Tuesday update

DB Live: Stobart audit probe; Lawrie IP; Sunamp; Rautomead

4.45pm: London close

The FTSE 100 pulled back from its earlier three-digit rise but stayed in the black all day, fuelled by return to work measures, to close up 74.48 (1.24%) at 6,067.76.

3.15pm: Support for China deal

The UK’s export credit agency has guaranteed over £1 million for Dundee-based manufacturing company, Rautomead to supply machinery to Shaanxi Sirui Advanced Materials Co, a specialist Chinese metals manufacturing company in Xian.

Rautomead’s continuous casting machine will be used to produce complex copper chrome zirconium alloy rods at a factory in Baoji City.

2pm: Sunamp handwash grant

Scottish heat battery manufacturer Sunamp has been awarded a £50,000 grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. The grant will support development of mobile handwash units aimed at improving hand hygiene to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The project was one of just 800 selected from over 8,600 applications that will develop new technology and innovation to overcome some of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

12.45pm: Student accommodation ‘resilient’

Two blocks of student accommodation in Edinburgh and Leicester have been sold in a £22.2m deal said to reflect the resilience of the sector.

Full story here

12.15pm: Reid appointed to NMIS

Former Michelin boss John Reid has been hired to spearhead the new National Manufacturing Institute.

Full story here

11am: Greenock plan

Entrepreneurs Sandy and James Easdale are planning to invest £1.5 million reviving a long-neglected brownfield site as a drive-through food and drink outlet off the A8 in Greenock.

The single-storey drive-thru building, which would also include a seating area for up to 40 customers, is earmarked for land close to EE and Web Help, at the corner of Cartsburn Street and Rue End Street.

It is expected the development, by the Easdale’s Dalglen Investments, would create a mixture of 40 to 50 full and part-time jobs.

The 0.5-acre site was acquired from Scottish Enterprise in 2018.

The plans are supported by Gourock-firm, Rebecchi Architectural Services, and national planning agents, Ryden. The owners are in discussion with multiple national businesses which are showing an interest in the proposed development, with another marquee name expected to be attracted to Inverclyde should the plan be approved.

11am: Markets update

Among FTSE 250 stocks Aston Martin Lagonda was up 35% at 49p after confirming its new CEO (see below), while Stagecoach rose 15% after the Department for Transport made £283 million available for the phased increased of bus, tram and light rail services in England (see below).

10.50am: FRC probes Stobart audits

The Financial Reporting Council has commenced two investigations into the audits of Eddie Stobart Logistics for the years ended 30 November 2017 (KPMG) and 30 November 2018 (PwC).   

The investigations will be conducted by the FRC’s Enforcement Division under the Audit Enforcement Procedure.

10.45am: Grim property investment outlook

Robin Blacklock

A survey of commercial property owners and investors by the Scottish Property Federation has highlighted a grim financial outlook for the Scottish sector, with 52% of respondents citing serious or terminal financial challenges as a result of coronavirus-related rental income losses.

Full story here

9.50am: Minister resigns

Douglas Ross, Under Secretary of State for Scotland, has resigned, saying Dominic Cummings’ view on lockdown guidance is ‘not shared by the vast majority’.

Full story here

9.20am: London open

The markets reacted like a coiled spring as the loosening of lockdown conditions in the UK and rest of the world, as well as progress on another potential vaccine, raised hopes of a recovery for a global economy which has effectively been on life support, says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

“Pubs, cinema owners, airlines, hotel operators and retailers all surged as investors look for consumer demand to return. In this context, a reading of US consumer confidence this afternoon will offer an insight into how shoppers are feeling in the world’s largest economy.

“Also supporting stocks in the UK is Project Birch – with Rishi Sunak apparently authorising a plan to bail out strategically important businesses in the same way as Germany rescued its main airline Lufthansa.”

The FTSE 100 was up 115.41 points (1.93%) in the first hour of trading at 6,108.69.

8am: Lawrie IP grows turnover

Lawrie IP, an independent Scottish intellectual property firm, has grown its annual turnover to £2.6 million from £2.2m previously.

The Glasgow-headquartered company is one of only two gold-rated trade mark firms in Scotland.

Chartered trade mark attorney, Rachel Denholm joins the firm on 1 June. 

7am: EasyJet director to leave


One of four directors whom easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou tried to unseat last week has announced he is leaving the company.

Full story here

7am: Stagecoach notes transport transition plan


Stagecoach said in a statement that bus operators are in discussions with the Scottish and Welsh Governments on how increases in bus services can be introduced.

It noted the UK Government’s announcement of a bus, tram and light rail restart programme to facilitate a phased increased in local services in England.

The Department for Transport has announced that it is making available a further £254 million for buses and £29 million for trams and light rail to help increase the frequency and capacity of services as steps are taken to ease lockdown measures in England. The DfT has also confirmed that the funding will be kept under review.

The Scottish government will today unveil its plans for transport during the lockdown transition period.

Aston Martin confirms CEO change

Luxury car maker Aston Martin Lagonda has confirmed that CEO Andy Palmer will leave the company and will be replace by Tobias Moers. He will be based at the Company’s headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire and will join on 1 August.

In the interim period Keith Stanton, currently Vice President and Chief Manufacturing Operations Officer, is appointed interim Chief Operating Officer to support the executive chairman, Lawrence Stroll.

Mr Stroll said: “The Board has determined that now is the time for new leadership to deliver our plans.”

6.30am: AI firm raises funds

Exscientia, an Oxford-based AI-driven drug discovery company which was founded at Dundee University, has raised $60m through a Series C financing round.

The funding will be used to expand Exscientia’s existing portfolio and pipeline and to accelerate international expansion.

Exscientia was a Dundee University spin-out in 2012 and relocated is head office to Oxford Science Park in November 2018. It is chaired by Alex Snow, the founder of Oxford Sciences Innovation. He also played rugby union for Harlequins and England.

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