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Summary

  1. Get in touch: [email protected]
  2. Ghosn sacked from Nissan board
  3. Sports Direct confirms £150m proposal
  4. Sodexo buys The Good Care Group

Live Reporting

By Simon Read and Bill Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. More bad news for Germany

    German flag

    Copyright: Getty Images

    There’s been more bad news for Germany today as the Federal Statistics Office reported that exports and imports both
    fell more than expected in February.

    Seasonally-adjusted
    exports dropped by 1.3% on the month while imports were
    down 1.6%.

    That meant the trade surplus edged up to €18.7bn from a revised €18.6bn the previous month.

    The
    trade surplus was expected to narrow to €18bn.

  2. Debenhams shares soar

    Shares in Debenhams have soared by as much as 22% in early trading in London on Monday.

    They later lost some ground but are still up 11%, or 0.23p, at 2.27 pence.

  3. Activists withdraw Shell climate change demands

    Shell logo

    Copyright: Getty Images

    An activist group has withdrawn a shareholder resolution calling on Royal Dutch Shell to change its climate policy after the oil and gas company reached a broad agreement with investors on the issue, according to a Reuters report.

    The Dutch activist group Follow This tabled a resolution urging Shell to drastically reduce its spending on fossil fuel.

    But following talks with six of the 10 largest Dutch investors including Aegon and NN Investment Partners, Follow This decided to withdraw the resolution.

    “We have therefore decided to give Shell time to bring that climate ambition into line with the Paris Climate Agreement,” Follow This founder Mark van Baal said in a statement.

  4. Debehams shares ‘will soon cease to have any value’

    Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Landsown, has been looking at the latest moves in theongoing Sports Direct-Debenhamssaga.

    “Mike Ashley’s methods may be unorthodox, to say
    the least, but the Debenhams board needs to make sure it gives Sports Direct’s
    offer proper consideration,” he said, adding:

    Quote Message: If the protagonists in this drama could find a way to preserve some value for shareholders, while keeping the commercial wheels turning, that would probably satisfy all parties. The difficulty is that as part of its recent refinancing, Debenhams has already agreed to terms which means lenders approach any negotiations from a position of strength. It seems most likely therefore, that Debenhams shares will soon cease to have any value, as lenders take full control of the retailer.

    If the protagonists in this drama could find a way to preserve some value for shareholders, while keeping the commercial wheels turning, that would probably satisfy all parties. The difficulty is that as part of its recent refinancing, Debenhams has already agreed to terms which means lenders approach any negotiations from a position of strength. It seems most likely therefore, that Debenhams shares will soon cease to have any value, as lenders take full control of the retailer.

  5. BreakingFTSE flat on opening

    The FTSE 100 has started the week relatively flat, inching up 0.6, or 0.0081%, to 7,446.89.

    The FTSE has similarly edged up 2.71, or 0.014%, to 19,540.75.

  6. Oil prices climb to 2019 high

    Oil price graph

    Copyright: BBC

    Oil prices have climbed to their highest level since November last year.

    Brent Futures topped $70 a barrel this morning.

    The price has been driven upwards by OPEC’s ongoing supply cuts, US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, and strong US jobs data.

    “Brent prices increased more than 30% year-to-date as OPEC continued to cut supply for four months in a row and optimism over US-China trade talks helped to buoy the demand outlook,” US bank J.P.Morgan said in a note.

  7. Asian stocks mixed

    Asian share prices board

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Asian stocks were mixed today.

    In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.2% while the Shanghai Composite was down 0.4%.

    Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.2%.

  8. Debenhams ‘not viable in present form’

    NN Investment Partners

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Debenhams store

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Julie Palmer, a business recovery expert at Begbies Traynor, has been examining the current state of play at Debenhams, and whether Mike Ashley is going to save the firm.

    She says that if the Sports Direct tycoon is going to make a move he should take action now.

    If he does not that she says the creditors will put Debenhams into a pre-packed administration, whereby its lenders will take control of the firm and existing shareholders will be wiped out.

    She says that with its £720m of debt, Debenhams “is not viable in its present form” and has been hit by a storm of rising business rates, minimum wage legislation and the move towards online shopping.

  9. Sports Direct still considering conventional takeover

    Mike Ashley

    Copyright: BBC

    Sports Direct also said it is still considering a potential conventional takeover of the High Street firm.

    It said it “continues to give active consideration to its pre-conditional possible offer for Debenhams at 5p in cash per ordinary share announced on 25 March 2019”.

    That offer values the business at £61m.

    Sports Direct has until 5pm on 22 April 2019 to announce either a firm intention to make an offer for Debenhams or walk away.

    It added: “As a technical matter, were it to complete, the equity issuance would be an alternative transaction to the Possible Offer and vice versa.”

  10. Sports Direct confirms £150m Debenhams shareholder proposal

    Debenhams store

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Sports Direct has followed up itsletter late last nightcalling for Debenhams executives to take a lie detector test with an official statement this morning.

    It said the statement is in response to press speculation in relation to its proposal to underwrite a £150m equity issuance by Debenhams

    The equity issuance is subject to a number of conditions, the statement said.

    Key conditions include the appointment of Mike Ashley as Debenhams’ CEO and Debenhams’ lenders agreeing to write-off £148m of debt.

  11. Sodexo buys The Good Care Group

    Elderly lady

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Private contractor Sodexo says it has bought The Good Care Group, which provides tailored live-in care
    services to people in their homes.

    Founded in 2009, the firm offers care for those individuals living with dementia or other specialist
    conditions.

  12. Debenhams and Ashley battle ‘getting ugly’

    chief executive

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Debenhams store

    Copyright: PA

    Retail tycoon Mike Ashley, who has tabled a rescue bid for store chain Debenhams, has accused its executives of “a sustained programme of falsehoods and denials”.

    Mr Ashley has offered to inject £150m into the beleaguered department store, as long as he is appointed chief executive.

    “It is crunch time and it is getting ugly,” Mouhammed Choukeir, chief investment officer at Kleinwort Hambros, tells Radio Four’s Today programme.

    “If the deal does not go through, the creditors could come in and demand Debenhams shuts stores and cuts the workforce.”

  13. KPMG to overhaul its British business

    KPMG sign

    Copyright: Getty Images

    KPMG is planning to overhaul its British business to create an independent audit firm, according to The Times newspaper.

    The move will be made regardless of any decision by the competition regulator to force a break-up of the Big Four accounting firms, the paper said.

    KPMG’s audit practice has 200 partners and about 5,000 staff, who could move to a standalone entity or to a subsidiary of KPMG if the plans go ahead, according to the report..

    Last week MPs called forthe UK’s Big Four accountancy to be separated into audit and non-audit businesses.

  14. Ghosn facing ‘serious charges’

    Follow

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Carlos Ghosn

    Copyright: Getty Images

    As reported, Carlos Ghosn has been removed from the board on Nissan following his second arrest in Japan.

    Stephen Givens, from the law faculty at Sophia University in Tokyo, has been telling Radio Four’s Today programme about the legal challenges Mr Ghosn faces.

    “This new set of charges is much more serious than the first ones – I thought the first two charges against him were fairly thin soup,” he says.

    “For the first time we now have allegations… that he had his hand in the company till and enriched himself and his family with Nissan money.”

    Mr Ghosn denies all the allegations against him.

  15. Websites to be fined over ‘online harms’

    Apps

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Internet sites could be fined or blocked if they fail to tackle “online harms” such as terrorist propaganda and child abuse, under government plans.

    The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has proposed an independent watchdog and a code of practice that tech companies would have to follow.

    Senior managers would be held liable for breaches, with a possible levy on the industry to fund the regulator.

    But one think tank called the plans a “historic attack” on freedom of speech.

    Read more here

  16. Bank of Japan warns on ‘exports and output’

    Shipping containers

    Copyright: Getty Images

    The Bank of Japan has cut
    its assessment on three of the country’s nine regions in a
    quarterly report.

    It warned of slowing overseas demand that is
    weighing on exports and output.

    It raised its assessment for one region, while it maintained
    its view for five regions.

    “While the overseas economic slowdown is affecting exports
    and output, corporate profits remain solid and capital
    expenditure continues to increase as a trend,” the BOJ said in
    the report issued after a meeting of the central bank’s branch
    managers.

  17. Senard replaces Ghosn

    Jean-Dominique Senard

    Copyright: AFP

    Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has replaced Carlos Ghosn on the board of Nissan.

    Renault owns 43% of the Japanese car maker.

    Mr Senard, introduced to shareholders at this morning’s extraordinary meeting, promised to do his best to keep the company’s performance on track.

    “I will dedicate my energy to enhance the future of Nissan,” said Mr Senard.

  18. Ghosn sacked from Nissan board

    Carlos Ghosn

    Copyright: AFP

    Shareholders of Nissan have this morning voted to remove Carlos Ghosn from its board after hissecond arrest last week.

    An extraordinary shareholders’ meeting at a Tokyo hotel attended by more than 4,000 led to several hours of questions answered by chief executive officer Hiroto Saikawa.

    Shareholders voted to remove Ghosn, as well as Greg Kelly, a US executive who served as Ghosn’s deputy and who also faces charges.

    They also approved a motion to replace Ghosn with Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard.

  19. Good morning

    Welcome to today’s Business Live page. We’ll be with you until around 9.30pm.

    It should be an interesting week with, as it stands, the UK leaving the EU with no deal on Friday. There should be plenty of fresh drama on Brexit ahead.

    Today we’ll be looking for reaction to that astonishing statement thatSports Direct issued last night.

    We’ll also be reporting from an extraordinary
    shareholders meeting

    at Nissan today where former Chairman Carlos Ghosn and his onetime deputy Greg Kelly have been voted from
    the board of directors.

    Please do get in touch with your comments at [email protected]