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Serbia deals Rio Tinto a hammer blow after pulling plug on £1.8bn lithium mine










Serbia has dealt Rio Tinto a hammer blow after pulling the plug on a £1.8bn lithium mine. 

Ministers bowed to pressure after protests from green groups and ordinary citizens, who claimed the mine would wreak environmental destruction. 

Serbia has withdrawn all licences for the Jadar project and vowed to ‘fight against’ any potential lawsuit from the Anglo-Australian miner about the cancellation. 

Shock: Rio's shares slid 2.2 per cent, or 123p, to 5457p as traders digested the news

Shock: Rio’s shares slid 2.2 per cent, or 123p, to 5457p as traders digested the news

Jadar was set to be one of the world’s largest lithium mines and bolster Rio boss Jakob Stausholm’s efforts to focus more on green metals. 

Rio told investors earlier this week that the opening of the Jadar mine would be delayed by at least a year to 2027 after struggling to get the licences needed to complete an environmental assessment. 

But the shock decision to scrap the project entirely was laid out by prime minister Ana Brnabic on Thursday, who said the company gave ‘insufficient information’ to the government and local community about the impact of the project. 

Rio’s shares slid 2.2 per cent, or 123p, to 5457p last night as traders digested the news. 

Rio first discovered lithium in Jadar in 2004. The site was expected to contain enough of the metal to produce one million electric car batteries. 

The company said it was ‘extremely concerned’ by the prime minister’s statement. 

Rio said it is ‘reviewing the legal basis of this decision and the implications for our activities and our people in Serbia’.

  • Ineos is facing a legal challenge against plans to build a giant plastics factory in Belgium. Environmental law firm Client Earth, acting for 13 organisations including Greenpeace and WWF, has launched an appeal against a decision by the city of Antwerp to allow the British chemicals giant to build a chemical plant that makes plastic from fracked US shale gas. 

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Major oil stocks sank as rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine threatened international crude supplies.

Brent crude dropped by over 1.1 per cent to just above $88 a barrel as the ongoing build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border drew condemnation from politicians in both the US and Europe. 

There are worries that a Russian invasion of Ukraine will result in sanctions from the US and other countries in retaliation, which could impact supplies of Russian oil and gas to the wider market. 

Concern: Brent crude dropped by over 1.1 per cent to just above $88 a barrel

Concern: Brent crude dropped by over 1.1 per cent to just above $88 a barrel

Such a move would come at a critical time for global oil supplies, which are currently tight as the economy emerges from the pandemic and fuel demand rises while production remains steady. 

It could also imperil projects run by UK oil majors Shell and BP, both of which have operations in Russia. Shell shares dropped 1.7 per cent, or 30.8p, to 1808.4p as crude prices dipped while BP was down 1.8 per cent, or 6.9p, at 382.25p. 

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets, noted that a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine would also cause ‘heavy losses’ for global stock markets. 

The oil stock declines helped push the FTSE 100 into negative territory for 2022 so far, ending the week on a sour note. The blue-chip index closed down 1.2 per cent, or 90.88 points, at 7494.13. 

The FTSE 250 was also on the back foot, tumbling almost 2 per cent, or 451.74 points, to 22263.24. 

Markets in Europe and Asia also saw heavy losses yesterday, with Germany’s Dax dropping 1.9 per cent, while Japan’s Nikkei index slumped 0.9 per cent. 

Market sentiment was weighed down by jitters on Wall Street as a sell-off of tech firms continued. It has been especially punishing for Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, which counts tech giants such as Tesla and Nvidia among its biggest holdings. Shares in the group were down 3.9 per cent, or 44.5p, to 1109.5p. 

It was followed by other US-focused funds, with Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust sliding 6.7 per cent, or 16.5p, to 230.5p while Allianz Technology Trust, which owns a large stake in Google parent Alphabet, tanked 5.5 per cent, or 16p, to 277p. 

Retailers also fell as sales tumbled by almost 4 per cent in December as Plan B restrictions and Omicron infections slammed the brakes on Christmas spending. 

High street giant Next slumped 1 per cent, or 72p, to 7486p while Dunelm dropped 2.9 per cent, or 39p, to 1292p, B&M fell 2 per cent, or 10.8p, to 543p and JD Sports slipped 1 per cent, or 1.95p, to 192.7p. 

The cautious market mood helped push up prices of some ‘defensive’ stocks, ones with slower share price growth but more reliable dividend payments. 

Lucky Strike cigarette maker BAT climbed 0.8 per cent, or 24.5p, to 3138p and rival Imperial Brands rose 0.4 per cent, or 6.5p, to 1731p. 

Promotional merchandise maker 4imprint edged up 1.7 per cent, or 45p, to 2675p after upping its profit forecasts. The FTSE 250 firm expects profits for 2021 to be ‘towards the upper end’ of expectations, while revenues for the period are due to rise 41 per cent year-on-year to £580m.

Mid-cap merchant bank Close Brothers flagged an expected 2.9 per cent rise in its loan book to £8.7billion for the six months to the end of January, boosted by new business in its asset and motor finance divisions. Assets under management also grew to £16.6billion from £15.6billion at the end of July last year. Shares sank 6.1 per cent, or 82p, to 1266p. 

Ladbrokes-owner Entain dropped 5.2 per cent, or 89p, to 1635p after receiving a mixed reception from two investment banks. 

Analysts at Morgan Stanley upped their target price on the stock to 2530p from 2430p previously, while Deutsche Bank cut theirs to 2354p from 2400p.

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Rolls-Royce fires starting gun on finding a replacement for chief executive Warren East as engineering giant rebuilds after Covid crisis

  • Chairman Anita Frew has begun drawing up a list of successors for Warren East 
  • East has led the most prestigious name in British engineering since 2015 
  • It is thought he could leave as soon as this year 










Rolls-Royce has fired the starting gun on finding a replacement for chief executive Warren East as the engineering giant rebuilds after the Covid crisis. 

Chairman Anita Frew has begun drawing up a list of successors for East, who has led the most prestigious name in British engineering since 2015. 

East has not announced plans to step down but it is thought he could leave as soon as this year. ‘Analysts believe he may leave the FTSE 100 group once it completes a three-pronged recovery strategy he has promised investors.’ 

Winding down: Boss Warren East has led the most prestigious name in British engineering since 2015

Winding down: Boss Warren East has led the most prestigious name in British engineering since 2015

Industry insiders said Rolls was taking a close look at the bosses of FTSE-listed defence companies as possible successors. The company is thought to be using recruitment group MWM Consulting to draw up the lists. 

Before the pandemic, the Derby-based engineer earned around half its turnover from servicing large plane engines. 

This meant a large chunk of its revenue depended on how many hours the planes flew and that when the pandemic grounded planes for months on end it lost a key source of revenue.

It plunged to dizzying losses, major credit agencies slashed its credit rating to junk status and it rapidly burned through cash. 

Defence now makes up around a third of the business and it is becoming less reliant on its work on big plane engines, or its ‘civil aerospace’ division. 

One source said that it was a ‘different business now’ and that a chief executive would need to reflect that. 

The company’s rules dictate that at least one of the chairman and chief executive must be a British national. 

Search: Anita Frew is looking for Warren East's successor

Search: Anita Frew is looking for Warren East’s successor

As Frew is a UK national, this means the new boss could be an international hire. 

Before East took over, he spent more than a decade leading Arm Holdings, the Cambridge-based technology group that is in the process of being sold to US chip group Nvidia.  

When he joined, he kicked off a restructuring to cut out layers of bloated middle management to trim down costs.

But when Covid hit, he was forced launch the third shakeup Rolls had seen in six years. To combat the crisis, Rolls kicked off a wide-ranging overhaul that included cutting 9,000 jobs from its 52,000-strong workforce, raising money and selling off parts of the business. 

It has raised £7.5billion since the pandemic began, including a £2billion share sale. 

East promised investors his strategy would stop the company burning through cash, which it achieved last year, to sell divisions of the group worth £2billion and slash its costs by £1.3billion. Rolls is on track to reach the disposals target this summer with the sale of Spanish aerospace unit ITP Aero to Bain Capital. 

In a recent trading update Rolls said it was likely to hit the £1.3billion cost savings goal by the end of this year. The company has also made huge progress with a long-running project to build mini nuclear power plants that it calls small modular reactors. 

The SMR project has been separated into a standalone company called Rolls-Royce SMR last year, in which Rolls has an 80 per cent holding. A Rolls spokesman said: ‘All large organisations regularly review the market to identify future talent and it is one of the board’s duties to ensure we have robust succession plans for senior roles. If there were any actual changes, we would of course make an announcement to the stock exchange.

Runners and riders in the race for top job 

Left-field option: Lynsey Valentine

Left-field option: Lynsey Valentine

A FTSE 100 defence chief, a nuclear strategist and the head of a James Bond-style tech company coulf be among the possible replacements for longtime Rolls-Royce boss Warren East. 

Top of Anita Frew’s list will be BAE Systems’ boss Charles Woodburn. He would be a coup for Rolls if it does indeed want to place more of an emphasis on its defence work.

But it will be mindful that Wood- burn received a pay rise last year to stop him moving to another unnamed British firm. 

Bosses may also be eyeing up Ultra Electronics head Simon Pryce and Meggitt’s lead Tony Wood. Both companies are in the process of being taken over by US bidders, Ultra in a £2.6bn from Advent International and Meggitt a £6.3billion swoop from rival Parker-Hannifin. Price and Wood could well be back in the jobs market this year if their deals go through so watch this space. 

Alternatively, Qinetiq chief Steve Wadey – who has led the hi-tech firm said to have been the inspiration for Q in James Bond since 2015 – could be in the mix. 

Or it could go for gruff Scotsman Archie Bethel, the former head of defence group Babcock International, though his reputation has been hit by write-downs at Bab- cock since he left. 

A left-field option could be Lynsey Valentine, strategy director at Cavendish Nuclear, if it wants to bolster its work in the nuclear sphere. 

Or Rolls might plump for an insider. Two prime candidates are Panos Kakoullis, the finance boss, and Tom Bell, defence head and chief executive of Rolls-Royce North America. 

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Shamed banker Antonio Horta-Osorio attended Euro 2020 final as well as Wimbledon when he breached Britain’s Covid rules last summer










Shamed banker Antonio Horta-Osorio attended the Euro 2020 final as well as Wimbledon when he breached Britain’s Covid rules last summer. 

The former boss of Lloyds Bank had a weekend of sporting fun in July, when he should have been at home isolating due to travel restrictions. 

It emerged late last year that Horta-Osorio, 57, had attended the Wimbledon finals on the weekend of July 10 and 11. 

Shamed: Antonio Horta-Osorio (pictured with wife, Ana) became chairman of Credit Suisse last summer

Shamed: Antonio Horta-Osorio (pictured with wife, Ana) became chairman of Credit Suisse last summer

But that same Sunday, it has been revealed, he also went to Wembley to watch Italy beat England in the final of the Euros, sources told the Financial Times. 

During both events Horta-Osorio, 57, should have been isolating, having jetted in to the country on a private plane. 

Horta-Osorio became chairman of Credit Suisse last summer. 

But he was forced to step down last weekend after the bank found out about his Wimbledon misdemeanour – plus another breach of Switzerland’s restrictions which occurred when he travelled to a wedding on the Iberian Peninsula at the start of December. 

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Arm co-founder believes it would be better off as independent company listed on London stock market instead of being taken over by a US rival










Arm’s co-founder believes it would be better off as an independent company listed on the London stock market instead of being taken over by a US rival in a £31billion deal, 

Hermann Hauser, who spun off the Cambridge-based chip designer from Acorn Computers in 1990, told the Mail that Arm could list as a standalone company with some of its largest customers taking stakes. 

His intervention came amid mounting opposition to the takeover by Nvidia. 

Belief: Arm had been a member of the FTSE 100 for 18 years before being bought by Softbank

Belief: Arm had been a member of the FTSE 100 for 18 years before being bought by Softbank

Arm is owned by Softbank of Japan, which bought the business in 2016 for £24billion. The proposed sale to Nvidia is being scrutinised by regulators around the world. 

Arm and Nvidia bosses were this month forced to defend the blockbuster chip deal. They argued a share float was not a viable option. In a document submitted to the Competition and Markets Authority, they accused opponents of ‘romanticising Arm’s past’. They added that Arm was not in a fit state to be refloated on the stock market via an initial public offering (IPO). 

Arm chief executive Simon Segars said: ‘We contemplated an IPO but determined that the pressure to deliver short-term revenue growth and profitability would suffocate our ability to invest, expand, move fast and innovate.’ 

Hauser, 73, dismissed the comments. He said no one is romanticising Arm’s past, pointing out that the company had been a member of the FTSE 100 for 18 years before being bought by Softbank. 

The entrepreneur and tech venture capitalist said: ‘The idea that Arm is underperforming is just not true. Look at its inroads into the data centre market in recent years.’ 

Austrian-born Hauser believes there is now a 50 per cent chance that the deal with Nvidia will collapse after the Government ordered a full blown investigation on competition and national security grounds. 

The Government is set to make a decision in May, while regulators in China, the US and EU are also scrutinising the deal. 

Hauser, one of the best known figures in the Cambridge technology community, said Softbank ‘must be looking at other options’ – and one option is for Arm to come back to London. Customer Qualcomm said in June last year it would be willing to buy a stake in Arm alongside other industry investors if Softbank listed the company on the stock market instead of selling it to Nvidia. Qualcomm chief executive Cristiano Amon said at the time: ‘If Arm has an independent future, I think you will find there is a lot of interest from a lot of the companies within the ecosystem to invest in Arm.’ 

Brokers believe customers including Apple and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company – better known as TSMC – would also join Qualcomm.

One broker said: ‘Finding customers to take a stake in Arm would not be difficult. Softbank could sell the majority and keep a minority stake itself. This solution protects Arm’s neutrality and gives Softbank an exit.’ 

Nvidia agreed to buy Cambridge-based Arm from Softbank in September 2020 and wanted to close the deal by March this year. That deadline will not be met.

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Boss of London Metal Exchange leaving less than a year after his drive to shut its famous trading floor failed










The boss of the London Metal Exchange (LME) is leaving less than a year after his drive to shut its famous trading floor failed. 

Matthew Chamberlain will step down from the City institution at the end of April to run an obscure crypto-currency startup. 

Komainu, which is headquartered in Jersey, stores crypto-currencies such as bitcoin for investors to keep them safe. It was founded in 2018 and raised £18.5m last year.

Vocal: The exchange runs one of the last 'open-outcry' marketplaces in Europe

Vocal: The exchange runs one of the last ‘open-outcry’ marketplaces in Europe

It will mark a drastic change for Chamberlain, who has headed the 145-year-old LME since 2017. 

The exchange runs one of the last ‘open-outcry’ marketplaces in Europe, where traders bark ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ orders to one another around a circular red leather sofa and setting global prices for industrial metals such as copper and aluminium. 

Chamberlain, who has worked in mergers and acquisitions at Citibank and UBS, said he believes digital currency technologies ‘will only deliver their true potential when robust infrastructure exists to make them easily and reliably available to all those who wish to participate in this unprecedented period of financial democratisation’.

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Frankie & Benny’s owner TRG raises profit forecast after sales outperform wider hospitality sector

  • TRG also owns the restaurant brands Wagamama, Chiquito’s and Garfunkel’s 
  • LFL sales at TRG’s pubs and leisure arms in December were lower than in 2019
  • Plan B curbs in England have severely damaged the hospitality sector’s trade










Frankie & Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group has upgraded its projected profits despite sales taking a blow from the Omicron variant in December.

The company’s trading update in November saw it hike its adjusted underlying earnings guidance for 2021 to between £73million and £79million, following a market-beating recovery in business as coronavirus restrictions loosened.

Citing continued outperformance during the last three months of the year and strong cost management, the group said it now expects to post profits towards the high end of this forecast.

Boost: Frankie & Benny's owner The Restaurant Group said it expects adjusted earnings for 2021 to be towards the high end of its £73million to £79million forecast

Boost: Frankie & Benny’s owner The Restaurant Group said it expects adjusted earnings for 2021 to be towards the high end of its £73million to £79million forecast

Like-for-like sales at its Wagamama outlets in October and November were up 11 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively, on pre-pandemic volumes before growth dwindled to just 1 per cent in December.

Sales at TRG’s pubs and leisure outlets fell by 2 per cent and 7 per cent in December respectively, whilst they plunged by more than a third at its concessions business, which tend to be located at UK airports.

But, according to the hospitality industry sales monitor Coffer Peach business tracker, UK restaurant revenues fell 4 per cent in December, whilst pub restaurant sales plunged by over a third and airport passenger numbers dived 47 per cent.

The UK Government’s introduction of ‘Plan B’ restrictions in England last month in response to rising Covid-19 infection rates discouraged more people from eating and drinking out.

Authorities in Scotland and Wales have imposed even harsher guidance on hospitality venues, with the latter mandating groups no larger than six in pubs and two-metre social distancing rules in public places.

As a consequence, already struggling hospitality businesses lost a considerable amount of sales during the critical Christmas and New Year trading periods and many were left on the brink of collapse.

Trade Like-for-like sales at TRG's Wagamama outlets in October and November were up by 11 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively, on pre-pandemic volumes

Trade Like-for-like sales at TRG’s Wagamama outlets in October and November were up by 11 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively, on pre-pandemic volumes

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announced on Wednesday an end to work-from-home guidance and the lifting of all Plan B rules by the end of next week, which should provide a much-needed lifeline to the industry.

Though TRG, which also owns the Chiquito and Garfunkel’s restaurant brands, has welcomed the move, it said consumer confidence may take longer to revive.

Yet, it remarked: ‘Despite the near-term uncertainties, the Board remains confident in the Group’s prospects given the strength of our brands, substantially reduced net debt and outperformance versus the market.’

Danni Hewson, a financial analyst at AJ Bell, said the company was ‘pretty heroic’ for expecting results at the high end of forecasts ‘given all the challenges currently facing it’.

She praised the group’s ability to keep a lid on costs and said the leisure division’s performance would be ‘particularly pleasing for investors’ considering the difficulties it has historically experienced’.

But she warned: ‘All areas of the business are continuing to outperform the wider market, and the company might well need to keep this up if it is going to continue to thrive against the backdrop of a cost of living crisis. This will put pressure on household budgets and likely reduce appetite for eating out.

‘More positively the lifting of restrictions and the opening up of travel again, which would boost its airport-based concessions, could provide the business with a tailwind.’

The Restaurant Group’s shares were up 1.25 per cent at 101.25p during the late Friday morning, meaning their value has climbed by about a quarter in the past month. 

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It was a tough week for Advance Energy, which slumped 86 per cent to 0.625p after it warned of potential problems at its Buffalo-10 well, offshore Timor-Leste.

The Buffalo-10 well intersected its primary target, the Elang reservoir, with early data indicating hydrocarbons are present but the project operator cautioned that ‘information to date indicates that the seismic processing techniques employed on this project have not resolved the underlying seismic velocities or imaging resolution issues that are present in this field.’

Sector peer Reabold Resources saw its shares leap 51 per cent after the investment company, which specialises in upstream oil and gas projects, announced the initial results of independent analysis of the West Newton Extended Well Test (EWT) programme in Ghana.

Best of the Best saw its shares slump 34% this week after it warned on profits

Best of the Best saw its shares slump 34% this week after it warned on profits

The study indicated the potential for initial production rates of 35.6million cubic feet of gas per day from a horizontally drilled well situated in the gas zone, based on the data from the West Newton A-2 well.

It also indicated potential initial production rates of 1,000 barrels of oil per day from a horizontally drilled well situated in the oil zone.

88 Energy Ltd was wanted after it said it is on track for a February spud at the Merlin-2 well on Alaska’s North Slope.

The announcement allayed fears raised by reports than a protest group, the Center for Biological Diversity, had communications with the Bureau of Land Management in relation to the permit to drill.

The shares, some of the most volatile in the small caps space, rose 42 per cent on the week.

Helium One Global headed 48 per cent higher this week after a multispectral satellite spectroscopy study identified multiple additional surface helium anomalies at the explorer’s Rukwa, Eyasi and Balangida project areas.

A production update from Bluerock Diamonds sent the company’s shares 31 per cent northwards.

The AIM-listed diamond producer, which owns and operates the Kareevlei Diamond Mine in the Kimberley region of South Africa, produced 6,866 carats in the final quarter of 2021, up 44 per cent year-on-year, and sold 6,980 carats, up 3 per cent.

Thanks to the value per carat soaring by 64 per cent, fourth-quarter revenues rose 68 per cent to $3million from $1.8million the year before.

Away from the resources sector, Brave Bison Group charged ahead following a strong trading update.

The digital media and social video broadcaster said full-year results will be ahead of current market forecasts.

The shares shot up 31 per cent after the company said revenues and viewing numbers across the company’s advertising network have been robust, while Brave Bison’s agency won several new customers during the final quarter of the year.

Diversified UK entertainment business The Brighton Pier Group provided some post-festive cheer with its trading update covering the 26 weeks to Boxing Day.

Trading in the period was described as ‘extremely robust’ and while there was some impact in December due to the lockdown restrictions, over New Year the bars recovered their momentum, trading 9 per cent up on 2019.

The shares galloped 18 per cent higher as management said the group is in a strong position to deliver a good result for the year, comfortably in line with market expectations.

Digital media and social video broadcaster Brave Bison said full-year results will be ahead of current market forecasts

Digital media and social video broadcaster Brave Bison said full-year results will be ahead of current market forecasts

ReNeuron Group shares halved after it released ‘inconclusive’ results from its hRPC phase IIa trial in people with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa.

The company said it would now focus on the commercial potential of its exosome technology and out-license its human retinal progenitor cells (hRPC) programme.

In general, it has been a good time of late to be a recruiter but not so for Gattaca, the company formerly known as Matchtech.

Its shares lost just over a third of their value after the recruitment firm, which concentrates on the engineering and technology sections, issued a profit warning on Tuesday.

The group said the recovery of its contract business had been slower than anticipated. The contract side of the business typically generates three-quarters of the group’s net fee income.

2020, when Best of the Best was one of the year’s best performers, seems a long time ago as the weekly online competitions firm saw its shares slump 34 per cent after it warned that cost of acquiring new players had risen sharply in November and December.

Costs of acquiring new players in those months were roughly 37 per cent above the preceding six-month average, although early indications are that costs are trending back towards the mean.

Another company disappointing with its trading update was Eve Sleep, which describes itself as a ‘sleep wellness brand’.

The mattress seller – sorry, sleep wellness brand – said in the Christmas trading period high levels of Covid infection placed additional strain on the delivery network resulting in ‘customer service challenges’, which presumably meant ‘sleep wellness products’ (mattresses) not arriving at customers’ houses in time for Christmas.

‘We believe these challenges will be short lived and reflect the current peak of absence due to illness across the delivery network, and hence foresee customer experience returning to our usual high levels over the next few months,’ the company said.

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Challenger property website OnTheMarket sees 2021 revenues beat expectations as demand keeps up

  • Revenues for full-year ending 31 January to be  ‘slightly ahead’ of expectations
  • The firm also expects to make a profit in the full-year, instead of just breakeven
  • But OnTheMarket shares are down 1.5% in morning trading










Challenger property website OnTheMarket has told investors that revenues for the full year will beat expectations thanks to strong demand from house seekers during its second half.

The estate-agent-owned website, which is looking to disrupt Rightmove’s dominance, also expects to make a profit in both the half and full-year, instead of just breakeven as it forecast in October.

It said revenues for the full year to the end of January will come in ‘slightly ahead of market expectations’, while adjusted operating profit will be ‘at least’ £2.5million for the full year.  

OnTheMarket hailed 'strong' performance and said it achieved 'a great deal' in 2021

OnTheMarket hailed ‘strong’ performance and said it achieved ‘a great deal’ in 2021

The profit improvement is down to continued cost-cutting and a switch to capitalising development spending rather than expensing it in the income statement. 

The group left its outlook for the current year unchanged and said it looked to the future ‘with confidence’.

Shares in the AIM-listed company pushed higher at the open, before losing those gains to trade down 1.5 per cent to 117.16p by 10:30am on Friday. 

OnTheMarket chief executive, Jason Tebb, said: ‘We are pleased to be reporting a strong performance and further operational progress in keeping with our objective of building a tech-enabled property business. 

‘We achieved a great deal in 2021, culminating in the launch of our new website and branding which have been well received by agents and serious property seekers.

‘There is a lot more to come and we look forward to delivering this in the year ahead.’

The company made a profit for the first time last year despite a shutdown in the property market at the start of lockdown, posting after-tax profits of £2.7million and revenues of £23million. 

OnTheMarket was set up seven years ago by a consortium of estate agents, including Knight Frank and Savills, to compete with the two dominant online property portal firms Zoopla and Rightmove.

A legal action was launched against the business two years later, claiming that its ‘one other portal rule,’ which prevented estate agents from using two competing websites simultaneously, was anti-competitive.

However, it won the case and raised £50million that December from listing on the London’s junior market towards expanding its technology, marketing, and sales operations.

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BUSINESS LIVE: Retail sales slump; FCA drops M&C Saatchi investigation; Shell blasts ‘body blow’ court ruling










British retail sales slumped in December after consumers did much of their Christmas shopping earlier than usual in November and many consumers stayed at home due to the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Sales volumes fell by 3.7 per cent from November, a far bigger hit than the 0.6 per cent decline forecast by economists and the biggest fall since January of last year when the country was under a coronavirus lockdown.

The Financial Conduct Authority has closed an investigation into advertising group M&C Saatchi, with no enforcement action to be taken.

M&C Saatchi, which earlier this month said it did not see much merit in a possible all-share takeover instigated by its biggest investor, software entrepreneur Vin Murria, has also upgraded its profit outlook.

Shell’s boss has lashed out at a landmark climate change ruling from a Dutch court that he said felt like a ‘body blow’.

Ben van Beurden said it was ‘deeply troubling’ that the oil giant was being singled out for the way the world uses energy.

>If you are using our app or a third-party site click here to read Business Live 

Compared with December 2020, sales volumes were down by 0.9%, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.

Compared with December 2020, sales volumes were down by 0.9%, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.

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