Market report

McColl’s in bank talks | Primark sales up | FTSE lower


5pm: Markets off lows

The FTSE 100 closed off its three-digit low, falling 31.21 points to 7,458.25, although traders remain on edge as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to send jitters through global markets.

Companies with an exposure to Russia were the worst hit while prospect of more government defence spending lifted the likes of BAE Systems, up 10% at the close. Russian steelmaker Evraz slumped 29%.

But the day’s worst performer was McColl’s Retail Group which plunged 63% as it delivered a profit warning while continuing to seek funding to stay afloat (see below).

The CAC 40 in Paris ended down 1.4%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt closed down 0.7%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.3% at the time of London’s close. The S&P 500 was marginally higher and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.8%.

7am: McColl’s in talks with banks


Newsagents chain McColl’s has confirmed that it recently received an approach for the whole business, which has subsequently been withdrawn and there are no further discussions with that party or any other party in relation to an offer for the whole business.

In addition, the group has also received indications of interest for parts of the business. The board said it is in talks with its banks about future financing.

It warned that as a result of the difficult market conditions in the first quarter, some of which are expected to continue through the first half, the board now expects FY22 adjusted EBITDA to be slightly behind current market expectations, and net debt in the region of £100m at the end of FY22.

7am: Primark sees sales growth

Primark sales for the 24 weeks to 5 March are expected to be well above 60% over last year, according to parent company Associated British Foods. It forecasts operating profit margin of about 11%.

The better outcome was a result of all stores remaining open and trading throughout the period except for short periods in Austria and The Netherlands.

It said this also mitigated the effect of inflation on raw materials and the supply chain.

The company said it expects to add a net 0.5 million sq ft of additional selling space this financial year.

“We continue to make good progress with new store signings, in line with our ambition to grow our store estate to some 530 stores over the next five years, with a particular focus on the US, France, Italy and Iberia.”

7am: AssetCo swoops on second Edinburgh firm

AssetCo, the wealth management company, has swooped on another Edinburgh business, acquiring Revera Asset Management for £2.8 million.

The deal involves the issue of 54,639 new ordinary shares and £1.9 million in cash, in each case to be paid on completion.

Full story here

Global markets

European markets were expected to fall after Russia’s Vladimir Putin raised the stakes in his battle for Ukraine, despite a meeting between representatives of the two countries on the northern border with Belarus later today.

Russia’s removal from the Swift payments system and tighter sanctions on its economy will see the rouble come under further pressure after crashing to a record low 105.27 per dollar (£78.95), down from about 84 per dollar (£63) late on Friday.

Brent crude remained above $100 a barrel amid warnings that oil prices could hit $125.

BP said on Sunday that it will offload its near 20% stake in Russia’s state-owned oil giant Rosneft and withdraw executives from its board.

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