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Monday Update

DB Live: Diageo buys star’s gin; Purer Clean Air progress

7.20pm: IoD chair quits

Charlotte Valeur has resigned as chairman of the Institute of Directors saying it needs someone better placed to handle the role in the current pandemic.

Full story here

5.30pm: EasyJet closures

Airline easyJet has confirmed it will close its bases at London Stansted, Southend and Newcastle because of the coronavirus pandemic and government quarantine restrictions.

It said in May that it would slash 4,500 jobs across its European operations after grounding most of its fleet as passenger demand collapsed.

Ryanair said that it will cut flight capacity by a further 20% during September and October as bookings in the last 10 days took a hit from reimposed travel restrictions by the UK government.

4.45pm: Market – London closes higher

The FTSE 100 ended 45 points higher at 6,135 points, with mining stocks rising but travel stocks in negative territory.

2pm: Diageo buys Hollywood actor’s gin brand

Diageo has agreed to buy the Aviation American gin brand, part owned by Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds, for up to $610 million.

It is part of the distiller’s plan to expand into “super-premium” gin segment in the US.

Diageo, which also makes Gordon’s gin, Johnnie Walker whisky and Guinness, is also acquiring New York-based wine and spirits distributor Davos Brands, which has a majority ownership in the Aviation American gin brand.

Reynolds will retain an ongoing ownership interest in the brand, Diageo said. The Deadpool star acquired a stake in the brand from Davos Brands in February 2018.

As part of the deal, Diageo is also buying other brands in the Davos Brands’ portfolio consisting of Astral tequila, Sombra mezcal and TYKU sake.

The US entertainment website Deadline reported Reynolds saying: “A little over two years ago, I became an owner of Aviation Gin because I love the taste of Aviation more than any other spirit.

“What I didn’t expect was the sheer creative joy learning a new industry would bring. Growing the brand with my company, Maximum Effort Marketing, has been among the most fulfilling projects I’ve ever been involved with.”

The deal is Diageo’s fourth big tie-up with a celebrity-fronted alcohol company. In 2017, it bought the actor George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila company for $700m in a transaction that included a similar performance-related payout subject to Mr Clooney remaining involved with the business.

In 2014 Diageo teamed up with P Diddy in a 50-50 joint venture to buy DeLeón tequila, having already struck a $100m deal with the US rap star to market Cîroc vodka in the US. It also has a partnership with the footballer David Beckham for its Haig Club whisky.

1pm: Airport in profit

Prestwick Airport’s state-backed management remain confident of concluding talks with a buyer despite the impact of the coronavirus on traffic.

Full story here

11.30am: Purifier devices released

Following successful hospital trials in England and China, Scottish business Purer Clean Air has released three coronavirus-killing devices that can remove the deadly virus in a matter of minutes from offices, schools, gyms and cars.

The air purifiers are a collaboration with Oxford University health experts Healthy Air Technology UK. Each unit can deliver up to 800m2 of purer clean air.

The purifiers were originally created to combat air pollution in general but the producers say their capacity to capture and kill micron level particles means they can destroy COVID-19 and similar viruses. The device has been evaluated and approved by Swiss-based SGS, the inspection and certification company.

After successful trials in hospitals in China’s Shandong Province, the air purifiers are also being used in Manchester’s NHS Nightingale Hospital, an English gym chain as well as taxis across Scotland.

Scottish dental chain, Commonwealth Dental Practice, is the first in the UK to start using the new devices as it allows dentists to perform AGPs (Aerosol Generating Procedures) safely.

11.20am: Leisure venues shut

Escape rooms in Scotland, the popular corporate and party games activity, have been forced to close amid confusion over their official status.

Full story here

11am: Palin series company shuts London office

Glasgow’s Firecrest Films, currently making a new series based on Michael Palin’s travels, is closing its London base and losing two senior executives to put itself on a firmer financial footing.

Full story here

9am: Musician opts for plastic fight

Musician Billy Kennedy is swapping performing on stage for the fight against plastics.

Full story here

8.30am London rises

The FTSE 100 dipped just after the open before turning slightly higher as a delay to US-China trade talks added to jitters about a slow economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis. The Chinese government announced a $101 billion injection into its financial system overnight.

The blue-chip index was 9.85 points (0.16%) higher at 6,099.89. Oil prices were higher (see below).

8am: Bags for life scrapped

Supermarket chain Morrisons is planning to ditch its plastic “bags for life” in the latest war on waste.

It is launching a new trial using sturdy paper bags in eight stores – including Paisley – and will roll out the initiative to all 500 branches if successful.

The move comes after the company found bags for life are being used just once before being thrown away, adding to the waste problem.

Introducing paper bags across all its 494 stores would save 90 million plastic bags being used annually, the equivalent of 3,510 tonnes of plastic per year, the company said.

The bags will cost the same as a plastic bag for life costs now, which was hiked up to 30p from 20p last year.

See also: Shopping around for answers to the bag problem

7.50am: Oil prices

Oil prices rose after China said it plans to ship large volumes of US crude in August and September.

Brent crude added 32 cents, or 0.7%, to $45.12 a barrel by 0616 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude was up 35 cents, or 0.8%, to $42.36 a barrel.

Record crude imports from the world’s top importer and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions globally have supported oil prices.

London City delays

London City Airport has put its £500m expansion programme on hold due to a slump in demand during the Covid pandemic.

Construction will be paused at the end of this year when infrastructure work is completed on new aircraft stands, a full-length parallel taxiway and new passenger facilities.

The move will hit plans for extending the terminal and a new east pier.

Housing market rises

Homes for sale boards

The UK housing market enjoyed its busiest month in over 10 years, according to listings site Rightmove, with property tax breaks and a rush to the countryside helping to drive demand.

Full story here

Hampden enjoys strong first half

Hampden & Co, the Edinburgh-based private bank, has announced continued strong growth in lending and deposits in the first half of 2020.

Full story here

Markets: Japan shrinks

Japan’s economy shrank by a record 7.8% in the April-June quarter, the worst contraction in the nation’s modern history. The fall was 27.8% on an annualised basis.

It is the worst economic contraction for Japan since comparable data became available in 1980, eclipsing the brutal impact of the 2008 global financial crisis.

Today’s Agenda

The Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh and Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow reopen. Visitors will have to book.

Today’s top Daily Business headlines

Self-employed to benefit from second payment

Pressure grows on P2P sector as investors pull funds

Schroders makes home working permanent

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