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Thursday Papers: Hutchison to freeze prices on Three-O2

And Lloyds Banking Group to cut 1,755 jobs and close 29 branches as the lender is looking to lower costs to prepare for privatisation.

 
Thursday Papers: Hutchison to freeze prices on Three-O2

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Mobile phone prices for tens of millions of UK customers would be frozen for five years as part of a £5 billion investment drive by Li Ka-shing’s CK Hutchison to win over competition watchdogs to its £10.5 billion acquisition of O2.
  • The Guardian: Lloyds Banking Group is cutting 1,755 jobs and closing 29 branches as part of a plan by its chief executive, António Horta-Osório, to cut costs as he prepares the bank for privatisation.
  • Financial Times: Bain and TPG are among several private equity firms weighing potential approaches for Yahoo’s core internet business, sources said, after the Silicon Valley group announced it was exploring options for the unit.
  • Financial Times: ChemChina sought to pre-empt political opposition to its $43.8 billion bid for Swiss agribusiness, Syngenta, saying China’s biggest overseas takeover in history should not alarm politicians wary of the attempt to shore up its food security.
  • Financial Times: A British exit from the European Union will not open the door to a "golden world" of deregulation, according to the deputy governor of the Bank of England.
  • Financial Times: GlaxoSmithKline has all but ruled out a sale of its consumer healthcare business in the next three years, disappointing investors who have been pushing for a break-up of the UK drugmaker.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: Swatch has blamed the “dismal currency situation” in Switzerland for a squeeze on exports and a sharp fall in profit.
  • Financial Times: Google has put an artificial intelligence expert in charge of its search algorithms, signalling a sea change in one of the core technologies of the internet that may ultimately give intelligent machines the job of finding and sorting information for humans.
  • Financial Times: China plans to enforce widely flouted restrictions on capital transfers into insurance products in Hong Kong by wealthy Chinese, in the latest move by Beijing to halt the flow billions of renminbi out of the country.
  • Financial Times: Vodafone has criticised BT for “loading costs” on to its Openreach division, which operates the national broadband network used by internet service providers.
  • The Independent: Fears over a potential Brexit referendum result, a Chinese slowdown and recent financial market turbulence has put the UK’s dominant services sector in its “darkest mood” for three years, experts have warned.
  • The Guardian: EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s budget food store, which charges just 25p each for everyday groceries, has been forced to close temporarily after less than two days as it has run out of stock.
  • Financial Times: Shares in LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton jumped on Wednesday after the luxury group headed by Bernard Arnault posted stronger than expected results.
  • Daily Mail: Estate agent Foxtons shrugged off a slowdown in the London property market as a push into the suburbs, new homes and competing for sellers saw its sales rise last year.
  • Financial Times: General Motors raised the prospect that US automotive demand may plateau after a record performance in 2015 and a positive underlying result for the start of 2016.
  • Financial Times: Ford plans to cut hundreds of jobs in Europe as it seeks to sustain momentum in the fiercely competitive market and build on its first annual profit in the region for five years.
  • Financial Times: Toyota has said it will temporarily halt production at all of its plants in Japan including its parts-making facilities in further fallout from a steel factory explosion in January at an affiliate.
  • The Guardian: GlaxoSmithKline’s chief executive, Sir Andrew Witty, has waded into the EU referendum debate, saying that Britain is “much better off inside the EU than outside”.
  • Financial Times: Novo Nordisk has lowered its long-term earnings target and warned investors not to expect further increases in profit margin as pricing pressure mounts in the US and growth slows in China.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Water firm Severn Trent is on track to clinch a £15 million pay-out from the industry regulator for over-delivering on its performance targets.
  • The Independent: Rising sales of Dairy Milk chocolate in Asia failed to stop a slump in revenues at Cadbury’s US owner, Mondelez, last year, as price hikes left a sour taste in the mouths of European chocolate lovers.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Octopus Titan, Britain's biggest venture capital trust, has posted £15 million full-year profits despite the collapse of one of its investments.
  • Financial Times: The UK’s pensions freedoms have boosted new business at Hargreaves Lansdown, the online investment supermarket, where pre-tax profits rose 6% in the second half of last year.
  • The Guardian: Ebook sales for the UK’s five biggest publishers fell in 2015, according to a new report in the Bookseller, collectively declining 2.4%, to 47.9 million units.
  • The Guardian: Sports Direct has dramatically backed down from its legal battle with Rangers football club and abandoned efforts to prevent disclosure of the pair’s joint venture, which has made the Old Firm club about 4p from every pound spent in its Ibrox store.
  • Financial Times: DraftKings, the online fantasy sports company facing bans across the US, is planning to launch in the UK as it searches for international revenues to “mitigate the risk” of being regulated out of its home market.
  • Financial Times: Fitbit is relaunching its step-tracking wristband with a new focus on personalisation, style and high-margin accessories, as it tries to maintain its lead in the fitness wearables market.
  • The Guardian: Tesco has been forced to pay £1 million towards the costs of the grocery watchdog’s investigation that found the supermarket had deliberately delayed payments to suppliers to boost profits.
  • Financial Times: Wells Fargo said it had agreed to pay $1.2 billion to US authorities to settle claims that the country’s biggest mortgage lender engaged in “reckless” practices for about a decade and left the taxpayer to deal with the fallout.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Regulators are under orders to show they are doing a “thorough” job of investigating KPMG’s audit of collapsed bank HBOS, after angering MPs with their slow response to the bank’s crash.
  • The Guardian: Ailing billionaire Sumner Redstone has been replaced as head of the CBS media empire by chief executive Leslie Moonves.
  • Financial Times: MTN has engaged Eric Holder, the former US attorney-general, to help challenge a $3.9 billion fine imposed by Nigerian regulators for the company’s failure to disconnect unregistered mobile phone subscribers.
  • The Independent: Toyota will pay up to $21.9 million to black and Asian borrowers to settle a federal discrimination probe.
  • The Guardian: The trade minister, Andrew Robb, has rejected calls for an independent cost-benefit analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the World Bank estimated it could lift Australia’s economic output by just 0.7% by 2030.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Daily Telegraph (Questor share tip): Hargreaves Lansdown shares are too rich as FTSE heads lower; Avoid.
  • Financial Times: Microsoft has acquired London-based Swiftkey, maker of a predictive keyboard powered by artificial intelligence that is installed on hundreds of millions of smartphones, in a deal worth $250 million.
  • Financial Times: Stephen Ross, the US property billionaire and owner of the Miami Dolphins American football team, has made his first venture into affordable housing in the UK with the purchase of a 50% stake in a London developer specialising in “micro-homes” Pocket Living.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Old Mutual, the third largest shareholder in Home Retail Group, has issued its support for Sainsbury's £1.3 billion takeover despite previously calling for a higher price.
  • Financial Times (Comment): Asia struggles with poor margin discipline.
  • Financial Times (Comment): Yahoo’s latest turnround plan struggles to convince.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Alphabet: a portfolio of just the leading stock by market cap would have performed surprisingly well.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Clydesdale: a rating of half book value looks right for a bank with such poor returns on equity.
  • Financial Times (Lex): GlaxoSmithKline: if the pharma group can maintain momentum, it will be easier to fend off calls for a break-up.
  • Financial Times (Lex): ChemChina/Syngenta: a good deal for Syngenta’s shareholders. What about the rest of the industry?
  • Financial Times (Lex): Insurance: AIA gets a scare but, probably, not much more.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Yahoo: internet company looks closer to cashing in on its clicks.

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