BUSINESS LIVE: HL and AJ Bell assets soar; Hipgnosis strategic review; Fund firms


LIVE

The FTSE 100 is down 1 per cent in afternoon trading. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are AJ Bell, Hargreaves Lansdown, Hipgnosis, Schroders, Man Group, Dunelm and Deliveroo. Read the Thursday 19 October Business Live blog below.

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Rentokil shares plummet on weak outlook despite bedbug enquiries boom

Rentokil Initial shares tumbled on Thursday morning after the company warned its performance in North America would miss annual forecasts.

The Crawley-based pest control group revealed organic turnover across the region, its largest market, increased by just 2.2 per cent in the third quarter, compared to 9.5 per cent growth in Europe.

Oxford Nanopore shares rise sharply amid £70m investment

Oxford Nanopore Technologies shares rose sharply on Thursday after the firm revealed details of a multi-million pound investment.

The London-listed biotech group, which spun out of Oxford University in 2005, told investors it had secured a £70million investment from French in-vitro diagnostics group bioMérieux.

Stealth tax is hitting our savings and investments as well as income

There comes a point at which stealth tax stops being stealthy.

By my reckoning we reached that on the supposed ‘stealth tax’ measure of freezing tax thresholds last autumn, when Jeremy Hunt faced a backlash his predecessors dodged.

Number of people paying higher-rate income taxes is set to double

The number of people paying higher-rate income taxes will double to nearly nine million under the Government’s £52billion stealth tax raid, analysis shows.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that 8.9million will be subject to higher-rate taxes by the 2027/28 financial year – or one in six of the adult population.

Nokia axing up to 14,000 jobs in bid to slash costs

Nokia plans to cut up to 14,000 jobs by the end of 2026 in a bid to sharply reduce costs.

The Finnish technology group said on Thursday the move is part of efforts to save up to £1.04billion over the three-year period.

Rentokil shares slump 16%

Top 15 falling FTSE 350 firms 19102023

AJ Bell shares top FTSE 350 charts

Top 15 rising FTSE 350 firms 19102023

Rightmove investors fret OnTheMarket’s £99m takeover by US firm

OnTheMarket shares surged by more than half on Thursday after the group revealed it had agreed to be taken over by US commercial real estate information group CoStar in a £99million deal.

OnTheMarket shares rose 53.19 per cent or 37.50p to 108.00p early trading on the back of the 110p per share offer – a 56 per cent premium to Wednesday’s closing price.

SMEs struggling to compete with big companies for talent, study shows

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Britain are struggling to compete for talent, with the cost of recruitment soaring, a new study suggests.

The study of 514 small businesses found 89 per cent are struggling to match salaries offered by bigger organisations in the UK, while multinationals present a threat to 69 per cent of firms, according to recruitment platform Employment Hero.

Schroders assets shrink as Man Group inflows miss forecasts

Asset managers are facing pressure from choppy market conditions and weak investor sentiment, with inflows of client cash drying up.

Schroders posted a dip in assets under management for the third quarter to £724.3billion on Thursday, despite the firm’s wealth assets growing from £102.6billion to £104.2billion in the three months to 30 September.

AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown buoyed by client and asset growth

Two of Britain’s biggest online trading platforms reported solid asset and customer growth, despite choppy markets and weak investor sentiment.

AJ Bell client numbers increased by over 50,000 to 476,532 during the 12 months ending September, with around two-thirds of this growth coming from its direct-to-consumer segment.

Netflix hikes prices for millions of customers

Netflix has announced price hikes for tens of millions of customers – with its premium plan hitting £17.99 per month – as it revealed better than expected growth in subscriber numbers after clamping down on password sharing.

The streaming giant is putting up fees in the US, Britain and France. It has different pricing plans allowing for different numbers of streams or ad-free viewing.

Hipgnosis launches strategic review as songs fund’s future hangs in the balance

Hipgnosis Songs Fund has launched a strategic review which could alter terms of its management agreement amid tension with shareholders over plans to offload parts of its portfolio.

The music rights investment trust said it the review would enable it to ‘consider and to identify changes that will focus on recovering and delivering improved shareholder value’. It does not envisage a sale of the company in the process.

ree days after one of Hipgnosis’ shareholders attempted to derail the London-listed firm’s $465million (£384million) deal to sell some of its music catalogues to a group backed by private equity firm Blackstone.

Nokia to axe up to 14,000 jobs in cost-cutting plan

(PA) – Telecoms giant Nokia has said it plans to cut up to 14,000 jobs by the end of 2026 in a bid to sharply reduce costs.

The Finnish technology firm said the move is part of efforts to save up to 1.2 billion euros (£1.04billion) over the three-year period.

It will reduce its workforce from the current 86,000 to between 72,000 and 77,000.

Nokia, which has UK offices in Bristol, Cambridge and Reading, has not disclosed where the staff cuts will be made.

The announcement came as the business also reported that sales slumped by a fifth over the quarter to September.

The company had hoped the recent introduction of 5G networks would boost trading but on Thursday it blamed a slowdown in demand for the technology in some markets, such as North America.

It comes after Swedish rival Ericsson, which has also launched a recent restructuring move, revealed its own sales slump last week.

Nokia president and chief executive Pekka Lundmark said: “The most difficult business decisions to make are the ones that impact our people.

“We have immensely talented employees at Nokia and we will support everyone that is affected by this process.”

Private equity in £203m bid for tech consultant Kin and Carta

Kin and Carta, which advises businesses on technology strategies, is the latest company to be targeted by private equity predators

Private equity has swooped on yet another London-listed company, dealing a fresh blow to the stock market.

Sosandar to open physical stores for the first time as it bids to conquer the High Street

Fund firms struggle for inflows

Man Group and Schroders have followed Liontrust with reports of weak or negative changes to their asset under management, as the fund management sector battles weaker sentiment and choppy market conditions.

Man Group has posted $700million in new investor inflows in the three months to the end of the September, short of analyst expectations of $800million but taking AUM to $161.2billion.

Meanwhile Schroders posted a fall in AUM for the third quarter, pulled down by weak investor sentiment amid volatile market conditions.

Schroders’ AUM fell to £724.3billion in the period, from £726.1billion at the end of June.

Embattled Hipgnosis launches strategic review

Music investor Hipgnosis Songs Fund will start a strategic review to ‘consider and to identify changes that will focus on recovering and delivering improved shareholder value’.

The decision comes three days after one of Hipgnosis’ shareholders aimed to scuttle the London-listed firm’s $465million deal to sell some of its music catalogues to a group backed by private equity firm Blackstone.

The investment trust told investors this morning:

‘The Strategic Review will look at all options to be considered for the future of the Company with the aim of maximising value for shareholders including, among other things, a review of the future management arrangements of the Company.

‘The Board continues to recommend voting in favour of the Continuation Resolution, believing it is in shareholders’ interest to have a Strategic Review with the widest array of options for the Company to consider and to identify changes that will focus on recovering and delivering improved shareholder value.’

BT to sell smart fridges and coffee machines in bid to boost business

Trading platform assets soar despite weaker sentiment

AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown have seen assets under management surge this year, as weaker market sentiment fails to derail the growth of the trading platform.

HL won 8,000 net new clients for the first quarter on Thursday, down on the previous three months owing to falling investor confidence, and £600million in new assets. It now has net client assets of £134.8billion.

Meanwhile AJ Bell assets have skyrocketed 68 per cent over the last year on the back of strong client inflows and investment performance.

Michael Summersgill, chief executive at AJ Bell, said: ‘I am pleased to report another year of continued organic growth for AJ Bell, with the number of customers using our platform increasing by over 50,000 thanks to our quality of service, exceptional value and easy-to-use products.

‘Our dual-channel model, which serves the needs of both advised and DIY investors, once again demonstrated its strength as we delivered over £4 billion of net inflows onto our investment platform. This contributed to an 11% increase in platform assets under administration which ended the year at a record £70.9billion.’





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