9.28am BST

Pearson, the education publisher, has appointed former Disney executive Andy Bird as its new chief executive as it continues to move towards digital sales.

Bird was appointed to the Pearson board on 1 May, and will take over as chief executive on 19 October.

Bird was previously chairman of Walt Disney International, responsible for the expanding the company’s businesses outside of the US.

Pearson will pay Bird base salary and payments in lieu of a pension of $1.45m per year, although from 2021 he will be eligible for bonus payments of as much as $2.5m

Before Disney, Bird worked at AOL Time Warner, Piccadilly Radio and Virgin Broadcasting Company, among others. He said:

Since joining the board earlier this year I have quickly come to see the enormous potential across the company’s businesses, the strength and dedication of the people who work here, and the great opportunities that exist for Pearson to become a digital first learning company.

9.08am BST

Social distancing signage is displayed at the Regal Moon JD Wetherspoons pub in Rochdale. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

JD Wetherspoon’s sales have fallen by almost a fifth since the reopening of its chain of pubs last month and the company warned it will report a loss for its financial year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The group, which has reopened 844 of its 873 pubs, said that bar and food sales were down 16.9% year on year in the 44-day period to 16 August.

Wetherspoons said the government’s eat out to help out scheme, which gives diners 50% off to a maximum of £10 per person on Monday to Wednesday, had boosted sales.

You can read the full report here:

8.57am BST

BT shares jump after report of takeover defence preparations

BT, the telecoms company, is the biggest riser on the FTSE 100 this morning after a report at the weekend that it has hired advisers to fend off potential takeover attempts.

Its shares have gained 7% so far this morning, after Sky News reported that it had hired investment bankers Goldman Sachs and Robey Warshaw to “update its bid defence strategy”.

BT shares have languished in the last few years, amid concerns over the scale of the £12bn in investment planned by 2030 and the cancellation of its dividend after it warned that the coronavirus pandemic will hurt its revenues.

BT shares have fallen by more than half since late 2018. Photograph: Refinitiv

The steep decline in shares – down from more than 260p in late 2018 to only 107p on Monday – has made it ripe for takeover speculation, with some analysts arguing that the Openreach provider of broadband network infrastructure is worth over twice the £10bn market value of the business.

8.37am BST

Shares in Amigo Holdings, the controversial guarantor loans provider, have tumbled by a quarter this morning after the latest salvo in a brutal battle for control of the business.

Amigo’s founder, James Benamor, remains the largest shareholder through his Richmond Group vehicle. On Friday he wrote a blog post calling for himself to be appointed as chief executive of the lender’s parent company, while keeping on newly appointed chief executive Glen Crawford as head of the lending subsidiary, Amigo Loans Ltd.

Amigo was built by Benamor to target poorer customers who might not otherwise be able to gain credit. It allows friends or relatives of borrowers to stand as guarantor, which the company argues widens access to finance. However, the sector has faced heavy criticism for its high-cost loans and regulators have clamped down, causing the share price to tumble.

Shares in Amigo Holdings have tumbled in recent years after regulators stopped growth in its loan book. Photograph: Refinitiv

Benamor said he wanted to move Amigo towards areas not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, but Amigo on Monday said Benamor’s return would result in Crawford’s immediate resignation.

Mr Crawford has made it clear to the board that he is not prepared to work with Amigo in any circumstances where Mr Benamor returns to Amigo’s governance structure in a position of influence, and that Mr Crawford’s decision to return as CEO was predicated on the clear statement from Mr Benamor that he was selling down Richmond Group Limited’s controlling shareholding in Amigo to a position of zero.

In the event that Mr Benamor elects to requisition a general meeting for shareholders to vote on his proposals, and should he be successful in gaining shareholder approval for his proposals, the board has agreed with Mr Crawford that he may terminate his employment contract immediately. The board is strongly of the view that such an outcome would be materially detrimental to the interests of the company and its shareholders taken as a whole.

8.14am BST

Mike Ashley’s Frasers buys DW Sports assets for £37m

A DW Sports store at Forge Retail Park in Telford. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group will use the newly purchased Dave Whelan Sports gyms to expand its Everlast fitness brand, it said on Monday.

Frasers, which was formerly named Sports Direct after the most successful part of the business, will pay £37m in cash for some parts of DW Sports, but it will not own the brand of the sports retail and gyms business, which collapsed at the start of the month.

It is part of Ashley’s strategy to move the company more upmarket – a so-called “elevation” strategy – having initially built the business around cheap sports gear at Sports Direct.

The transaction compliments [sic] the existing gym and fitness club portfolio within the company’s group and is consistent with the group’s elevation strategy. Frasers Group looks forward to elevating the gym and fitness assets acquired pursuant to the transaction under the group’s existing iconic Everlast brand, and is also pleased to have saved a number of jobs.

The final price could rise by £6.9m depending on how many leaseholds the company ends up buying.

8.03am BST

The FTSE 100 has jumped by 1.2% at the opening bell, up 69 points at about 6,071 points.

The Euro Stoxx index, which measures shares including the FTSE and other major European companies, gained 1.2%. It was helped by a gain of 1.3% on France’s Cac 40 and 1.4% for Germany’s Dax index.

7.55am BST

Stocks boosted by blood plasma treament approval

Good morning, and welcome to our live coverage of business, economics and financial markets.

Stock markets in Asia have risen across the board, with investor optimism at least in part ascribed to new hopes around coronavirus treatment options.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 1.4%, while Korea’s Kospi 200 gained 1% and China’s CSI 300 gained 0.8%. Gains were more restrained in Japan, amid concerns over the health of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following a hospital visit. The broad-based Topix index rose by 0.2% and the Nikkei 225 gained 0.3%.

S&P 500 futures suggest stocks on Wall Street’s benchmark index will gain 0.4% when they open later today. Futures for the Nasdaq and Dow Jones industrial average show similar increases.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the regulator of treatments in the US, on Sunday granted “emergency use authorisation” to a method that uses the blood plasma of recovered patients to fight the virus.

The FDA cited early evidence suggesting blood plasma can decrease mortality and improve the health of patients.

US President Donald Trump hailed the decision, which represents a boost ahead of the Republican party’s convention. Trump welcomed the treatment on Sunday night with characteristic bombast:

This is what I’ve been looking to do for a long time. Today I’m pleased to make a truly historic announcement in our battle against the China virus that will save countless lives.

In UK corporate news, Mike Ashley’s Frasers has bought parts of retailer DW Sports out of administration for £37m – suggesting the retail magnate’s appetite for acquisition has not dimmed even during the pandemic.

And the pub chain JD Wetherspoon reported that like-for-like bar and food sales are down by 16.9% for the 44 days to 16 August, and suggested a tough wintermay lie ahead once the government’s “eat out to help out” stimulus ends next week. The company expects “a period of more subdued sales”.

It is a very quiet late August day on the data front, with only the Chicago Fed’s national activity index at 1:30pm BST with any potential for nudging the market.

at 7.57am BST

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