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Sunday newspaper round-up: StanChart, Anglo, Thomas Cook, Shell, Tesla

By Digital Look

Date: Sunday 21 Apr 2019

Sunday newspaper round-up: StanChart, Anglo, Thomas Cook, Shell, Tesla

(Sharecast News) - British shopping centres, DIY stores and garden centres struggled over the bank holiday weekend as shoppers stayed outside to enjoy the blazing sunshine. Indoor shopping centres were hit particularly hard, with a year-on-year decline in footfall of more than 11% on both Friday and Saturday, according to retail data company Springboard. - Observer
Standard Chartered is preparing to shower long-suffering shareholders with a bumper cash return of more than $1bn through its first share buyback programme in nearly two decades. Analysts say that the emerging markets-focused bank, led by American Bill Winters, has triggered plans for the bonanza after paying $1.1bn (£850m) to authorities in the US and Britain to settle charges of violating sanctions against Iran. - Sunday Times

Serious concerns were raised about a contractor's ability to build a key High Speed 2 station before it won the £1.3bn contract, according to a High Court claim. HS2 described the joint-venture company set up by construction giants Balfour Beatty and Vinci as "severely under-resourced [and] a real risk to the safe and timely completion and handover" of Old Oak Common station in northwest London, according to a rival bidder. - Sunday Times

Anglo American, the FTSE 100 ­giant behind De Beers diamonds, has called in a trio of investment banks to fortify its defences as it digs in against a takeover bid. The £30bn company's ­advisers, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Centerview, have been ­drawing up plans to fend off Volcan ­Investments, mining tycoon Anil Agarwal's holding company, which also controls his metals empire Vedanta Resources. - Sunday Telegraph

Debt-laden tour operator Thomas Cook has been approached by a string of suitors in recent weeks after a plunge in its stock market value made it a takeover target. Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate that owns Club Med, and private equity firms KKR and EQT are among those reportedly considering offers for either Thomas Cook's main tour operator unit or the whole business. - Sunday Telegraph

Accounting giants EY and Deloitte are exploring expansion into advertising and marketing as they seek new territory to conquer following an attack by competition watchdogs on their stronghold in auditing. It is understood that senior figures from both Big Four firms are holding talks with advertising specialists about how they should approach the rapidly shifting market. - Sunday Telegraph

BT has called for a shake-up of Ofcom, claiming that the regulator could become too powerful after Britain leaves the EU. The telecoms giant fears that Brexit could lead to the watchdog's role being increased as oversight by the European Commission is removed. It has suggested tackling the issue by separating operations within Ofcom to ensure "checks and balances" remain. - Sunday Times

State-owned energy colossus Saudi Aramco has struck a deal to buy Royal Dutch Shell's stake in an oil refinery joint venture on the Persian Gulf for $631m (£485m). The sale of Anglo-Dutch company's 50pc stake in the Saudi Aramco Shell Saudi Arabia Refining (SASREF) joint venture is expected to complete later this year. - Sunday Telegraph

The FTSE 100 oil giant Shell has called for taxpayer subsidies to help it cut pollution by trapping carbon dioxide emissions underground. Carbon capture and storage is seen by many as vital to meeting global pollution reduction targets. It involves "scrubbing" pollutants from factory and power station emissions, transporting the gas to special locations and storing it to avoid damage to the atmosphere. - Sunday Times

The digital bank Monzo is in talks with fund giants BlackRock, Fidelity and Vanguard about offering cheap investment accounts in a plan dubbed "Hargreaves Lansdown for millennials". Monzo, which is close to raising £100m of fresh funding at a $2.5bn (£1.9bn) valuation, aims to launch investment accounts on its app later this year so that customers can buy low-cost funds rather than picking individual stocks. - Sunday Times

POLITICS CORNER

Theresa May will be told this week that she must step down as prime minister by the end of June or her MPs will change the Tory party leadership rules to force her out. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the back-bench 1922 committee, is set to visit May to tell her that 70% of her MPs now want her to resign for botching Brexit and presiding over a collapse in Tory support. - Sunday Times

Conservative members and activists are likely to abandon the party in vast numbers in the European parliament elections in favour of Nigel Farage's Brexit party, two surveys have suggested. A questionnaire of party members for the ConservativeHome website found 62% were planning to vote for the Brexit party if the European elections went ahead in the UK in May as expected, and only 23% intended to vote for their own party. - Observer

Labour will never defeat Nigel Farage if it continues to "sit on the fence" over Brexit and offers only "mealy-mouthed" support for a second referendum, the party's deputy leader says today. In an extraordinary intervention that exposes the tensions at the top of the party over Brexit strategy, Tom Watson warns that Labour will lose to Farage's new "far right" Brexit party in May's European elections if it continues to give the impression that "we half agree with him". - Observer

The Tories look certain to lose up to 500 seats in the English local elections on May 2, but it could be much worse if recent opinion polls turn out to be accurate. Some 8,400 seats in 248 councils fall vacant in England. Five councils have inaugural elections following the abolition or merger of their predecessors and there will be contests for six directly elected mayors. - Sunday Times

Philip Hammond has been warned that thousands of businesses are at risk of failure as he presses ahead with plans to let the taxman jump the queue when the assets of collapsed companies are carved up by administrators. Restructuring specialists said moves by the Chancellor to reintroduce "Crown preference" could trigger a massive wave of insolvencies as lenders lose their top-ranking status. - Sunday Telegraph

Greece is poised to send Germany a formal diplomatic note detailing its demand for billions of euros in wartime reparations after MPs voted overwhelmingly for the emotive issue to be raised officially. In a move bound to stir sentiment ahead of crucial European parliament elections, Athens vowed to pile pressure on Berlin, taking legal and diplomatic steps that will throw the spotlight on crimes committed during the brutal Nazi occupation. - Observer

VAPING, SUPERDRY, OPIOIDS, PERSIMMON

The world's leading vaping brand, which stopped selling flavoured e-cigarettes in stores in America because they proved so attractive to children, is planning a sales push in Britain. Juul, described as the iPhone of e-cigarettes and criticised for promoting a youthful image, wants to introduce apple, mango and berry flavoured vapes in 55,000 supermarkets and stores. It became the No 1 e-cigarette brand at Sainsbury's after just eight weeks of sales. - Sunday Times

Superdry's returning founder has taken early steps to throw out the work of his predecessor, cancelling a childrenswear range and pulling out of a footwear licensing deal with the majority shareholder of JD Sports. Julian Dunkerton, 54, who narrowly won a hard-fought campaign to return to the board of the streetwear brand this month, has canned the kidswear range developed by former B&Q and Co-op boss Euan Sutherland, despite the fact Superdry had taken about 200 wholesale orders. - Sunday Times

Housebuilder Persimmon is braced for a fresh revolt over its controversial bonuses after shareholder advisers urged investors to vote against the company's 'highly excessive' pay. Advisory group PIRC has instructed investors to oppose the pay report for a second year running at the annual meeting early next month. - Mail on Sunday

Sir Martin Sorrell's S4 Capital is facing a legal battle in Holland over the company's £266m acquisition of the creative agency MediaMonks. Former MediaMonks investor Rogier Schalken is taking the Dutch agency to court to establish whether he should have been entitled to a slice of the sale proceeds following the takeover by S4 in July last year. - Sunday Times

The government has ignored a warning from expert advisers about the influence of drug giants on its inquiry into Britain's prescription medicine addiction crisis. Public Health England, an agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, is investigating the problem of NHS patients becoming dependent on medicines from GPs, including opioids, anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. - Sunday Times

METRO BANK, DEBS, FRANK TIMIS, TESLA

Metro Bank founder Vernon Hill faces a shareholder revolt next month after a major accounting blunder left investors nursing heavy losses. One of the lender's top City backers told The Sunday Telegraph that Mr Hill or chief executive Craig Donaldson must go as a result of the debacle. - Sunday Telegraph

Sports Direct billionaire Mike Ashley has unleashed a fresh broadside in his quest to buy Debenhams, accusing the administrators of not running a "genuine" sales process. The tracksuit tycoon has written to the City watchdog complaining that restrictions imposed on possible bidders could put them off. - Sunday Times

A top shareholder in Pendragon has urged the car dealer to reject calls for it to break itself up in the wake of a shock profit warning. Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, who holds almost 14pc of the company, said a strategic review of Pendragon launched by new chief executive Mark Herbert should not lead to it being dismantled. - Sunday Telegraph

The activist pressing for a break-up of FirstGroup has quietly raised its stake in the British bus and rail company to become its biggest shareholder outright. The move has triggered speculation that Coast Capital Management is set to make fresh demands for a shake-up. The US activist has bought a further 1.4 per cent of the FTSE 250 group, according to stock market filings last week. - Mail on Sunday

Homegrown funds are squaring up to Chinese investors including the Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing in the final round of a £2bn battle to buy one of the UK's largest electricity networks. The final auction round for Electricity North West will see UK asset manager Equitix go head-to-head against Mr Li's Cheung Kong Infrastructure fund and a joint venture between State Grid Corporation of China and China Southern Power Grid. - Sunday Telegraph

One of the City's most controversial characters, who has twice been convicted of being a heroin dealer, has made an extraordinary return to the Square Mile. Multi-millionaire tycoon Frank Timis is pushing for a coup at the top London Stock Exchange-listed Argo Blockchain, four years after his last London-listed mining company went bust. - Mail on Sunday

The company that provides McDonalds with its burger buns is weighing up a sale of its UK logistics operation. City sources said Irish-Swiss food giant Aryzta was talking to potential buyers, with the sale potentially valuing the unit at £10million to £20million. - Mail on Sunday

Rail users face fresh chaos after the late delivery of new trains and the forced withdrawal of older ones leave operators without enough to run a service. One company is hiring 54-year-old locomotives hauling 1970s coaches to cope with the crisis. Others are using mothballed trains from the 1980s. Some are having to cut services by up to half. - Sunday Times

Edinburgh airport, Scotland's ­busiest flight hub, is to be sold this year for as much as £2bn, as its private equity owner bids to cash in on ­soaring valuations for aviation infrastructure. Global ­Infrastructure Partners (GIP), the New York-based investor ­and Edinburgh airport's biggest ­shareholder, has been mulling the ­future of its stake in its remaining ­British airport, City sources said. - Sunday Telegraph

The American owner of The Priory Group is considering a £1billion sale of the scandal-hit mental healthcare giant. City sources said Acadia Healthcare, a US-listed company, has appointed a financial adviser to explore 'strategic options' for The Priory Group. - Mail on Sunday

Tesla has been granted a temporary restraining order to prevent an alleged harasser from approaching the carmaker's California factory. The electric carmaker claimed in its application for the order that the man had repeatedly harassed its employees. He allegedly controls a Twitter account which frequently claimsthat Tesla engages in fraud and which claims to be betting that Tesla shares will fall. - Observer

Only once before have British musicians been outpaced in the UK album charts by their American rivals when, in 2003, the nation was seized by an urge to listen to Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. Mark Mulligan, a music industry analyst for Midia Research, said that the surge of American artists was driven by the way that the US-based streaming platforms Spotify and Apple Music are biased towards their country's record labels. - Sunday Times



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