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In the Papers - Volvo, Asos, Lidl, Sainsbury’s

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Newspaper Summary

The Times

CAA fuels claims that Monarch was ‘worth more dead than alive’: The Civil Aviation Authority has defended its actions over the collapse of Monarch Airlines, saying that it was not to blame for the carrier going into administration.

Opposition mounts to tycoon Kwek Leng Beng’s hotel bid: Kwek Leng Beng is facing growing opposition from investors to his proposed £1.8 billion bid for Millennium & Copthorne Hotels.

Tapi Carpets counts the cost of expansion with £10 million loss: A flooring company set up by Martin Harris, son of the Founder of Carpetright, has recorded a £10 million pre-tax loss after an “aggressive” store expansion programme.

Companies fall short on cyberthreat, warns PWC: For many companies of a certain size, falling victim to a cyber- attack is now a question of when, not if, and phishing scams and ransomware attacks are a routine cost of doing business. Yet many appear to do very little to seek the cause of incidents or to prepare employees for them.

Government loses Lloyds secrecy case: An attempt by the government to keep secret documents about the financial crisis during the £600 million lawsuit over Lloyds’ acquisition of HBOS has been thwarted.

FCA Chief: Attacking Saudi Aramco float meetings is wrong argument: The Boss of the City watchdog has hit back at criticism of its handling of attempts to lure Saudi Aramco to list in London, saying that focusing on meetings with the state-owned oil major was “the wrong argument”.

The Independent

Amazon and eBay profiting from fraud by sellers who dodge VAT, MPs say: Online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are profiting from fraud by sellers who dodge the VAT they should charge on sales in the U.K., a parliamentary report has said.

Volvo unveils new Polestar electric sports car: The Swedish car firm Volvo and its Chinese parent company Geely have unveiled a bold attempt to get a head start in the electric vehicles manufacturing race with the launch of a new mass market hybrid electric sports car.

No deal Brexit would wipe £40 billion off U.K. growth in 2019, says OECD: A “no-deal” Brexit would wipe around £40 billion off U.K. economic growth by 2019, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Goldman Sachs sees U.S.-Iran standoff as long-term threat to oil supply: Goldman Sachs said that while oil output from the Kurdistan region was potentially at risk due to a standoff with Iraq, tensions between the United States and Iran remained a larger and longer term threat to global supply.

Asos reports surge in full-year profits: Online retailer Asos has reported a surge in full-year profits and upgraded its sales forecasts after it was boosted by a strong international performance.

Lidl remains U.K.’s fastest-growing supermarket: Supermarkets have clocked 17 months of consecutive sales growth, with Lidl still Britain’s fastest-growing supermarket, new figures show.

Netflix adds more new sUBScribers than expected by Wall Street: Netflix added more new subscribers than expected in the third quarter of this year.

Uber’s head of European policy quits: Uber’s head of policy for Europe, Middle East and Africa has quit the company to join electric vehicle charging network firm Chargepoint.

The Daily Telegraph

Debt-laden care homes giant Four Seasons makes survival appeal as interest deadline looms: Britain’s biggest care provider has made an urgent appeal to its lenders to agree to radical restructuring of its heavy debts to avert a cash crisis that would cast uncertainty over the future of hundreds of nursing homes nationwide.

Rio Tinto and former execs charged with fraud in U.S. as miner handed £27 million U.K. fine: Rio Tinto has been charged with fraud in the U.S. and handed down a £27.4 million fine in the U.K. over its handling of its coal assets in Mozambique.

Facebook’s head of hardware lab to leave as talk of artificial intelligence chip emerges: The head of Facebook’s secretive hardware lab Building 8 has said she is stepping down after eighteen months at the group to focus on a new project.

British Gas owner Centrica refuses to rule out legal bid to block energy price cap: British Gas owner Centrica has refused to rule out a legal challenge to the Government’s proposed price cap on energy bills, while coming under fire from MPs and regulator Ofgem for its heavy reliance on expensive standard tariffs.

Revolution Bars suitor leaves empty handed as investors reject £100 million bid: Shares in Revolution Bars dropped as much as 8pc after a second potential suitor in two weeks was left unable to secure a deal.

The Questor Column:

Cobham came close to running out of fuel but is poised to take wing again: Five profit warnings, a substantially reduced dividend and two rights issues hardly sound like a basis for an investment case. But it is always eye-catching when share prices start to rise even as the news remains bad and Cobham is showing such pleasing resilience. Aeroflex went wrong and a vital refuelling systems contract for the U.S. Air Force suffered delays at the same time. Cobham’s profits plunged and the over-indebted balance sheet fell apart. Hence the need for the rights issues. August’s interims were no worse than expected, which in itself was a nice change, and the management overhaul has continued with the appointment of industry heavy-hitter Paul Kahn as head of the communications operations, which include the units that could be sold. As with any turnaround story the risks are considerable, so the stock is suitable only for patient, risk-tolerant investors who can tough out any further turbulence. Questor says ‘Buy’.

Update: OPG Power Ventures: OPG has done everything that we had hoped over the past three years. The Indian electricity generator has increased coal-fired capacity, broadened its portfolio of long-term supply contracts, begun to add solar capability, consistently increased sales and paid a maiden dividend. The shares have plunged nevertheless, amid suggestions that India could marginalise coal to the benefit of solar and, more immediately, a spike in coal prices that will take a heavy toll on profits in the year to March 2018. However, it has net debt of £308 million (plus lease commitments of £200 million). Some £36 million is due to be repaid this year and the interest bill is expected to be around £38 million, with lease obligations on top. Cash is just £31 million, although OPG has two investments to sell. Interest cover was thin last year and will be skinnier still this year, given analysts’ consensus view that pre-tax profits will fall from £17 million to just £4 million. The safest option unfortunately is to pull the plug on OPG. If coal prices start to drop we will take another look. Questor says ‘Sell’.

The Guardian

Sainsbury’s to cut 2,000 jobs across U.K.: Sainsbury’s is axing 2,000 store and back office roles as the supermarket chain looks to slash costs by £500 million amid an intensifying price war with Aldi and Lidl.

U.K. Treasury rejects OECD’s call for second Brexit referendum: The Treasury has flatly rejected calls for a second EU referendum after the west’s leading economic thinktank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said reversing the decision to leave would significantly benefit the economy.

Energy firms warned to drop worst-value tariffs or face action: Big energy companies face a regulatory crackdown after the industry watchdog threatened to impose targets forcing suppliers to shift millions of customers off the market’s worst-value tariffs.

House prices rise 5% a year in more bad news for would-be buyers: The rate of house price growth increased to 5% in August, according to official government figures, pushing homes further out of the reach of aspiring young buyers already squeezed by rising inflation.

Bombardier raises hopes Airbus deal could save 1,000 jobs in Belfast: Bombardier has raised hopes of safeguarding 1,000 jobs in Belfast, saying it was confident a deal for Airbus to take a majority stake in the C-Series jet programme would help it avoid punishing U.S. import tariffs.

Richard Branson reveals conmen targeted him twice: Sir Richard Branson has revealed he was the target of two elaborate confidence tricks – one involving someone posing as the defence secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, in a phone call – that saw a “very successful” business associate swindled out of $2 million (£1.5 million).

Daily Mail

Finally Pearson investors can cheer a rise in profits after cost-cutting and restructuring bears fruit: The education publishing specialist raised its profit forecast for the year after reporting revenue was at the upper end of guidance in the first nine months.

Oil services company Wood hired to help design Gulf of Mexico gas terminal: Oil services company Wood has been hired by the Honghua Group to help design its offshore liquefied natural gas terminal in the Gulf of Mexico, in a contract worth £9 million.

Judge blocks 11th hour bid to keep Labour Ministers’ roles in disastrous HBOS deal secret: A Judge has blocked an 11th-hour bid to keep documents revealing Labour’s support for the disastrous takeover of failing bank HBOS secret.

Shell set to open its first electric car charge points in the U.K. as it prepares for shift away from petrol and diesel: Oil firm Shell is opening its first electric car charging points in the U.K. to keep pace with the global shift away from fossil fuels.

Daily Express

Bitcoin is a ‘speculative bubble’ that is unlikely to ever be real currency, says UBS: Bitcoin has been dismissed by investment bank UBS as a “speculative bubble” that is unlikely to ever become a mainstream currency.

Russia launches own cryptocurrency dubbed the Cryptoruble: Vladimir Putin has given the green light for Russia to have it’s own cryptocurrency - dubbed the CryptoRuble.

‘Drop was unneccessary’ MPs savage Carney over controversial Brexit interest rate cut: Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has been accused of over-reacting to last year’s Brexit vote by slashing interest rates and ramping up the country’s money-printing programme, as the Chief policymaker appeared before MPs on the Treasury Select Committee.

Airbus buys major stake in Bombardier after U.S. government imposes 300% duty: Airbus has acquired a majority stake in Bombardier’s C Series aircraft programme, the companies have announced.

Pound jumps as inflation surge raises chance of interest rate rise next month: The pound strengthened against the euro as inflation hit its highest level in five years, raising the chance of an interest rate hike in November, as Bank of England Governor Mark Carney was questioned by the Treasury Select Committee.

The Scottish Herald

Interest rate warning as inflation rises to 3%:  Scottish Chambers of Commerce has urged the Bank of England not to raise U.K. interest rates next month because real wages are falling, after official data showed annual inflation had surged to three%.

Grocery sector drives sales rise: The value of Scottish retail sales in September was up modestly on a year earlier, as the food category recorded a sharp increase partly because of surging prices, industry figures show.

Dundee business LAT_56 set to make its F1 debut next season after signing deal with motor-racing legends McLaren: A Dundee business will be supplying luggage to the likes of Fernando Alonso after striking a deal with F1 team McLaren. Performance travel luggage brand LAT_56 has signed a four year deal to become the legendary race team’s official luggage supplier.

Scots job exodus planned in months amid fears of ‘no deal Brexit’, warns top expert: Professor Anton Muscatelli said businesses would move evermore operations abroad early next year to prepare for a “no deal Brexit”, leaving the EU without a trade agreement.

Marine Harvest’s Scottish profits rise despite smaller salmon catch: Norwegian fish farming business Marine Harvest has seen a reduction in its third-quarter Scottish harvest for the second year in succession although thanks in part to sterling’s weakness the profitability of its Scottish arm improved.

The Scotsman

Brexit ‘transition period’ losing value amid deadlock: Banks and insurers will wave through “irreversible” Brexit job relocations next year unless the U.K. government strikes a quick deal on a transition period after March 2019, the leading City trade body has warned.

P&O Ferries posts record Q3 for lorries across the Irish Sea: P&O Ferries has cut a swathe through gathering U.K. economic headwinds, with the highest number of lorries and trailers carried on its ferries between Larne and Cairn¬ryan in the third trading quarter in six years.

Merlin investors spooked by update: Merlin Entertainments, the leisure giant behind Madame Tussauds, Alton Towers and the Edinburgh Dungeon, saw its shares slump as peak summer trading woes following the U.K. terror attacks took the shine off a worldwide Peppa Pig deal.

Veitchi has market floored with key contract wins: Veitchi Group, the Cambuslang-based construction sub-contractor, is cheering an upsurge in business at three of its key divisions thanks to contract wins across the U.K.

Demand sees second Jaguar Land Rover city site opened: Scottish dealership firm John Clark Motor Group opened a new Pentland Jaguar Land Rover showroom site in Edinburgh.

City A.M.

Holidaymakers are paying attention to Thomson’s rebrand as Tui, YouGov data shows: Last month, travel and holiday booking giant Thomson unveiled a new campaign as part of a major rebranding exercise.

Shire shows activists’ growing addiction to U.K. companies, Robey’s onward march and the FRC has its plate full: Among the products manufactured by Shire, the London-listed drugs group, are several treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. That might explain why the company keeps encountering the same difficulties with investors over the sums paid to its top Executives.

MPs press delivery firm Hermes on how it pays its drivers: MPs are pressing delivery firm Hermes over how it treats its couriers after the company said it received 100,000 complaints from its workers last year.

Hornby issues fresh profit warning: Hornby issued a fresh profit warning after failing to pick itself up after the poor trading period it experienced this summer.

Bellway’s profit boosted by Help to Buy: Housebuilder Bellway’s profits were bumped up over the past year as it benefited from the government’s Help to Buy scheme.

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