Friday Update

DB Live: BT denies Openreach talks; Boohoo; Nat Express

5.15pm: BT sale talk ‘inaccurate’

BT said a report in the Financial Times that it was in talks about selling a stake in its networks business Openreach was “inaccurate”.

Openreach CEO Clive Selley said in a message to staff: “Many of you will have seen the reports overnight about BT being in talks to sell a stake in Openreach.

“I spoke to (BT CEO) Philip Jansen last night after the story broke in the newspapers. He is very clear – the story is inaccurate. Openreach is staying in the BT Group.”

The statement may prompt some questions about why it has taken all day to deny the story and why the denial emerged after the London market closed.

5pm: United Capital deal

United Capital has completed its largest deal to date with the acquisition of a Glasgow-based company

Full story here

4.45pm: Markets

The FTSE 100 index closed the week at 5,799.77 + 58.23 (1.01%), as miners were boosted by better-than-expected Chinese industrial production figures.

1.30pm: Sturgeon ‘no’ on student fees

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today ruled out introducing tuition fees for Scottish students to help the financial crisis looming at Scotland’s universities.

Full story here

10.30am: Germany in recession

German GDP fell by 2.2% in Q1 (-1.9% yoy). Q2 is expected to be much worse. Private consumption and investment in machinery and equipment slumped. Government spending and construction stabilised. Both exports and imports took a beating.

8.45am: Market lifted by BT talks

Shares in BT rose 9% from decade lows after reports that it is in talks to sell a stake in its Openreach networks division.

The news helped give the wider market a lift. In early trade the FTSE 100 index was trading at 5,819.06 +77.52 (1.35%).

BT in Openreach ‘talks

8.40am: Royal Mail chief quits

Royal Mail letters post box

Royal Mail chief executive Rico Back has resigned with immediate effect after less than two years in the job.

Full story here

8.30am Petrofac cuts

Oil services company Petrofac has announced further cost cuts to help offset delays to projects caused by the Covid-19 crisis and depressed oil prices.

It is taking an extra £25m (£20m) of costs out of the business this year.

Petrofac scrapped its dividend on 6 April and announced it was cutting 20% of its workforce.

7am: Boohoo raises finance for deals


Online fashion chain Booo has raised gross proceeds of £197.7 million through a successful private placing of shares.

The £3 billion group is preparing to acquire global fashion brands following its success in integrating the Karen Millen and Coast brands on to its platform.

These have helped broaden its appeal beyond its traditional 16 to 24-year-old customer base.

Ahead of this morning’s confirmed fund-raising, Boohoo said it “intends to use the proceeds to take advantage of numerous opportunities that are likely to emerge in the global fashion industry over the coming months”.

7am: National Express

The company has begun selling UK coach tickets for a 1 July re-start – respecting government guidance and advice – of a core coach network that focuses on large and medium-sized conurbations.

Revenue for April is about 50% compared to the same month in 2019 which is in line with the guidance provided to investors during the recent placing.

The coach operator said a reduction in monthly operating costs of about £100m along with continued support from governments and customers saw it generate positive EBITDA, slightly ahead of expectations.

This was further boosted by strong cash collections to drive positive cash flow for the month ahead of expectations.

It now have about £1.5 billion of cash and undrawn committed facilities.

7am: William Hill bets on reopening

Gambling giant William Hill is betting on a phased reopening of its shops in the second half of the year as revenue fell by 57% in the period 11 March and 28 April.

The company has been hit by the shutdown of sport but said it was encouraged by the resumption of the German Bundesliga and UK horse racing in June.

Today’s top Daily Business headlines

Honeywell creates 450 Scots jobs making face masks

Face mask providing boost for the deaf community

Gravitricity smashes crowdfund target for energy plan

BT in talks to sell Openreach stake to fund upgrade

Holyrood resistance to reopening business put to test

Thursday 4.45pm Markets

The FTSE 100 index followed other global indices into the red, as traders fear a protracted economic slowdown.

The index closed down 162.51 points, or 2.75%, at 5,741.54.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 fell 448 points to 15,430.

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