BUSINESS LIVE: GSK to appeal US court ruling; Lord Ashcroft to chair Marlowe; Franchise Brands ups guidance

The FTSE 100 closed down 12.63 at 8262.75. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are GSK, Marlowe, Franchise Brands, WH Ireland and Frasers Group. Read the Monday 3 June Business Live blog below.

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FTSE 100 closes down 12.63 at 8262.75

The Footsie closes soon

Just before close, the FTSE 100 was 0.13% down at 8,264.47.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 was 0.62% higher at 20,859.31.

UK Ford staff planning to strike after rejecting pay offer

Hundreds of British Ford employees plan to go on strike later this month in a dispute over pay.

Workers have ‘overwhelmingly’ rejected the motoring giant’s offer of a performance-related pay award, according to the Unite union.

Hollywood Bowl posts profit jump and hikes dividend

(PA) – Hollywood Bowl has reported a jump in profits and hiked its dividend payouts after it was boosted by growth in Canada.

Shares in the ten-pin bowling operator moved higher on Monday morning as a result.

The company, which has 71 centres in the UK and 11 in Canada, posted a pre-tax profit of £29.5million for the six months to March, up 10.5 per cent year-on-year.

It came on the back of an 8.1 per cent increase in revenues to £119.2million for the year.

The firm’s UK business – its largest division – saw like-for-like sales grow by 1.3 per cent, with 8 per cent growth across its Splitsville brand in Canada.

Hollywood Bowl said it was boosted by investment across its portfolio of sites, including a major refurbishment programme which “remain on track and is delivering returns”.

The firm said it has acquired and rebranded a new site in Lincoln in recent months and opened a new Dundee centre last month. It said it is also opening another new site in Canada over the current half-year.

Airfares are going to keep going up, industry leaders warn

The cost of your next flight is likely to go up partly as a result of new environmental rules, industry leaders have warned.

While carriers recover from the groundings worldwide from the coronavirus pandemic, there are several costs likely to push ticket prices ever higher, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which held its annual meeting in Dubai.

Four Premium Bonds holders win big prizes with less than £1,000!

Every month, Premium Bond holders eagerly wait to find out whether they have won a big prize in NS&I’s prize draw.

With more than 22million customers, Premium Bonds are the nation’s favourite savings product.

SMALL CAP IDEA: URA turn to Gravelotte emerald mine in Limpopo

URA Holdings CEO Bernard Olivier and his colleagues, including chairman Edward Nealon, are veterans of the mining sector.

With gemstone success stories at Tanzanite One (T1) and experience at Bezant Resources, Olivier knows the industry on a granular level.

Blackstone ups Hipgnosis takeover deal by $0.01 a share

Blackstone has increased the value of its Hipgnosis Songs Fund takeover by $0.01 a share, following discussions with the music rights investor’s board.

The improved offer gives the deal to delist Hipgnosis, which had already been agreed by the two groups, a value of $1.31 per share – or $1.58billion (£1.27billion).

Franchise Brands forecasts strong profit performance

Franchise Brands expects annual earnings to be towards the top end of forecasts, but has delayed the release of its accounts due to auditing issues.

The Macclesfield-based group anticipates reporting adjusted earnings of between £29.3million and £30.1million for the last year.

Santander cyber hack puts 30m bank accounts at risk of dark web sale

Millions of bank account details could be at risk of sale to online criminals after Santander became the target of a cyber attack by hacking group ShinyHunters.

Last month’s hack, which preceded a similar attack on Ticketmaster, has led to data relating to all of the European lender’s 210,000 staff, as well as millions of its customers, being compromised.

Inside Nvidia, the tech titan whose shares have soared 3,000%

It is the stock market success story of the century – and one that will shape the rest of our lives. Since going public on the eve of the Millennium, computer chip designer Nvidia has come from nowhere to the cusp of becoming the world’s biggest company.

In February, Nvidia became the fastest company ever to go from a $1 trillion to a $2 trillion stock market valuation. Astonishingly, it took just eight months.

GSK shares plummet as US court opens floodgates to Zantac lawsuits

GSK says it will appeal a US court ruling allowing more than 70,000 lawsuits to go forward, amid disputed claims its heartburn drug Zantac has links to cancer.

The FTSE 100 drugmaker told investors on Monday it will ‘immediately seek an appeal’ following Delaware judge Vivian Medinilla’s decision, adding that the firm will ‘vigorously defend itself against all claims’.

Labour ‘plotting to raid pensions’ in repeat of 1997 betrayal

Labour was yesterday accused of plotting to raid pensions by overhauling tax relief on retirement funds.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the party would betray retirees as he warned of a repeat of 1997 when Gordon Brown targeted pensions.

GSK shares top FTSE 350 fallers

Top 15 falling FTSE 350 firms 03062024

JD Sports Fashion shares top FTSE 350 risers

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Marlowe chair quits after firm finalises £430m sale

Lord Ashcroft has been named interim chair of business services specialist Marlowe after his predecessor stood down following the sale of a large share of the firm’s operations.

Kevin Quinn had been executive chair of Marlowe since 2019, which he joined after a 13-year stint as chief financial officer of textile service provider Berendsen.

Very price too high, Barclay brothers told

The Barclay brothers have been told to ‘lower their expectations’ as they continue to hunt for a buyer for Very Group.

The struggling retailer hoisted the for sale sign earlier this year in a bid to tackle its mounting debts.

Brothers Aidan and Howard, who manage the Barclays’ business empire, have agreed to offload the whole firm or a stake in it.

‘Positive vibes’ power Footsie as Blackstone ups Hipgnosis bid

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets, Hargreaves Lansdown:

‘Positive vibes are powering the FTSE 100 higher, as fresh hopes swirl that interest rate cuts are not as far off as feared. Strong trading in Asia has laid the groundwork for an upbeat session, as investors take took cues from gains on Wall Street on Friday.

‘Signs of weaker consumer spending patterns have lifted expectations that upwards price pressures could ease off and that the Fed may be less inclined to keep interest rates higher for longer.

‘With lower borrowing costs spied on the horizon, it may start to give a little lift to oil prices, which are languishing around 3-month lows. Brent Crude is trading around $81 dollars a barrel despite an agreement by OPEC+ to extend output cuts into 2025.

‘There’s fresh music to the ears of Hipgnosis Songs Fund investors at the start of the week. The board and Blackstone have now agreed the terms and conditions of an increased cash takeover deal. The offer price of $1.31 per share is a small increase on the agreement reached in April and represents a 49% premium to the closing price of 71p a share, prior to the agreed offer from competitor Concord.

‘Although there may be a little disappointment that another suitor had not charged in with a much higher offer following the bidding war, the deal still marks a turn up for the books for investors. It follows a volatile run which saw shares sink to a low after the value of the fund’s music portfolio was slashed by more than 25%.’

Emirates chief warns of years of turbulence at Boeing

Boeing will take years to recover from the latest safety crisis, its largest customer has warned.

Tim Clark, who is president of luxury airline Emirates, has said the aircraft manufacturer will struggle to get back on track following the mid-air blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight.

Market open: FTSE 100 up 0.7%; FTSE 250 adds 0.6%

London-listed stocks have kicked off the week on the front foot, echoing counterparts in Asia, as investors anticipate a rate cut by the European Central Bank, while drugmaker GSK keeps gains in check..

The ECB will meet later this week where investors expect it to trim borrowing costs by a quarter point.

Analysts predict the Bank of Englandto closely shadow the ECB’s movements, positioning itself to quickly follow suit in initiating the rate-cutting cycle.

The BoE will meet two weeks from now to take a call on interest rates in Britain.

Investors will also closely monitor a slew of economic data set to drop this week, including domestic manufacturing data for May due later in the day.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund has gained 1 per cent after Blackstone sweetened its offer for the music rights investor by a cent to $1.31 from $1.30 as part of a revised bid.

GSK has dropped 9.5 per cent after a Delaware ruling allowed more than 70,000 lawsuits to proceed over its discontinued heartburn drug Zantac.

St. James’s Place is the top gainer on the benchmark index, with a 5.6 per cent jump, after JP Morgan upgraded its rating on the stock to ‘overweight’ from ‘neutral’.

GSK to appeal US court ruling

GSK will seek an appeal after a US judge ruled more than 70,000 lawsuits over discontinued heartburn drug Zantac to go forward, with expert witnesses permitted to testify in court that the drug may cause cancer.

The ruling on Friday by Judge Vivian Medinilla of the Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington is a setback for GSK, Pfizer, Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim, which had argued that the expert witnesses’ opinions lacked scientific support.

GSK said in a statement this morning:

‘GSK disagrees with the ruling by the Delaware State Court and will immediately seek an appeal.

‘The decision by the State Court contradicts the Federal Court’s MDL ruling under the same legal standard, which dismissed all cases alleging five cancer types, in December 2022.

‘GSK will continue to vigorously defend itself against all claims and manage this litigation in the best interests of shareholders. Alongside immediately seeking an appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court, the Company will file motions for dismissal pressing additional defenses, severance of cases, and proof-of-use by claimants; and, at the same time, the Company will progress to trials of individual cases.’

I can’t make Royal Mail promises on stamp prices, says Czech Sphinx

The would-be owner of Royal Mail Daniel Kretinsky has refused to rule out further price hikes for first class stamps.

The billionaire – nicknamed the ‘Czech Sphinx’ – has suggested costs could continue to spiral in coming years.


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