PRESS DIGEST – British business – April 21

Wednesday April 21 2010

The Daily Telegraph

ASOS IN FASHION

Online fashion retailer ASOS (ASC.L: ) said that profits are
likely to meet the 20 million pounds ($32.09 million) expected
by analysts after total sales rose 35 percent to 223 million
pounds for the year to the end of March. The company said that
sales in the 19 days to April 19 had seen trading up 56 percent,
with international sales particularly strong. Chief executive
Nick Robertson said that the company had enjoyed “another
excellent year” and is “approaching this year with considerably
more confidence.”

TUI TRAVEL RAISES 500 MILLION POUNDS AS VOLCANO BILL.

Tui Travel (TT.L: ) has raised 500 million pounds of fresh
financing. The holiday operator warned yesterday that it was
losing up to six million pounds a day due to travel disruption
caused by the volcanic ash cloud. The company said the new
finance would be used to “exploit its strong pipeline of
attractive acquisition opportunities”. Analysts said the finance
would also allow Tui Travel to repay a 600 million pound loan
from Tui AG, the German travel group that owns 54.9 percent of
Tui Travel.

TORIES LINE UP NEXT CHIEF WOLFSON FOR SEAT IN THE LORDS

Concerns have been raised over Simon Wolfson’s future as
chief executive of Next (NXT.L: ) after Wolfson’s name was
included on a list of proposed peers put forward by the
Conservative party. JCB founder Sir Anthony Bamford is also
thought to be on the list, the publication of which is expected
imminently. Both figures are leading donors to the Conservative
party, and opposition politicians suggested that Wolfson and
Bamford were being rewarded for lending their support to a Tory
campaign against a rise in National Insurance.

LIB DEMS TO OFFER REGIONAL BOURSES IN CITY SHAKE-UP

Liberal Democrat proposals would see the establishment of a
series of regional stock exchanges across Britain. The party
said that the RSEs would “act as regional platforms, matching
local investors with growing small businesses to provide
cost-effective access to equity.” Britain was home to 22
regional stock exchanges until 1973, when they were merged in to
the London Stock Exchange (LSE.L: ). The Lib Dems said the funding
needs of smaller regional companies are not properly met by the
LSE. The party also promised to break up banks and to increase
taxes on bank profits.

DESIRE PLANS FOR MORE DRILLING IN FALKLANDS

UK oil explorer Desire Petroleum (DES.L: ) intends to resume
drilling in the Falkland Islands during the third quarter of
this year. Desire’s Liz well last month became the first in a
decade to be drilled in the Falklands. An initial update
suggested that the reservoir at the well was of poor quality,
but the company is expected to use detailed analysis from the
Liz well to determine prime locations for further drilling.
Desire chairman Stephen Phipps said that company management
“remain upbeat” about the islands’ potential.

QUESTOR

FirstGroup (FGP.L: ) (Buy)

Tesco (TSCO.L: ) (Buy)

The Guardian

PREMIER LEAGUE LIFTS TROPHY FOR SUCCESS IN SELLING FOOTBALL

The English football Premier League is to receive a Queen’s
Award for Enterprise in recognition of its success in marketing
itself around the world. The Premier League is the most popular
and lucrative football league in the world.

CRISIS HAS MADE BANKS EVEN MORE POWERFUL, IMF WARNS

The International Monetary Fund has said governments must
act to curb the increasing power of banks following the
financial crisis. The IMF called for cooperation from
governments in setting out its future financial regulatory
reform agenda, stressing that some too-big-to-fail institutions
had been made even larger by the financial crisis. It also
warned that large government deficits run-up during the
financial crisis could pose a risk of starting a second credit
crunch. The IMF Global Financial Stability Review reported that
“concerns about sovereign risks could undermine stability
gains”.

The Times

IMF DELIVERS SURPRISE DOUBLE TAX BLOW TO THE BANKS

The International Monetary Fund has proposed two new taxes
on banks in order to raise funds to pay for potential future
bailouts and to penalise excess profit-making. UK Chancellor
Alistair Darling welcomed the proposal, saying: “The recognition
that banks should make a contribution to the society in which
they operate is right.” The British Bankers’ Association said
that it had been expecting a tax or levy, but that these
proposals appear “wider than expected”, according to chief
executive Angela Knight.

TEMPUS

SABMiller (SAB.L: ) (Hold)

Cove Energy (A risky buy)

Associated British Foods (ABF.L: ) (Hold on)

The Independent

SHARP INFLATION RISE MAY FORCE BANK TO RAISE INTEREST RATES

A steep rise in the prices of petrol, gas and food has
increased inflation beyond predicted levels. The increase has
caused concern that the Bank of England may be forced to
increase interest rates sooner than anticipated. The Office for
National Statistics yesterday announced that the Consumer Price
Index had risen by 3.4 percent in the year to March, up from 3
percent in the year to February. The retail prices index rose by
4.4 percent in the year to March, pushing it to an 18-month
high.

PIRC URGES INVESTORS TO SAY NO TO BARCLAYS PAY

Corporate governance consultant Pirc yesterday advised its
clients to vote against British bank Barclays’ (BARC.L: ) pay
report. The alert from Pirc warned that the bank’s pay package
was “potentially excessive”, highlighting in particular the
large amount of remuneration received by Barclays’ chief
executive Bob Diamond. Of the chief executive’s performance
bonus, the alert said that it considered “the performance
conditions to be insufficiently stretching given the level of
award”. Barclays’s annual meeting is to be held on 30th April.

INVESTMENT COLUMN

Burberry (BRBY.L: ) (Hold)

SABMiller (SAB.L: ) (Hold)

Cove Energy (Buy)

Investment Advice

($1=.6233 Pound)

PRESS DIGEST – British business – April 21