HS2 Seeks Guarantee On Crisis Hit Carillion

Newspaper Summary

The Times

Ex-Minister Mark Hoban ‘forgot’ PWC links: Officials policing the revolving door between Westminster and the City were incorrectly told that Mark Hoban, the former financial secretary, had had no contact with PWC in his time at the Treasury when they gave him permission to take a job at the accounting firm, The Times has learnt.

Carmakers’ plans are electrifying the market for copper, says BHP Billiton: This year represents the “tipping point” in an electric vehicle revolution that will drive global demand for copper, according to BHP Billiton.

Equifax Boss quits after data hack that affected 143 million people: The Boss of Equifax has stepped down in the wake of a hacking attack that compromised the personal information of 143 million Americans and as many as 400,000 Britons.

Ousted Airbus U.K. Chief joins Cobham: The ousted Boss of Airbus U.K. has landed at Cobham, the troubled quoted aerospace group.

Yellen wants gradual rise in U.S. rates: The Federal Reserve should be wary of moving too slowly with increasing interest rates despite concerns about sluggish inflation, the central bank’s chairwoman said.

Faster price rises for new homes in America: Hurricanes in Texas and Florida pushed down sales of new homes in the U.S. in August after prices edged upwards the month before.

The Independent

Female London Uber driver accuses taxi company of sex discrimination: A London-based female Uber driver has issued sex discrimination proceedings against the embattled ride-sharing company, claiming it unfairly disadvantages women who work for the group.

Jaffa Cakes: McVitie’s cuts the number of biscuits/cakes in packets: Biscuit giant McVitie’s has slashed the number of Jaffa Cakes sold in each packet, triggering a wave of complaints from confectionery lovers on social media.

Time Out losses more than double to £15.6 million as print revenues fall: Time Out Group, most famous for its city nightlife and culture guides, saw operating losses more than double to £15.6 million in the first half of the year. The company said the hit was due to increased investment in its online business.

London gold dealer to accept bitcoin payment from customers: London bullion dealer Sharps Pixley will allow customers to pay for gold and other precious metals using digital currency bitcoin, the company said on Tuesday.

British holidaymakers return to Egypt and Turkey: Turkey and Egypt are attracting more British holiday bookings, as prices in destinations seen as safer continue to increase.

The Daily Telegraph

British Steel swoops on Dutch steel maker in first acquisition since rescue: British Steel has emerged from the U.K.’s steel crisis with its first international acquisition, less than 18 months after Tata abandoned the troubled business.

Afren Bosses charged with $400 million fraud that ‘triggered collapse’ of oil explorer: The former leadership of Afren have been charged with a $400 million (£300 million) fraud that allegedly led to the collapse of the former FTSE 250  oil explorer.

Twitter tests doubling length of tweets to 280 characters: Twitter is testing doubling the length of its tweets to 280 characters, a move that overhauls the social network’s defining feature.

Uber in search for U.K. Chairman after London ban: Uber is looking to hire a U.K. Chairman, it emerged Tuesday evening, after just last week being stripped of its licence to operate in London and as arch-rival Lyft eyes a move into the market.

Nike sales growth slowest in nearly seven years: Nike posted its slowest quarterly sales growth in nearly seven years in the face of intensifying competition from Adidas and a looming price war amid sporting goods retailers as it tries to expand its direct-to-consumer business.

Paysafe takeover gets go ahead by fraction in tense shareholder vote: The £3 billion takeover of Paysafe almost hit a major stumbling block  after a tense shareholder vote saw the deal narrowly get approval.

Google to ringfence shopping unit to avoid further EU fines: Google has offered to ringfence its online shopping business from its dominant search engine in a bid to placate European competition watchdogs and avoid further multi-billion euro fines.

The Questor Column:

Low expectations are always a good start, so take a punt on M&S (with a stop-loss): This is a company with plenty of challenges. If you were to set up a business  it is unlikely that you would create M&S, with its food on one hand and clothes and homewares on the other. Results have been poor for some time and the clothing business has experienced a horrendous string of declines in its like-for-like sales, which have fallen, year on year, for 20 of the past 24 quarters. The website has failed to fire with any consistency. We could go on but suffice it to say that some analysts believe M&S’s business model to be broken. None of the above is news to anyone, least of all the market, and the shares still trade below the 400p offered by Sir Philip Green when he bid for the group in 2004. Consensus estimates from analysts already pencil in a 10% fall in earnings per share for the year to March 2018, and a feeble 2% recovery in the year after that. It also seems premature to write off a company when it is forecast to make £574 million in pre-tax profits when things are going badly. Dividend cover is lower than ideal but the stock comes with a yield of 5.4%. A forward price-to-earnings ratio of 12.6 represents a discount to the market, while the company’s £5.6 billion market value and £2.1 billion debt pile (including contingent payments, leases and the pension deficit) compare with property with a book value of £4.8 billion. Questor says, ‘Speculative Buy’.

Update: PureCircle: Our contrarian selection of the sweetener firm PureCircle is working out nicely, with the shares already up by more than 40%, and last week’s full-year results suggest that there could be more to come. The figures were as good as could have been expected, given a decision by America’s border protection agency to block imports of the firm’s Stevia product amid allegations over the use of forced labour (vigorously denied by PureCircle). The ban was lifted in January but the U.S. had accounted for a third of sales, so it was a telling blow. Sales fell by 14% and net profits halved but it was good to see an 8% increase in sales outside America. Fresh momentum in the U.S. is a central ingredient of the investment case, but progress elsewhere is important too and PureCircle launched 124 new products last year as it positions itself to benefit from governments’ worldwide drive to combat obesity. There is no dividend and the near-term valuation looks rich but momentum players should hang on for the ride. Questor says ‘Hold’.

The Guardian

Northern Ireland jobs at risk as Bombardier jets hit by huge U.S. trade tariff: One of Northern Ireland’s largest employers faces paying a punitive tariff on its exports of passenger jets to the U.S. after losing the first stage of an international trade dispute.

Uber threatens to leave Quebec in protest at new rules for drivers: Uber says it will stop operating in the Canadian province of Quebec if authorities push forward with plans to demand additional training of its drivers.

Bank warned not to raise interest rates amid squeeze on households: The Bank of England has been warned against raising interest rates from as early as November, as a monthly Guardian analysis of the economy indicates pressure growing on households following the Brexit vote.

Global economy at risk a decade on from financial crisis, says WEF: The 10th anniversary of the worst downturn since the Great Depression finds the global economy at risk of a fresh crisis and ill-prepared for the disruption likely from the robot age, the World Economic Forum has warned.

Comparethemarket.com investigated over alleged deals with insurers: Comparethemarket.com is being investigated by the competition regulator over suspicions that the price comparison website may have done deals with insurers that forced up some customers’ premiums.

London luxury property prices will stay flat until after Brexit, says Savills: Prices for luxury homes in central London are forecast to fall 4% this year and will flatline for nearly two more years as Brexit uncertainty and tax changes weigh on the market, according to Savills.

Daily Mail

Morning sell-off whacks Apple’s British suppliers amid fears new iPhone X is too expensive at £999: Apple’s suppliers were hit by an early morning sell-off on the back of rumours that the tech giant is starting to get cold feet ahead of its iPhone X launch in November.

Spielberg-backed U.S. start-up working on technology to digitally transport cinema-goers into film scenes: U.S. start-up Dreamscape Immersive, which is backed by Steven Spielberg, is developing technology to digitally transport cinema-goers into the scenes of movies they are watching.

Crisis-hit AA puts its business up for sale: Driving schools, road signs unit and its travel guides may be flogged off: The AA has hung the ‘for sale’ sign over its driving schools, road signs and maps divisions in a bid to reverse a chronic fall in fortunes.

Spanish holidays will become more expensive as pound remains weak, warns Thomas Cook: Thomas Cook expects the cost of holidays to popular destinations like Spain to rise next year as the pound is set to remain weak.

Van hire firm Northgate’s finance Chief axed after assault charge: Northgate’s finance Chief has been convicted of assault and sacked by the van hire company.

Scottish Drinks firm AG Barr toasts soaring sales south of the border: Irn Bru maker AG Barr toasted soaring sales after the Scottish drinks firm won over customers south of the border.

Sports Direct Boss Mike Ashley’s year gets worse as profits slump £300 million: Billionaire Mike Ashley’s profits plunged as he reeled from the relegation of Newcastle United and a scandal at Sports Direct.

Daily Express

Quarter of retirees fail to claim credit: Up to 1.4 million pensioner households are missing out on thousands of pounds in vital income from the state by failing to come forward for pension credit.

James Dyson to make electric cars for 2020: Tycoon commits £2 billion to development: Sir James Dyson has announced a £2 billion investment into the development of an electric vehicle that is set to be launched in 2020.

Gold price 2017 latest: North Korea World War 3 fears send metal value surging: The price of gold has surged after North Korea accused the U.S. President Donald Trump of “declaring war” on the rogue state, prompting fears World War 3 could be about to erupt.

Cancer clinics urged to ease strain on radiotherapy with Vision RT’s tumour tracker: Doctors treating cancer patients with radiotherapy can now target tumours with pinpoint accuracy thanks to a revolutionary tech tracker developed by British firm Vision RT.

The Scottish Herald

Mall firm SpaceandPeople makes profit after turnaround: Shares in shopping mall marketing firm SpaceandPeople surged nearly six% as the firm reported a profit of more than £173,000 for the six months ended June 30.

Floristry business is booming for Betty Bluebell: When Emma Brady and her husband could no longer get to their dining table because flowers were engulfing their house, Brady decided it was time she had premises for her burgeoning floristry business, Betty Bluebell.

Browns warns on Brexit as profits fall by 24%: Browns Food Group, which owns the Hall’s of Scotland brand, has reinforced its belief Brexit has created “great uncertainty” in the food industry, and added the recent General Election results has only added to this.

London market falls as investors fret over geopolitical uncertainty: London’s top-flight index drifted lower as investor concerns over geopolitical risks dragged on the market.

Aberdeen woes fail to ground airports owner profits: The owner of Glasgow and Aberdeen airports doubled its profits last year in spite of seeing a fall in revenue as a result of the oil and gas downturn.

McEwan admits 2016 was Royal Bank’s worst year for staff morale: Royal Bank of Scotland Chief Executive Ross McEwan has conceded 2016 was its “worst year for people engagement” at the state-backed lender in its bid to return to financial health.

John Clark defies Brexit to drive care sales: John Clark Motor Group, the Aberdeen-based car dealer, has reported record turnover for its most recent financial year - despite a “marked reduction” in sales around the time of the Brexit vote and pressure brought by the oil and gas industry downturn in the North-east of Scotland.

Academic tie-ups generate £64.2 million for Scots economy: Collaborations between Scottish businesses and academics generated £64.2 million in gross valued added (GVA) for the economy last year, supporting more than 1,060 jobs.

The Scotsman

“Betrayal” as Lloyds outsources Scottish Widows staff: Banking giant Lloyds has been accused of “betrayal” after telling staff that 1,000 jobs are to be outsourced to a Dutch company.

Glasgow spin-out aims to help traders Scoop the market: A spin-out from the University of Glasgow is tapping into the power of social media in an effort to help stock traders make “faster, smarter decisions”.

Fast-growing Scots tech firms targeted by new £25 million fund: Scotland’s technology sector has been given a fresh boost after a Stirling-based investment syndicate pushed the button on a £25 million fund.

Abellio makes £3.5 million loss in first year of ScotRail operation: Abellio ScotRail made a loss of £3.5 million after tax in its first full year of operating train services in Scotland, new accounts show.

Pyreos secures £1 million grant to develop infrared sensors: Technology firm Pyreos has been awarded a grant of almost £1 million to help develop the next generation of its infrared sensors, which are used in a range of industrial and consumer products.

Lancaster oil field near Shetland wins regulatory approval: A massive oil field to the west of Shetland could begin production in 2019 after winning regulatory approval.

Hotel chain Apex unveils new 177-room Bath property: Edinburgh-based Apex Hotels has opened the doors to its Bath property, its first opening in England outside London and located near famous local sites such as the Roman Baths.

City A.M.

Which? calls for enforcement action over Ryanair’s handling of flight cancellation chaos: Consumer group Which? has written to regulators over Ryanair’s handling of a six-week wave of flight cancellations, seeking enforcement action after the airline provided “woefully short” information to customers.

Card Factory promises “strategic progress” as shares drop more than 18%: Shares in retailer Card Factory fell more than 18% after higher costs ripped into its half-year profits.

McColl’s Founder approached by buyout house Carlyle to lead Palmer & Harvey rescue: Private equity firm The Carlyle Group has invited a co-Founder of convenience store McColl’s to take a key role in its rumoured buyout of Palmer & Harvey (P&H), according to Sky News.

Carillion Middle East suitor plots takeover attempt and prized London listing: At least one Middle Eastern construction firm is eyeing Carillion’s update this Friday ahead of a potential takeover bid for the struggling builder.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson announces crackdown on gambling companies: Deputy leader of the Labour party, Tom Watson, announced plans to crack down on gambling companies. He said it was wrong that firms only contributed £10 million to the treatment of those with problems, and that a Labour government would introduce a levy to raise money for addicts.


In the Papers - Time Out Group, Nike, Sports Direct, Card Factory