Daily Business Live: Salmond cleared; markets crash; ITV; Asco;
Edinburgh financial wrap platform Nucleus has postponed its annual results due out tomorrow.
The Federal Reserve’s commitment to unlimited purchases of US Treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities drew criticism from analysts who regard it as the wrong response to the current crisis.
After cutting interest rates to near zero the Fed is now offering to lend against student loans and credit card loans, as well as back the purchase of corporate bonds and direct loans to companies.
The extraordinary moves briefly lifted US stock index futures more than 3%, but the mounting death toll from COVID-19 and growing evidence of the economic damage to Corporate America quickly sent the main indexes back into the red.
Investors in London were deeply unimpressed with the FTSE 100 closing at 4,993.89, down 196.89 (3.79%).
3pm: Salmond cleared
Former First Minister Alex Salmond cleared of sex assault charges at High Court.
Four further deaths have been reported in Scotland taking the total number to 14. The number of cases has risen to 499.
The FTSE 100 was down, despite the package of support announced over the weekend. At mid-day it stood at 5,125.43, −65.35 (1.26%).
10.30am: Tesco jobs surge
Tesco has seen its normal rate of job applications skyrocket, receiving more than half a million since last Thursday.
10.05am: Hostelling Scotland
Hostelling Scotland has announced the temporary closure of all 33 youth hostels in its network across the country with immediate effect and until further notice.
9.50am: Asco deal
Asco, the Aberdeen-based global integrated materials and logistics management company, has acquired full ownership of NORM Solutions, a provider of specialist cleaning, treatment and disposal services for oilfield equipment contaminated with Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM).
Established in 2012, and originally a joint venture between Asco and John Lawrie Group, NORM Solutions will continue to operate from its facility in Aberdeen.
9.40am: Whisky appeal
Whisky companies want clearer guidance on how business rates relief will apply where distilling, retail and hospitality sites are located on the same site.
9.10am Berry offer
A group of Scottish berry growers have launched a large-scale recruitment drive to encourage people in Scotland who have been affected by recent coronavirus-related redundancies to come and work on their farms.
Angus Growers is a group of 19 Scottish farmers who last year produced over 12,400 tonnes of fresh berries for consumers across the UK.
However, this year they are anticipating a shortfall of 3,200 workers, almost 80% of their workforce, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its impact on workers coming into the UK from mainland Europe.
8.40am: Hugo Boss
Chief executive Mark Langer will leave the managing board on 30 September by mutual consent. In light of the current challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he will act as a consultant after that date.
The transport group says it is no longer able to provide guidance on the outturn for the remainder of the financial year to 31 March 2020.
The Group has considerable financial headroom and liquidity. As at the end of February 2020, its undrawn committed headroom and free cash was approximately £400m.
The temporary power provider said it is in regular dialogue with the organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and, in line with the current International Olympic Committee guidance, it is continuing its work in support of delivering the Games, which are due to start on 24 July.
The company said that even in the reasonably probable worst case scenario, with appropriate mitigating actions, it expects to remain within the group’s financial covenants, while maintaining headroom under its existing committed facilities.
The impact on the Group’s revenue arising from COVID-19 has been limited and what the company has experienced has been primarily in the events sector.
“We are beginning to face some operational challenges getting our people to project sites as countries close borders and restrict travel. In terms of our supply chain, there has been relatively little impact to date although, specifically, we are experiencing delays of a few weeks in equipment orders from China.”
The board has decided to withdraw its recommendation to pay a final dividend at the forthcoming AGM.
7.55am: AG Barr and Kingfisher delay
Irn-Bru maker AG Barr and Kingfisher to delay publication of annual results in light of FCA guidance.
7.53: FCA and reporting
The Financial Conduct Authority has written to companies advising them to delay publishing preliminary financial statements in the next few days.
iomart Group, the cloud computing company, has appointed Reece Donovan as Chief Operating Officer effective from 30 March 2020.
Mr Donovan’s most recent position was as chief executive at Nomad Digital, a provider of IP connectivity and digital solutions to the global transportation sector.
Carolyn McCall, ITV Chief Executive, said the virus is now having a significant impact on ITV Studios’ ability to film productions and it will cut £100m from its programme budget.
“We have had to pause a significant number of productions in the UK and internationally,” she said in a trading update.
“We are implementing contingency plans to enable us to continue to produce as many programmes as possible, particularly our news output and live productions. It is too early to quantify the impact of this on ITV Studios’ revenue and profit.
“We have seen further deferrals in advertising which are now coming from across the advertiser categories rather than just in travel and we are staying in close contact and working constructively with our client and agency partners.
“The situation remains dynamic and therefore we are not in a position today to give guidance for March or April. We will update again at our Q1 Trading Update in May. Over a full year each 1% decline in total advertising revenue reduces revenue and profit by c.£17 million, before any mitigation.
“We expect to reduce our programme budget by at least £100m. This reflects savings from sport including the postponement of Euro 2020, the late delivery of commissioned programming and active decisions to reduce our spend.
“We have also taken steps to reduce discretionary spending by £20m in 2020. This is in addition to the £10m of savings already guided for 2020. Further, we have identified £30m of savings in our capex.”
The board has decided that it is prudent not to propose the final dividend of 5.4 pence per ordinary share (£216 million in total) for the year ended 31 December 2019 at the forthcoming AGM, and to withdraw its previously announced intention to pay an 8p full year dividend for 2020.
“The savings from not paying the 2019 final dividend, taken with the cash impact of cost and capex savings, will ensure that more than £300m of cash will be retained within the business.”
The transport group said paying bus passenger numbers have slumped by 40% because of the coronavirus.
Directors are sacrificing 50% of their salaries / fees for a period of time and will not receive any bonuses for 2019/20 or any pay increase for 2020/21. Staff recruitment has been frozen.