What to Watch: Sorrell deals, HSBC sinks, LVMH and Tiffany talks

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
S4 Capital's Sir Martin Sorrell. Photo: Richard Bord/Getty Images for Cannes Lions

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Sorrell’s buying spree in London and Korea

Advertising giant Sir Martin Sorrell’s new firm has announced two new deals as he eyes expansion in Asia, buying London-based ConversionWorks and South Korean firm Datalicious Korea.

Mightyhive, part of Sorrell’s S4 Capital Group, said ConversionWorks was “Europe’s leading analytics agency,” while Datalicious Korea is an “analytics partner to the largest marketers in the world.”

ConversionWorks is reported to work with Boots, Diageo and Giffgaff.

Almost half of MightyHive’s offices are in Asia, where the company said some of the world’s biggest marketers like Samsung, LG and Hyundai are based and “need help with their digital transformation efforts.”

Sorrell’s new venture comes more than a year after he left WPP, the global advertising giant he founded more than three decades ago, over disputed claims of personal misconduct.

LVMH and Tiffany talks

The French owner of Louis Vuitton has confirmed talks are underway with US jeweller Tiffany & Co about a possible takeover.

The deal sent several European rivals trading higher, including Pandora, Burberry and Swatch.

The LVMH group (MC.PA) announced preliminary talks had been held about a “possible transaction” with Tiffany (TIF) as it looks to expand in the US market.

LVMH acknowledged recent “market rumours” in the announcement, in an apparent reference to reports of an £11.3bn ($14.5bn) preliminary non-binding offer earlier this month.

Paris-listed LVMH shares were trading 1.2% higher at around 8.30am in London, with the deal reported to be potentially its biggest acquisition to date.

HSBC profits slide as global tensions bite

HSBC (HSBA.L) shares plummeted as it missed its profit forecasts in the third quarter, with interim CEO Noel Quinn promising to “remodel” the bank in the face of “a challenging environment.”

HSBC on Monday reported pre-tax profits of $5.3bn, 6% lower than analysts had expected and down from $6.1bn in the second quarter. Net profit fell by 14% to $2.9bn, missing analysts’ forecasts too.

HBSC said the miss was due to “reduced client activity resulting from ongoing economic uncertainty.”

Its shares were down 3.8% at around 9.15am in London.

Banks and corporates have been suffering from the ongoing trade conflict between the US and China. Falling interest rates have also hurt bank profitability and HSBC is particularly exposed to ongoing protests in Hong Kong, although it said performance in the market held up well.

European markets mixed

Britain’s FTSE slid as HSBC’s results sparked a sell-off in UK banks, trading 0.3% lower.

Other European stocks were near-flat at the open, with the German DAX (^GDAXI) unchanged and French CAC 40 (^FCHI) and Euro Stoxx 50 (^STOXX50E) both down 0.2%.

Asian stocks all rose overnight as markets took heart from progress in US-China trade talks.

China’s Shanghai Composite index (000001.SS) was up 0.9%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index (^HSI) leapt 0.8%, and Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) rose 0.3%.

What to expect in the US

US stocks also looked set to rise on the open as trade optimism boosts stocks, with Dow Jones futures (YM=F) and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) both up 0.2% and S&P 500 futures (ES=F) 0.1% higher.