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Arcadia rejects Ashley offer; Caffe Nero knocks back Issa brothers

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5.30pm: Billionaires dismissed by Caffe Nero

Caffe Nero’s owner has rejected a bid from the the billionaire Issa brothers, owners of petrol station chain EG Group, in favour of pursuing a company voluntary arrangement.

Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who recently bought a majority stake in Asda with backing from TDR Capital, this weekend made an offer to buy the chain from Caffe Nero founder Gerry Ford.

5pm: Arcadia rejects Ashley’s £50m loan offer

Sir Philip Green’s struggling British fashion group Arcadia has turned down rival Frasers Group’s offer of a “lifeline” loan of up to £50 million, according to sportswear retailer Frasers which is controlled by Mike Ashley.

Arcadia said it was working on a number of “contingency options” to secure the future of its brands.

Frasers said: “Frasers Group were not given any reasons for the rejection (of the loan) nor did Frasers Group have any engagement from Arcadia before the loan was declined.”

4.30pm: London ends month on a low note

After a record month for some stock markets the FTSE 100 index closed the last trading day firmly lower.

Brexit jitters infiltrated sentiment, sending the UK’s index of the largest companies down 101.39 points (1.59%) to 6,266.19, with resource groups among the fallers. The intra-day high was 6,404.

4pm: Sturgeon pledge to NHS staff and apprentices

Nicola Sturgeon today promised a one-off payment of £500 to the country’s health and social care workers – and then asked Boris Johnson to make it tax-free.

Full story here

1.45pm: Marketing agency bought

Steely Fox, the marketing agency focused on the drinks industry, has been acquired by W Communications which sees the deal as its entry into Scotland’s £1.7bn annual marketing services sector.

It reunites Steely Fox’s founder and managing director Rory Steel, with W Communications founder and CEO Warren Johnson. They began their careers at the same company in 1998 before going on to launch their own agencies a decade later.

12.30pm: Billionaire brothers bid for Caffe Nero

The billionaire brothers behind who have just bought supermarket group Asda for £6.8bn have made a bid for coffee shop chain Caffè Nero.

The Issa brothers, who made their fortune from the petrol forecourt business EG Group, have made an offer to Caffè Nero’s founder and controlling shareholder, Gerry Ford.

The bid, reported by Sky News, emerged just before the chain learns if landlords will agree to cut its rent bill amid a slump in trade.

11am: Digital boost

A further £11.8 million is being made available to help businesses take advantage of digital technologies.

Details here

8.15am: London flat

The FTSE 100 was struggling to stay in positive territory, trading at 6,370.55 +2.97 (0.047%) at the opening of the last session of a buoyant month.

Topshop

7am: Frasers Arcadia offer confirmed

Frasers Group, the retail giant led by Mike Ashley, has confirmed a £50m loan offer to Sir Philip Green’s troubled Arcadia group which is preparing to appoint administrators

The company employs around 13,000 people and is behind high street brands such as Topshop, Burtons and Dorothy Perkins.

Collapse may leave trail of unpaid bills

New Lloyds CEO

Lloyds Banking Group has appointed HSBC wealth boss Charlie Nunn as group chief executive to succeed Antonio Horta-Osorio.

Mr Nunn joined HSBC in 2011 and has been global chief executive, wealth and personal banking since February 2018.

Full story here

Springfield PRS approval

Springfield Properties, the Scottish housebuilder, has been granted planning approval for 75 homes to be built for the private rental sector at its Bertha Park Village in Perth. This marks Springfield’s entry into PRS housing, delivering purpose-built houses for families to rent, and is expected to provide the company with an additional, visible and secure revenue stream.  

Scotgold begins production

Scottish gold mine company Scotgold is expected to start production today. CEO, Richard Gray, commented: “To be on the brink of first pour at the Cononish Gold and Silver Mine, despite the unprecedented challenge of navigating COVID-19 and associated lockdowns, is testament to the professionalism and hard work of both the team at Scotgold and all those connected with the project over the course of the year under review and beyond. 

“The commencement of Phase 1 production at Cononish, which will become Scotland’s first commercial gold mine, will transform Scotgold into a production as well as a development and exploration company, one with a defined path to future growth. 

“We have the funds in place to accelerate the Phase 2 development of the mine, which is targeting average annual gold equivalent production of 23,500oz compared to 9,910oz during Phase 1.

“As a result, Scotgold is ideally positioned to be at the heart of gold mining in Scotland for many years to come.”

Scotgold made a £2.5m loss before tax in the year to the end of June.

Omega Diagnostics

Omega Diagnostics ‘encouraged’

The Scottish food and drug testing company announced an expected loss in the first half but chairman William Rhodes said it expects to have a “significantly improved second half performance”.

Full story here

London Stock Exchange

Markets

It may the last day of what will very likely be a record month for many equity markets but the FTSE 100 is expected to open 31 points lower at 6336.58, according to the spread betting firms as lockdown restrictions dampened recovery hopes. Brexit uncertainty also hangs over investor sentiment.

There is also concern over two big retail outcomes, with Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group facing insolvency and Debenhams‘ talks reaching a crucial stage.

An informal gathering ahead of a two-day OPEC+ meeting seemingly failed to agree a plan to maintain production cuts through Q1, says Deutsche Bank.

A stronger-than-expected performance from China’s manufacturing sector last month was largely overlooked by markets in Asia.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dipped 1.5% while South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.97%. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was 0.79% lower.



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