In the Papers - CMC Markets, Paragon Group, Thomas Cook


The Times

I’ll sell no more shares, declares Cruddas as CMC slides: Peter Cruddas, the Chief Executive and controlling shareholder in CMC Markets, pledged to sell no more shares in the company as he sought to restore investor confidence in the spread-betting firm following a difficult share market debut.

French reactor crisis pushes up power costs: EDF has delayed the restart of two nuclear reactors in France after a safety investigation that has thrown the country’s state-controlled nuclear industry into crisis.

Fed set to raise rates as early as next month: American policymakers were confident enough about the strength of the U.S. economy on the eve of the Presidential election to line up a rise in interest rates, possibly as early as next month.

Focus on customers boosts profit stream: The value of concentrating on customer service was writ large across the latest results from United Utilities, as the water company’s profits bubbled upwards in the six months to the end of September.

Brexit turmoil presents threat of rapid rate rise: Interest rates could rise more quickly than expected if the economic uncertainty caused by Brexit plays out differently to that forecast, a central bank policymaker has said.

Ericsson under investigation in U.S. over ‘bribery millions’: Executives at Ericsson are to be questioned by U.S. investigators over allegations of bribery after a whistleblower claimed that the Swedish company had paid hundreds of millions of dollars to senior politicians worldwide.

Domestic car demand in reverse: An 11% slump in demand for U.K.-made cars from British motorists has sent car factory output down for the first time in 14 months, offering the surest sign yet of a post-Brexit slowdown in the domestic automotive market.

Scottish oil groups ‘should tap Africa’s potential’: Scottish oil companies that are struggling in the North Sea are being urged to look to Africa to secure their future.

Rising profits promote the virtue of new share buyback: Paragon Group has earmarked another £50 million for a share buyback programme after profits in its main buy-to-let lending business proved to be better than expected.

The Independent

Thomas Cook shares jump to post-Brexit high despite ‘difficult year’: Shares in Thomas Cook rose 7% to hit a post-Brexit high on Tuesday, despite a fall in profits during what the tour operator described as a “difficult year”.

Brexit set to cause 5% hike in supermarket prices: Supermarket shoppers will be hit by price rises of at least 5% over the next year, the former head of Sainsbury’s has warned.

Heinz baked beans advert banned over health and safety fears: A Heinz baked beans advert which sought to teach viewers how to bang the can like a drum has been banned over fears people might cut their hands.

Brexit won’t help the people who voted for it, World Bank warns: British voters who opted to leave the European Union because of concern globalisation is killing jobs at home won’t benefit from Brexit, a World Bank economist said.

The Daily Telegraph

Severn Trent outbid for Dee Valley Water amid jobs row: Severn Trent has been outbid for Dee Valley Water by Ancala, the company that first agreed to buy the water minnow in October, amid a row over the impact of the takeover on jobs and customers.

Hammerson expands European presence with outlet portfolio buy: Shopping centre developer Hammerson has bought a stake in a £502 million portfolio of retail outlets across Europe, as it seeks to expand its presence on the continent.

Insurer backlash as tax hike wipes out whiplash reform gains: Insurers have hit out at plans to increase insurance premium tax for the third time in 18 months, a move that is expected to raise more than £4 billion for the Treasury but which was branded “a hammer blow for the hard pressed” by critics.

Phillip Hammond pledges to tackle the U.K.’s productivity gap: The Chancellor pledged to tackle Britain’s lagging productivity as he relaxed borrowing rules to launch a £23 billion fund for investment in housing, transport and innovation in his first - and last - Autumn Statement.

The Questor Column:

Buy Revolution Bars for a taste of well-planned growth at a low valuation: The company is Revolution Bars, which listed in March last year at 200p and, despite a series of positive updates, finds its shares trading at just 178p. Revolution, which opened its first bar in 1996, has been quoted before, on Aim under the name Inventive Leisure. It was taken private by Alchemy Partners, the private equity firm, in 2005, for £42.5 million and was valued at £100 million when it returned to the main market last year. The company can even afford a dividend, and the shares currently yield 2.7%. The dividend is covered three times by profits. In financial terms, growth in sales in the 2015-16 full year was 6.9%, of which about two thirds came from expansion of the chain and the remainder from increased sales per outlet. Pretax profits of £9.2 million represented growth of 10.8% if the £700,000 costs involved in opening new outlets were excluded, according to Numis, the stockbroker. A number of well regarded fund managers hold the shares. The stock also appeared among the top 20 holdings in the Chelverton U.K. Equity Growth fund last month. We regard Revolution as an overlooked minnow that offers long-term growth at a lowly multiple of 12.5 times earnings. Questor says “Buy”.

The Guardian

Brexit will blow £59 billion hole in public finances, admits Hammond: Philip Hammond conceded that Brexit will blow a £59 billion black hole in the public finances over the next five years, as he outlined plans to boost investment in infrastructure and housing to equip the U.K. economy for life outside the EU.

Business leaders call for ‘tarmac and telecoms’ from productivity fund: Business leaders have told the government it must convert a new £23 billion productivity investment fund into “tarmac, tracks and telecoms” rapidly if it wants to boost Britain’s lagging productivity and economic growth.

Brexit uncertainty will hold U.K. GDP growth back, says OBR: Weaker business spending and a squeeze on consumers from higher inflation will dent the U.K. economy next year, but warnings for a post-referendum recession should prove unfounded, according to the government’s independent forecasters.

Nissan in U.K.: Treasury refuses to tell OBR if cost attached to decision: The Treasury has refused to tell the Office for Budget Responsibility if there was any cost attached to Nissan’s decision to stay in the U.K., raising further questions about assurances given to the Japanese carmaker.

Over £400 million extra funding set aside for Brexit process: Philip Hammond has set aside up to £412 million of additional funding to help Whitehall deal with leaving the European Union following criticisms that the civil service cannot cope with Brexit.

Daily Mail

Ex-Barclay’s Boss axed after he blew whistle on bank’s financial crisis cash call sues for unfair dismissal: A former Barclays Executive is suing the bank for unfair dismissal, claiming he was let go after whistleblowing to the Serious Fraud Office. Richard Boath, who served as Barclays’ head of financial services in 2008, argued in a tribunal hearing that he was sacked after investigators at the Serious Fraud Office passed a transcript of his interview with them to the bank, according to his lawyer.

Government borrowing costs shoot up as Chancellor says debt is heading to £2 trillion: Government borrowing costs shot up as the Chancellor said debt was heading to £2 trillion. The ten-year gilt yield climbed sharply from 1.4% to 1.48% as it was revealed that the country would be borrowing more than first thought.

U.K. winemaker Chapel Down predicts 2016 will be a vintage year saying the grapes were their highest quality yet: Investors in Chapel Down, the listed U.K. winemaker, will be cheered after the company suggested that 2016 could be a vintage year. Chapel Down, based in Kent, said it was an ‘exciting time’ for its wines after a successful harvest saw it gather its highest quality fruit to date.

U.S.-based private equity firm Advent makes a shock £220 million bid for stricken U.K. engineer Brammer: A stricken engineer whose stock halved following a profit warning has received a shock takeover bid. Industrial repair specialists Brammer has approved to shareholders a £220million bid from Al Robin, a subsidiary of funds managed by U.S.-based private equity firm Advent.

Insurance exec gets a £17 million golden goodbye despite firm’s disappointing shares performance: A top Executive at insurer Willis Towers Watson is set for a £17 million golden goodbye – even though its shares have underperformed rivals. Deputy Chief Executive Dominic Casserley will pocket £6.5 million in cash and £10.5 million in share awards when he leaves at the end of the year.

Small internet providers handed £1 billion in bid to force BT to up its game and connect more rural villages to the web: BT is under pressure to up its game and connect rural villages to the internet after smaller providers were handed a £1 billion boost.

Daily Express

Pension warning: More than 13 million working Brits could be heading for a shortfall: More than 13 million workers across Britain could be heading for a shortfall in the amount of pension they need for an adequate income, according to analysis.

Hammond unveils savers’ boost with new market-leading bond: Struggling savers have been thrown a small lifeline by Chancellor Philip Hammond in ’s Autumn Statement.

Kids Planet nursery group goes for growth with £10 million Business Growth Fund boost: Nursery group Kids Planet is poised for a major growth spurt after securing £10 million of long-term investment from the Business Growth Fund (BGF).

Letting agent fees banned in Autumn Statement in another assault on U.K.’s small landlords: Letting agent fees will be scrapped in ’s Autumn Statement from Chancellor Phillip Hammond, but Britain’s landlords are set to pick up the costs in yet another “draconian” clampdown on the sector.

The Scottish Herald

Change may be on cards at Menzies: The shake up at John Menzies has continued with the appointment of a new director who said the case for keeping its aviation and distribution operations together has weakened in recent years.

‘Unprecedented’ mortality rates impact salmon farmer: The Scottish Salmon Company has recorded a £12.7 million loss for the third quarter after the historically low quarter was additionally impacted by sub-optimal harvest weights and “unprecedented levels of mortality”.

Port Glasgow tent firm secures investment to back expansion: AMG, the Port Glasgow-based outdoor equipment company, has secured private equity investment from Growth Capital Partners to support growth plans.

Harris Tweed range drives clothing sales at Sainsbury: The introduction of a range of Harris Tweed menswear has helped supermarket group J. Sainsbury to grow menswear sales by 13% over the last six months.
Aberdeen firm upbeat on Nigeria: Eland Oil and Gas has announced encouraging results from work on a well in Nigeria but is facing continued security complications in the country.

Lactalis to pay a minimum of 27.5p per litre throughout 2017: Stranraer-based cheese-maker Fresh Milk Company (Lactalis) has agreed a collaborative approach to milk pricing and volume management with the producer Organisation Milk Supply Association (MSA) that includes a commitment to an agreed minimum price of 27.5p per litre (ppl) throughout the whole of 2017.

Landmark property has been acquired: A prominent listed building in Dundee currently home to four businesses, including Nat West Bank, has changed hands.

The Scotsman

EWM to relaunch Austin Reed as group sales rise: Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group is looking to ramp up its store openings after unveiling ambitious plans to relaunch the Austin Reed name on the back of solid full-year results.

150 jobs saved with £330 million Fort William smelter sale: An aluminum smelting and hydro power operation in Lochaber has been sold, safeguarding more than 150 jobs.

Innis & Gunn launches St Andrews Beer Kitchen: Craft brewer Innis & Gunn has opened the doors of its third Beer Kitchen bar and restaurant as it presses ahead with plans to further expand the concept.

Tunnock to build fourth teacake plant as sales grow: The maker of Tunnock’s teacakes is to build a fourth manufacturing plant amid growing demand for its sweet treats.

Renfrewshire diving firm JFD nets £35 million contract: Subsea operations firm JFD, which is headquartered in Renfrewshire, has won a contract worth about £35 million with a Chinese salvage company.

City A.M.

Financial advisers rile at plans to shift offshore tax notification burden: Financial advisers will have to tell U.K. authorities about clients’ complex offshore tax structures, according to new government proposals.

Communities near fracking sites get power to decide how to spend £1 billion fund, Philip Hammond announces in Autumn Statement: Communities close to fracking projects will get a say in how to spend up to £1 billion funelled to them through the Shale Wealth Fund, the government confirmed.

Retailers’ share prices stung by the rise in the national living wage in the Autumn Statement: Retailer’s share prices are suffering this afternoon after Chancellor Philip Hammond said the national living wage would rise in April next year.

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