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Siona Jenkins

Siona Jenkins

Former Cairene; FT Middle east news editor. Views my own.

Articles by Siona Jenkins

Opening Quote: ECB seeks stronger oversight of euro clearing

2 days ago

ECB seeks stronger oversight of euro clearing. FT Opening Quote is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. The European Central Bank has recommended changing its statute so that it can take on stronger oversight of euro clearing – a key battleground in Brexit negotiations with the UK, where much of this business is currently conducted.“The amendments will allow the Eurosystem to monitor and address risks associated with central clearing activities that could affect the conduct of monetary policy, the operation of payment systems and the stability of the euro,” the central bank said in a statement on Friday.Brexit has re-opened the rift between the ECB and London over clearing after the European Court of Justice ruled in 2015 that activity could remain

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Opening Quote: Go-Ahead – slow going

3 days ago

Go-Ahead – slow going. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Go-Ahead, as the main owner of the strike-plagued and serial train-cancelling Southern Rail franchise, may not win many accolades from passengers. Apart from, perhaps, Least Appropriately Named Company Ever. Aka The Anti Ronseal. Or The Company That Gives Badly Named Companies A Bad Name. Or (my particular favourite) The Company That Inspired The Lex Headline ‘Go-Ahead: Make My Day’.But while those Southern passengers going nowhere fast might think this fully deserved, it is a little unfair. Go-Ahead did warn in February that annual profits could be hit by £15m because of losses at Govia Thameslink (GTR) – the joint venture franchise

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Opening Quote: Berkeley defies the London opinion polls

4 days ago

Berkeley defies the London opinion polls. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Berkeley Group, the London focused housebuilder, appears to be the beneficiary of the latest electoral phenomenon: the “Shy First-Time Buyer”. If the general election of 2015 was all about “Shy Tories” – voters too embarrassed to tell pollsters they loved George Osborne – then this month’s vote was all about “Shy FTBs”: Labour voters who secretly loved Mr Osborne’s Help To Buy scheme. According to mortgage lenders, the average age of a first time buyer in London is now 34. But YouGov found that 55 per cent of all 30-39 year olds voted Labour – and an Ipsos Mori poll for the Evening Standard revealed that London’s

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Opening Quote: Barclays faces first criminal charges from financial crisis

5 days ago

Barclays faces first criminal charges from financial crisis. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Almost nine years after Barclays first raised billions from Qatari investors to help avoid a government bailout during the financial crisis, and after two missed deadlines for a deciding whether criminal charges should stem from the deal, the Serious Fraud Office has taken action: the bank, its former chief executive and three of its other ex-senior executives have been charged with fraud.The SFO charged Barclays with three counts of conspiracy to defraud and false representation over its arrangements with the Gulf state.Also charged were John Varley, Barclays’ former chief executive, Roger

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Opening Quote: Sainsbury’s convenient truth

6 days ago

Sainsbury’s convenient truth. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. For customers of the Yorkshire grocers who formed the Northern Independent Supermarkets Association, the familiar refrain of “Ger-ger-Granville, fer-fetch a cloth!” may soon be replaced by “Unexpected item in bagging area.” Weekend press reports suggest that Nisa – whose founders sound the like the model for Ronnie Barker’s shopkeeper in sitcom Open All Hours – could be bought by J Sainsbury for £130m. With Tesco acquiring Booker’s Londis and Budgens outlets, it seems its rival needs the 1970s convenience chain once run from a hotel meeting room near Doncaster.Nisa recently hired investment bank Lazard to advise it, after

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Opening Quote: Sales growth picks up at Tesco

9 days ago

Sales growth picks up at Tesco. FT Opening Quote is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Every little helps. Tesco‘s advertising slogan proved useful today as the company said that higher inflation helped sales growth pick up at the start of the year, but added that its efforts to limit the impact of cost increases in “tough market conditions” were helping it maintain momentum in its efforts to win back customers.Tesco reported its first UK like-for-like sales growth for seven years in 2016, and it continued that trend in the first quarter of this year, with growth increasing to 2.3 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.Rising prices have helped sales grow across the UK grocery sector in recent months, with Kantar Worldpanel’s most recent

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Opening Quote: WS Atkins shows bidder what it stands to win

10 days ago

WS Atkins shows bidder what it stands to win. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. WS Atkins’ would-be owner, its recent activist investor and its longer-standing shareholders now have a chance to decide if £2.1bn looks a fair price for the construction design business. In April, Canadian engineering group SNC-Lavalin offered this sum in an agreed deal for the FTSE 250 company – a 35 per cent premium to its then market value. A day after the terms of the deal were announced, US activist investor Elliott Capital Advisors bought a 6.8 per cent stake in Atkins, suggesting it suspected higher bids may emerge – US rival CH2M Hill had expressed interest earlier this year.But last month, SNC-Lavalin

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Opening Quote: WH Smith thankful for trashy airport novels

11 days ago

WH Smith thankful for trashy airport novels. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. WH Smith’s airport shops are about to be trashed. This is not advance warning of a stampede of FT readers seeking the Weekend foodie special (dine out for less than £300). Nor a prediction of what can happen if you charge holidaymakers a bit much for headphones (£19.99 for some basic plastic versions). No, it is the chief executive’s own description of the scene after thousands of budget airline passengers grab the inflight extras their tickets exclude. And it is both a sight for sore eyes and music to his ears. Because, with the retailer’s high street stores in managed decline, WHSmith’s higher margin travel

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Opening Quote: Crest Nicholson warns of uncertainty in the House

12 days ago

Crest Nicholson warns of uncertainty in the House. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. When Britain voted for Brexit, shares in the listed housebuilders fell 35 per cent in two days amid fears for the UK economy.So, now that the country has voted for goodness only knows what in an inconclusive general election, it’s surprising that shares have been so strong and sta… well, you know what I mean.Crest Nicholson shares are down less than 5 per cent since the electorate denied Theresa May a mandate for her hardest of Brexits. Still, analysts at Peel Hunt suggested looking for “consumer patterns” in what Crest says about recent trading in this morning’s half-year results. They wanted to know

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Opening Quote: Mitie to clean up its act after accounting woes

13 days ago

Mitie to clean up its act after accounting woes. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Let’s hope all the shiny new hospitals and schools about to be built in Northern Ireland need their toilets cleaning. Because while some may hold their nose at Theresa May’s willingness to buy the votes of Ulster’s DUP, it’s the only decision likely to generate government work for outsourcer Mitie. After last week’s general election, and the resulting hung parliament, analysts warn that other contract awards will remain on hold. On Friday, RBC analysts said:The uncertainty and potential lack of decision-making is a clear negative for the outsourcers: Capita, Carillion, Mitie, Serco.If government ever returns

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Opening Quote: Britain wakes up to a hung parliament

16 days ago

Britain wakes up to a hung parliament. FT Opening Quote is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.Britain has woken up to a hung parliament. With only eight seats left to declare, the Conservatives are 13 seats short of a majority. The shock result has caused sterling to fall sharply and left Theresa May’s future as leader of the Conservative Party in doubt.But TV news channels are reporting that Mrs May has “no intention” of standing down in the wake of her party’s drab electoral performance. She’s due to speak at 10am.Apparently spooked by the extra in-fighting ahead, the pound is at new lows for the day, now at $1.2650, down by a cool 2.3 per cent.Senior British business figures have expressed their shock at the result. Speaking to the BBC this

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Opening Quote: CMC’s turnout is up, but investors vote with their feet

17 days ago

CMC’s turnout is up, but investors vote with their feet. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. As Britain heads to the polls, CMC Markets is offering punters the chance to “trade the election with contracts for difference” – mainly by betting on the pound. Latest tip: “Sterling sanguine as the finishing line comes into view”. But CMC points out that you can take a view at any point in today’s proceedings: “after official polls close and exit polls come out, overnight as the official results start to come in, as well as in the early morning hours when the final results are out”.Equity traders have not been willing to wait for CMC’s own results, though – they voted with their feet some time ago.

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Opening Quote: Workspace toasts bubbly London office market

18 days ago

Workspace toasts bubbly London office market. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. London’s flexible office providers might have thought they had survived the Brexit backlash last summer – but they remain exposed to a major European risks.Last summer, Workspace, the FTSE 250 group, said small and medium-sized businesses were still renting new offices in spite of uncertainty created by the EU referendum. It found that rents were growing and the pace of letting had been “very strong” even after the vote to leave the EU.However, in their bid to win new business in a competitive market place – property giant British Land is launching its own flexible office brand this month – they are relying on

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Opening Quote: AO World finds delivering a profit too challenging

19 days ago

AO World finds delivering a profit too challenging. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. “AO… Let’s go!” To anyone under the age 40, this will probably be familiar as the advertising jingle for online washing machine seller AO World. To discerning older listeners, however, it will more probably represent the most bizarre appropriation of a song by 1970s US punk pioneers The Ramones imaginable. But, either way, it has come at cost – and not just to music purists: getting going in Europe recently necessitated a £50m share issue by the UK company and a warning that there would be no profits in the year to March“AO… Let go!” To 40-something company founder John Roberts, this was the company’s

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FT Opening Quote: Tech groups defend terror policies as City returns to work

20 days ago

Tech groups defend terror policies as City returns to work. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. As City workers resumed their Monday morning commute to London Bridge station after Saturday’s terrorist attack (note to US news media: neither “reeling” nor concerned about an incident at the Vauxhall car plant in Luton, as you reported), attention turned to the role of internet companies in providing “safe spaces” for jihadi plotters.Following a vow by prime minister Theresa May to make tech groups crackdown on extremist content, Google, Twitter and Facebook have all rushed to defend their online usage policies.Google said:We are already working with industry colleagues on an international forum

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Opening Quote: Sales slide at Restaurant Group

May 26, 2017

Sales slide at Restaurant Group. FT Opening Quote is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Restaurant Group, the troubled FTSE 250 company behind chains such as Garfunkel’s and Frankie & Benny’s, said it is making progress with turnround efforts but sales continued to slide at the start of this year.In a trading update ahead of its annual general meeting today, the company said total in the 20 weeks to May 21 fell by 1.5 per cent, with like for like sales down 1.8 per cent.Restaurant Group said its concessions business – which runs restaurants in airports and railway stations – had performed well, as had its pubs business. However, its core “leisure” business continued to struggle, despite benefiting from increased footfall in leisure parks thanks

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Opening Quote: Halfords pedals harder into currency headwind

May 25, 2017

Halfords pedals harder into currency headwind. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. When Halfords’ outgoing boss starts her new job at Marks and Spencer, she may need to think twice about wardrobe choices. Were she to attempt to cycle in on one of Halford’s £2,000 Forme ATT Carbon Time Trial Bikes, but wearing a £89 M&S pleated maxi dress, the risk of polyester in the pedals would surely be too great. However, her challenge at both retailers is pretty much the same: commanding premium prices for goods once deemed little more than pedestrian.And at Halfords, Ms McDonald’s strategy of ‘Moving Up a Gear’, while keeping hemlines well clear, has been been paying off.“Premiumisation” has helped

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Opening Quote: M&S, Kingfisher, Dixons Carphone

May 24, 2017

M&S, Kingfisher, Dixons Carphone. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Marks and Spencer has seen the future – and it involves running its clothing business more like cyclist outfitter Halfords and its boardroom more like that of thrifty pocket tapper Asda. Or so the hiring of Jill McDonald and new chairman Archie Norman would suggest.This morning, though, M&S let investors see the recent past. And if the future’s bright, the past is not so much orange as hot-pants gold: affected by the legacy of an unfortunate clothing strategy, that saw the retailer market said pants to its matronly customers.Clothing revenue was down 2.8 per cent due to a planned reduction in promotions and clearance sales

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Opening Quote: Severn Trent’s watertight performance

May 23, 2017

Severn Trent’s watertight performance. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Severn Trent, the FTSE 100 water company, has delivered that rare outcome sought by utility regulators: an improvement in service and a slight rise in profit.In the year to March 31, it said its customers enjoyed the lowest combined average bills in Britain, of £341 a year, fewer service interruptions, leaks and floods and £680m of investment. But, at the same time, it delivered underlying pre-tax profit of £525m – up 4.3 per cent and slightly ahead of UBS estimates – on revenue up 3.7 per cent to £1.8bn.As a result, its “net customer outcome delivery incentive” – the financial reward, or penalty, handed out the

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Opening Quote: Stage set for Goodwin’s RBS testimony

May 22, 2017

Stage set for Goodwin’s RBS testimony. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Nearly nine years after Royal Bank of Scotland invited investors to take part in a £12bn rights issue – only to require a £45.5bn state bailout a few months later – its disgraced former chief executive Fred Goodwin will be in court to face the music. Or at least the questions from miffed shareholders’ barristers.Later today – barring any last-minute settlement – the opening arguments will be set out in a £700m High Court case brought by thousands of shareholders who allege they lost money in that 2008 rights issue. According to their claim, the prospectus for the fundraising contained misleading statements about the

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FT Opening Quote: Entertainment One offers more Peppa Pig

May 19, 2017

Entertainment One offers more Peppa Pig. FT Opening Quote is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. It’s Friday, so hard working readers may be looking forward to some weekend screen time. Those with small people, will be happy – or not – to learn that Entertainment One has embarked on a new set of episodes of its money-spinning children’s TV show, Peppa Pig for their watching pleasure.The company announced it will be producing 117 new episodes of Peppa Pig to air in the spring of 2019 in a bid to “secure a pipeline of Peppa Pig content over the following four years”. It will take the total number of the 5 minute episodes to 381.Peppa Pig accounts for one tenth of the UK listed group’s revenues, with annual sales of the character’s licensing products

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FT Opening Quote: Burberry’s Bailey checks out with better profit

May 18, 2017

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Burberry’s Bailey checks out with better profit. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Continue reading: FT Opening Quote: Burberry’s Bailey checks out with better profit

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FT Opening Quote: British Land dons hard hat amid “uncertainty”

May 17, 2017

British Land dons hard hat amid “uncertainty”. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. For British Land’s shareholders, and its chief executive, London’s new Crossrail transport link seems perfectly timed. In 2019, the new west-east underground railway will bring passengers at speed from Reading and Heathrow to Liverpool Street, delivering them right outside the Broadgate and Bishopsgate office developments that the property group is now renovating. And Chris Grigg, who currently takes the Central Line between his West End office and the City sites, should have a shorter journey time.In fact, the only person not so keen on the project idea is John Phizackerley, boss of broker TP-ICAP, whose

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FT Opening Quote: Vodafone redials its Indian impairment numbers

May 16, 2017

Vodafone redials its Indian impairment numbers. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Hailing from the country that gave India cricket, Victorian railway architecture and a penchant for bureaucracy, Vodafone might have expected a little goodwill on the subcontinent. Instead, India has given the British mobile phone operator a price war, a €3.7bn impairment charge and a €6.1bn loss for the full year.Thanks to the decision of India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, to make phone calls and data free on his new Jio network – at a cost of £16.2bn last year – Vodafone and other rivals have found themselves having to take a huge hit just to compete in the market. Vodafone’s impairment comes after it was

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FT Opening Quote: Lonmin’s people problem threatens banking covenants

May 15, 2017

Lonmin’s people problem threatens banking covenants. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Lonmin, the South Africa focused platinum miner, has found you really cannot please all of the people all of the time. Continuing protests around its Marikana mine north west of Johannesburg forced it to temporarily close two smaller shafts last week. Protesters are demanding that Lonmin provides 1,000 permanent jobs for unemployed youths, along with 500 training roles. But Lonmin had lost the equivalent of $3m in output since closing the shafts on May 3. And these protests are just the latest in a series of disputes for the miner, which last reported an annual profit in 2013 and has seen its share price

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FT Opening Quote: Profits take a hit at Entertainment One

May 12, 2017

Profits take a hit at Entertainment One. FT Opening Quote is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Efforts to strengthen Entertainment One’s film division will hit its full-year profits by almost £50m, the company announced today, after it renegotiated one of its main distribution agreements, writes FastFT.Entertainment One is best known for producing television programmes such as Peppa Pig, but has been working to reduce its reliance on the popular cartoon through investments in film production and distribution.Today the company said it has terminated one of its contracts and replaced it with a new distribution agreement. It said the new agreement will increase its underlying profitability and cash flow, but will require a one-time payment of $25m

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FT Opening Quote: BT’s own goals cost the boss dearly

May 11, 2017

BT’s own goals cost the boss dearly. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Two months ago, all Paris St Germain had to do to reach the quarter finals of the European Champions League was not concede three goals in the final 2 minutes of their match against Barcelona. Barcelona’s ensuing last-minute goal rush has since been described as one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time. But to a Parisian fan, it must have have felt like the most unlikely example of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.And shareholders in the UK broadcaster of that match – BT – will know that feeling all too well.A few years ago, BT was looking a bit like PSG after 88 minutes. It was dominating the

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FT Opening Quote: ITV hit by declining ad revenues

May 10, 2017

ITV hit by declining ad revenues. FT Opening Quote is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. ITV has warned investors to expect a tough first half of 2017 in the advertising market, as the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster reported a 9 per cent fall in net advertising revenue to £393m in the first three months of the year.Ahead of Wednesday’s annual meeting and in his last trading update before he stands down as chief executive next month, Adam Crozier said the “economic environment remains uncertain” but that the company’s guidance for the rest of the year remained unchanged.Overall revenues in the first quarter declined by 3 per cent compared to the same period last year to £731m despite the group’s production arm ITV Studios increasing revenues

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FT Opening Quote: William Hill gets result but awaits stewards’ enquiry

May 9, 2017

William Hill gets result but awaits stewards’ enquiry. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Philip Bowcock was only confirmed as William Hill’s new chief executive two months ago. But, already, he has shown himself to be more than poised when adopting the odd stance required for the position. This is not a craning of the neck to spot the winning post at Cheltenham. Instead, it is a contortion that enables bookies to view problem gambling from a lofty external vantage point, in the manner of a concerned bystander.A month ago, Mr Bowcock said: “The focus of the [government’s gambling] review should be on what will tackle the problem.” This is exactly the posture: suggesting it is the

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FT Opening Quote: Centrica bemoans climate – political and meteorological

May 8, 2017

Centrica bemoans climate – political and meteorological. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Poor Ian Conn. For the Centrica boss, there now appears little hope that energy companies will enjoy better treatment under the next UK government. Last month, Mr Conn complained that “there are some at the heart of the government who just don’t believe in free markets.”. This weekend, non-believers he bemoaned held a 19 percentage point lead in the polls, while the opposition’s would-be chancellor said there was much to be learned from Marx’s Das Kapital.Little wonder, then, that Centrica and others fear state intervention to cap customers’ energy bills. When it was mooted as a Tory manifesto

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