Brexit ‘weighing on business investment’
Political uncertainty over Brexit is weighing on business investment, which has fallen to the lowest level for a year, a survey indicates. The research, from manufacturing body EEF and accountancy advisers BDO, said the outlook for UK manufacturers was “slightly more subdued than it has been for some time”.
The poll of more than 300 firms found they were “cautiously optimistic”. However, the EEF said growth was looking “fragile”.
“Manufacturers are still seeing a positive picture and business confidence indicators are holding up looking forward to the second half of the year,” it said.
But it pointed to “the easing of global growth” and suggested that “the continued political uncertainty of Brexit negotiations is weighing on investment”.
The owner of Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank, CYBG, has sweetened its £1.6bn offer to buy Virgin Money. Under the new terms, Virgin Money shareholders would own 38% of the new merged business instead of 36%. CYBG and Virgin Money said the move would create “the UK’s first true national banking competitor” as an alternative to the incumbent banks.
It would be the UK’s fifth largest bank with six million personal and business customers and a balance sheet of £70bn. CYBG has said it will keep the Virgin Money brand, subject to an agreement with Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
Not many people can trace their success – and multi-millionaire status – to an advert they placed in a local paper. But for Simon Dolan, a £10 ad promoting his accountancy services turned his life around. Then aged 22, Mr Dolan had been on the dole for 15 months after he lost both his driving licence and his job through drink driving, resulting in spiralling debt and anxiety over his mortgage repayments.
But the ad worked. “A client phoned three weeks later and I did her accounts for her and that meant I could place another ad, which got another client.” After working as an accountant from his kitchen table for five years, in 1997 he opened the first branch of SJD Accountancy in Berkhamsted, 26 miles north-west of London. The firm grew rapidly and became a market leader in the contractor accountancy sector.
With strong profits, private equity firms started circling. In 2014, with 14,500 clients on its books and a turnover of about £20m, Mr Dolan sold the company to Sovereign Capital as part of a £100m deal. As SJD’s outright owner, Mr Dolan says he banked £81m – although he is quick to point out his success happened gradually.
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The chief executive of Metro (B4B.DE) is hopeful that the German retailer will turn around its struggling Russian business soon, he said on Monday.
“I am very optimistic we will correct that situation in the near future,” Olaf Koch told an event in Berlin to promote Metro’s cooperation with start-ups, describing the problems in Russia as “a bit of a hiccup”.
Metro said last month it hopes to stabilize its shrinking Russian business in the coming months after overhauling management and introducing bulk discounts to attract more independent traders and restaurant owners.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The planned exit of BHP Billiton Ltd from its U.S. shale business has drawn oil companies and private equity firms into a competition that may have no clear winner until late this year or early next year, according to people familiar with the negotiations. BHP, the world’s largest miner, said in August that it would exit its U.S. shale oil and gas business after pressure from activist hedge fund Elliott Management, which owns a stake in the company and argued the unit was a drag on BHP’s value.
The Anglo-Australian company’s Houston-based BHP Petroleum unit holds more than 838,000 acres spread across four U.S. shale plays: Texas’ Permian and Eagle Ford basins and the Haynesville and Fayetteville formations of Arkansas. A divestiture of all of that land would be among the largest shale acreage sales to date.
BHP is offering to sell off acreage in seven different packages spanning three formations; it has generated interest from oil companies that paired with private equity firms to bid on all the assets, as well as from companies looking at individual packages. First bids were received last week, but no deal is expected until very late in 2018 or early 2019, according to two of the people familiar with the matter who, like all the sources, could not speak for attribution as the negotiations are not public. It was currently unclear whether BHP may hold a second bid round with certain bidders or all of them, or it may opt to continue weighing the received bids toward securing a preferred deal.