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Tuesday update

DB Live: CLBILs boost; job figures; French Connection

4.45pm: London close

The morning’s uplift was short-lived and the FTSE 100 soon turned negative while managing to stay above the 6,000 threshold. It closed at down 46.36 points (0.77%) at 6,002.23.

9.30am: Bio breakthrough

A Glasgow based biopharma company says its new drug has the potential to become the new gold standard for treating a deadly intestine infection in hospitals.

Full story here

8.15am London open

Investors remained positive as the session opened in London with the FTSE 100 adding a modest gain to yesterday’s surge, trading at 6,078.73 +30.14 (0.50%)

7.50am: CLBILs extended

Businesses will be able to benefit from larger loans under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), the UK government announced today.

The maximum loan size available under the scheme will be increased from £50 million to £200m to help ensure those large firms, which do not qualify for the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), have enough finance to meet cashflow needs during the outbreak.

The expanded loans, which have been introduced following discussions with lenders and business groups, will be available from 26th May.

7.45am: EICC boss appeals to government

EICC

Marshall Dallas, chief executive of the still-closed Edinburgh International Conference Centre, has urged the Scottish Government to follow the example of other countries which are treating business events differently to other large gatherings.

Full story here

7.05am Jobless rates rise

UK unemployment rose by 50,000 to 1.35 million in the three months to March, as the effects of the coronavirus lockdown began hitting the economy.

The unemployment rate was estimated at 3.9%, slightly up on the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics said.

The figures only cover the first week of the lockdown. The number of unemployment claims under Universal Credit soared by 856,500 or 69.1% in April to 2.1m.

Between January and March 2020, Scotland’s employment rate estimate fell over the quarter to 74.7% and the unemployment rate estimate rose over the quarter to 4.1%. 

Employment minister Jamie Hepburn said: “While these rates compare well against historical records, they do not reflect fully the unprecedented impact of the pandemic and how it will change over time.

“The Job Retention Scheme will have offered some relief to many employers and employees, but I am aware many will be deeply concerned about the future of their livelihoods.”

7am: French Connection

French Connection

The fashion chain said its websites in the UK and USA have seen sales up 44% over the last six weeks.  In addition it is starting to see a small increase in activity in Europe as countries begin to open up.

In the light of the company’s current cash position and the continued expected weak trading environment, it is in “active discussions” with a number of potential funding partners.

The board is confident of raising sufficient funds to support the business until the return of trading levels that are able to support the ongoing operations.  

“This process is proceeding well and we are making good progress on due diligence and agreeing terms. Without securing additional funding and should the current Covid impacted trading levels continue, the company’s cash resources will eventually be eroded in the coming months.”

Compass shares placing

The hospitality catering group intends to raise gross proceeds of approximately £2bn through a placing, subscription and retail offer of shares to strengthen the company’s balance sheet and liquidity position, reducing leverage to deal with the challenging environment and ensure Compass remains resilient in the event of further negative developments in the pandemic.

“These measures will enable Compass to invest in the business to support long term growth, ensuring it is well positioned for the eventual recovery,” it said.

Imperial Brands

Tobacco giant Imperial Brands slashed its dividend by more than a third as it tried to speed up debt reduction and strengthen its balance sheet.

The interim dividend was cut to 41.7p a share from 62.56p a year ago, implying an annual payout of 137.7p. Adjusted operating profit fell 7.7% to £1.47bn.

The company, formerly Imperial Tobacco, said the dividend cut was not driven by Covid-19, “although, the current uncertainties caused by Covid-19, as well as the ongoing regulatory focus on tobacco, further reinforces the importance of a strong balance sheet to underscore the defensive characteristics of our business”.

Homeserve

Homeserve has posted strong preliminary results for the year ending 31 March, with double-digit growth in both revenue and profits expected.

The firm says that revenue has grown by 13% to £1.1bn, while profits will come in at £181m – up by 12%.

It expects to pay a full-year dividend of 23.6p per share – up 10 on 2019.

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