Proactiveinvestors RSS feed en Mon, 19 Nov 2018 13:33:56 +0000 Genera CMS (Proactiveinvestors) (Proactiveinvestors) <![CDATA[News - Theresa May defiant as she urges business leaders to back her draft Brexit deal ]]> Prime Minister Theresa May was in 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.

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 be 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 the 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 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.

Mon, 19 Nov 2018 13:25:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Vision Direct says personal details of customers exposed in cyber attack ]]> Vision Direct said it has been hit by a cyber attack, exposing the personal details of its customers.

The company, which sells contact lenses, glasses and other eyecare products, said customers who entered their details into its website between November 3 and 8 could be affected.

The group’s UK site and some of its European operations were hacked, compromising personal data including payment card numbers, expiry dates and CVV codes.

Vision Direct said is customers should contact their banks and/or credit card providers if they entered their details during the stated period. 

"The personal information was compromised when it was being entered into the site and includes full name, billing address, email address, password, telephone number and payment card information, including card number, expiry date and CVV," it said on its website.

"We understand that this incident will cause concern and inconvenience to our customers. We are contacting all affected customers to apologise.”

The Vision Direct's Twitter account has been telling customers that "compensation will be considered on a individual basis should there be any material loss incurred”.

The BBC cited cyber security experts in reporting that a fake Google Analytics script placed within the site's code was the apparent cause of the attack.

The news outlet said a spokeswoman for Vision Direct said she would pass on its request for more information, including an estimate of how many people had been affected.

Mon, 19 Nov 2018 13:11:00 +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 - Orbiiit 'connecting brands with fans through the power of influencers' ]]> Fri, 16 Nov 2018 15:14:00 +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 - Cobra Resources starts on front foot in first day of trading ]]> Cobra Resources PLC (LON:COBR) has seen a good start on Thursday morning as it began its first day of trading on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.

The firm, which focuses on natural resource acquisitions, said it had raised around £523,500 through a placing of 34.9mln shares at a placing price of 1.5p each, in addition to warrants on a one for one basis that would raise a further £1.3mln if they are all exercised.

Based on the placing price, the company said its market cap at admission is around £1.01mln with 67.2mln shares at issue.

Rolf Gerritsen, chief executive of Cobra, said that the last decade had seen “a significant lack of investment in development projects in natural resources”, adding that Cobra had been formed to “take advantage of certain attractive supply and demand dynamics going on in the natural resources environment by identifying and investing in one or two quality advanced but undervalued projects”.

He added that the funds raised from the initial public offering would be used to “evaluate any potential acquisition target with a focus in base-and-precious metals”.

In late-morning trading, Cobra shares were trading at 1.75p, around 17% higher than the placing price.

Thu, 15 Nov 2018 11:21:00 +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 - Digital transformation specialist The Panoply Holdings to join AIM later this month ]]> Digital transformation services group The Panoply Holdings PLC has unveiled plans to list on London’s AIM market later this month.

Panoply is looking to raise £5mln as part of the initial public offering (IPO), money it will use to target an industry which could be worth as much as £63bn by 2021 in Europe, the Middle East and Asia alone.

Ambitious growth​ plans

It has already lined up four companies which will become part of the group upon admission: Oslo-based management consultancy Bene Agera; London digital experience agency Manifesto; IT consultancy Notbinary; and software developer Questers.

Panoply reckons that becoming a listed company will give it more credibility when trying to sell its services to potential customers, while it will also help in raising money to fund more acquisitions.

“With digital transformation becoming more and more critical to companies' success across many verticals, this is the right time for a digitally native business such as ours to come to the market and capitalise on that structural shift,” said serial tech entrepreneur and chief executive Neal Gandhi.

“We have ambitious growth plans and are confident that AIM will be the right platform to support us in rapidly scaling the business. Admission to the exchange will bolster our brand and provide the capital necessary to pursue further organic and acquisitive growth.”

Mon, 05 Nov 2018 10:21:00 +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
<![CDATA[News - Belarus food retailer Eurotorg to list in London ]]> Eurotorg is set to defy a wobbly market for IPOs and become the first company from Belarus to list in London.

The retailer is the country’s largest grocery chain with 19% of the food market in Belarus. Eurotorg generated revenues of US$2.1bn in the year to June, making an underlying profit of US$195mln.

The Belarusian economy grew by 4.5% in the first half of 2018.

Paying down debts

Eurotorg is looking to raise US$200mln to pay down its debts with a secondary offering of US$100mln also part of the IPO.

The GDRs will join the standard segment of the Official List 

Andrei Zubkou, chief executive, said the IPO alongside the appointment of three non-executive directors with experience in the retail, global tech and digital businesses would help develop its market-leading, profitable e-commerce operations.

The GDRs will join the standard segment of the Official List, while a roadshow will start on 24 October.

Fri, 12 Oct 2018 09:15:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Bulls, Bears & Brokers: Alto Capital's Tony Locantro on Australia's booming gold sector ]]> Thu, 11 Oct 2018 09:46:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Stox tops for dApp usage on Ethereum blockchain ]]> Prediction markets platform Stox has become the highest rated dApp in the world according to, which ranks dApps based on their Daily Active Users on the Ethereum blockchain.

dApps connect users and developers directly with thousands already built on the Ethereum blockchain.

Demand for high-quality predictions globally​

Using Stox, people can predict events in finance, sports and politics and be rewarded with tokens for prescience.

Yossi Peretz, Stox’s chief executive, said the acknowledgement was a significant milestone.

“With a community of over 200,000 users, we are proving that there is a demand for high-quality predictions globally.”

The recent World Cup generated a total of 85mln STX tokens (US$7.26m) cast across 176,000 votes.

Stox raised US$33min (148,000 ETH) in just 34 hours through an ICO or token sale last year.

Wed, 10 Oct 2018 14:46:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms to face scrutiny from the CMA ]]> The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced plans to probe the accountancy sector, placing the ‘Big Four’ audit firms, KPMG, EY, Deloitte, and PwC, under scrutiny.

The regulator said it would investigate whether the sector was "competitive and resilient enough to maintain high-quality standards" after concerns were raised that the industry is not working well for investors or the economy.

The auditing processes of the big four have come into question following the collapse of outsourcing firm Carillion at the start of the year.

The CMA investigation will cover three main areas; how firms chose auditors and the frequency of switching, the resilience of the auditing industry with the risk of the four firms being “too big to fail”, and the lack of incentive for auditors to produce "challenging performance reviews" given that companies rather than investors pick the auditor.

"Unacceptable deterioration in quality"

In June, the auditing work of the big four was heavily criticised by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the industry watchdog.

In a statement at the time, the FRC said there had been an “unacceptable deterioration in quality” at KPMG, saying that 50% of the firm’s FTSE 350 audits required more than limited improvements, compared to 35% the previous year.

The deterioration meant the FRC would have to inspect 25% more audits done by the company in the 2018-19 financial year, the first time it has taken such action.

Regarding the current investigation, the CMA’s chief executive Andrea Coscelli said it planned to issue its provisional findings before Christmas.

Tue, 09 Oct 2018 15:22:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Ryanair veteran to float second-hand aircraft leasing business in London ]]> A leasing business specialising in second-hand aircraft and run by Ryanair’s former deputy CEO is raising US$250mln ahead of an IPO in London next month.

Sirius Aircraft Leasing Fund Limited will focus on single-aisle aircraft, a plane size increasingly used by airlines such as British Airways owner IAG and Lufthansa it says.

SACHL said leasing of single-aisle aircraft such as Boeing 737s and Airbus 320s that seat around 200 passengers makes sense due to the cost savings, the value of the engines and maintenance savings involved.

Target returns will be 10% annually including an 8% dividend yield.

Howard Miller, who was both deputy CEO and chief financial officer in a 23-year career at no-frills airline Ryanair, will head the fund’s investment adviser Sirius Aviation Capital Holdings Limited (SACHL).

Patrick O’Brien, a former senior tax partner at KPMG Ireland, will be SACHL’s chairman, while Edward Coughlan formerly of Seraph Aviation will be COO.

“Globally we intend to leverage this capability to access portfolios of in-demand, single-aisle aircraft (with leases attached), principally from lessors disposing of older aircraft in order to maintain the average age of their fleet.

“We are currently assessing a number of attractive portfolios and anticipate that the funds raised will be deployed within 6 months of Admission."

Borrowings of up to 50% of the fleet's value will help to boost returns, it said.

Shares are expected to start trading on the premium section of London’s main market in early November.

Mon, 08 Oct 2018 09:58:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Weak gold price sentiment creating mixed picture for mining ]]> Fri, 05 Oct 2018 10:41:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Produce Investments wilts as major customer takes business elsewhere ]]> A major customer for Produce Investments PLC (LON:PIL), one of the UK’s largest potato growers, has refused to extend the current supply deal.

The unnamed company has cut Produce from its list of partners, opting instead to use only one supplier once the current contract expires in August 2019.

READ: Produce board recommends £53mln cash offer

Produce bosses said they were “naturally disappointed” with the decision but moved to reassure investors, saying that it is just “part of the ordinary course” of business.

It is expected that supply volumes to this customer will be phased out over a three-year period from next August.

Earlier this month, Produce agreed to be taken over by funds managed by Promethean Investments LLP in a deal worth around £53mln.

Shares were down 1% to 188.6p on Friday afternoon.

Fri, 28 Sep 2018 14:41:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Mining Capital's Alastair Ford on the outlook for gold and rare earths ]]> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 11:13:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Lloyd’s of London returns to profit in first half after 2017 loss ]]> Lloyd’s of London, the 330-year-old insurance market, returned to profit in the first half after a series of natural disasters led to a loss in 2017.

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

Slashing costs

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

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

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

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

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

Fri, 21 Sep 2018 08:19:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Mixed messages on global markets for commodities investors ]]> Fri, 14 Sep 2018 15:41:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Gaming software group GAN lawyers up as it looks to protect its IP over in the US ]]> Gaming software group GAN PLC (LON:GAN) has hired a US intellectual property law firm as it looks to sue internet gambling operators using its technology without permission.

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

READ: GAN shares jump after US sports betting deal

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

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

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

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

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

Fri, 14 Sep 2018 08:52:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Nuformix receives £500,000 milestone payment ]]> Nuformix PLC (LON:NFX) has passed a pre-clinical milestone for its cancer drug, NXP001, triggering a £500,000 milestone payment from partner Newsummit Biopharma.

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

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

Fri, 14 Sep 2018 07:46:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - The Multifamily Housing REIT plotting £175mln London IPO ]]> Exeter-based real estate investment trust The Multifamily Housing REIT PLC has unveiled plans to snap up a 658-home property portfolio if it can get away a £175mln flotation.

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

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

Alternative to buy-to-let investments

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

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

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

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

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

Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:01:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Leading potato producer Produce Investments agrees to around £52.95mln recommended cash takeover offer ]]> One of the UK’s leading potato producers Produce Investments PLC (LON:PIL) has agreed to around a £52.95mln recommended cash takeover offer from a Jersey company ultimately owned and controlled by funds managed by Promethean Investments LLP.

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

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

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

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

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

Tue, 11 Sep 2018 07:41:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Cryptocurrencies fall once again as Ethereum founder warns days of explosive growth are over ]]> The cryptocurrency bear market sank to fresh lows on Monday amid a sharp sell-off in Ether, Bitcoin’s biggest rival, and US regulators suspending trading in two securities linked to digital assets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Updates for New York DoFS decision--

Mon, 10 Sep 2018 15:20:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - English whisky maker Lakes Distillery plans to raise £15mln in London flotation ]]> English whisky maker, Lakes Distillery, is planning to raise £15mln in a London stock market flotation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fri, 07 Sep 2018 15:37:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Waterstones snaps up Foyles as book retailer tries to fend off Amazon and co ]]> UK book shop Waterstones is buying the 115-year-old family-owned chain Foyles as it looks to halt Amazon’s rampant rise in the book retail industry.

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

Terms of deal not disclosed​

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fri, 07 Sep 2018 14:46:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Battery metals projects continue to enjoy strong investor support ]]> Fri, 07 Sep 2018 14:10:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - Bob Diamond cautiously optimistic about Atlas Mara after bad debts boost ]]> Atlas Mara PLC (LON:ATL), the African bank founded by former Barclays boss Bob Diamond, got a first half boost from its stake in Union Bank of Nigeria.

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

Cautiously optimistic about the future​

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

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

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

Atlas appointed John Staley as chief executive in May.

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

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

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

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

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

Shares rose 2% to US$2.40.

Wed, 05 Sep 2018 09:11:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Terry Smith-backed new investment trust will invest in small and medium-caps ]]> New investment trusts don’t come along that often but a new one – Smithson Investment Trust PLC – is warming up on the sidelines.

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

New fund from Fundsmith focused on small and mid cap companies - Smithson. Read the full announcement here and

— Fundsmith (@FundsmithLLP) September 4, 2018

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

Focus on small and medium-sized companies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tue, 04 Sep 2018 10:14:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Online beauty retailer The Hut Group touted as next to join growing list of IPOs ]]> Online beauty retailer The Hut Group (THG) could be the next company to float following reports that it has turned down a string of takeover offers that value it at almost £4bn.

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

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

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

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

Aston Martin and Funding Circle IPOs

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

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

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

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

Monzo eyes London float 

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

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

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

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

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

Mon, 03 Sep 2018 13:32:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Positive outlook for global trade bodes well for miners ]]> Fri, 31 Aug 2018 11:51:00 +0100 <![CDATA[News - UK DIY retailer Homebase saved from collapse as creditors back rescue deal ]]> Homebase’s creditors have approved the struggling DIY retailer’s rescue deal that will see 42 stores close and rents slashed on the remaining sites.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Updates for result of vote--

Fri, 31 Aug 2018 07:38:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Wonga appoints administrators as payday loans firm collapses, having stopped accepting new loans ]]> Payday lender Wonga entered into administration late on Thursday, having earlier that day stopped accepting new loans in the wake of reports that it is on the brink of collapse.

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

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

Tighter rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thu, 30 Aug 2018 12:44:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Media files - Sell off in Echo Energy Plc shares is overdone - Malcolm Graham-Wood ]]> Tue, 28 Aug 2018 16:07:00 +0100