Sunday newspaper round-up: HSBC, Easyjet, Sky

by | Mar 26, 2023

A group of investors in Hong Kong have jostled HSBC into a shareholder vote on its structure and strategy, including a possible spin-off of its Asian unit. The group was led by minority shareholder Ken Lui. Its argument was that the Asian unit was “effectively subsidising” the western business to the detriment of shareholders. It was not clear if Chinese insurer Ping An would back Lui’s latest move. For its part, the board told shareholders in a notice sent ahead of its AGM on 5 May that such a spin-off would “significantly dilute” its strategy, result in a material loss of value and lead to lower dividends, The Sunday Times first reported. – Guardian

Easyjet chief executive officer Garry Wilson says the airline’s holiday unit will become a £1bn business. His aim is to triple turnover at Easyjet holidays within the next few years. In 2022, the division, which lets clients book European hotels together with their flights, achieved £386m in sales. Wilson also said that customers were still making reservations for more expensive summer trips, notwithstanding the cost-of-living crisis. – The Financial Mail on Sunday

Sky is close to clinching a five-year deal with the ATP and WTA Tours to host live tennis starting from August. It comes amid disappointment on the part of the ATP with viewing figures on the Amazon Prime streaming platform. Now, ATP is said to be intent on reaching a larger audience through a mix of traditional broadcasting and streaming, via its deal with Sky. For its part, the broadcaster’s goal is to secure long-term deals with sports other than football and has launched channels focused on Formula 1, cricket and golf. – The Sunday Telegraph

Short-sellers have increasingly been setting their sights on Ocado after the online grocer posted £501m of red ink. Over 6% of the company’s shares were out on loan to short-sellers – the most in five years. The shares were also now at the top of the Financial Conduct Authority’s list of ‘most shorted’ stocks. Nine outfits were short the company’s shares with seven having raised their short positions since February. Among the short-sellers was Blackrock. Nevertheless, the current situation was far from that in 2016, when over 21% of its shares were on loan to hedge funds. – The Financial Mail on Sunday

Asda’s billionaire owners are moving quickly to close the £12bn merger with EG Group’s petrol stations in the UK. The aim is to reduce the latter’s debt pile, although the former’s level of net debt already stands at £4.7bn. EG Group will need to refinance £7bn of debt by 2025 in an environment in which interest rates have risen sharply. – The Sunday Times

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