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Thursday update

DB Live: Covid to hit Edinburgh economy; markets

10pm: Call for speeded up support

The CBI wants ministers beef up help for businesses in a “race against time” to save jobs and livelihoods.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director-general, said government intervention had already saved millions of jobs but that a “new wave of support” was needed.

It came hours after figures showing £2.8bn has been advanced to struggling small and medium-sized businesses under a Treasury-backed scheme – which has been criticised for being too slow.

More than 16,000 loans have been approved under the scheme but that compares to an estimated 300,000 companies that have expressed an interest.

4.45pm: Market close

The FTSE 100 index closed at 5,826.61 +55.98 (0.97%)

2.30pm: Taylor Wimpey lifts market

The FTSE 100 was lifted by a surge in the shares of house builders after Taylor Wimpey said it intends to reopen some construction sites on 4 May.

The blue-chip index was trading at 5,806.00 +35.37 (0.61%) on the day and up from a low of 5,737 reached earlier in the session.

Taylor Wimpey was up 11.7%, helping lift other house builders. Persimmon was 10% higher, Barratt Developments climbed 9.8%, while Berkeley traded 5.5% higher.

Firms planning return to work

1pm: Edinburgh facing Covid impact

Edinburgh is poised for a significant hit from Covid-19 because of its exposure to tourism, says KPMG which is forecasting negative GVA (Gross Value Added) in Scotland of at least 8.1% in 2020.

With the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors already hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, KPMG is warning that the capital and the wider Lothians region is most vulnerable with spending by foreign tourists accounting for around 3.4% of the city’s economy – more than any other region in the UK.

The analysis, which is based on the sectoral makeup of Scotland, predicts a significant drop this year, followed by a potential GVA growth in 2021 of 9%, assuming public health measures bring the pandemic under control by next year. 

12.45pm: Lockdown review

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon publishes lockdown review and says: “A return to normal as we knew it is not on the cards in the near future.”

Full story here

10am: New CEO for BIG

BIG Partnership, the PR and marketing agency, has appointed a new chief executive.

Full story here

9.30am: Dental acquisition

A Perthshire dental firm has acquired its fourth practice in three years.

Infinityblu Dental Care and Implant Clinic, founded by a Scottish Young Dentist of the Year, Chris Barrowman, has secured the acquisition of Alyth Dental Care. 

Full story here

8.15am: Market open

In the first minutes of trading the FTSE 100 is 4.18 points 0.07%) lower at 5,766.45.

7.15am: Aston Martin reopens factory

Luxury carmaker Aston Martin Lagonda is to reopen its South Wales factory on 5 May.

The company announced that it will resume operations at its St Athan facility, following guidelines from Public Health Wales and Public Health England to protect its workforce.

It said it will take “learnings in terms of health and safety” into account when it reopens its main car plant in Gaydon, Warwickshire, at a later date.

Chief executive Andy Palmer is waiving 35% of his base salary for a three-month period from 1 April.

7am: Taylor Wimpey resuming work

Taylor Wimpey

Taylor Wimpey is preparing for a phased return to construction south of the border in May, subject to the latest UK Government guidance and medical advice.

This will be based on “detailed new site operating protocols” developed in compliance with strict social distancing requirements, on the majority of its sites in England and Wales. There is a ban on all non-essential construction in Scotland.

Pete Redfern, chief executive, said: “Our first priority is always the health and safety of our customers, employees, subcontractors and suppliers. We took an early decision at the end of March to close our sites while we assessed in detail how to build homes without compromising on health and safety or quality.

“We are now confident that we have clear plans and processes in place so we can safely start back on site in a phased way beginning on 4 May.”

Cancellations represent less than 1% of the current order book.

“We have a strong balance sheet and have managed the business conservatively and are as well positioned as we can be in the very difficult circumstances,” said Mr Redfern.”

Builders call for similar help as hospitality sector

Smart Metering board changes

Willie MacDiarmid, executive chairman at Smart Metering Systems, the Scottish installer and manager of smart meters, will step down immediately following the group’s next Annual General Meeting in June after six years in the role.

Miriam Greenwood, senior independent non-executive director, will succeed him. She has been a non-executive director of SMS since 2014. 

See full list of board changes here

The group announced on 12 March the conditional sale of a minority of the meter assets to Equitix for £291 million. The sale has now completed on schedule.

The revised dividend policy is 25p dividend per share for FY2020 and increasing at least in line with RPI p.a. until FY2024.

Despite Covid-19, the group currently expects underlying profitability and cashflows for FY20 to be in line with the board’s earlier expectations.

Thursday 7am: Devro dividend delay

Moodiesburn-based meat casings firm Devro is delaying payment of its 2019 final dividend of 6.3 pence per share (c.£10.5 million cash cost).

Based on the Board’s current knowledge, it intends to pay an additional interim dividend of the same amount in the second half of 2020. 

The company said it is in a strong financial position with substantial liquidity and long-term banking facilities. 

7.30pm: Zoom upgrades

Zoom Video Communications is upgrading the encryption features on its video conferencing app to quell safety concerns as its users surged by 50% in the past three weeks.

Zoom now has over 300 million daily users after adding 100 million in the last 22 days, the company said.

4.45pm: Market close

The FTSE 100 closed at 5,770.63 +129.60 (2.30%)

Wednesday 4.15pm: Laura Ashley deal

Gordon Brothers, the global advisory, restructuring, and investment firm, has acquired the global Laura Ashley brand, archives, and related intellectual property from the Laura Ashley group’s administrators.



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