Article taken from: www.morningstar.co.uk
DEUTSCHE BANK CUTS EXPERIAN TO ‘SELL’ (‘HOLD’) – TARGET 1800 PENCEJPMORGAN RAISES SIG TO ‘NEUTRAL’ (‘UNDERWEIGHT’) – TARGET 130 (110) PENCEJPMORGAN CUTS REDDE TO ‘NEUTRAL’ (‘OVERWEIGHT’) – TARGET 111 (189) PENCE COMPANIES – FTSE 100 Vodafone New Zealand has offered voluntary redundancies to more than 2,000 of its staff as it restructures ahead of an anticipated listing on the stock market. “In February, all Vodafone NZ staff, with the exception of front line call centre and retail team members, were invited to express interest in voluntary redundancy,” Vodafone told dpa in a statement. COMPANIES – FTSE 250 Soft drinks maker Britvic said it appointed Joanne Wilson to the board as chief financial officer. Wilson is currently CFO of dunnhumby, a customer data science firm part of UK supermarket Tesco . Prior to this, she held a variety of financial and commercial roles at Tesco both internationally and in the UK. Wilson’s start date will be confirmed in due course, the company said. She will replace current CFO Mathew Dunn, who informed in October that he will leave to take up the role of CFO at ASOS. Clarkson reported a slight decrease in its annual profit due to a challenging start to 2018 and higher costs. For 2018, the shipping services provider posted pretax profit of GBP42.9 million, 5.5% lower compared to GBP45.4 million a year ago. Revenue meanwhile rose 4.2% to GBP337.6 million from GBP324.0 million. The dip in profit was mainly due to higher administrative expenses of GBP282.1 million compared to GBP269.3 million a year ago. Clarkson upped its total dividend by 3% to 75 pence per share, from 73p paid a year ago. This was after recommending a final dividend of 51p up from 50p. COMPANIES – OTHER MAIN MARKET AND AIM Struggling department store chain Debenhams confirmed it is in advanced negotiations for approximately GBP150 million of additional facilities. The discussions are with its current lenders. GBP40 million of the GBP150 million is to be used in order to refinance its bridge facility. The company secured this GBP40 million bridge facility back in mid-February. On Sunday, the Financial Times had reported that “a person close to Debenhams” believed the chain – which had been targeting a GBP150 million figure in order to restore its credit insurance – may seek a larger sum in order to resist takeover by Sports Direct International. According to this source, Debenhams’s creditors and management were looking to make the refinancing “as watertight as possible” to prevent this, including a possible targeting of a higher figure. Construction firm Kier Group is to book a GBP25 million provision related to delays in its redevelopment of Broadmoor hospital, it said. Kier expects to hand over the first phase at Broadmoor shortly, with remaining work, representing less than 10% of the project’s value, to start shortly after. Kier has agreed with the client concerning Kier’s entitlement to costs associated with delays at the project, and as a result will include a GBP25 million provision in its results for its year ending June 2019 “in respect of future recoveries from the client and other third parties”. Turning to the balance sheet, Kier has revised its net debt position as of 2018’s end to GBP180.5 million, up from GBP130 million previously stated. Insurance firm Old Mutual reintroduced its final dividend as 2018 profit widened as costs savings helped offset weak trading in difficult economic conditions, and it remains confident of meeting medium term targets. In 2018, pretax profit widened to ZAR8.45 billion from ZAR7.12 billion the year prior. This was despite total income falling to ZAR109.88 billion from ZAR175.93 billion the year before. During the year, Old Mutual secured ZAR750 million in recurring costs. The firm remains on target to secure its ZAR1.00 billion savings target. In the fourth quarter, Old Mutual distributed a 32% share in Nedbank to its shareholders whilst retaining a 20% stake. COMPANIES – INTERNATIONAL US plane maker Boeing is facing pressure to guarantee the safety of its 737 Max 8 aircraft after the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed nearly 160 people, including seven Britons. All Chinese airlines were ordered to temporarily ground their Max 8 planes by the country’s aviation watchdog on Monday, while a Caribbean operator suspended operations with both of its new planes. In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration said it was “closely monitoring developments” following the incident, which comes months after a crash involving the same kind of plane that left 189 people dead. Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said on Sunday that the firm is providing “technical assistance” to Ethiopian government and regulatory authorities in their investigation. Nissan Motor, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors will create a new decision-making body to discuss business collaboration across the three-way alliance, replacing a setup that concentrated power in former chief Carlos Ghosn, Nikkei Asian Review reported. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, Nissan President & Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa, and Mitsubishi Motors Chairman & CEO Osamu Masuko will sit on the top decision-making panel. A broad range of topics will be on the table, such as joint development and procurement as well as the alliance’s future. Senard could serve as chairman, the report said. Deutsche Bank wants to explore the possibility of a merger with Commerzbank, according to a report in Die Welt. The executive committee of the largest German lender has decided to begin discussions with its competitor, the newspaper reports, citing financial sources. There had already been “unofficial contacts in very small groups”, which, however, were not yet at a stage in which they had to be made public. Spokespeople from both financial institutions did not want to comment on the report on Saturday.