What to Watch: PPI breaches, Peppa Pig purchase, Eddie Stobart

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Santander and RBS are under fire over their PPI communications. Photo: Reuters

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

RBS and Santander told to fix PPI breaches

The Competition and Markets Authority on Friday said it told Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander to fix their PPI processes, after it determined both banks had failed in their customer communications.

RBS did not provide annual PPI reminders to around 11,000 customers for as much as six years, according to the watchdog.

Santander, for its part, sent reminders containing incorrect information to more than 3,400 of its mortgage PPI customers over a five-year period between 2012 and 2017.

The failures go against a 2011 order that required mortgage providers to send their customers annual reminders about how much they had being paying, the insurance cover they had, and their right to cancel the insurance.

The Financial Conduct Authority is currently making a final push to encourage people to seek compensation in the PPI scandal, which saw the small print of many policies mean that customers could never actually make a claim.

Peppa Pig owner snapped up in $4bn deal

Monopoly maker Hasbro (HAS) is acquiring Entertainment One (ETO.L), the owner of beloved children’s brand Peppa Pig, for around £3.3bn ($4bn).

Shares in Entertainment One surged by as much as 31% on Friday to an all-time record level, with analysts pointing to the potential synergies between the two companies.

Under the terms of the deal, which will see Hasbro become a major media player, Entertainment One shareholders will receive £5.60 per share, or around 26% more than Thursday’s closing price.

In addition to the wildly successful Peppa Pig franchise, which encompasses an animated TV series and a whole suite of toys, Entertainment One also owns PG Masks, an animated superhero TV show that airs on the Disney channel.

Eddie Stobart boss quits with immediate effect

Shares in Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL.L) have been suspended and its chief executive has stood down with immediate effect, according to the company.

The transport and logistics giant applied for its shares to be suspended as it carries out a review of its accounting, which is expected to reveal lower earnings for the first half of 2019.

Eddie Stobart said current chief executive Alex Laffey was standing down, with the company’s current head of contract logistics Sebastien Desreumaux to replace him.

The company said in a filing with the London Stock Exchange that the impact of the review on its earnings was “unclear,” but was “likely to be significant lower than anticipated” in its half-year trading update in July.

It also said the changes would lead to the board reviewing its current dividend policies.

Embattled Woodford's problems continue

Shares in under-fire money manager Neil Woodford’s listed fund crashed 10% on Friday after one of its key investment’s faced a £30m write-down.

Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT.L) announced on Friday morning that independent assessors had written down the value of its investment in Industrial Heat, a startup developing new energy sources including cold fusion.

Industrial Heat is one of Woodford’s biggest investments. It has attracted scepticism, with the Financial Times saying in June that Industrial Heat is based on “an idea on the fringes of modern physics.”

European stocks rise

European stocks climbed on Friday, with the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) up by 0.69%, Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) up 0.55%, and France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) jumping by 0.55%.

This followed a similarly strong trading session in Asia. The Nikkei 225 (^N225) was up 0.40%, and the SSE Composite (000001.SS) was up by 0.49%. The Hang Seng (^HSI) was up by 0.50%.

Sterling fell on Friday, but remained above $1.22, a level it reached on Thursday following optimism that the UK and EU could strike a Brexit deal before 31 October. It was down 0.34% against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) on Friday, to around $1.221, and down 0.23% against the euro (GBPEUR=X), to around €1.103.

What to expect in the US

Futures are pointing to a higher opening for US stocks.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) are up by 0.39% and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) are up by 0.36%. Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) are up by 0.54%.

Companies reporting later on Friday in the US include:

  • Foot Locker (FL)

  • Buckle (BKE)