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Friday Update

DB Live: AA in talks; Mitchell’s & Butlers

5.30pm: Scottish Home Awards

Organisers of the Scottish Home Awards have announced that this year’s event will be held online on 29 October.

Plans include a ticketed event with dedicated networking zones, live hosts, entertainment, and video messages.

5pm: New quarantine countries

Travellers arriving in Scotland from Denmark, Iceland and Slovakia will have to quarantine for 14 days from 4am Saturday.

4.30pm: Stocks fade on Chancellor’s plan

Traders showed little enthusiasm for Rishi Sunak’s new Winter Economy plan, marking stocks down after an initial rise.

The FTSE 100 was 76.48 points (1.35%) lower at 5,822.78 at the close, while the more domestically-focused FTSE 250 fell 1.1%.

Winter Economy Plan: Full story, reaction and guide to how it works

8.40am: Office deal

A prominent office block on Glasgow’s Broomielaw has been sold in one of the biggest UK deals outside of London during the pandemic.

Full story here

8.15am: London open

The FTSE 100 fell back 1.16% or 68 points to 5,830.91 at the open as investors again became nervous about coronavirus and the economy.

8am: AA confirms takeover talks

Motoring rescue organisation the AA has confirmed that it is in talks with TowerBrook Capital Partners and Warburg Pincus International over a consortium offer for the company.

The consortium has confirmed its “strong interest” in pursuing a possible all-cash offer, including an intention to de-lever the AA’s capital structure significantly.

The board continues to engage with a number of other parties to assess a range of alternative potential refinancing options, including the possibility of raising new equity.

It confirmed that talks with Centerbridge Partners Europeand Platinum Equity Advisors have been terminated by mutual agreement.

7am: Mitchells & Butlers

sheep Heid

The owner of the All Bar One chain and UK pubs including the Sheep Heid Inn in Edinburgh said like-for-like sales had fallen 3.1% as it warned of a “challenging and uncertain” future because of new restrictions on the hospitality industry.

It said sales for the 51 weeks to 19 September fell by a third in July and bounced back during August’s ‘Eat-out-to-help-out’ discount scheme before settling at a 6.4% decline this month before the new curbs were announced.

Cineworld in loss

Cinema operator Cineworld swung to a loss and said it may have to raise additional liquidity if it is pushed to shut its cinemas again.

The company posted a pretax loss of $1.64 billion for the six months ended 30 June against a profit of $139.7m last year.

DFS falls to loss

Furniture retailer DFS reported an annual underlying loss before tax pre IFRS 16 and excluding brand amortisation of £56.8m, a reduction of £107.m, driven by reduced margin from lower revenue levels, and partially offset by mitigating actions.

No final dividend proposed, to maximise resilience given macroeconomic uncertainty.

The company said it was seeing a strong online order intake since March, and in showrooms since reopening, which has continued into current year.

SpaceandPeople extension

SpaceandPeople, the Glasgow-based retail promotions firm, has been granted a one month extension for the reporting of its interim results for the six months ended 30 June.

The company expects to announce its HY-20 results by 16 October.

It said its markets in the UK and Germany have seen improving trading conditions as their governments have permitted the re-opening of shopping centres and other higher footfall venues. Bookings, however, remain substantially lower than historic norms, but broadly in line with current management expectations.

National Express 

Coach firm National Express traded “slightly above” its previously-guided base.

Tight cost controls remained in place, driving positive EBITDA and cash flow.

The company has been provisionally awarded a 240 urban bus contract in Lisbon, Portugal over nine years and a five-year contract for up to 75 vehicles in California.

Smiths Group 

Engineering business Smiths Group has reinstated its dividend as business has stabilised following a sharp drop in annual profit.

Statutory operating profit fell 26% to £241m in the year to the end of July as revenue rose 2% to £2.55bn.

After scrapping its interim dividend in March, Smiths proposed a total dividend for the year of 35p per share, down from 45.9p a year earlier.

Markets

The FTSE 100 is set to open more than 1% lower as equity markets digest comments by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell who conveyed a downbeat assessment of the US economy.

London’s blue-chip benchmark is expected to start at around 67 points lower.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones fell 525 points or 1.92% on Wednesday. The S&P 500 lost 2.37% and the Nasdaq was 3.02% lower.

Japan’s Nikkei was down around 1.17% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng traded 1.96% lower. The Shanghai Composite was down 1.68%.

Today’s agenda

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will unveil new support measures

Today’s top Daily Business stories

Budget cancelled as Sunak to unveil new support

Chambers demands answers to 26 key Brexit questions

Startup receives biggest tech funding since lockdown



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