Unite Group raises fresh equity, Softcat lifts full-year expectations
The FTSE 100 is expected to open a single point lower on Monday, having closed down 0.07% at 7,348.62 on Friday.
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Student accommodation manager Unite Group said its Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund (USAF) had raised £250m of new equity from external investors. The proceeds represent 17% of USAF's NAV at March 2019. Unite is selling three assets to USAF for a £111m), representing a net initial yield of 5.5%.
Softcat, which provides IT infrastructure products and services, said full-year results will now be slightly ahead of previous expectations. In an update for the quarter to 30 April, the company said it had continued to perform well, with "strong" year-on-year growth across all income and profit measures.
Syncona has founded a new cell-therapy treatment company, pitching in with £34.0m to fund the new venture in exchange for a 69.3% stake. Newly formed Quell Therapeutics, which has also enjoyed a £1.0m contribution from the UCL Technology Fund, will focus on the prevention of organ rejection in transplant patients.
Europe' largest airline, Ryanair, posted its weakest annual profit for four years at the start of the week and warned that overcapacity, Brexit and delays on deliveries of the Boeing 737 MAX might weigh on earnings further still this year. For the year ending on 31 March, Ryanair saw after tax profits drop from €1.45bn one year ago to €1.02bn. That was towards the lower end of management's own guidance for earnings in a range between €1.0-€1.1bn. For the year just started, Ryanair projected profits, including its Laudamotion arm, in a range of €750m-950m, versus losses of €880m for last year.
Google has suspended Huawei’s access to updates of its Android operating system and chipmakers have reportedly cut off supplies to the Chinese telecoms company, complying with orders from the US government as it seeks to blacklist Huawei around the world. In a fresh blow to Huawei, Google said it was complying with Trump’s executive order and was reviewing the “implications”, after Reuters initially reported the story. – Guardian
Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct group is trying to muster support for a legal challenge to a Debenhams restructure package that was given the green light this month. Creditors have until 6 June to challenge two company voluntary arrangement (CVA) deals under which Debenhams plans to to close at least 22 stores of the group’s 166 UK stores and reduce rents on dozens more. – Guardian
Global dividends rose to a first-quarter record as shareholder payouts continued to grow on the back of strong corporate earnings and in spite of concerns about an economic slowdown. Dividends from the world’s 1,200 largest companies, which account for 90pc of global dividends, rose 7.8pc against the first three months of last year as companies continued to reward shareholders while fears of a global trade war mounted, according figures from Janus Henderson. – Telegraph
A British start-up seeking to bring an end to payday loans has received £40m in new cash from backers including an early investor in the now-collapsed lender Wonga. Wagestream, which has developed technology to give workers access to their wages at any day during the month for a small fee, rather than making them wait for a bulk monthly payment, raised £15m from venture capital firms Balderton and Northzone. It also secured a £25m funding facility from lending bank Shawbrook. – Telegraph
Labour’s proposed employee ownership scheme would have raised about £7 billion for the state last year, drawing comparisons with Gordon Brown’s pension tax grab in 1997. John McDonnell has promised to establish an “inclusive ownership fund” into which all UK-headquartered companies, both public and private, with more than 250 staff would have to transfer 10 percent of their shares. The fund will also collect dividend payments by the companies. – The Times
Banks and other credit providers are facing an increase of up to £100 million in the levy they pay to fund advice services for people who get into debt difficulties. Sir Hector Sants, chairman of the Money and Pensions Service (Maps), said that he would almost certainly be pushing ahead with plans to demand an increase. – The Times
Shares on Wall Street fell back during the last hour of trading after it was reported that trade talks with Beijing appeared to have stalled.
According to a sourced report from CNBC, scheduling for the next round of negotiations between the US and China was "in flux" because it was unclear what the two sides would negotiate.
Overnight, the People's Daily - considered by many to be the Chinese government's mouthpiece - had run an article saying that there was no reason to continue talks without a show of sincerity on the part of Washington.
In a somewhat volatile day of trading that saw the major market averages start lower, push higher and then finally lose their grip on earlier gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.38% at 25,764.0, while the S&P 500 lost 0.58% to 2,859.53 alongside a retreat on the Nasdaq Composite of 1.04% that took it to 7,816.28.
For the week as a whole, the S&P 500 gave back 21.87 points.
Meanwhile, the yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was flat at 2.39% but eight basis points lower for the week, with Fed funds futures left pricing in roughly 73% odds of a quarter point cut in official short-term interest rates by the end of 2019.