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Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed down 0.3%, or 79. 12 points, at 26, 913. 92.
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Topps Tiles earlier said demand has been reducing since October in the run-up to December’s election.
Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, says: “The ongoing Brexit uncertainty, low consumer confidence and poor-performing construction and property sectors has taken its toll with profits down for the tile specialist.
“Consumers are choosing to delay significant expenditures due to a slowing economy, which has impacted on demand for the retailer. “
Pets at HomeCopyright: Pets at Home
Pets a t Home has reported a “strong” first half.
Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, says: “Going against the general trend in retail to boldly invest rather than drastically cut in light of growing online competition is starting to pay off.
“By acquiring successful veterinary practices and selling underperforming ones it has been able to strengthen its offering through sound business analysis and action.
” investment in pet walking website, Tailster.com and reduced prices on a variety of products have turned Pets at Home stores into a one-stop-shop for pet owners making it a convenient location for customers, but also allowing the business to get the most returns from each customer that walks through the door – whether on four legs or two. “
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Following the FCA announcing a ban on mini-bond marketing, Moira O’Neill, head of personal finance at Interactive Investor, says:
“Savers are now in the unfortunate position where even if they can lock their money away for four years, they will only get 2% interest. So the prospect of lending money to a company via a mini-bond for a similar period and getting four times that amount, or more, is tempting. “
But the higher rate of return on mini bonds comes with more risk, she warns, and customers might not always be given enough information to compensate for the investment.
“Meanwhile, the sector as a whole has escaped the kind of in-depth analysis that is normal for both the equity and corporate bond market, ”she added.
De La Rue shares are down more than 17% in early trading after the firm warned that it may not continue as a going concern.
“De La Rue is teetering on the brink, “says Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.
“Today’s update is worrying for investors because it suggests there’s more damage out there to be done to the shares. “
“The board has’ concluded there is a material uncertainty that casts significant doubt on the group’s ability to continue as a going concern’. The company is on the edge here – net debt has ballooned to £ 170 m, equivalent roughly to its market cap before today’s announcement, up from £ 107. 5m in March, albeit the £ 42 m from the sale of International Identity Solutions has not been factored in. Dividend has been suspended. “
(Matt Starrs) ************************** () Copyright: Matt Starrs
Pet care firm Pets at Home has reported like-for-like group revenue growth of 7.6% , and profit before tax up 327 .3% to £ 34 .3m.
Peter Pritchard, group chief executive officer said: “In short, our pet care strategy is working. “
BBC Radio 4
Russ Mold, investment director at AJ Bell, says De La Rue “has had a terrible ten years” after the firm warned on its future.
“We’ve had two profit warnings this year, the chief executive’s gone, there’s been a regulatory investigation into activities in South Sudan.”
He adds: “The big issue is: printing bank notes – does it really have a future? It’s about two thirds of the company’s business. With more and more countries and more and more people going cashless, you do wonder whether printing money is in fact a license to print money. “
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De La Rue plans to suspend dividend payments and review its business to cut costs, as its banknotes printing unit struggles with depressed margins amid stiff competition and growing popularity of digital
The passport and banknotes printer said it expects adjusted profit between £ 20 m and £ (m for full year 2019 – 20.
The company had warned in October that annual profit would be below market expectations.
BBC Radio 4
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Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has told the Today program that his organization is banning the mass marketing of mini-bonds because they are not right for members of the public.
He said: “This is the sixth piece of intervention we’re doing this year. We are also in close discussions with the internet service companies, because we want to limit the marketing of these things through that channel.
“We think it is inappropriate to market the complex versions of these instruments to retail customers, not to the high net-worth individuals, but to retail customers.
“We think that’s in addition to all the other things we’ve been doing over the past year and we feel this is an appropriate ***********
“We want to see more action. I’m keen that the legislation that the government proposed on online harms – which I know addresses really important issues which are outside our world – can also include financial harms.
“I also want more action from Google – I think they can play a big role because it is the major channel now and we find these things just popping up all the time. “
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Retailer Topps Tiles says it is facing “challenging” trading conditions, with weaker consumer demand since the start of the general election campaign.
“Against this backdrop of heightened political and economic uncertainty, like-for-like sales in the first eight weeks [of the financial year] have declined, “it said.
This translated into a 7.2% decline in revenues over the period, it said.
The announcement came as Topps unveiled its annual results for the 52 weeks to 28 September, showing statutory pre-tax profits of £ 12 .5m. This was slightly down on the previous year £ 12 .7m.
Chief executive Matthew Williams said it had been “another year of strategic progress “, with a” resilient “sales performan CE.
BBC Radio 4
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It would be hard for TSB to get out of its current crisis by being sold, former board member Philip Augar has said.
The bank announced on Mondaythat it is closing 82 branchesas part of cost-cutting procedures.
The bank is owned by Spanish bank Sabadel l and Mr Augar told the Today program: “The question is who do they sell to. Even after all this work and a three-year recovery program and redesigning the structure of the business – the return on capital from the business is only 7%, which is half what the big banks are making and doesn’t really cover the cost of capital in the first place.
“The business consists of original TSB branches, some Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society branches and some Lloyds branches in Scotland.
“There’s an overlap of branches and some of them are in the wrong place and some are in not very suitable premises.
” consequence of all this is that their costs are too high and they are overbranched relative to other banks. Kind of compounding that, income is too low so they’re actually in a difficult position, but actually they do have to have to something. “
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is to “ban the mass marketing of speculative mini-bonds to retail customers “, it says.
The action by the regulator will be taken without consultation.
Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the FCA, said:
“We remain concerned at the scope for promotion of mini-bonds to retail investors who do not have the experience to assess and manage the risks
“This risk is heightened by the arrival of the ISA season at the end of the tax year, since it is quite common for mini-bonds to have ISA status, or to claim such even though they do not have the status. “
(PA)Copyrigh t: PA
Google has fired four employees over claims they violated data security policies, but the move has sparked concern that it was retaliation for worker activism.
Bloomberg first reported the move, citing an email from Google, adding that some supporters of the fired workers said their efforts to unionise staff led to the dismissals.
Some employees at the Silicon Valley giant have been protesting in recent years over a range of issues including its work with the military and itshandling of sexual harassment claims.
(BBC Radio 4)
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Uber’s appeal to keep its license in London could go on for a while, according to an expert.
The taxi app will not be granted a new license to operate in the city,regulator Transport for London (TfL) said on Monday.
Uber will appeal against the decision, and Prof Tony Travers, from the London School of Economics, told the Today program: ” It looks as though it’s going to limp along, with the court making a judgement that just about allows Uber to keep operating in London.
“But the fact that 2020 is an election year in London makes it double interesting.
“TfL has gone hard on the issue of whether the drivers were properly licensed – picking on this issue rather than the entire business model, which has been a source of debate before.
“It’s worth remembering that last time TfL appeared to be moving towards taking away its license, it generated a massive petition which rasied nearly 750, 000 signatures.
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Shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba have surged in its Hong Kong trading debut in one of the year most anticipated stock offerings.
The firm, which is already traded in New York, raised around $ 11 .3bn (£ 8.8bn) in its secondary listing.
Chairman Daniel Zhang struck the gong at the ceremony at the city’s exchange and welcomed Alibaba’s return “home” to Hong Kong.
The share sale has knocked Uber off the top spot as this year biggest IPO, according to Dealogic. The ride-hailing firm raised $ 8.1bn in its New York flotation in May.
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The boss of Australia’s second-largest bank, Westpac, has stepped down after the bank became embroiled in a money-laundering scandal.
Regulator Austrac last week launched legal action accusing Westpac of enabling 23 million payments in breach of anti-money laundering laws, including the facilitation of offshore payments related to child exploitation.
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The Black Friday sales offer few real deals with most goods cheaper or available for the same price at other times, claims consumer group Which?
Just one in 20 offers were cheaper during the annual sales, which start this week, Which?
Among products cheaper outside of Black Friday were a tumble dryer, smart speaker, coffee maker and TV soundbar.
Do research and never impulse buy, Which? home products and services chief Natalie Hitchins advised consumers.
Banknote printer and passport manufacturer De La Rue has interim results out this morning. The firm said last month that full year 2019 / 20 adjusted operating profit “will be significantly lower than market expectations” and that management is conducting a detailed review of the business.
Meanwhile, ING has done a survey on sustainability which found three quarters of respondents (71%) agreeing that protecting the environment should be given priority, even if it slows economic growth, while 69% said companies that don’t adapt business models to limit environmental impact will experience a consumer backlash.
We’ll be keeping an eye on those stories plus the latest business news and views.