(Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories Friday.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group said Alison Rose will succeed Ross McEwan as chief executive officer. McEwan will formally step down on October 31. RBS - which is majority-owned by the UK government - announced McEwan's departure in April. He will be joining National Australia Bank when his notice period is finished. Rose - who will be the bank's first female boss - is currently deputy chief executive of Natwest Holdings, RBS's ring-fenced holding company. She will also be appointed as CEO on the boards of NatWest Holdings, The Royal Bank of Scotland, National Westminster Bank and Ulster Bank. Her selection as RBS group chief executive was widely expected.
Rolls-Royce Holdings warned fixing Trent 1000 jet engines will take longer than expected and, as a result, the reduction in the number of grounded aircraft to less than 10 will now be delayed until the second quarter of 2020. The FTSE 100 listed company said it has accelerated intermediate pressure turbine blade replacement for a limited number of Trent engines. This resulted in additional engine removals, leading to further delays. Rolls-Royce had to start a major Maintenance Repair & Overhaul programme due to faster-than-expected deterioration of the high-pressure turbine blade on the Trent 1000 TEN series of jet engines. The engines are used to power passenger aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Rolls-Royce separately said Non-Executive Director Ruth Cairnie will step down from the board at the end of the year to focus on other commitments following her recent appointment as chair of Babcock International Group.
Smiths Group reported a rise in full-year revenue helped by foreign exchange gains and the contribution of recent acquisitions. In the year ended July 31, revenue rose 7.3% year-on-year to GBP2.50 billion from GBP2.32 billion and pretax profit increased by 6.3% to GBP304.0 million from GBP286.0 million. Smiths said it made foreign exchange gains of GBP57.0 million, it reported GBP126.0 million of "adverse foreign exchange translation" last year. Smiths proposed a final dividend of 31.80 pence per share, taking its full-year payout to 45.90p, 3.0% higher than the 44.55p distributed in the year before.
Investec said first-half adjusted operating profit will be slightly behind the prior-year period due to challenging market conditions, persistent uncertainty relating to Brexit, and depreciation of the South African rand against sterling. The dual-listed company forecasts adjusted earnings per share for the six months to September 30 to be 4% to 7% lower year-on-year. Headline earnings per share for the first half are expected to be 15% to 18% behind the prior period. On a divisional basis, the company's banking and wealth management businesses are expected to report year-on-year falls in adjusted operating profit, while the asset management business is expected to report a rise in adjusted operating profit. Investec also expects first half revenue and costs to be slightly lower than a year before.
Thomas Cook confirmed that it has requested an extra GBP200 million during discussions with core lenders and its largest shareholder Fosun Tourism Group. Shares in the company tumbled by 19% Friday morning, giving the venerable but troubled holiday firm a market capitalisation of just GBP54 million, a fraction of the cash injections it has recently required. Thomas Cook said the "seasonal standby facility" of GBP200 million will be in addition to the previously announced GBP900 million cash injection from Chinese firm Fosun.
London shares were mixed with Rolls-Royce the worst blue-chip performer, down 3.0%. The pound hit its highest level since mid-July, buoyed by positive comments about the prospects of a Brexit deal from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Wall Street was called for a higher open, with major stock indices called up 0.2%.
FTSE 100: down 0.2% at 7,339.61
FTSE 250: up 0.6% at 20,204.44
AIM ALL-SHARE: up 0.1% at 886.51
GBP: up at USD1.2542 (USD1.2485)
EUR: flat at USD1.1052 (USD1.1050)
GOLD: firm at USD1,504.33 per ounce (USD1,501.30)
OIL (Brent): up at USD64.80 a barrel (USD64.51)
(changes since previous London equities close)
ECONOMICS AND GENERAL
Jean-Claude Juncker has insisted "we can have a deal" on Brexit before the Halloween deadline. But the European Commission president was unable to put the prospects at more than 50/50 when asked by Sky News. Juncker met Boris Johnson in Luxembourg for Brexit discussions on Monday, before the UK prime minister headed for an ill-fated meeting with his Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel. The EU chief insisted his meeting with the PM was "rather positive", adding: "We can have a deal." But when pressed by the broadcaster in the interview broadcast on Tuesday if the chances were more than 50/50, he replied: "I don't know." Juncker reassured that he has no "emotional relationship" with the Irish backstop, which aims to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland but has been a major sticking point to getting a deal through Parliament.
US President Donald Trump insisted he has not said anything inappropriate during calls with foreign leaders, as Democratic lawmakers seek the contents of a whistleblower complaint that is being withheld by the acting Director of National Intelligence. The complaint, which has roiled Washington, has to do with an alleged inappropriate "promise" Trump made during a phone call with a foreign leader, according to a Washington Post report, while the reported that the complaint covers multiple communications. In a series of tweets, Trump said he would never say anything "inappropriate" during a call with a foreign leader, which he knows many people from US intelligence agencies and the foreign country listen to. Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the US intelligence community, received the complaint on August 12 and determined it to be credible and of "urgent concern", according to a letter Atkinson sent to Adam Schiff, the head of the House Intelligence Committee.