What to watch: Boohoo swoops for Debenhams brand, airline stocks nosedive, virtual Davos kicks off

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·3-min read

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Boohoo to buy Debenhams brand

A woman poses with a smartphone showing the Boohoo app in front of the Boohoo logo on display in this illustration taken September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
A woman poses with a smartphone showing the Boohoo app in front of the Boohoo logo on display in this illustration taken September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Online retailer Boohoo (BOO.L) has swooped to buy Debenhams brand and website for £55m ($75.4m), in a cash deal that would rescue part of the high street chain.

The deal will not include its physical presence, and therefore an excess of 118 stores and the jobs within them hang in the balance. It is estimated that 12,000 jobs are at risk at the 242-year-old department store.

Boohoo said the deal was an opportunity to transform Debenhams “through the development of an exciting online marketplace, capitalising on the sector's structural shift to online.”

It added that it was an opportunity to enter the beauty market at scale and “leverage Debenhams' customer database and develop the platform for international markets in the future.”

The news sent Boohoo’s more than 4% higher in London.

Boohoo shares rose more than 4% after the opening bell on Monday. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Boohoo shares rose more than 4% after the opening bell on Monday. Chart: Yahoo Finance

It also came as online rival Asos (ASC.L) confirmed it is “in exclusive discussions” with the administrators of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia empire to acquire its Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Topman brands, as well as fitness brand HIIT.

Airlines nosedive amid extended lockdown fear

Travel and leisure stocks were under pressure on Monday as the prospect of tighter border restrictions and a prolonged lockdown weighed on sentiment.

British Airways owner IAG (IAG.L) led fallers in the airline sector on the FTSE 100 (^FTSE), down about 7%, while aerospace engineer Rolls-Royce (RR.L) slumped 5%.

On the FTSE 250, easyJet (EZJ.L), TUI (TUI.L) and Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) all similarly nosedived.

Matt Hancock, the UK’s heath secretary, cautioned that tougher travel restrictions are in the pipeline.

“It is understood the government is divided over what new measures should be implemented but nonetheless traders are cutting their exposure to the travel sector,” David Madden of CMC Markets said.

As the UK mulls tighter border controls, France is also expected to enter a new lockdown in the coming days, and new US president Joe Biden will continue to restricted travel from much of Europe.

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Virtual Davos kicks off

The annual Davos summit has kicked off again this year — albeit virtually.

The event, which is more than 50 years old, is attended by global political and business leaders, celebrities and prominent social activists.

This year it is taking place amid the worst economic crisis in living memory due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, senior minister of Singapore, said at the conference that the eradication of COVID-19 in individual nations through vaccination campaigns would not be enough to end the crisis.

“No one is safe from the virus” until global herd immunity from COVID-19 is achieved, he said on a digital panel for The Davos Agenda conference on Monday.

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Chinese president Xi Jinping, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will be among the speakers at the virtual conference that runs from 25 January to 29 January.

Also in attendance will be European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde and International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva.

Other Davos highlights from Monday include:

-With additional reporting by Lucy Harley-McKeown

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