avoiding no deal must be the main priority”.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said it was now up to parliament to ensure the UK has a transition period from 29 March when the UK leaves the EU and avoid a “chaotic no-deal Brexit” for consumers.

UK GDP to fall 4% on Brexit deal

The backing from business leaders came even as a report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said May’s deal would see the UK economy shrink by 3.9%, or £100bn annually, by 2030.

The NIESR said tax revenue would fall by 1.5% – 2%, the equivalent of £18bn-£23bn less to spend on public services at today’s prices.

“If the government’s proposed Brexit deal is implemented so that the UK leaves the EU customs union and single market in 2021, then by 2030 GDP will be around 4% lower than it would have been had the UK stayed in the EU,” the NIESR said.

“This is largely because higher impediments to services trade make it less attractive to sell services from the UK. This discourages investment in the UK and ultimately means that UK workers are less productive than they would have been if the UK had stayed in the EU.”

At a news conference in Brussels on Sunday after the EU leaders voted, May said her Brexit deal would end freedom of movement, protect the constitutional integrity of the UK and ensure a return to "laws being made in our country by democratically elected politicians interpreted and enforced by British courts".

Some MPs have opposed the deal because of a backstop, which aims to avoid a hard Irish border. The backstop would mean Northern Ireland would essentially remain in the EU if trade talks collapse and there’s no future deal.

Mon, 26 Nov 2018 13:39:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Funding Circle SME Income Fund downgraded to 'sell' by Liberum ]]> Funding Circle SME Income Fund Ltd (LON:FCIF) shares have weakened over the past week and have "further to go", according to analysts at Liberum.

Liberum downgraded its rating on the peer-to-peer lending fund -- separate from Funding Circle Holdings PLC (LON:FCH), which had a rough start to London trading in October -- to 'sell’ from ‘hold’ and cut its target price to 89p from 109p.

FCIF’s shares were changing hands at 96p each at the time of writing, down from 102p at the start of the week.

Liberum said the fund has a gross portfolio yield of about 10%, no management fee, low-cost debt, reasonable credit performance, and yet, the levered return is expected to be only 5-6%.

In comparison, the projected ungeared return for the Funding Circle ISA is 6-7%, the broker noted.

Hedging costs

Earlier this year FCIF warned that rising hedging costs would force it to cut its dividend to 5-6p, down from its current annual payout of 6.5p.

“The cost of hedging US Dollar denominated assets has increased materially since mid-2016 as interest rates have diverged,” Liberum said.

“The cost of hedging US assets is now circa 2% per annum.”

The broker said high operating costs and US loss rates were also a concern. It estimates operating costs, excluding loan servicing fees, were equivalent to 1.1% of net asset value in 2018.

Liberum noted that the fund has incurred high operating costs despite the advantage of not having to pay a management or performance fee due to its passive investment process.

It added: “In addition to the hedging costs for US loans, the high operating costs partly explains why the projected return from investing in the Funding Circle ISA on an unlevered basis is greater than what FCIF is currently producing.”

Fri, 23 Nov 2018 11:02:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust (SEEIT) looking to raise £150mln via main market IPO ]]> SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust PLC (SEEIT) has announced plans for an initial public offering (IPO) to raise £150mln via a placing and offer for ordinary shares on the UK main market.

SEEIT, a newly-established closed-ended investment company incorporated in England and Wales, said it is seeking an application for its ordinary shares to be admitted to the premium listing category of the London Stock Exchange’s Official List.

READ: Golden Saint Technologies begins first day of trading in London

The group will be the first UK-listed investment fund of its kind to invest exclusively in the energy efficiency sector - a rapidly growing segment of the infrastructure market.

It will be managed by Sustainable Development Capital LLP, a market leading London based investment firm with a proven track record of investment in energy efficiency in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia.

SDCL has attracted over £500mln of capital commitments since it started investing in energy efficiency in 2012 from a wide range of institutional investors including the UK Government and the European Investment Bank.

Jefferies International is acting as sponsor and sole global coordinator in relation to the IPO.

Thu, 22 Nov 2018 11:17:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Theresa May defiant as she urges business leaders to back her draft Brexit deal ]]> Prime Minister Theresa May was in a defiant mood on Monday as she urged business leaders to get behind her draft Brexit agreement.

After 18 months of intense talks, the PM and her European counterparts agreed a withdrawal deal last week, which is set to be signed off at a summit this weekend.

READ: Banking shares drop as May faces no-confidence vote over Brexit deal

Some of her own Conservative MPs have publicly lambasted the 585-page proposal though, with several ministers, including former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, resigning in protest.

— Tom Howard (@proactivetom) 19 November 2018

But May was resolute today, despite uncertainty and speculation over her future continuing to swirl.

PM def has majority of this audience on her side - she says to public ‘don’t just listen to politicians, listen to business’ - ‘I want to deliver on the Brexit vote’ and ‘this deal delivers on it’

— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) November 19, 2018

She told business leaders at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Annual Conference in London: “I want everybody here to work with me to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead. Those opportunities are real and substantial.

“The key to unlocking them is getting a good Brexit deal agreed and delivered over the next few weeks. That is my focus and my job is to get the best deal.”

She concluded her speech by saying: “It was never going to be easy or straightforward, and the final stage was always going to be the toughest, but we have in view a deal that will work for the UK and let no one be in any doubt, I am determined to deliver it.”

CBI praises May's "grit and determination"

May seemed to have the backing of her audience as well, winning lengthy rounds of applause for her responses to questions, while gentle boos rang out in support of her when one critic berated her proposals and pleaded with her to renege on the deal.

CBI deputy general Carolyn Fairbairn and its president John Allan, not always her biggest fans, repeatedly praised May’s “grit and determination” as well.

Fairbairn conceded that the deal on the table “is not perfect”, but said it takes away the “nightmare scenario” of a no-deal Brexit.

It is the third year in a row that the Prime Minister has appeared at the conference, while her opposite number, Jeremy Corbyn, is due to make his third appearance later this afternoon.

Corbyn makes case for general election

Like May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, made his third appearance at the conference later in the afternoon.

He berated Theresa May and her team for the “blindfolded Brexit” deal which they are trying to force through Parliament.

“The Prime Minister has negotiated a botched, worst-of-all-worlds deal which is bad for Britain,” said Corbyn as he addressed the same audience May had spoken in front of a few hours before.

“Labour has always respected the result of the referendum, but we cannot respect the way the government has bungled these vital negotiations. Labour will vote against the government’s deal and if the government cannot get its central policy through Parliament, then we will demand what I think is the only sensible course of action and that is a general election.”

--Adds Corbyn's comments--

Mon, 19 Nov 2018 13:25:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Nissan chairman Ghosn to be ousted for "serious misconduct", could face arrest ]]> Carmaker Nissan said it would seek to remove its chairman Carlos Ghosn for "serious misconduct" following an internal probe into his conduct.

Ghosn, who is also chief executive and chairman of French automaker Renault, and representative director Greg Kelly have been under investigation for months following a whistleblower report concerning the reporting of his pay and bonuses.

READ: Aston Martin recovers some ground after post-results drop as two more brokers initiate coverage on the stock

"The investigation showed that over many years both Ghosn and Kelly have been reporting compensation amounts in the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report that were less than the actual amount, in order to reduce the disclosed amount of Carlos Ghosn's compensation,” Nissan said in a statement on Monday.

"Also, in regards to Ghosn, numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets, and Kelly's deep involvement has also been confirmed.

"Nissan has been providing information to the Japanese Public Prosecutors Office and has been fully cooperating with their investigation. We will continue to do so."

The Japanese carmaker said its probe into Ghosn had revealed numerous other significant acts of misconduct, such as personal use of company assets, the maker of cars such as the Leaf, Micra and Qashqai said.

Press reports suggested that Ghosn could be arrested in Japan for violating financial trading laws.

"As the misconduct uncovered through our internal investigation constitutes clear violations of the duty of care as directors, Nissan's chief executive officer Hiroto Saikawa will propose to the Nissan Board of Directors to promptly remove Ghosn from his positions as chairman and representative director,” Nissan’s statement added.

Ghosn, one of the most powerful executives in the auto industry, oversees the alliance between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi and has led recoveries at all three brands.

Renault shares hit their lowest level in more than four years on the news - down almost 15%. Trading in Nissan shares has already ceased for the day.

Mon, 19 Nov 2018 10:40:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Ineos looks to bolster growing North Sea presence with ConocoPhilips portfolio ]]> Ineos, the vehicle of Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe, has confirmed it is in talks to buy US$3bn worth of North Sea gas fields from US firm ConocoPhillips.

Conoco's stake in the Clair field, west of Shetland where BP has a 45.1% interest is one of the assets under discussion. Ineos has been granted three months exclusivity to conclude a deal.

If successful, it will be the latest move in a rapid expansion by the Switzerland-based group in the North Sea and the especially the West of Shetland area, through the acquisition of both production assets and infrastructure.

Ineos jointly owns the Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical site in the Firth of Forth and in April acquired the Forties pipeline network, which feeds directly into the plant.

The Forties pipeline network carries production from 85 fields and 40 companies.

Many of those will now be Ineos part-owned as since 2015 the private group has also been buying stakes in producing North Sea fields, especially in the West of Shetland area. 

Purchases have included Breagh and Clipper South and last year Dong Energy/Orsted’s North Sea oil and gas business for £1bn.

That transaction gave it an interest in the Laggan Tormore project, Edradour-Glenlivet and Rosebank. In September, Total also announced a discovery at Glendronach where Ineos has a 20% stake.

Chevron has been shedding UK assets and sold 16.5% of the Clair Field to BP in July, which left it with 7.5%.

In the middle of last week, the US firm said it had received an unsolicited offer for its North Sea portfolio, which also includes a stake in the huge Britannia Field.


Mon, 19 Nov 2018 09:10:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - UK investors favour mining companies with overseas assets as Brexit turbulence rocks market ]]> Fri, 16 Nov 2018 11:01:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - IMI on track but sees increased volatility ]]> IMI PLC (LON:IMI) is still on an upward trend but trading is becoming more volatile, the engineer cautioned.

Nine months revenues are 5% higher than a year ago but foreign exchange movements and the acquisition of US firm Bimba meant third-quarter growth dropped to 3%.

Restructuring benefits will help IMI to meet current market expectations with organic revenue and profits also better than the second half of 2017.

“The improved results will be supported by market growth in Precision Engineering, rationalisation benefits in Critical Engineering and an improved profit performance from Hydronic Engineering.”

Shares eased 2% to 976p.


Thu, 08 Nov 2018 09:05:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Pebble Beach Systems bags new orders worth £2mln which will underpin performance in 2018 and 2019 ]]> Pebble Beach Systems Group PLC (LON:PEB) was one of the top risers in London on Tuesday after the broadcast software specialist bagged two new orders worth £1mln apiece.

AIM-quoted Pebble Beach said the two deals will help to underpin its internal forecasts for this year and next.

One order is from a large European commercial broadcaster for its traditional automation and playout technology. The project is due to be commissioned this month, ready for an on-air date in early 2019.

The second order has been received from a European broadcast service provider, which is fitting out a new state-of-the-art facility in Zurich.

The contract is expected to be finalised in the first part of November, and the new site is scheduled to open next autumn.

Pebble Beach added that it remains on track to deliver improved profitability this year.

Shares climbed by 20.5% to 5p.

Tue, 06 Nov 2018 10:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - RHI Magnesita shares fall as it warns on impact of China controls on raw materials ]]> RHI Magnesita NV (LON:RHIM) maintained its full-year forecasts despite revising first-half earnings lower but warned China government controls would impact raw material output in the longer term.

The supplier of refractory products, which joined the FTSE 250 index in November 2017 a month after its admission to trading on the London Stock Exchange, downwardly revised its first-half earnings and margins after completing a purchase price allocation (PPA)  -- which included a review of the fair value of fixed and intangible assets following the merger of RHI and Magnesita Refractories last December.

Adjusted earnings (EBITA) was downgraded to €209mln from €218mln previously and the adjusted EBITA margin was lowered to 13.8% from 14.5%. Revenue remained unchanged at €1.5bn.

Margins improve as merger synergies realised 

In the third quarter, the group said it has seen a “good trading performance” with margins improving as raw material prices remained stable after a sharp rise in the second half of 2017 and as synergies from the merger were delivered.  

The group said it remains on track to achieve the recently increased merger synergy targets of at least €60mln in 2018 and €110mln by 2020.

RHI said it was also still considering an acquisition of brick maker Kumas Manyezit Sanayi AS and would update the market in due course.

The group’s financial position strengthened in the third quarter as operating cash flow generation increased despite outflows from restructuring and transaction costs, inventory build-up from securing the supply of raw material, pricing inflation and an integrated tender offer in Brazil in the fourth quarter.

Cement production declines in China 

However, lower cement production in the Chinese market and the company’s focus on pricing and quality against more commoditised competitors held back the cement and lime business in the quarter.

The process industries segment was flat in the quarter while the nonferrous metals unit “performed strongly” with further projects to be delivered in the fourth quarter.

The steel division achieved a strong performance in North America but experienced a slowdown in Europe.

RHI says its cushioned from impact of China-US trade dispute

The company addressed concerns about the trade dispute between the US and China, saying it was cushioned from any significant impact arising from tariffs due to its diversified production base and client base.

But government controls in China resulted in a “significant reduction” in raw material output and is expected to continue in the longer term.

RHI added: “The strong trading performance reported to date in 2018 continues, supported by solid demand from the Group's end markets, the benefits of raw material integration and the realisation of synergies. Therefore, save for the PPA-related adjustments, management expectations for the full year 2018 operating results remain unchanged.”

Shares fell 1.8% to 3,974p in morning trading. 

Mon, 05 Nov 2018 09:13:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Media files - Mining Capital’s Alastair Ford on impacts of 'sound and fury' in international politics ]]> Fri, 02 Nov 2018 10:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Media files - World Gold Council says stable demand in Q3 'masks two divergent flows' ]]> Thu, 01 Nov 2018 15:02:00 +0000 <![CDATA[News - Bitcoin heads toward year-on-year loss on tenth birthday ]]> Investors in the original crypto, Bitcoin, will have little to celebrate on its tenth birthday as the digital currency headed for its first year-on-year loss since last year.

In late-afternoon trading Wednesday, Bitcoin was trading around US$6,265, below its close price of US$6,443 on Halloween last year, just before it began a meteoric rise that saw it reach nearly US$20,000 in mid-December before crashing back to around US$6,900 in early February.

READ: Buying Bitcoin: A beginner’s guide to dealing in cryptocurrency

The decline means investors who bought the currency in October last year and (perhaps foolishly) kept hold of it before, during, and after the bubble burst would be facing a loss of around 2.7% by the end of the day.

Many crypto traders and market participants saw the milestone as inevitable, given the previous crash in value and a shift toward Bitcoin investment from large, mainstream financial firms.

There is also evidence that investment in cryptocurrency is currently driven more by the technology that underpins a digital currency rather than simply hype which previously pervaded that fledgeling market.

However, despite the shift retail investors still account for a large proportion of trading in Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Wed, 31 Oct 2018 14:55:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - UK to consider ban on sale of crypto derivatives in consultation by government-backed taskforce ]]> The UK is considering a ban on the sale of cryptoasset derivatives to retail consumers due to concerns about the risks associated with such investments.

The ban on crypto derivatives, including contracts for difference, options and futures, will be explored in consultations to be held by the first quarter of 2019.

The consultation will be led by the UK Cryptoasset Taskforce, which includes representatives from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the finance ministry and the Bank of England.

The taskforce announced the plans for the consultation in a report on Tuesday, calling for closer scrutiny on the trading of cryptoassets.

 “The taskforce has concluded that strong action should be taken to address the risks associated with cryptoassets that fall within existing regulatory frameworks,” the report said.

“Further consultation and international coordination is required for those cryptoassets that pose new challenges to traditional forms of financial regulation, and fall outside the existing regulatory framework,” it added.

Ahead of next year’s consultation, the taskforce intends to publish draft guidelines by the end of this year to clarify which cryptoassets fall within and outside existing regulation and whether the regulatory net should be cast wider.

In a separate statement about the taskforce report, the FCA said it has made it clear it thinks cryptoassets have no intrinsic value and investors should be prepared to lose money.

“Whilst the taskforce appreciates that cryptoassets have the potential to bring benefits to markets, firms and consumers, there remains considerable risks that HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the FCA will take action to mitigate.

“Key risks include: harm to consumers and market integrity, the use of cryptoassets for illicit activities and potential future threats to financial stability.”

Wed, 31 Oct 2018 13:36:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Kazatomprom, the world’s largest uranium miner, plans listing in London ]]> Kazatomprom, the world’s largest producer of uranium, is planning a listing in London later this year or early next year.

The company’s chief executive Galymzhan Pirmatov cited a recent rise in uranium prices coupled with a bullish outlook for the long-term price as reasons underlying the decision.

Pirmatov argued that supply and demand fundamentals are “strong” and said that the industry is now at an inflection point.

At this stage, the plan is for a 25% stake in Kazatomprom to be floated on London, with the remaining 75% stake to be retained by the Kazakh sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna.

London listing likely to find support

The company currently accounts for around 20% of world production and its influence has grown in recent years since the announcement of production curbs at its Kazakh projects often corresponds with an uptick in the spot price.

The success of another recent listing, Yellow Cake PLC (YCA), which debuted earlier this year suggests that a London listing will find support.

Yellow Cake is a straightforward uranium investment vehicle rather than a miner, and derives its value simply from an investment in physical product, the supply of which is guaranteed in a lock-in deal with Kazatomprom.



Tue, 23 Oct 2018 13:59:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Dyson snubs UK, plans to build its new electric car in Singapore, according to media reports ]]> Dyson has snubbed the UK and plans to build its new electric car in Singapore, according to media reports citing a memo to staff by the privately-owned company’s chief executive, Jim Rowan.

The Guardian newspaper’s website reported that the manufacturer chose Singapore because of its proximity to “high-growth markets” in Asia.

READ: Dyson planning to build an electric car test track in UK

It said the Singapore plant will be completed in 2020, with the car to be launched in 2021 as the firm - founded by inventor James Dyson - steps up plans to take on big US rivals such as  Elon Musk's electric carmaker Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA).

Dyson already manufactures electric motors for its other products, such as vacuum cleaners and fans, in Singapore, where it employs 1,100 staff, the Guardian report said, with staff numbers there to double after it completes the new facility.

The firm is developing the electric car at its research facilities in Wiltshire, where it recently opened a test track and unveiled plans to expand its operations to accommodate another 2,000 employees.

However, in the memo to staff, the newspaper quoted Rowan as saying the decision to choose Singapore was “complex, based on supply chains, access to markets, and the availability of the expertise that will help us achieve our ambitions”.

Rowan also highlighted the availability of engineering talent in Singapore, in spite of its “comparatively high-cost base”, the Guardian website added.

Asia focus not a surprise

Dr Jonathan Owens, Lecturer in Operations Management at the University of Salford Business School, commented: “While it is disappointing that Sir James Dyson has made the announcement that his company will set up production for their first Electric Vehicles (EV) in Singapore, in many ways it is not surprising. 

 “Dyson sees Singapore as a base closer to their target market; Asia Pacific (APAC).  They do not cite Brexit as the reason to leave, but being able to secure the talent required to produce their new EV and shorter and established supply chains.”

 He added: “The UK’s biggest barrier to EV growth is still access to public charge points with uptake and roll out still not hitting significant numbers. 

“In contrast, the Asian market is seeing huge growth in the usage of EV’s. The higher adoption rates of smart mobility services, government regulations as well as increasing fuel prices are supporting the growth of EV’s in this region.” 

Owens concluded: “The biggest supporter to this rapid growth is the investment of charge point infrastructure. China is aiming to install an extra 500,000 public EV charging stations by 2020. 

“Others, such as India, Thailand, and Singapore, have also announced investment plans to develop EV charging infrastructure, leaving the UK trailing in their wake.”

 -- Adds Salford Business School comment --

Tue, 23 Oct 2018 11:35:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Telefonica's O2 postpones London IPO after Brexit due to uncertainty ]]> O2, the UK's second largest mobile firm, has reportedly put the brakes on a planned flotation on the London Stock Exchange until after Brexit.

The telecoms giant was expected to begin trading this year after 4G and 5G spectrum auctions in April but the plan has been postponed due to uncertainty over the UK’s exit from the European Union and its potential impact on financial markets, according to the Press Association.


An initial public offering of O2 has been on the cards for years, with analysts valuing the UK’s second largest mobile firm at up to £10bn.

However, earlier this year, Telefonica chief executive Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete said O2 was not quite ready to float.

Recent IPO flops, including of Funding Circle Holdings PLC (LON:FCH) and Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC (LON:AML) this month, are understood to have contributed to Telefonica’s decision to delay its listing.

Mon, 22 Oct 2018 16:06:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - O2 puts IPO on hold against backdrop of London flotation failures ]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2018 15:52:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Summerway Capital starts hunt for acquisitions after AIM listing ]]> A new investment vehicle, Summerway Capital PLC (LON:SWC), started trading on AIM today.

Run by Alexander Anton, a member of the family that founded floorings group Victoria PLC, it will look to acquire businesses in the household and consumer goods sector.

A placing ahead of the listing raised £5.7mln net at £1 per share.

Under AIM rules, Summerway has 18 months to find a trading business to maintain its listing.

“The prevailing market conditions will deliver a wide range of potential opportunities,” said Anton.

Fri, 19 Oct 2018 10:02:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Recreational pot: Where in the world is it legal and will the UK ever approve? ]]> Canada has become the second country after Uruguay to legalise possession and the use of recreational marijuana.

The Canadian government has allowed adults to possess up to 30 grams of dried marijuana in public. Medicinal cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001.

READ: Feud between Namaste Technologies and short-seller Andrew Left of Citron Research escalates

Uruguay was the first country to legalise recreational marijuana in 2013.

Recreational weed is also now legal in nine US states including Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. It is also legal in the District of Colombia and the northern Mariana Islands.

However, use and possession of the drug for any purpose is still illegal under the US federal law, meaning most cannabis companies are forced to function as all-cash businesses and struggle to get capital investments and loans from banks.

The government allows states to make their own marijuana policy and does not enforce the federal law prohibiting recreational consumption in areas where it has been approved.

While the UK is a long way off approving recreational marijuana, doctors will be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis from November 1.

People suffering from chronic pain, epilepsy, or nausea as a result of chemotherapy or multiple sclerosis (MS) will be among the first to be prescribed the drugs.

Geremy Thomas, chief executive and founder of medical cannabis investor Sativa Investments PLC (NEX:SATI), has said the UK government’s decision to relax the rules on medical cannabis does not mean the legalisation of recreational use is on the cards.

He also reckons existing manufacturers outside the UK will likely be awarded limited export licenses for medical cannabis products. For this reason, investors are becoming aware of the opportunities in the UK.   

“[Investors] will recognise that we [the UK] will be a very significant cannabis market,” he said. 

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “While there is no prospect of a significant change of tack from the UK government on how it views the legality or otherwise of cannabis, there does appear to be a growing recognition that certain parts of the plant can be harvested for medicinal uses, and legislation could well be changed in the future to reflect that."

He added: “This growing industry appears to be spawning a raft of start-up businesses keen to have a stake in what is likely to be a multibillion-dollar industry, but with that there still remains a high degree of resistance to its legalisation on a wider scale.”

Wed, 17 Oct 2018 12:10:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Gourmet Burger Kitchen owner expects chain to post a wider loss as restaurant sector struggles ]]> Famous Brands, the owner of UK Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), has warned that it expects the burger chain to post a wider half-year loss amid tough conditions in the restaurant sector.

The South African group, which also owns Wimpy, Steers and Debonairs pizza, sees GBK generating a loss of £2.6mln for the six months to August 31, compared to a loss of £872,000 the same period a year ago.

Famous Brands bought GBK in 2016 for £120mln but the burger chain’s contribution to group profits has taken longer than expected as UK restaurants come under pressure from tough competition and weak consumer confidence.

Rival Byron announced earlier this year that it would close up to 20 restaurants, nearly a third of its outlets, as part of a restructuring plan.

Byron agreed on an insolvency process, known as a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), with its creditors that allowed it to close restaurants and negotiate lower rents on remaining outlets.

In August the Restaurant Group PLC (LON:RTN), which owns Garfunkel's, Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito, cut its full-year profit guidance after first-half sales dropped 2.1% to £326.1mln but the company.

READ: World Cup and adverse weather hurt Restaurant Group sales in first half

Franco Manca and The Real Greek owner The Fulham Shore PLC (LON:FUL) has issued two profit warnings over the past year, although in August it reported more “encouraging” trading for the past five months.

READ: Fulham Shore reports better sales at Franco Manca and The Real Greek

Over the past four years, the UK casual dining market has been saturated with a net 4,000 new restaurants opening nationwide. The restaurant boom has left customers with plenty of options, forcing businesses to cut prices to try to attract people.

On top of that, the devaluation of the pound, business rates and an increase in the minimum wage has led to higher costs for eateries.

The Restaurant Group said it expects inflationary costs pressures to continue through the second half due to an increase in food and drink prices, rents, utilities and wages. 

For companies with restaurants in shopping centres, declining footfall has also provided a drag.

More consumers are shunning the high street in favour of the convenience of online shopping, which contributed to the demise of several bricks and mortar retailers such as Toys R Us, Maplins and House of Fraser. 

Mon, 15 Oct 2018 15:10:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Supercuts owner Regis asks landlords to cut rents at its salons ]]> Hairdressing group Regis, which owns Regis Salons and Supercuts, is to ask landlords to cut the rent on more than a hundred of its stores to help it stay afloat.

The company is looking to push through a company voluntary arrangement – a controversial type of rescue deal whereby a struggling company asks its creditors to cut it some slack.

READ: CVAs explained

Unusually for a CVA, Regis isn’t looking to close any of its sites or cut staff numbers, instead, it wants the landlords of half of its stores to reduce rents.

Eddie Williams, a partner at Grant Thornton, which is acting for Regis UK, says: “The company has put forward a proposal to its creditors that seeks to amend some terms in its lease obligations and stabilise the business.

“As part of this, there are no planned salon closures and as such, no employee redundancies are planned, which is a positive in the context of the challenges the high street has seen over the last 12 months and which continue to be prevalent.”

Bad news for #Regis and #supercuts. This latest call for a CVA is the first this year outside of the traditional #retail domain, pulling the services sector into the turbulent headwinds which have faced food & beverage, department stores and the fashion sectors in 2018.

— James Child (@JamesChildEG) October 12, 2018 ]]>
Fri, 12 Oct 2018 13:05:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Car leasing group Leaseplan pulls Amsterdam IPO amid market sell-off ]]> Car-leasing group Leaseplan has blamed “market conditions” after becoming the latest company to pull the plug on its planned IPO.

It was only last week that the private equity-backed company unveiled plans to float on the Euronext stock exchange in Amsterdam, calling it the “logical next step”.

READ: Vannin capital scraps London IPO

But the sudden downturn in global stock markets, coupled with poor starts for two of Europe’s most recent IPOs, Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC (LON:AML) and Funding Circle PLC has dampened enthusiasm for new listings.

Luxury carmaker Aston is down at 1,556p, almost 20% below its IPO price of 1,900p a share, while Funding Circle, a peer-to-peer lender, has slumped 15% from its listing price.

Bankers had warned that the slow starts for those two high-profile flotations would have a dampening effect on other listings.

On Thursday, litigation financing firm Vannin Capital scrapped its plans to list on the London Stock Exchange, with chief executive Richard Hextall saying the postponement was down to the “volatility” in equity markets at the moment.

Leaseplan, which was sold by Volkswagen to a consortium led by TDR and Dutch pension fund PGGM in 2015 for around £3bn, has left the door open for a float further down the line though.

Fri, 12 Oct 2018 09:46:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Produce Investments results hit by cold spring and oversupplied market ]]> Produce Investments Plc (LON:PIL) shares traded lower following final results in which it told investors that operating profits were in line with board expectations.

The UK potato and daffodil seed producer, which in September became a takeover target, reported a ‘solid performance’ despite an ‘oversupplied market’, meanwhile, it noted poor spring weather had impacted its Rowe Farming and Jersey operations.

Funds managed by Promethean Investments in September made a £52.95mln conditional offer to acquire the company which was recommended by the company’s independent directors.

READ: Patisserie Holdings on verge of administration

Operating profit was reported at £6.1mln, compared to a restated figure of £7.8mln for the preceding year. Earnings (EBITDA) amounted to £12mln, and, highlighted exceptional costs of £14.7mln as well as prior period adjustments of £1.4mln.

It reported a £9.3mln loss for the period. At the end of the year, it had £6.4mln of cash and short-term deposits – plus £10mln of inventory and £18.9mln biological assets.

Angus Armstrong, Produce Investments chief executive, said: "In a difficult year impacted by the adverse spring weather we have seen business gains and improved operational efficiencies in our core fresh segment helping sustain our performance in a tough retail environment and I am pleased to say that we have delivered operating profit in line with the board's revised expectations.

“Rowe Farming and Jersey both suffered due to the long periods of cold and unseasonal spring weather and our Swancote facility continued to struggle in a fragmented and competitive market sector.

“We have invested heavily in our Restrain business and consolidated our development and manufacturing to one location, and the Linwood crops business is now well established and performing well.”

Armstrong highlighted that the group remained cash generative, and, looking forward, said the company would focus more on the daffodil market.

He also reflected on the loss of a significant customer: “Whilst we were disappointed to announce a three-year wind-down of one key customer contract, we are confident that we are well positioned to pick up new opportunities in the market, and we will continue to review the cost base of the company.”

Produce Investments shares were down 3.5p or 1.93% to 178p.

Fri, 12 Oct 2018 09:33:00 +0100