News Column

Daily Mail, London, business briefs column

June 24, 2014

Daily Mail, London



June 24--GALASYS, which provides ticketing and IT outsourcing services to China's leading theme park operators, is firing on all cylinders. A flurry of recent orders suggest the firm (flat at 20.5p) is performing ahead of expectations. Last week it secured its first theme park contract since its AIM float on May 12 to provide ticketing systems to the China's largest water park, Wenzhou Dolphin Bay.

SHAREHOLDERS in Victoria (up 76p to 397.5p) celebrated after the floor coverings group proposed rewarding them with a special dividend of 292p a share. The payout is part of a deal that will see The Camden Trust, of which Victoria's chairman Geoff Wilding is the beneficiary, take a 50pc stake in the firm.

TESCO RATING CUT

TESCO boss Philip Clarke was dealt another blow yesterday when Fitch cut the supermarket giant's credit rating.

Fitch said it was concerned about the impact of the escalating supermarket price war on Tesco (up 1.65p to 292p) and said it was also being hit abroad by 'economic and political headwinds'.

It said the downgrade from BBB+ to BBB 'reflects an increase of competitive pressures in the UK grocery market.'

Last week Moody's also cut Tesco's credit rating.

BANKERS TELL MINISTERS TO SUPPORT THE CHALLENGERS

THE British Bankers' Association will today urge ministers and regulators to boost competition by providing more support for challenger banks.

Its recommendations include less onerous capital requirements for new entrants, and measures to encourage local authorities and government departments to deposit money with challenger banks.

It is hoped the action plan, laid out in a 82-page report, will help provide a better deal for customers. It comes amid ongoing concerns about the fall in net lending to small and medium sized firms and the dominance of the 'Big five' Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays and Santander. Watchdog the Competition & Markets Authority is investigating the banking sector.

James Barty, the BBA's director of strategy, said: 'It's vital that we don't treat all banking markets as the same and introduce rules, regulations and costs that smother changes that are already driving competition.'

BAE'S NAVY DEAL

BAE Systems has landed a pounds sterling 70m contract from the Ministry of Defence to manage servicing and upgrading of the Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyers.

The work will sustain 100 skilled engineering jobs at the defence firm's Portsmouth naval base and will run from July until the end of November 2016.

John Hudson, managing director of BAE's maritime business, said: 'Our objective is to ensure the ships are ready and available to be deployed and to continue that support while they are on operations around the world.'

BAE shares dipped 4.4p to 423.6p.

ASOS BACK IN BUSINESS AFTER BLAZE

ASOS said it had resumed taking orders on its website after a fire at its main warehouse led to a suspension over the weekend, writes James Salmon.

The online fashion retailer said it started taking orders again at 2am yesterday morning and was fully insured for loss of stock and business interruption.

This appeared to reassure investors, with shares increasing yesterday by 2.29pc or 63p, to 2815p.

Boss Nick Robertson said pounds sterling 22m worth of clothes were destroyed in the fire, with a fifth of the garments held in its Barnsley warehouse ruined by the fire and sprinkler systems. But none of the technology, automation or structure of the building was affected.

South Yorkshire Police are treating the incident as deliberate following initial investigations.

The fire caps a grim period for ASOS which warned earlier this month that its full-year profits would miss forecasts by 30pc.

It spooked investors in March when it announced plans to spend on infrastructure to meet future demand, at the expense of short-term profits.

The June 5 profit warning wiped pounds sterling 1.2bn from its stock market value.

30 SECOND GUIDE TO... ASSET SEIZURES

ASSET seizure also known as asset forfeiture in the US is when prosecutors grab the proceeds from criminal activity.

The Serious Fraud Office has ramped up asset seizures, pulling in cash from a third more cases last year 27 instead of 21 the year before.

Law firm Pinsent Masons, which has analysed the numbers, reckons the rise in SFO raids on fraudsters is partly a response to criticism of law enforcers for allowing convicted criminals to ignore confiscation orders. The seizures are also designed to send a message to would-be criminals that they will be stripped of any wealth gained through fraud.

That's the idea. It may even help the SFO shed its image as the Serious Farce Office as labelled by satirical magazine Private Eye for its woeful record on pursuing white collar criminals. The number of raids carried out to gather evidence is also up, trebling from 8 in 2012 to 26 in just one year. On the downside, the amount of money seized remains paltry. In 2011-12 some pounds sterling 50.2m was seized.

Last year it was just pounds sterling 11.4m and seizing assets remains difficult for the authorities as criminals tend to stash their ill-gotten gains offshore or transfer the assets into the names of accomplices to hide them.

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Source: Daily Mail (London, England)


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