BUSINESS LIVE: Equinor given green light for Rosebank oil and gas field
By Live Commentary
The FTSE 100 is down 0.3 per cent in afternoon trading. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are Ithaca Energy, Saga, Hiscox, Shepherd Neame, Chapel Down Group, Rolls-Royce, Flutter and Pendragon. Read the Wednesday 27 September Business Live blog below.
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Chapel Down Group considering AIM listing
England’s biggest winemaker Chapel Down Group is actively considering listing on the Alternative Investment Market.
Chapel Down is currently listed on the Aquis Stock Exchange but is considering the move as part of plans to double the size of its business by 2026.
More than half of new cars sold in the UK will be electric by 2028
Rishi Sunak is sticking to plans requiring more than half of all new cars in the UK to be electric within five years despite delaying an outright ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
Motorists are expected to be guided towards making their next purchase electric under the zero-emission vehicle mandate (ZEVM) scheme, which is expected to remain unchanged despite Mr Sunak’s net-zero U-turn last week.
Saga forecasts ‘significant’ growth in revenue and profits
Saga expects annual revenue and profits to surpass market forecasts this year, following a continued strong recovery in foreign holiday demand.
The over-50s specialist told investors it anticipates a ‘significant’ double-digit expansion in sales and underlying pre-tax profits for the fiscal year ending January 2024.
US car dealer AutoNation sparks three-way bidding war for Pendragon
Flutter buys £123m stake in Serbian betting firm MaxBet
RACHEL RICKARD STRAUS: Investor websites earn interest on your cash
Investment platforms have a new source of juicy profits, which is boosting their coffers by hundreds of millions of pounds.
The only problem? That source is the savings interest earned on their customers’ money, but which platforms keep for themselves.
FTC sues Amazon accusing the online retailer of wielding monopoly power to jack up prices by punishing sellers who offer discounts on other sites
BT under fire for cutting up pledge to let over-70s keep old landlines
BT is ditching a pledge to ensure phone users aged over 70 can keep their landlines and will not be forced on to controversial new digital lines for 12 months – and is signing them up straight away.
The telecoms giant was made to shelve its initial rollout last year after an investigation by our sister newspaper The Mail on Sunday alerted the industry watchdog Ofcom to operational flaws, including how customers cannot use their phone lines in a power cut.
Avon calling on TikTok in shopping shake-up as door-to-door sales fade
Avon’s UK boss has admitted that door-to-door selling is ‘not for everybody’ as the group moves to sell its cosmetics in stores and through TikTok.
For almost a century, the London-based company’s ‘Avon Ladies’ have sold its beauty products through what managing director for Western Europe, Kristof Neirynck, calls ‘pure ding-dong selling’.
Market open: FTSE 100 down 0.1%; FTSE 250 off 0.2%
London-listed stocks are treading water again this mornign as concerns over higher-for-longer interest rates continue to weigh on sentiment, while real estate shares are down after Jefferies analysts said London’s embattled office market is in ‘rental recession’.
London’s embattled office market is in ‘rental recession’ as volumes of empty space across the capital’s West End, City and Canary Wharf business districts hit a 30-year high, analysts at Jefferies said.
Land Securities, British Land, Derwent London and Great Portland Estates fell between 2 and 3 per cent after Jefferies downgraded all the stocks.
Pendragon shares jumped 7.9 per cent after the automotive retailer said on Tuesday it received an unsolicited proposal from AutoNation for about £447million in cash.
Travel businesses bounces back but share prices languish
The travel industry has enjoyed a bumper summer – and there appears to be no shortage of demand for holidays this Christmas as families hunt for winter sun.
Easyjet’s £203m profit haul between April and June was a quarterly record and Ryanair racked up its fourth-straight month of record passenger numbers in August.
Rosebank oil field given go-ahead by regulator
Britain has given the go-ahead for Norwegian oil and gas company Equinor to develop the Rosebank oil and gas field in the North Sea, in a move likely to provoke fresh criticism from environmental campaigners.
Equinor, which holds a majority stake in Rosebank, one of the biggest undeveloped oil and gas fields on the British continental shelf, will invest $3.8billion, or around £3.1billion, alongside its partner to develop the field.
Flutter buys majority stake in Serbian betting group
Paddy Power owner Flutter has bought an initial 51 per cent stake in Serbia’s number two sports betting and gaming operator MaxBet for €141million (£123million) in a bid to expand in the Balkans.
Flutter said the deal, which also allows it to acquire the remaining 49 per cent stake in 2029 on similar terms, aligns with its strategy to target fast-growing, regulated markets where it can combine local expertise with its global pricing and technology.
The world’s largest online betting company said the €700million Serbian betting market is attractive due to its relatively low online penetration of around 35 per cent and expected online compound annual growth to 2025 of approximately 15 per cent.
MaxBet, which generated pro forma fully regulated revenue of €145million in the year to June, 44 per cent of it online, also has a smaller presence in Bosnia, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
‘We believe MaxBet is an excellent opportunity to replicate the success we have achieved in markets like Georgia, India and Italy,’ Flutter CEO Peter Jackson said in a statement.
Lindsell Train fund managers split £36 million in dividends despite disappointing investor returns
The fund managers behind Lindsell Train split nearly £36m in dividends last year – despite disappointing returns for investors.
Nick Train and his wife received around £18m from the investment trust for the year to the end of January, as did his business partner Michael Lindsell and his wife, according to accounts filed with Companies House.
That was the lion’s share of a total dividend pot of £49m, although this was down from the previous year’s £53m.
Saga lifts profit expectations
Holiday group Saga expects annual revenues to rise by double digits and underlying profit to beat market estimates after a surge in bookings for its ocean cruises amid resilient travel demand.
The company, which also sells insurance to over 50-year-olds, separately told investors this mornign that finance chief James Quin would be stepping down from the role after nearly five years.
Hiscox to sell DirectAsia
FTSE 250-listed Hiscox has agreed to sell its motor insurance business in Singapore and Thailand.
The insurer will sell DirectAsia to Ignite Thailand Holdings following a strategic review.
The company expects the deal to be completed by the end of 2023.
Equinor given green light for Rosebank oil and gas field
The Government has given the go-ahead to Oslo-listed Equinor to develop the Rosebank oil and gas field in the North Sea in partnership with London-listed Ithica Energy.
Equinor holds a majority stake in Rosebank, which is one of the largest undeveloped oil and gas fields on the British continental shelf, and expects to produce 300 million barrels of oil from the field in its lifetime.
‘We have today approved the Rosebank Field Development Plan which allows the owners to proceed with their project,’ the North Sea Transition Authority said in a statement.
Environmental campaigners had called on the Government to halt the development, arguing it contravenes Britain’s plan for a net-zero economy.
Gilad Myerson, executive chairman of Ithaca Energy, said: ‘We are delighted to announce the decision to move forward with the Rosebank development alongside Equinor.
‘Rosebank stands as the largest undeveloped field in the UK, and with the receipt of development consent from the NSTA, we are now poised to embark on a journey that will not only provide critically important domestic energy but also ignite substantial economic impact.
‘The Rosebank project will create thousands of jobs and contribute significantly to securing the UK’s energy needs for many years to come.’
The pound faces its worst month since the mini-Budget crisis last year amid recession fears
The pound hit a six-month low against the dollar last night as it headed for its worst month since the mini-Budget crisis of last September amid fears of a recession.
Sterling dropped by about half a cent to as low as $1.2157 as pressure mounted on the currency in the wake of last week’s decision by the Bank of England to leave interest rates on hold.
And while many observers believe rates in the UK have peaked, it is thought there could be further hikes in the US, boosting the dollar.
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