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ASOS buys TopShop; TSB returning to profit; Ryanair loss

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4.30pm: Index tracks higher

The FTSE 100 remained in positive territory throughout the session and closed 58.96 points (0.92%) higher at 6,466.42.

2.50pm: Call to protect high street

Lucy Powell, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, piled pressure on the Chancellor to respond to the cost advantage of online retailers over bricks and mortar businessesx.

Commenting on ASOS completing the purchase of Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands from Arcadia, she said: “Losing these shops will be terrible for our country’s high streets, and this deal provides no comfort to the thousands of people whose jobs are at risk.

“Despite the wipe out of popular high street names we’re witnessing, this Government is still disadvantaging high street businesses against online-only companies.”

See also: Online tax in view after Boohoo and ASOS deals

8.30am: London higher

The FTSE 100 index opened higher in line with forecasts as traders build hopes on accelerating vaccinations. The index was trading at 6,443.56, up  36.1 points (0.56%).

8.15am: Sustainably crowdfunds

A mother and daughter charity supporting business, voted Richard Branson’s Start-Up of the Year in 2019, is close to achieving its crowdfunding target of £300,000.

Full story here

7am: ASOS confirms Arcadia deal

TopShop Edinburgh

Online fashion retailer Asos has bought the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands from failed retail group Arcadia in a deal worth £295m.

Asos is acquiring the stock and the brands. However, it is not taking on the stores.

Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group fell into administration in November last year, casting doubt over the future of its brands and 13,000 jobs.

ASOS is paying £265m for the brands and a further £30m for the stock.

See also: Online tax in view after Boohoo and ASOS deals

TSB views return to profit

TSB expects to complete its restructuring and growth plan, and return to profit this year, one year ahead of schedule, said its Spanish parent Sabadell.

The bank, which is up for sale, reduced its recurring cost base in 2020, both year-on-year (-3.5%) and quarter-on-quarter (-1.8%), and it saw strong recovery of its business activity.

TSB has reduced its workforce by 685 employees and closed 93 branches, “adapting to the new reality”, said Sabadell. Today, 90% of the bank’s transactions are carried out through digital channels, and 70% of sales take place through these same channels.

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TSB reported loan growth of 1.3% year-on-year and 4.4% in the quarter, mainly due to the growth of its mortgage book. Considering a constant exchange rate, this growth was 7.1% year-on-year and 2.9% in the quarter.

Sabadell plans to present its new strategic plan to investors and analysts in May.

6am: Ryanair record loss

Ryanair

Ryanair said it is heading for a record loss of between €850 million and €950m in the current financial year ending 31 March.

This would be about five times larger than the airline’s previous record annual loss posted in 2009.

“COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the industry,” it said in a statement. “FY21 will continue to be the most challenging year in Ryanair’s 35 year history.”

COVID-19 restrictions slashed Ryanair’s passenger numbers by 78% in the last three months of the year, pushing it to a quarterly loss of €306m.

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The Dublin-based business posted a fall of 82% in revenue in that period, in line with falls of 88% at easyJet and 77% at Wizz Air, which reported results last week.

Despite the plunge in revenue Ryanair is said to be best-placed among airlines to weather the COVID-19 crisis due to its large cash balance and lack of long-haul and business-class.

It had €3.5bn of cash on hand at the end of December, compared with €4.5bn at the end of September.

Myanmar coup

Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup against the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in early morning raids.

The army said it had carried out the detentions in response to “election fraud”, and installed military chief Min Aung Hlaing as leader.

Markets

The FTSE 100 is expected to snap its losing run but is now below its opening level for 2021 with optimism around a vaccine, the new US president and a fiscal stimulus having faded.

Asia moved higher, though China’s purchasing manager’s data was robust without prompting much excitement.

Wall Street is preparing for another week of battles with retail investors pumping up the prices of firms such as GameStop and AMC Entertainment which is now spreading to other assets.

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Some of the largest hedge funds suffered heavy losses as retail traders bought stocks that were heavily bet against. This resulted in large losses for major investors. Melvin Capital reported its had lost 53% in January, according to the Reuters agency.

At the end of last week the price of silver rallied, taking gains to around 10% since messages began to circulate on social media platform Reddit urging retail investors to pile into the market and drive up prices. The price of gold has also rallied.



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