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Ashley leaving Frasers | Springfield | FirstGroup

Mike Ashley

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7am: Ashley to leave Frasers board

Mike Ashley will step down as a director of Frasers after this year’s Annual General Meeting on 19 October but will continue to act in an advisory capacity when called upon.

He will provide the retail group with £100m of additional funding alongside and on the same commercial terms as the group’s existing unsecured borrowing facilities that were announced on 1 December 2021.

He said: “Since Michael Murray took over the leadership of Frasers Group earlier this year, the business has gone from strength to strength.

“It is clear that the Group has the right leadership and strategy in place and I feel very confident passing the baton to Michael and his team. 

“Although I am stepping down from the board, I remain 100% committed to supporting Frasers and Michael’s plans and ambitions, and I look forward to helping the team as and when they require me.  My commitment and support as a Frasers’ shareholder is as strong as ever.”

Michael Murray, CEO, added: “Mike has built an incredible business over the past 40 years and, on behalf of the board and the group, I want to thank him for all he has done. With our new strategy and leadership team, we are driving this business forward at pace and we are all excited for the future.

“We are grateful to have Mike’s support and expertise available to us as we continue the next stage of Frasers Group’s journey.” 


7am: FirstGroup sells Greyhound business

FirstGroup has sold all but two of its remaining Greyhound US properties to Twenty Lake Management, an affiliate of Twenty Lake Holdings, for net proceeds of c.$140m.

The deal is expected to close and the proceeds received in cash in December 2022. In addition to the portfolio sale, the Group also completed the sale of a site in Denver for net $9m in August, with some of the proceeds being applied in further de-risking of the residual Greyhound pensions liabilities.


7am: Springfield record

Housebuilder Springfield Properties (AIM: SPR) has reported record revenue and profit for the year to the end of May and the delivery of more than 1,000 homes in a year for the first time.

Pre-tax profit came in at £19.7m against £17.9m last time on a 19% rise in revenue to £257.1m (2021: £216.7m).

The company is proposing a final dividend of 4.70p – making a total dividend for the year of 6.20p compared with 5.75p last year.

It enjoyed a record 1,242 completions and revenue growth across the business.

Tulloch Homes, an Inverness-based housebuilder focused on building high-quality private housing in the Scottish Highlands, was acquired for £54.4m (being £77.9m less cash acquired of £23.5m), of which £13m is deferred consideration, to accelerate growth, enhance earnings and strengthen the group’s foothold in an area of high demand.

Innes Smith, chief executive, commented: “This year we achieved our highest ever annual profit and revenue with strong results across private, affordable and contract housing. I am pleased at how we managed the material and supply chain pressures facing our industry so that, while not immune, we were able to mitigate much of the impact.

“In keeping with our strategy, we significantly expanded our business with the acquisitions of Tulloch Homes and, post period, the Scottish housebuilding business of Mactaggart & Mickel – two high quality housebuilders with land in areas of strategic importance. We also achieved a milestone with the delivery of our first housing for the private rented sector.

“We entered the 2023 financial year delivering against a strong order book in private housing, reflecting sustained demand for the type of homes that we provide and the expansion of our business. We have excellent visibility over full year private revenue forecasts based on homes delivered, missived and reserved.

“While the challenging economic backdrop will impact our affordable and PRS housing activity in the short term as we await decisions from the Scottish Government, we are on track to deliver another year of revenue and profit growth overall.

“Moreover, the fundamentals of the housing market in Scotland remain strong with high demand for homes across all tenures coupled with a national shortage in housing supply. As a result, the Board continues to look to the future with confidence and to delivering sustainable value for all of our stakeholders.”


7am: Craneware

Healthcare billing company Craneware said recent acquisitions had been successfully integrated into the group with revenue more than doubling (119%) to $165.5 million (FY21: $75.6m).

Adjusted EBITDA increased 91% to $51.8m (FY21: $27.1m) while statutory profit before tax came in static at $13.1m (FY21: $13.2m) reflecting increased operating profit offset by amortisation of acquired intangibles and bank interest payments resulting from the Sentry Data Systems acquisition.

The board intends maintaining the final dividend at 15.5p per share (18.80 cents) (FY21: 15.5p, 21.47 cents) giving a total dividend for the year of 28p per share (33.96 cents) (FY21: 27.5p, 38.10 cents) up 2%. 

Keith Neilson, CEO, commented: “We are pleased to be reporting such positive results, which clearly demonstrate the increased scale of the enlarged Craneware Group and the breadth of our future opportunity. The addition of Sentry, which was completed and integrated during the fiscal year, represents a significant milestone for Craneware.  

“Whilst we remain cognisant of the ongoing challenges faced by our customers and partners, we are proud of the manner in which the Group has dealt with the challenging backdrop during the year.

“A focus for the year was to integrate our widened team and this was achieved with great success. Now, with our expanded and reorganised team we are confident we will be able to serve the considerable market need within the US healthcare space through the next stage of our evolution. 

“We anticipate accelerated levels of sales moving forward, delivering our next phase of growth. We have a robust balance sheet, high recurring revenues and with our high levels of customer retention, we look to further increase shareholder value.” 


Global markets

Wall Street clawed back some of last week’s heavy losses to close higher despite expectations that this week’s meetings of the Federal Reserve and Bank of England will result in further interest rate hikes.

Despite the expected hikes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.64% at Monday’s, while the S&P 500 was 0.69% firmer and the Nasdaq Composite ended the session 0.76% stronger. Full story here

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