Wednesday Update

DB Live: CMA blocks JD Sports deal; ITV falls; markets

5.30pm: More UK construction may open

UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that the construction sector should return to work “wherever possible” and hinted that this will be part of the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday when he will unveil plans for an easing of the lockdown.

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4.45pm: London close

The FTSE 100 index closed barely in positive territory as traders shunned risk and were fearful at the prospect of Friday’s key US jobs report. It ended the session just 4.34 points (0.074%) higher at 5,853.76.

3.30pm: Germany reopens

Germany’s federal government has agreed a plan with its 16 states to ease the country’s lockdown restrictions with shops to reopen and Bundesliga football to restart.

An initial lifting of restrictions on 30 April did not led to a surge in new cases.  

However, social distancing rules will continue until at least 5 June, while border checks remain in force.

Top flight football is likely to kick off on 15 May.

1.40pm: Business bank accounts review

Nicola Sturgeon told parliament that the Finance Secretary Kate Forbes was looking at the issue of small firms, such as B&B establishments, unable to access government support because they pay council tax and do not have a business bank account.

The First Minister also said work was ongoing in response to other businesses who say they cannot access various government schemes, including those where a sole worker paid themselves via a dividend.

12.50pm: First Minister sticks with building site closures

Nicola Sturgeon said construction sites in Scotland would remain closed until she is confident that they are safe to open.

Tory leader Jackson Carlaw, stating that simplicity and consistency were important across the four nations, asked why sites can operate safely in Carlisle but not in Dumfries.

The First Minister, pictured above in the Holyrood chamber today, said there was an implication in Mr Carlaw’s question that her position was the wrong one.

Full story here

12.15pm Johnson welcomes constitution call

Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to the Commons for the first time in six weeks, pictured, and welcomed a call from SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford for a truce in the debate on constitutional issues.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer faced Mr Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions for the first time and sought reassurance on the provision of PPE for those returning to work.

8.15am: London open

The FTSE 100 was barely moved at 5,849.19 −0.23 (0.0039%) in early trade.

7.40am: Leahy backs spin-out

Former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy is among a group of investors providing funding to Edinburgh wearable tech startup PlayerData.

Full story here

7am: JD Sports outraged over CMA verdict

JD sports

JD Sports chairman Peter Cowgill has accused the Competition and Markets Authority of being “taken in by the self-serving testimony of one notoriously vocal competitor” in stopping it acquiring Footasylum.

The CMA concluded that this transaction would lead to a substantial lessening of competition nationally. This would leave shoppers with fewer discounts or receiving lower quality customer service, it said.

Mr Cowgill’s comments were taken as reference to the strategy of rival leisurewear chain Sports Direct. He added: “In the midst of a global pandemic and with the UK high street in a state of complete lockdown, the CMA’s final decision is even more absurd.”

The company, which owns the Edinburgh outdoor clothing business Tiso as well as Blacks and Go Outdoors, said it “fundamentally disagrees with the conclusion reached by the CMA in its final report, which materially fails to take proper account of the dynamic and rapidly evolving competitive landscape in which we operate, as well as the long lasting – and likely permanent – impact that COVID-19 has had on our industry, which may never return to its pre-merger state.

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“Even before considering the impact of COVID-19, the UK sports retail market is, without doubt, materially different today than when the CMA instigated its review 12 months ago.

“Additionally, the CMA’s conclusion becomes even more difficult to comprehend in the context of COVID-19 and the seismic impact it has had on the current UK retail environment; not to mention the enduring challenges that will exist beyond the current lockdown as a result of social distancing and weakened consumer confidence.

“We firmly believe that the CMA has failed to meet its objective of protecting consumer interests and today’s decision will be detrimental for Footasylum, its customers, its 2,500 staff and the UK sports retail market as a whole.”

7am: ITV doubles overhead cost savings


ITV has announced a doubling in its overhead costs savings to £60 million after suffering a 42% fall in advertising during April as the Covid virus bit into revenue. Total external revenue was down 7% at £694m (2019: £743m).

The company said it is seeing good growth for BritBox free trial starts and subscriptions.

It has resumed production of Loose Women this week and the filming of The Chase and The Voice in Australia and The Chase in Germany.

7am: Virgin Money profits fall

Virgin Money flag 2

Virgin Money has seen first half underlying profit fall 58% to £120m as it braced itself for a surge in bad loans.

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Today’s top Daily Business stories:

Covid adviser Ferguson quits over lockdown breach

Firms ready to restart work within three weeks

Government exit blueprint outlines ‘options’ for Scotland

Angels target companies tackling crisis issues

RedHanded magazine targeting Scottish launch

SPFL: Our game might need Holyrood help to survive

Tuesday 4.45pm: London closehigher, US rises

The FTSE 100 stayed in positive territory on coronavirus recovery hopes, closing at 5,849.42 +95.64 (1.66%).

Wall Street’s main indexes rose on the back of a recovery in oil prices as a number of countries eased coronavirus-induced restrictions in an attempt to revive their economies.

The S&P 500 has climbed about 30% from its March lows on the back of unprecedented stimulus measures and signs of a plateau in new COVID-19 cases in many parts of the world.

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