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Profits rise at Vimto


Nichols - maker of Vimto - says first half profits rose 2% to £13.3m.

The dividend is being increased by 9.7% to 12.4p.

Chairman John Nichols said: "Nichols plc has delivered another good trading performance in the first half of 2019, with growth across both the UK and international markets."

He added that while UK trading conditions are expected to "remain challenging," the board is confident that full year earnings will be in line with its expectations.

Hotel Chocolat revenue rises


Hotel Chocolat has issued a trading update for the 52 weeks ended 30 June 2019 when it says revenue rose 14% to £132m and it expects profits to be in line with expectations.

"Our pace of innovation is relentless. In our drinks and ices range we are seeing the most prolific new product Instagramming in our history, with billionaire's sundaes, choc shakes and vegan chocolate-dipped lollies generating lots of excitement," said Angus Thirlwell, chief executive of Hotel Chocolat.

The profits will be announced on 24 September.

Galliford Try 'performs well'

people moving into a house

Construction firm Galliford Try says it "continues to trade well and expects to report full year profit before tax in line with the current range of analysts' expectations".

It is issued a profits warning in April and later rejected a possible bid by Bovis for its Linden Homes operations.

Graham Prothero, chief executive, said: "The group has continued to perform well, supported by good housing demand. We expect our full year results and average net debt to be in line with previous guidance.

"We are making strong progress against the operational targets we set out in 2017. We are reviewing our 2021 volume targets to ensure that growth is controlled, and our gearing is managed.

"Despite the weaker economic outlook, Linden Homes continues to see robust demand, with operating efficiencies driving strong margins and improving customer satisfaction."

TalkTalk trading as planned

Getty Images

Tristia Harrison, chief executive of TalkTalk, says trading in the first half "is in line with our plan".

Revenue is up 1.3% to £387m and cost savings are on track.

Mr Kipling sales up 10%

shopping basket

Premier Foods, under pressure from an activist investor, has issued a trading update in which it says it is making Market share gains in seven out of eight top brands. Sales of Mr Kipling, the group's largest brand, are up 10%.

Alastair Murray, acting chief executive, says: I am pleased to report an encouraging start to the year with group sales up 1.1% and ahead 2.6% in the UK. As we previously noted, we are increasing our consumer marketing investment this year and both Mr Kipling and Batchelors have already benefitted from TV advertising campaigns in the first quarter".

'Tin eared' bank boss

Bill Winters

The Financial Times ran a piece on Tuesday in which Bill Winters, the chief executive of Standard Chartered, criticised shareholders after almost 40% of them voted against the bank's pay policy at its annual meeting in May.

The concern is about the pension contributions to Mr Winters.

“Picking on individual pension arrangements . . . and suggesting that there is some big issue there is immature and unhelpful,” Mr Winters told the Financial Times.

Now the FT is quoting shareholders hitting back.

Five top-20 shareholders in the bank told the Financial Times that they were unimpressed by Mr Winters’ decision to attack shareholders. One big asset manager described the chief executive as “tin eared”.

Another large shareholder said: “As an immature investor, I’m going to not make any rash comments, but look forward to the fallout coming.”

Calibra 'will become dominant force in cryptocurrency'

Dave Lee

North America technology reporter

One of the complex issues at hand here is the difference between Libra – the cryptocurrency platform, which is open source – and Calibra, Facebook’s specific service, known as a wallet, that it is building onto the Libra infrastructure.

David Marcus can honestly tell Senators that Libra is a democratic, open system over which Facebook does not have control.

But that’s not the full picture: Calibra very much is Facebook’s product, and by virtue of the fact it will be backed by the world’s biggest and most powerful social network, it will become the dominant force in global cryptocurrency.

As one Senator put it, “you’re not doing this for fun”. Expect more scrutiny on how Facebook will leverage its power to push Calibra to come soon.

All of the hearings this week are broadly focusing on whether the tech giants have too much power over competitors, freedom of speech and, maybe in future, the global banking system.

One warning put forth by Facebook’s Mr Marcus, and one we will likely hear repeated often in the other hearings, is that if these Silicon Valley giants aren’t allowed to innovate, others will.

By that, he of course means China, where tech companies are said to be eyeing their own cryptocurrency projects.

It may prove to be a good one – Facebook and its Silicon Valley peers may not be held in particularly high esteem by Washington right now, but it could be the lesser of two evils.