FT Opening Quote – Unilever meets targets after failed bid

Does Unilever have a Facebook feed? Does the consumer goods group upload images to Apple Photos? If so, Paul Polman, chief executive of the Anglo-Dutch giant, is probably not finding the “Memories From One Year Ago” function terribly enjoyable, writes Matthew Vincent. It can only be showing him selfies of Kraft Heinz and Warren Buffett – and reminding him that we’re just a year on from their aggressive £115bn bid for the entire Unilever business.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Unilever meets targets after failed bid

Does Unilever have a Facebook feed? Does the consumer goods group upload images to Apple Photos? If so, Paul Polman, chief executive of the Anglo-Dutch giant, is probably not finding the “Memories From One Year Ago” function terribly enjoyable, writes Matthew Vincent. It can only be showing him selfies of Kraft Heinz and Warren Buffett – and reminding him that we’re just a year on from their aggressive £115bn bid for the entire Unilever business.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Unilever meets targets after failed bid

FT Opening Quote – Capita suspends dividend, warns on profits

What’s the most frustrating job in corporate Britain today? Apart from middle manager at Carillion asking why on earth did the directors keep bidding for contracts? And keep overlooking the pension deficit? And keep reassuring the so-called auditors?

Arguably, it’s middle manager at at any other UK outsourcer, trying to address similar questions, writes Matthew Vincent.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Capita suspends dividend, warns on profits

What’s the most frustrating job in corporate Britain today? Apart from middle manager at Carillion asking why on earth did the directors keep bidding for contracts? And keep overlooking the pension deficit? And keep reassuring the so-called auditors?

Arguably, it’s middle manager at at any other UK outsourcer, trying to address similar questions, writes Matthew Vincent.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Capita suspends dividend, warns on profits

FT Opening Quote – Zoopla’s right moves on the home market

If the wider public likes to joke about estate agents in order to feel a bit superior, do property portals do the same? ZPG, owner of the Zoopla portal, does not – but some analysts almost think it should, writes Matthew Vincent.

In a trading update this morning, ahead of its annual general meeting, ZPG simply said that in the three months to December 31 it “signed multiple new long-term portal listing and data services agreements with some of the UK’s largest estate agents”.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Zoopla’s right moves on the home market

If the wider public likes to joke about estate agents in order to feel a bit superior, do property portals do the same? ZPG, owner of the Zoopla portal, does not – but some analysts almost think it should, writes Matthew Vincent.

In a trading update this morning, ahead of its annual general meeting, ZPG simply said that in the three months to December 31 it “signed multiple new long-term portal listing and data services agreements with some of the UK’s largest estate agents”.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Zoopla’s right moves on the home market

FT Opening Quote – Pension and audit probes at Carillion

If Carillion’s former directors, pension trustees, auditors or even pension regulators were hoping the news agenda might have moved on by now, Opening Quote has news for them. And it’s not good news, writes Matthew Vincent.

This week, the Work and Pensions Select Committee is turning its attention to the collapsed construction group’s pension scheme funding – and the committee chairman has already accused the management of spending ten years trying to “wriggle out” of its pension obligations.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Pension and audit probes at Carillion

If Carillion’s former directors, pension trustees, auditors or even pension regulators were hoping the news agenda might have moved on by now, Opening Quote has news for them. And it’s not good news, writes Matthew Vincent.

This week, the Work and Pensions Select Committee is turning its attention to the collapsed construction group’s pension scheme funding – and the committee chairman has already accused the management of spending ten years trying to “wriggle out” of its pension obligations.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Pension and audit probes at Carillion

FT Opening Quote – Asos fashions 28% sales rise

When does the alternative become mainstream? To dedicated followers of music, it never can and it never should – as those mourning the death of Mark E Smith of The Fall have been noting this morning (even his acclaimed 1985 album This Nation’s Saving Grace was described as “just on the edge of the mainstream” by The Guardian).

To dedicated followers of fashion, though, it’s not a life-long distinction, writes Matthew Vincent. Especially not with online fashion pioneer Asos still trading on the Alternative Investment Market – but commanding the market value of a blue-chip FTSE 100 company.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Asos fashions 28% sales rise

When does the alternative become mainstream? To dedicated followers of music, it never can and it never should – as those mourning the death of Mark E Smith of The Fall have been noting this morning (even his acclaimed 1985 album This Nation’s Saving Grace was described as “just on the edge of the mainstream” by The Guardian).

To dedicated followers of fashion, though, it’s not a life-long distinction, writes Matthew Vincent. Especially not with online fashion pioneer Asos still trading on the Alternative Investment Market – but commanding the market value of a blue-chip FTSE 100 company.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Asos fashions 28% sales rise

FT Opening Quote – Crest margins slip as London sales slow

Crest Nicholson shareholders: big-time winners, or small time-losers?

It depends on whether you look at the housebuilder’s absolute or relative return, writes Matthew Vincent. Crest’s share price rose by 20 per cent in calendar year 2017, which is an extraordinary 12-month performance… until you realise that its rivals shares rose by an average of 43 per cent.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Crest margins slip as London sales slow

Crest Nicholson shareholders: big-time winners, or small time-losers?

It depends on whether you look at the housebuilder’s absolute or relative return, writes Matthew Vincent. Crest’s share price rose by 20 per cent in calendar year 2017, which is an extraordinary 12-month performance… until you realise that its rivals shares rose by an average of 43 per cent.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Crest margins slip as London sales slow

FT Opening Quote – CMA says Fox/Sky deal ‘not in public interest’

Good morning. Here is the news. Which could very likely soon not be news. But there is a chance that it might not be non-news. So, for now, it is very big news, writes Matthew Vincent.

This morning the Competition and Markets Authority has sensationally ruled that the takeover of Sky by the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox is not in the public interest because of its likely effect on media plurality in the UK.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – CMA says Fox/Sky deal ‘not in public interest’

Good morning. Here is the news. Which could very likely soon not be news. But there is a chance that it might not be non-news. So, for now, it is very big news, writes Matthew Vincent.

This morning the Competition and Markets Authority has sensationally ruled that the takeover of Sky by the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox is not in the public interest because of its likely effect on media plurality in the UK.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – CMA says Fox/Sky deal ‘not in public interest’

FT Opening Quote – Dixons Carphone lowers profit guidance

How was your Sunday? Church in the morning… roast lunch… walk to the pub… sudden desire to recalculate the value of your order book, phone your PRs and have them issue a press release…? No?

That last activity was probably not top of the list for many of you, writes Matthew Vincent. But you’re not all head of GKN’s automotive division and facing a hostile takeover bid from Melrose, are you? Spare a thought, then for Phil Swash, who seems to have foregone the sermonising, the horseradish and a few swift halves in favour of a spreadsheet.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Dixons Carphone lowers profit guidance

How was your Sunday? Church in the morning… roast lunch… walk to the pub… sudden desire to recalculate the value of your order book, phone your PRs and have them issue a press release…? No?

That last activity was probably not top of the list for many of you, writes Matthew Vincent. But you’re not all head of GKN’s automotive division and facing a hostile takeover bid from Melrose, are you? Spare a thought, then for Phil Swash, who seems to have foregone the sermonising, the horseradish and a few swift halves in favour of a spreadsheet.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Dixons Carphone lowers profit guidance

FT Opening Quote – Christmas delivers for Royal Mail

mail

Breaking news alert: a private-sector company providing previously state-run services is not about to collapse, require refinancing, or pay massive bonuses to its former bosses… er, in fact, it has just reported a stronger than expected financial performance. Don’t tell Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell.

Yes, Royal Mail, the privatised logistics utility that the Labour party leadership and two-thirds of the population think should be renationalised, has issued a nine-month trading update slightly ahead of market expectations, writes Matthew Vincent.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Christmas delivers for Royal Mail

mail

Breaking news alert: a private-sector company providing previously state-run services is not about to collapse, require refinancing, or pay massive bonuses to its former bosses… er, in fact, it has just reported a stronger than expected financial performance. Don’t tell Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell.

Yes, Royal Mail, the privatised logistics utility that the Labour party leadership and two-thirds of the population think should be renationalised, has issued a nine-month trading update slightly ahead of market expectations, writes Matthew Vincent.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Christmas delivers for Royal Mail

FT Opening Quote – Interserve on financial health watch

interserve

Another 24 hours into the liquidation of Carillion, and the crisis seems to spread wider by the minute, writes Matthew Vincent.

Last night came news that another contractor, Interserve, has been put on financial health watch by government, as concerns about outsourced contracts grow. And, this morning, thousands of Carillion’s former employees are still waiting for clarity over their jobs – as a government guarantee to keep paying workers on private-sector contracts expires.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Interserve on financial health watch

interserve

Another 24 hours into the liquidation of Carillion, and the crisis seems to spread wider by the minute, writes Matthew Vincent.

Last night came news that another contractor, Interserve, has been put on financial health watch by government, as concerns about outsourced contracts grow. And, this morning, thousands of Carillion’s former employees are still waiting for clarity over their jobs – as a government guarantee to keep paying workers on private-sector contracts expires.

Continue reading: FT Opening Quote – Interserve on financial health watch