BUSINESS LIVE: Equinor given green light for Rosebank oil and gas field

BUSINESS LIVE: Equinor given green light for Rosebank oil and gas field

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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FTSE 100 closes down 32.50 points at 7593.22

Barbie and Oppenheimer too late to stop Everyman’s first-half loss

First-half losses at Everyman Media Group soared more than fivefold following a weaker slate of major film releases and the costs of new venue launches.

Britain’s fourth-largest cinema operator reported a £4.3million loss for the six months ending June, against a £798,000 loss in the equivalent period last year.

Aldi announces plans to open stores in 22 new locations

Supermarket chain Aldi has revealed the areas it wants to create 22 new stores as it invests £1.4billion over the next two years.

‘Priority’ areas where it wants to create new shops include Kensington in London, Cambridge and Cardiff in Wales.

The Footsie closes soon

Just before close, the FTSE 100 was 0.47% lower at 7,590.00.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 was 0.61% lower at 18,225.16.

Poundland to reopen first 10 Wilko stores under its brand this weekend

(PA) – Ten former Wilko stores are set to reopen as Poundland outlets on Saturday after being bought out of administration by the value retailer.

Poundland owner Pepco agreed earlier this month to buy up to 71 Wilko stores from administrator PwC following the collapse of the high street chain.

They will all be relaunched under the Poundland brand, with the first 10 to reopen their doors on September 30.

The shops will open across Stafford, Nelson, Barking, Stockport, Eccles, Leigh, Southport, Maidenhead, Jarrow and Scunthorpe.

Poundland is encouraging former Wilko staff to apply for roles at the shops, including store assistants and managers, and said it would “prioritise” them for the jobs.

Poundland said the stores will stock customer favourites, including clothing, alongside any existing Wilko clearance items.

Darren Kay, Poundland retail director, said: “We’re pleased to be able to re-open so quickly – not least because our ambition is to provide job opportunities for former Wilko colleagues.

“Of course, we’re not yet in a position to offer our fullest ranges in these stores, but we know customers will appreciate a shop that’s open, trading and employing colleagues to one that’s got its shutters closed.”

Morrisons chief David Potts to step down after nine years

(PA) – Morrisons has said David Potts is set to step down as boss of the supermarket chain after nine years.

Mr Potts will be replaced as chief executive officer by Rami Baitieh, the former chief of Carrefour France, from November.

Morrisons also revealed an increase in sales for the past quarter on Wednesday.

The change in leadership comes a year after US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice snapped up Morrisons for around £7billion.

The retailer said Mr Baitieh will work closely with his predecessor to ensure a “smooth handover period”.

Mr Baitieh said: “Morrisons holds a special place for shoppers across the UK, and I am honoured to be joining the business to help build on the strong links the company has with its loyal customers and the communities where it operates.

“As a manufacturer, wholesaler and seller of food, Morrisons is uniquely positioned to grow in the coming years while remaining deeply focused on customer satisfaction.”

Hiscox to sell motor and travel insurer DirectAsia

Specialist insurer Hiscox has reached a deal to offload its operations in Asia for an undisclosed amount.

Ignite Thailand Holdings, the parent company of online insurer Roojai, has agreed to purchase DirectAsia, which provides motor and travel insurance to customers across Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Ocado Group shares top FTSE 350 fallers

Top 15 falling FTSE 350 firms 27092023

Ithaca Energy shares top FTSE 350 charts

Top 15 rising FTSE 350 firms 27092023

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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