Newspapers: The Times, Independent, FT, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail, Express, Herald 041115

Newspaper Summary

The Times

RBS used ‘inaccurate’ documents for payouts: Royal Bank of Scotland has been accused of using secret, flawed documents that could have influenced some compensation payouts to victims of the interest rate swaps mis-selling scandal.

Yorkshire offers the right fit for Burberry: Burberry is to invest more than £50 million in a state-of-the-art facility in Yorkshire as it seeks to ensure that its gabardine trench coat will continue to be made in Britain.

Glaxo predicts years of rude health from new medicines: GlaxoSmithKline has set out its stall as an independent company by revealing a surge in the number of new drugs close to approval and suggesting that it can beat the long-term targets it set only six months ago.

Hit men where it hurts for not promoting women . . . in the bonus: City Bosses could lose part of their bonus if they fail to promote a sufficient number of women under reforms that are being pushed by one of Britain’s most senior female financial service industry Executives.

Profits warning at Jardine after pension changes: One of Britain’s biggest insurance brokers has issued a profit warning after being hit by a slowdown in its U.K. employee retirement business as a result of changes to pension rules and the strengthening pound.

Shell finds extra $1 billion savings in BG Group takeover: Royal Dutch Shell set out to woo sceptical investors, insisting that its $70 billion takeover of BG Group made sense even at low oil prices and claiming that it had found an extra $1 billion in cost savings from the deal.

V is for victory in prime property: Sydney, Shanghai and Vancouver are leading the global market for prime property this year as each city notched up double-digit price rises.

The Independent

Uber driver ‘threatened’ by senior Manager after establishing union: A senior Manager of the taxi app Uber has threatened a British driver for establishing a union to fight for better treatment, a leaked email appears to show.

U.K. secures £3 billion in business deals with Kazakhstan despite human rights and corruption concerns: The U.K. has secured £3 billion in business deals with Kazakhstan, despite profound international concern about human rights and corruption in the former Soviet state.

Black Cab training school Knowledge Point is shutting down in the age of Uber: A 30 year old training school for black cabs is closing down, partly due to the rise of cab hailing app Uber.

Financial Times

National Grid warns of ‘tight’ winter as new Chief named: The outgoing head of National Grid has admitted the gap between electricity supply and demand this winter is “tighter than would be like”, but said he was handing over the business in good shape to his successor.

U.K. housebuilders’ sector retreats on broker’s rating downgrades: U.K. housebuilders were grounded at the bottom of the FTSE 100 after an influential analyst issued a rating cut on three of the sector’s biggest names.

Primark plots expansion in U.S. and Europe: Primark will accelerate the pace of new store openings this year following the low-cost chain’s U.S. debut, despite its Owner Associated British Foods reporting a 30% fall in annual pretax profits.

Weir earmarks 400 more jobs cuts as crude price fall takes toll: The impact of the fall in crude prices continues to take a toll on Weir, the industrial valve and pumpmaker, which revealed a fresh round of redundancies after it took a hit to sales.

Tesla on track despite trimmed forecasts: Shares in Tesla Motors jumped 10% in after-hours trading as the latest quarterly earnings from the U.S. electric carmaker dispelled recent Wall Street worries about production problems with its new Model X.

Globo goes into administration: Globo, the Aim-quoted mobile technology company founded by a champion windsurfer, has gone into administration.

MTN hits back over $5.2 billion Nigeria fine: MTN has insisted that it followed proper corporate governance principles at its operations in Nigeria. The telecoms group hit back against the increasing criticism it has faced since being fined $5.2 billion by the country’s regulators.

Imperial Tobacco profit rises on U.S. growth: Imperial Tobacco posted a 15% jump in pretax profit as a recent U.S. acquisition buoyed revenues and helped offset falling sales in war-torn Iraq and Syria.

Takata fined $70 million over dangerous airbags: Shares in Takata fell more than 10% after the Japanese airbag maker agreed to a $70 million U.S. fine and Honda, its biggest client, said it would not use the products in new vehicles.


Tesla Motors: dream still intact: You can get lost listening to Elon Musk and hazily start buying Tesla shares. The Chief Executive spent the quarterly results hitting that his electric vehicle company would launch an Uber competitor, predicting that in 15-20 years driving your own car would be a purely sentimental option, “like owing a horse”, and promising that Tesla itself would be delivering fully autonomous vehicles long before that.

Candy Crush: King is cash: In shelling out $5.9 billion for King Digital Entertainment, console gaming company Activision Blizzard may have grabbed an asset with some good years left, without paying a speculative, youth-chasing price.

Weir Group: buried alive: Mr Brannan learned that selling picks and shovels to miners, as opposed to having the ground, made good business. Glasgow-based Weir Group has done something similar, concentrating on making pumps for the extractive industries.


Globo imbroglio: Mobile technology company Globo has crashed into administration less than a fortnight after a critical report from New York hedge fund Quintessential.

Nuclear Winters sticks to troubleshooting script at StanChart: A former GE Boss was nicknamed “Neutron” Jack Welch on the basis that he eliminated staff but left buildings standing. It is tempting to dub Standard Chartered’s new Chief Executive Bill “Nuclear” Winters for similar reasons. His tough restructuring of the Asia-focused bank involves cutting 15,000 jobs from a total of 86,000.

The Daily Telegraph

Savers have pulled £4.7 billion from their pension pots since April: British savers have withdrawn £4.7 billion from their pension pots since they were granted greater access to their money in April, with more than half of this taken as a cash lump sum rather than steady income, according to new industry figures.

Shell pencils in $1 billion in extra savings from BG Group merger as it shuffles divisions: The merger with BG Group will save Shell an extra $1 billion a year, the company has said, as it shores up its case for pressing ahead with the $70 billion (£44 billion) combination.

SABMiller to seek another Takeover Panel extension for AB InBev takeover: Brewer SABMiller is expected to ask the Takeover Panel for more time to forge a formal agreement with rival Anheuser-Busch InBev for what would be one of the world’s biggest ever deals.

FCA tells banks to help struggling credit card borrowers: More than 1.6 million Britons can only afford to make the minimum payments on their credit cards, leaving them racking up interest payments and struggling to get out of debt, regulators have warned.

U.K. construction remains in ‘rude health’ even as growth slows: U.K. construction remains in “rude health”, economists said on Tuesday, after a survey of the sector showed activity grew at a robust pace in October.

Small shops face 20% jump in business rates bill if relief ends: Shop keepers face a 20% hike in business rates if the Government doesn’t extend relief on the tax in this month’s Autumn Statement, retail campaigners have warned.

U.S. seals first prosecution against stock market trader for ‘spoofing’: A U.S. jury has found high-frequency trader Michael Coscia guilty of commodities fraud and “spoofing” in the U.S. government’s first criminal prosecution of the banned trading practice.

The Questor Column:

Hold Weir as shares bounce: Weir is suffering from worsening sales and is cutting jobs. Despite little sign of a recovery at the engineer, the shares jumped 5%. The Glasgow-based group manufactures industrial valves for the oil and gas business as well as pumps for the mining industry. Customers in both these areas are cancelling or delaying orders, as the commodities sector worsens. Combined, the minerals and oil and gas divisions make up 85% of the sales at Weir. Weir has responded to the weak trading environment by cutting costs. It has found another £25 million in savings, bringing the total for the year to £110 million. The company estimates that redundancies and related costs will cause an additional £15 million to £20 million hit to profits this year. Weir has been acquisitive in the past and attempted to complete a £3.66 billion merger with Finnish group Metso in 2014. Weir eventually walked away after Metso rejected two takeover bids. Questor thinks the earnings figure and the multiple look optimistic given there is little recovery expected in commodity prices. Weir at £11.37 +62p. Questor says ‘Hold.”

National Grid shares could be past their peak: National Grid, the U.K.’s largest listed utility, has chosen John Pettigrew to replace Chief Executive Steve Holliday, who will step down in March next year after nine years in the role. The stock has gained more than 36% since Mr Holliday became Chief Executive in 2007. However, the greatest source of returns has been the steady dividend income – include this and the total return is more than 120% during the past nine years. National Grid has also benefited as the cost of borrowing has fallen sharply during the past six years. Its most recent annual results showed adjusted pretax profits had risen 11%, to £2.9 billion, and the dividend increased by 2% to 42.87p, in line with the policy to rise with inflation. This means the shares offer an inflation-linked prospective dividend yield of 4.7%. The shares have a good track record, but unfortunately are not looking very attractive at the moment, as they are trading near record highs. On a price to earnings ratio of 16 times they look expensive for a utility stock that isn’t expecting much earnings or revenue growth during the next 10 years. National Grid at 916.7p -6.5p. Questor says “Hold”.

RWS Holdings goes for growth in U.S.: Shares in AIM-listed translation firm RWS Holdings have risen almost 25% over the past month. Investors cheered acquisition of a U.S. rival and annual results that were ahead of expectations. RWS has agreed to pay $70 million (£46 million) for U.S.-based CTi, a translation firm that specialises in life sciences patents. The deal will be financed by $25 million in cash from RWS and $45 million in a new debt facility from Barclays. The shares had struggled this year but jumped last month when RWS said sales for the full-year would be above market expectations at £95.1 million for the year to September 30. The company’s core operation of translating patents – 56% of group revenue – benefited from a spike in U.S. patent applications and a return to growth from the inovia business that was bought in 2013. The shares are also attractive because – as a qualifying Aim-listed company – they are eligible for inheritance tax relief if they are held for two years. RWS has proven to be a steady long-term investment that has gradually increased dividend payments and we’d be happy to hold following the deal. RWS Holdings at 178p +6p. Questor says “Hold”.

The Guardian

VW emissions scandal widens to include Porsche claims: The Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal has deepened after U.S. authorities accused the carmaker of installing defeat devices into luxury sports cars including Porsches.

Michelin to close tyre factory in Northern Ireland: Michelin is to close a factory in Northern Ireland with the loss of 860 jobs, heightening concerns that global competition amid a recent decline in world trade will cause a spate of factory closures.

Tesco proposes deal with dairy farmers after milk price protests: Tesco is seeking a new deal with dairy farmers after a chaotic summer for the agriculture industry during which protesters paraded cows around a supermarket.

HMRC’s poor customer service hindering tax collection, say MPs: Customer service at HM Revenue and Customs has become so bad that it may be hampering tax collection, with half of the public’s phone calls to its helplines going unanswered in early 2015, according to a damning new report from the public accounts committee.

Daily Mail

BCC blasts 2020 export target set by George Osborne as Britain is ‘14 years behind schedule’: Britain is 14 years behind hitting its export targets as the Government struggles to double overseas sales of goods and services by the end of the decade, according to business leaders.

Britain’s biggest care home provider Four Seasons will run out of cash next year, warns credit rating agency: Four Seasons Health Care needs a lifeline in the next six months, a credit rating agency has warned.

Glaxo hoping to remedy its ebbing stock as it flags up 40 experimental treatments: GlaxoSmithKline is poised to file up to 20 medicines and vaccines for regulatory approval before 2020 as it seeks to restock its flagging development pipeline.

Daily Express

VW emissions scandal takes new turn as 800,000 cars may have false CO2 levels: Under pressure car manufacturer Volkswagen has admitted that potentially 800,000 more of its cars could have emissions faults.

Fears of pensions ‘smash and grab’ raid by George Osborne in Autumn Statement 2015: A Surge in pensions savings has fuelled concerns that George Osborne could slash benefits when he gives his Autumn Statement later this month.

PayPal accused of ruining Christmas for children after suggesting Santa is not real: Payment provider PayPal has come under fire for an advert that suggests children’s Christmas presents do not come from Santa.

Worries over credit card Britain – How to clear debts: Fears have been raised by Britain’s financial watchdog about the millions of people who are struggling with credit card debt and only able to make the minimum payment each month.

Outrage as U.S. rep who made Brexit trade threats used to work for the European Commission: The American official who claimed that the U.S. would not sign a trade deal with Britain outside of the European Union (EU) used to work for the European Commission (EC), it has been revealed.

The Scottish Herald

Fund Managers Tosca and LSI to float property vehicle: Two major asset Managers have launched a commercial property company expected to have a market worth of about £274 million when it floats on the stock exchange this week.

BT’s annual contribution to Scottish economy hits £1 billion for first time: Telecoms group BT has declared that its annual economic contribution to Scotland exceeded £1 billion for the first time in its last financial year.

University spin-out focused on T2 diabetes raises £4.45 million: A spin-out company from the Universities of Glasgow and Southern Denmark that is developing novel therapeutics for T2 diabetes has raised £4.45 million of funding, writes Ian McConnell.

Ashoka Boss Majhu offloads five pharmacies: Sanjay Majhu, the entrepreneur behind the Ashoka Indian restaurant chain, has offloaded five pharmacy stores as he continues to wind down his business interests.

Aberdeen backs Standard Chartered move: Standard Chartered’s second largest shareholder, Aberdeen Asset Management, has said it backs the bank’s plan to raise fresh capital.

The Scotsman

Standard Chartered axes 15,000 more jobs: Emerging markets bank Standard Chartered has announced plans to axe 15,000 jobs globally alongside a $5 billion (£3.3 billion) shareholder rights issue as part of a radical reshaping.

Mactaggart ‘concerned’ over stamp duty replacement: Housebuilder Mactaggart & Mickel has continued to bounce back from the industry’s recessionary nadir with further improvements in sales and profitability, but it has expressed concern at the introduction of a replacement for stamp duty north of the Border.

Silver Spoon weighs down Primark firm profits: Primark Owner Associated British Foods saw annual profits come under pressure as difficulties in its sugar business and a currency hit offset another strong performance from its high-street clothing retailer.

London snubbed in £1.4 billion race to buy Scots property: Wealthy foreign real estate investors put off by the spiralling cost of property in London are flocking to Scotland with almost £1.4 billion a year being invested north of the border.

City A.M.

Online marketplace Etsy all made up with 38% revenue growth but shares tumble: Etsy’s share price dropped by 6.89% after the close, as despite revealing revenue growth of 38% for its third quarter of 2015, springing from $47.6 million (£30.9 million) in its third quarter of 2014 to $65.7 million.

Groupon reveals Rich Williams as new CEO as revenue dips to $713.6 million for third quarter of 2015: Groupon has announced that current Chief operating officer Rich Williams is to be the company’s next Chief Executive officer.

Farmville creator Zynga zooms into profit with net income of $3.1 million for third quarter of 2015: Zynga has entered the black, posting net income of $3.1 million for its third quarter of 2015 with several new games pushing the firm’s performance ahead. Shares in the company, which created Farmville and Words With Friends among several other games, went up by 1.22% in after-hours trading.

Terry Smith slams rivals as Fundsmith posts 18.5% returns over the past year: Terry Smith’s Fundsmith equity fund celebrated its fifth anniversary by announcing returns of 18.5% for the full year ending in October, and assets under management of £4.1 billion.

Diet Chef raises £1.5 million debt financing from LendingCrowd: Diet Chef, the company that delivers diet food to your door, has secured £1.5 million in debt financing from crowdfunding platform LendingCrowd.

FCA’s Tracey McDermott announces U.K. Debt Market Forum at ABI Conference: Tracey McDermott, acting Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), revealed that the FCA would be creating and chairing a U.K. Debt Market Forum.

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