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Tui is remaining optimistic that we will have a summer.

The travel company reported bookings for the 2021 summer season down 44 per cent from the pre Covid-19 season in 2019, with 2.8m customers currently booked to travel. It plans to operate 80 per cent of summer 2019 capacity.

For the three months to December Tui reported a loss of €720.9m on revenue down 87.8 per cent to €468.1m.

Tui estimated a cash burn of between €250m to €300m per month ahead of travel restrictions being lifted and reported €2.1bn of liquidity following a third bailout from the German state in December. Net debt of €7.2bn was up 42 per cent year on year.

Jefferies analysts estimated that Tui has around seven months of survival funds if no refunds are given, but added that working capital outflows from any cancellations “would severely limit liquidity endurance”.

Briefly

Ocado said it would invest £700m into new projects this year and warned to expect “significantly higher” legal costs amid a patent row with rival AutoStore. Full-year group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were £73m, up from £43m a year earlier but £10m below an average of analyst forecasts compiled by the company, partly due to heavy investment. Group sales rose by a third to £2.3bn.

Housebuilder Bellway said underlying demand remained robust ahead of next month’s tapering of Help to Buy and the end of the stamp duty holiday. The company delivered record volumes in its fiscal first half ending January with completions up 6.3 per cent to 5,656. Its average selling price rose by 5.8 per cent to around £303,200 as Bellway focused on private housing in advance of next month’s changes.

Numis said in a trading update that its strong performance in the second half ended September has been maintained in the first four months of its new financial year. Revenue is approximately 50 per cent ahead year-on-year with all areas of the business performing well, the investment bank said.

Software group Micro Focus reinstated its dividend after posting full-year revenue of $3bn, down 10 per cent year on year but slightly ahead of consensus forecasts. Adjusted ebitda was $1.17bn as declines in licence sales moderated in the second half.

Pensions provider James Hay said it had agreed to buy Nucleus, the financial planning and investment platform, for £144.6m. Its offer was pitched at 188p per Nucleus share, a 41.9 per cent premium to their closing price in December before the start of the offer period.

Chapel Down, the English winemaker, said it has given away its Curious Drinks beer and cider brands, along with a connected brewery and restaurant, to Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners. The company said it will first put Curious Drinks into administration, with the exit reducing group net debt from £7.2m to £100,000.

Job moves

Safety alarm maker Halma said it has appointed Dame Louise Makin as its next chair to replace Paul Walker, who will step down in July. Makin was chief executive officer of healthcare technology group BTG for 15 years before its sale to Boston Scientific in 2019.

Beyond the Square Mile 

Google and Facebook stepped up efforts to reach news licensing deals in Europe after an overhaul of EU copyright laws in 2019. But some MEPs say the regime remains too weak

EU lawmakers overseeing new digital regulation in Europe want to force Big Tech companies to pay for news, echoing a similar move in Australia and strengthening the hand of publishers against Google and Facebook. The initiative from members of the European parliament would be a serious blow to Google, which has threatened to leave Australia in protest at a planned new law that would compel it to pay for news.

The head of Temasek, one of the world’s largest institutional investors, is stepping down after more than a decade, as the Singapore state-backed investment company navigates the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Ho Ching, who is the wife of Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong and has headed Temasek since 2004, will retire from her roles as executive director and chief executive of Temasek Holdings on October 1.

Elon Musk’s Tesla gave bitcoin its most significant corporate endorsement yet as it revealed that it had ploughed $1.5bn of its reserves into the cryptocurrency, adding another boost to its dizzying rise. Bitcoin climbed more than 10 per cent to a record high of $44,100, extending its 50 per cent surge so far this year, as Tesla also announced plans to accept payments in the cryptocurrency for its electric cars, albeit “initially on a limited basis”.

Essential comment before you go

Boardrooms in the past were notorious for employing claret-swilling types who approached directorships as a lucrative form of semi-retirement © H. Armstrong Roberts/Getty

Lombard
A growing threat of litigation against individual managers has pushed up the cost of companies’ directors and officers liability insurance, or D & O. Nevertheless, political lobbying risks exaggerating a problem that ought to be fixed in time by market forces.

Sarah O’Connor
I used to be a techno-optimist. I thought a fresh wave of automation could liberate us from monotonous or arduous work. But now the robots have arrived, I realise I was wrong.

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