FTSE 100 Live: London blue-chips close ahead as miners lead the way, Wilko to close all remaining shops

 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

The FTSE 100 is flat today, after an initial rally sparked by strong Chinese sales data faded.

Elsewhere, resilent results for Vistry prompted a recovery for housebuilders.

Outside of the markets, the biggest story is the closure of hundreds of Wilko stores, after a rescue deal with HMV owner Doug Putnam collapsed.

FTSE 100 Live Monday

  • Miners lead FTSE 100 higher

  • Thousands more Wilko jobs could go as rescue collapses

  • WANdisco to cut 40% of staff, change name

Key market data as FTSE closes

Monday 11 September 2023 16:55 , Daniel O'Boyle

Take a look at all of the end-of-day market data

FTSE closes ahead

Monday 11 September 2023 16:37 , Daniel O'Boyle

The FTSE 100 closed at 7,496.87 today, up slightly, after apicking back up late in the day.

The index rose above 7500 early on, but the rally quickly faded, before it gained 20 points in the last hour of the day.

Asia-exposed stocks, incuding miners, led the way, with Fresnillo, Rio Tinto and Antofagasta the top risers. Melrose was again the top faller.

DX delivery group gets £293m bid from US private equity firm HIG

Monday 11 September 2023 16:16 , Daniel O'Boyle

Delivery company DX Group said on Monday that it has been courted with an approximately £293 million offer from a US private equity giant.

The company’s board said that it had been sent a “non-binding and conditional proposal” of 48.5p per share from HIG European Capital partners, a wing of a Miami-based group.

The director said that they had already rejected “a series of prior proposals” from HIG to buy DX. But they are prepared to recommend this proposal should the US investor decide to make it a firm offer.

Read more here

Wall Street shares slightly higher

Monday 11 September 2023 15:39 , Daniel O'Boyle

Take a look at our US market snapshot, with shares slightly higher in early trading.

Market snapshot with early gains erased

Monday 11 September 2023 15:13 , Daniel O'Boyle

Take a look at today’s market snapshot as the FTSE falls back into negative territory

London’s 7-star gold rush: Doors open on hotel boom worth billions

Monday 11 September 2023 14:47 , Daniel O'Boyle

London is at the start of an unprecedented “gold rush” of luxury hotel launches that will see thousands of high-end new rooms opening over the next two years.

At least 13 high-end hotels are scheduled to open by 2025, many from world-renowned operators that have never before had sites in the capital, while others are getting huge refurbishments.

The starting gun is fired on Tuesday when the £1.1 billion Peninsula London near Hyde Park Corner is officially launched at precisely 8.08am — a time chosen as auspicious by a feng shui master — with the first guests checking into rooms priced from £1,300 a night shortly after. It will be the first newly-built five star hotel opening in London since the Bulgari in Knightsbridge in 2012.

The Peninsula is followed at the end of the month by the £1.5 billion Raffles London at The OWO, the vast old War Office building in Whitehall, after an eight-year development funded by the billionaire Hinduja brothers. A night in rooms once used by former secretaries of states for war including Sir Winston Churchill, John Profumo and David Lloyd George, costs from £1,200.

Read more here

City Comment: The collapse of Wilko casts a pall over the High Street

Monday 11 September 2023 13:42 , Jonathan Prynn

It is a bleak start to the week for Britain’s High Streets.

The collapse of a rescue bid for about half of the Wilko estate from HMV’s Doug Putman appears to have sadly sealed the fate of thousands of jobs.

It also means that the much-loved Wilko brand looks certain to disappear — the 52 sites that do have a future are likely to be rebranded as B&M.

Retailers will be looking for help from the Chancellor in November with a freezing of business rates top of the wish list for the Autumn Statement.

Read more here

Has ‘Barbenheimer’ helped keep the UK economy growing?

Monday 11 September 2023 12:49 , Daniel O'Boyle

As the late-summer sunshine keeps the heat on London, a run of closely watched numbers this week will shed light on whether wages and the economy are cooling down after 14 consecutive interest rate rises.

And an unlikely pair of early summer blockbusters just might have kept the UK growing as wet weather might otherwise have kept people at home in July, according to City experts.

First up on Tuesday are average earnings, which will be seized on at the Bank of England after its long and hard-fought fight against inflation.

Read more here

BMW in Mini deal

Monday 11 September 2023 12:16 , Simon English

A MOVE to safeguard 4000 jobs at BMW’s Cowley plant near Oxford was unveiled today as the car maker moves to become all electric by 2030.

BMW is spending £600 million in all on the factory and on another in Swindon. There will also be a taxpayer funded subsidy worth tens of millions to build new electric Mini’s.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of UK industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: "Not only does it secure the long-term future of the home of one of the world’s most iconic brands, it also demonstrates once again our capabilities in electric vehicle production.”

It is one of a series of electric vehicle projects that will get government funding.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt called it a “huge vote of confidence” in the UK.

While critics say Britain is still playing catch-up on electric vehicles there have been several big moves lately.

The Oxford plant is to build two new all-electric Mini models from 2026, the 3-door Mini Coooper and the compact crossover Mini Aceman.

BMW says by 2030 it will have spent over £3 billion in its Swindon, Hams Hall and Oxford plants since 2000.

In July Tata said it will build a gigafactory in Somerset for Jaguar Land Rover car batteries. Last week Vauxhaul started producing electric vans at its factory in Ellesmere Port.

Jaguar says it will be all-electric by 2025.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “BMW Group’s investment is another shining example of how the UK is the best place to build the cars of the future. By backing out car manufacturing industry we are securing thousands of jobs and growing our economy right across the country.”

All remaining Wilko stores to close and thousands of jobs to be lost after HMV owner’s rescue deal fails

Monday 11 September 2023 11:43 , Daniel O'Boyle

All 300 remaining Wilko stores are set to close, after HMV owner Doug Putnam’s attempt to rescue hundreds of the collapsed retailers’ shops from administration fell apart.

Putnam, who led the turnaround of HMV, had reportedly been in talks about saving around 200 of Wilko’s 400 shops, having initially hoped to buy as many as 300. However, he has now said that he would not participate in the bidding.

Payment of suppliers, who were owed money when Wilko entered administration, had reportedly been a major challenge in getting Putnam’s deal over the line.

Putnam said: “It is with great disappointment that we can no longer continue in the purchase process for Wilko having worked with administrators and suppliers over several weeks to seek a viable way to rescue it as a going concern.”

Read more here

London planning approvals lowest since 2008 as red tape and interest rates suppress housebuilding

Monday 11 September 2023 11:09 , Daniel O'Boyle

The planning pipeline for new London homes is at its quietest since 2010 according to research out today, with soaring costs, interest rates and red tape all suppressing housebuilding activity.

Property consultancy CBRE UK, using data from analysts Molior and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said new home applications submitted and granted, as well as construction starts, totalled just 21,918 in the first half of 2023 — the lowest figure seen in 13 years. It also found applications for newbuild homes lodged in the second quarter were just 2061 — the lowest quarterly figure recorded since 2010 when the data was first available.

The firm warned that if the second half of 2023 continues at the same rate as the first the market will end the year with applications for approximately 11,800 homes, 47% below the previous trough recorded in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2010.

Read more here

Last-gasp rescue deal for Wilko collapses as HMV owner pulls out

Monday 11 September 2023 10:31 , Michael Hunter

Hopes for a last-minute rescue deal for failed high street homewares chain Wilko have been dashed, leaving thousands of jobs at risk.

A chance that the billionaire retail guru and HMV entrepreneur Doug Putnam might snap up around 100 shops in the chain has floundered, due to costs spiking higher.

Putnam, who was once been linked with a bigger bid for 300 of Wilko’s outlets, said today that “a stable foundation could not be secured to ensure long-term success for the business and its people in the way we would have wanted .”

The discount chain B&M is buying up to 51 of Wilko’s shops, which are often located in town centres. Poundland has also been linked with interest in parts of the estate.

Market snapshot as FTSE climbs

Monday 11 September 2023 09:58 , Daniel O'Boyle

Take a look at all our key market data as the FTSE 100 gets off to a strong start this morning.

Bargain hunters move in for housebuilders

Monday 11 September 2023 09:38 , Michael Hunter

Housebuilders are in demand on the London stock market, helped by demand from bargain hunters after a run lower for the sector, and well-received news of a strategy change and capital return from developer Vistry.

The company –formerly known as Boris Homes –pledged to send £1 billion back to investors over the next three years. It will start with a £55 million share buyback in November. Vistry will focus on its “Partnership Housing” operations, which works with housing associations and local government, helping to offer social housing.

Greg Fitzgerald, chief executive, said:  “The scale of the social need for affordable mixed tenure housing across the country continues to increase and it is clear that Vistry is uniquely positioned as the leader in partnerships housing.”

FTSE 250 constituent Vistry’s shares rose 108p to 908p.

Amid wider bargain hunting in the sector on the FTSE 100, Barratt Developments reclaimed 16p to 451p. Berkeley Group was up 76p to 4048p.

SoftBank looks to raise Arm IPO share price

Monday 11 September 2023 09:27 , Simon Hunt

The owner of British chip designer Arm is mulling increasing its IPO price range ahead of its flotation in New York on Wednesday after a surge in investor interest in the company.

Japan-based SoftBank, which took the firm private in 2016, had been eyeing a valuation of $60-70 billion for it earlier this year, before setting Arm’s IPO price at $47-51 a share, giving it a significantly lower market value of $54.5 billion.

But it now looks set to get closer to its original valuation hopes after the share sale was subscribed six times over, according to Bloomberg. No final decision is understood to have been made.

Arm is seeking to raise as much as $4.9 billion from the stock market listing, and has tempted investors with the promise of 11% revenue growth this financial year, rising to the mid-20% range in 2025 amid an expected boom in demand for chips used in data and AI.

The attractive projections have roused the interest of tech giants Apple, Alphabet and Nvidia, who are all considering buying a stake in the Cambridge-based company, according to Arm, alongside chip foundry operators Intel, Samsung and TSMC.

Hundreds more Wilko stores could close as HMV owner’s rescue deal collapses

Monday 11 September 2023 09:21 , Daniel O'Boyle

Thousands more jobs at Wilko could be lost and hundreds more shops could close as HMV owner Doug Putnam’s attempt to rescue hundreds of the collapsed retailers’ shops from administration fell apart.

Putnam, who led the turnaround of HMV, had reportedly been in talks about saving around 200 of Wilko’s 400 shops, having initially hoped to buy as many as 300. However, he has now said that he would not participate in the bidding.

Payment of suppliers, who were owed money when Wilko entered administration, had reportedly been a major challenge in getting Putnam’s deal over the line.

Read more here

FTSE 100 rises in opening trade with support from resource stocks

Monday 11 September 2023 08:21 , Michael Hunter

Mining stocks underpinned an opening gain for London’s FTSE 100 in opening trade, helped by hopeful signs for China’s economy, the main market for the metals produced by the heavily weighted sector.

Data showing a rebound in bank lending in China stoked hope that the giant economy was gathering some momentum.

Miners moved to the top of the leaderboard as the FTSE 100 added over34 points overall to 7512.52, a rise of 0.5%.

Anglo American took top spot, up 69p to 2092p, a rise of over 3%. Rio Tinto was up 134p to 4968p. Antofagasta gained 41p to 1509p.

Shares in the Restaurant Group gained over 2p to 50p after the owner of the Wagamama’s chain said it is disposing of its loss-making Lesiure business, which includes the Frankie & Bennie’s chain in deal with the Big Table Group.

TRG confirms sale of Frankie & Benny’s to Cafe Rouge owner

Monday 11 September 2023 07:51 , Simon Hunt

Hospitality firm TRG today confirmed speculation that it was set to sell its leisure arm, including the Frankie & Benny’s restaurant chain, to Cafe Rouge owner Big Table Group.

TRG, which also owns the Wagamama chain, said it had concluded that a sale of its loss-making leisure business will significantly accelerate the Group’s core strategic goals of profit margin accretion and deleveraging.

TRG will pay BTG £.7.5 million to hand over the chain in a deal which it expects to complete by the end of the year.

TRG shares rose 6.4% to 50.5p after markets opened.


WANdisco confirms name change after slashing 40% of workforce

Monday 11 September 2023 07:39 , Simon Hunt

Beleaguered tech firm WANdisco today sought to draw a line under its fraud investigation after it confirmed it will rebrand to “Cirata” following approval for the new name at its AGM.

The company’s stock exchange ticker will be updated next month with the rebrand complete by the end of the year.

In English “cirrate” means “bearing the male copulatory organ” while in Latin, “ciratus” translates to “circumcision” according to Google Translate.

WANdisco said the name change reflects its “future growth plans” adding that Cirata was a portmanteau of “cirrus cloud” and “data”.

The firm said it had cut more than 40% of its staff to 112 by the end of August as sales in the first six months of the year slid almost 50% to $3 million, while losses widened to $22.5 million from £7 million a year earlier.

The firm’s shares were suspended earlier this year after an investigation into fraudulent activity by a sales employee caused it to significantly revise down its reported sales figures.

It has since raised more cash to stay afloat and today said had enough headroom to continue trading for at least the next 12 months.

Shares fell 7.9% to 61p after markets opened this morning.

Vistry to cut jobs as it closes private housebuilding arm

Monday 11 September 2023 07:39 , Daniel O'Boyle

Housebuilder Vistry is to focus solely on social housing partnerships, cutting some jobs in the process, after a resilient set of results against the backdrop of skyrocketing interest rates.

The builder, which merged with Countryside Partnerships last year, saw profit dip to £174 million, despite a 30% rise in completions. Forward sales ticked up to £4.3 billion, even despite the interest rate environment, allowing Vistry to maintain its profit guidance of £450 million.

Private sales, however, “slowed further” since June. As a result, the group announced a change of strategy to focus “solely” on partnerships, combining the legacy Vistry and Countryside businesses into one segment.

Partnerships had made up the vast majority of Vistry’s business already, but private sales did have a £670 million order book.

Vestry said it would cut jobs as part of the strategy change, having already cut 4% of its workforce when it combined with Countryside, but it now expects to reduce its headcount further, though it has not yet conducted a review to determine how  many jobs will be lost.

FTSE 100 set to rise at the start of brisk week for data

Monday 11 September 2023 07:31 , Michael Hunter

London’s main stock market index looks set to tick higher at the start of a busy week for economic data, with attention also on the pound, which is finding some support having been drifting down toward a closely watched level against the dollar.

The FTSE 100 will add around 30 points in opening trade to 7478 according to opening calls from spread betting companies, matching the extent of an overall lat gain for the index in late Friday trade.

Any such move will come at the start of what could be a pivotal week for the UK economy. Data on wages and unemployment is due on Tuesday, which will give fresh insight into the Bank of England’s long fight against inflation. Overall economic growth data for July is out on Wednesday.

Sterling’s wider run lower has taken it toward $1.25 mark, with currency traders on watch for added pressure if it breaks firmly under that level. It bounced 0.4% in early Monday trade to $1.2511.

Recap: Friday’s top stories

Sunday 10 September 2023 22:56 , Simon Hunt

Good morning. Here’s a summary of our top stories from Friday: