PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – April 28

Financial Times

CYBERCRIME LOSSES DOUBLE IN TWO YEARS

Professional services firm PwC has found 61 percent of large
firms suffered an attempt to break into their computer systems,
with the rising trend costing UK businesses “at least ten
billion pounds” a year. Among the information breaches
catalogued, companies reported attacks by cyber criminals and
accidental leaks of confidential data, with larger firms having
more than 45 incidents a year. The growing trend is expected to
concern British companies who could face fines of up to 500,000
pounds for any breaches of the Data Protection Act. Chris
Potter, a PwC partner and one of the authors of the report, said
“there are some fundamental issues that companies need to get
better at dealing with” to cover “blind spots” in data
management.

VOLCANO COST EUROPE’S AIR SECTOR 2.5 BILLION EUROS

A preliminary assessment conducted by the European
Commission has revealed how the European air transport sector
suffered as much as 2.5 billion euros in losses from disruption
caused by Iceland’s volcanic eruption. The loss assessment could
now set terms for an industry bailout, as airlines argue flawed
computer models used by member states were partially responsible
for grounding planes even when it was safe to resume services.
The UK Department for Transport said that while the “UK cannot
unilaterally provide new aid to affected companies” it is
exploring options with the Commission. Meanwhile, airline
EasyJet (EZJ.L: ) cautioned that governments should be prevented
from supplying aid “to ailing national carriers who might use
the volcanic disruption as a pretext”.

CARBON PERMIT TRADING BUOYED BY THREAT OF SUPPLY CONSTRAINTS

Carbon permit prices fell slightly on Tuesday, trading at
15.46 euros, after rising to a near seven-month high due to
incrwasing power prices and concerns that the European
Commission may restrict supply. For much of the year, permits
have traded at between 13 and 14 euros, well below a high of
over 30 euros before the financial crisis. Trevor Sikorski,
director of environmental market research at Barclays Capital,
said the market recovery was expected. Companies can bank
permits before the next phase of the European Union’s Emission
Trading System in 2013, when they are likely to receive fewer
permits.

ARM REAPS BENEFIT OF SMARTPHONE DEMAND

Cambridge-based microchip manufacturer Arm (ARM.L: ) has
announced that profits nearly doubled in the first three months
of 2010, due to increased demand for high-end smartphones like
the Apple iPhone which use chips designed by the firm. Pre-tax
profits for the three months to the end of March reached 13.1
million pounds. Shipments of chips into mobile devices increased
50 percent on 2009, while sales of smartphone chips alone rose
between 30 to 40 percent. Arm chief executive Warren East said
the company intended to recruit about 100 more engineers this
year to work on high-end processors for netbooks and
smartphones.

LONDON & STAMFORD TO BUY PROPERTIES FROM HBOS VENTURE

Property investment company London & Stamford (LSP.L: ) will
pay about 215 million pounds for real estate assets from
property fund manager Warner Estates and state-backed bank
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) which continues to liquidate real
estate investments made by the corporate arm of HBOS. London &
Stamford’s purchase of the Radial distribution fund, a joint
venture between HBOS and Warner, is also understood to have been
sanctioned by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ). Radial’s last
reported value was 196 million pounds in 2009.

WHITEBOARD DEMAND AIDS PROMETHEAN

Shares in Promethean World (PRWP.L: ) have recovered some of
the ground lost since last month’s flotation, after the
Lancashire-based maker of interactive whiteboards reported a 49
percent increase in first quarter sales. The growth rate is well
ahead of market expectations but analysts have said it may be
some time before the firm dispels concerns about churn in its
investor base, as the float is understood to have attracted a
number of short-term investors who took profits quickly.
Promethean, which is now expected to expand further into U.S.
markets, is in line to meet market expectations of a 34 million
pound profit for this year.

ROLL-YOUR-OWN SMOKERS BOLSTER IMPERIAL

Imperial Tobacco (IMT.L: ) reported a 15 percent rise in
underlying first-half profits on Tuesday, aided by customers in
some of its key European markets trading down from factory-made
cigarettes to cheaper roll-your-own tobacco. The Bristol-based
company, whose brands include Lambert & Butler and Davidoff,
suffered a three percent decline in cigarette volumes, while
sales of loose tobacco rose ten percent. The company made a
pre-tax profit of 974 million pounds for the six months to March
31, on revenue that was up eight percent at 13.4 billion pounds.

CONNAUGHT POSITIVE AS PAY-OUT IS HOISTED

Social housing maintenance firm Connaught (CNT.L: ) has
increased its interim dividend by a fifth, as it attempts to
move past a difficult six month period which saw the FTSE 250
firm’s shares lose over 40 percent of their value. Profits rose
18 percent to 23.8 million pounds in the six months to the end
of February and the group’s chief executive Mark Ticknell said
he had identified a number of underperforming contracts which
would not be renewed. Ticknell, who stood down as executive
chairman to take up his new role after the sudden departure of
Mark Davies earlier this year, also brushed aside some of the
market’s worst concerns as “nonsense”.

BAE SETS SIGHTS ON ATLANTIC MARINE FOR U.S. SHIP REPAIR
EXPANSION

BAE Systems (BAES.L: ) is understood to be interested in
acquiring Atlantic Marine and has held talks with the firm’s
private equity owner JF Lehman. Europe’s largest defence
contractor has made no secret of its intent to expand its ship
repair operations in the United States and the proposed deal
would add Atlantic Marine’s four shipyards along the U.S. Gulf
coast and east coast to BAE’s operations. The proposed deal is
thought to be worth between 131 and 262 million pounds, but
according to sources close to the situation, there is no formal
process under way and price remains an issue.

Stock Market News

Prepared for Reuters by Durrants

PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – April 28