(Reuters) – Myer Holdings Ltd Australia MYR.AX said on Thursday its chairman, Garry Hounsell, would retire after failing to win support from the convenience store operator’s two largest shareholders, sending his stake more than 6% lower.
Hounsell has been on the board of Australian street retailers for three years, leading the upheaval caused by this year’s coronavirus pandemic and the company’s turnaround strategy after years of dismal earnings.
During that time, Myer’s management was under intense pressure from its major shareholder, Premier Investments veteran Solomon Lew PMV.AX.
“It has become clear that Myer’s two largest shareholders are not in favor of my re-election and I will not allow my ongoing tenure as chairman to interfere with the hard work of the executive team,” Hounsell said in a statement ahead of Myer’s annual event. shareholder meeting.
The company’s second-largest investor is Wilson Asset Management, with a 7.8% stake, according to Refinitiv data.
Premier Investments said it was looking at representation on Myer’s new board.
“Premier intends to continue in consultation with other major shareholders and together we will reconstruct the Myer Board with a majority of independent Directors led by an independent Chair,” Solomon Lew companies added in a statement.
Independent director JoAnne Stephenson will replace Hounsell as acting chairman until a permanent replacement can be found, Myer said.
Shares fell 6.3% in early trading, the biggest drop since September 10. A wider market .AXJO 1.6% lower.
Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Edited by Himani Sarkar, Stephen Coates and Gerry Doyle
LONDON (Reuters) – Less than half of the UK population trusts news organizations as their source of information on COVID-19, says the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
Confidence levels have fallen during the pandemic and some 8 million people in Britain are now at risk of being uninformed, uninformed or misinformed about the disease as the government grapples with a second wave, the Institute said in a report.
“The significant growth in the number of people who are prone to misinformation means the UK is less prepared for the coronavirus communications crisis during the second wave and the coming winter,” said director Rasmus Kleis Nielsen.
Trust in news organizations as sources about the pandemic fell to 45% in August from 57% in April. Daily use of COVID-19 news has dropped 24 percentage points over the same period, to 55% from 79%, the Institute report said.
While most people in Great Britain are well informed, a significant minority – some 20 million people – feel that neither the news media nor the government are explaining what people should do to respond to the virus.
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is a research center at the University of Oxford that tracks media trends. The Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Thomson Reuters, funds the Reuters Institute.
BERLIN (Reuters) – German business morale fell for the first time in six months in October, weighed down by corporate concerns about a rising coronavirus infection rate that made them more skeptical about the coming months, a survey showed on Monday.
The Ifo Institute said its business climate index fell to 92.7 from a downwardly revised 93.2 in September. A Reuters poll forecast a decline to 93.0.
“Companies are much more skeptical about developments over the coming months,” said President Ifo Clemens Fuest in a statement. “Given the increasing number of infections, German businesses are becoming increasingly worried.”
The German economy contracted 9.7% in the second quarter as household spending, corporate investment and trade collapsed at the height of the pandemic.
The easing of lockdown measures, coupled with an unprecedented array of rescue and stimulus packages, led to a strong recovery in the third quarter, but a spike in new coronavirus cases has caused concern activity to slow again.
“After a strong third quarter for the German economy, the outlook for the last quarter is not very bright for now,” said Uwe Burkert, economist at LBBW.
Germany’s leading economic research institute predicted earlier this month that the economy would recover more slowly from the coronavirus pandemic than originally thought.
The agency predicts the economy will shrink by around 5.4% in 2020, a decline that is bigger than the 4.2% they forecast in April.
The latest German data has been mixed.
Consumer morale fell towards November as concerns about a second wave of the coronavirus hitting the economy made Germany less willing to open their wallets, a survey showed last Thursday.
A separate survey on Friday showed private sector activity grew for the fourth consecutive month in October, but while the manufacturing sector expanded at a faster rate, service activity shrank, suggesting the economy was operating at two speeds.
Reporting by Paul Carrel; editing by Thomas Seythal
SYDNEY / BENGALURU (Reuters) – The Coca-Cola Co. KO.N European bottlers have approached a A $ 9.28 billion ($ 6.6 billion) purchase for their Australian counterpart Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd CCL.AX, a discount proposal supported by the target company due to the uncertainty related to the coronavirus.
The deal will be the biggest takeover involving Australia this year, but the target company price was below market valuation in February, before the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic began to rattle global markets and plunge the world into recession.
Support from Australia points to expectations of an economic recovery that could take years, a gloomy view compared to some local economists pointing to improvement in economic indicators. Coca-Cola Amatil’s profits have been hit hard by restaurant and pub closings since March.
The country’s second most populous state, Victoria, is only now starting to allow food retailers to open after a new wave of infections prompted a second closure.
“We are very confident about the recovery that business is doing (but) there is clearly uncertainty over the next few years with the economic situation, and only the risk of a further health outbreak could disrupt business,” said Coca-Cola Amatil Chief Executive Alison Watkins in an investor call on the day. Monday when asked about prices.
Coca-Cola Amatil shares rose as much as 15% to A $ 12.31 in morning trade, below its proposed offer price of A $ 12.75, indicating investors are expecting a deal may not materialize.
On February 20, the company’s shares closed at A $ 13.07 but a month later they are trading below A $ 8 amid a broad turnaround as the Australian lockdown progresses. Stocks continue to increase along with the broader market .AXJO as the state relaxed restrictions and the number of new cases decreased.
A spokesman for The Coca-Cola Co, which owns 31% of the Australian company and 19% of the London-registered Coca-Cola European Partners PLC CCEPC.L (CCEP), said in an email that the deal would be “in the best interests of the shareholders of both the company and the Coca-Cola system as a whole”.
The Australian firm said CCEP would conduct due diligence before making a binding offer. The deal also requires approval from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Agency, which was given more powers this year to block offshore deals deemed a security or supply chain risk.
CCEP in a statement said the deal would nearly double its consumer reach, “ultimately fostering sustainable and faster growth, through diversification and geographic scale.”
Reporting by Byron Kaye in Sydney and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Edited by Peter Cooney and Christopher Cushing
PARIS / MADRID (Reuters) – France extended a curfew for about two-thirds of its population on Thursday and Belgium’s foreign minister is being treated intensively with COVID-19, as the second wave of the pandemic surges across Europe.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a curfew imposed last week on Paris and eight other cities will be extended to 38 more departments, limiting 46 million of the country’s 67 million population to their homes from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“The second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is currently underway in France and Europe. The situation is very serious, “Castex said at a press conference.
Shortly after the measures were announced, French health authorities reported a record 41,622 new confirmed cases, bringing the cumulative total to 999,043.
According to a Reuters tally, Wednesday saw the highest total reported infections in a single day worldwide, at 422,835.
In Spain, which this week became the first European country to pass 1 million cases, Health Minister Salvador Illa said the epidemic was now “out of control” in many areas. Regional authorities debated the curfew but stopped short of taking a decision.
After Europe appears to have gained control of the epidemic following the dramatic lockdown in March and April, a surge in cases over the past few weeks has put the continent back at the heart of the crisis.
While hospitalizations and deaths have so far not weighed on health systems as they did during the wave earlier this year, authorities in many countries fear the situation is quickly reaching a tipping point.
Germany, which reported more than 10,000 cases daily for the first time, extended travel warnings for Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, large parts of Austria and Italy including Rome.
“We still have a chance to slow the spread of the virus further,” Lothar Wieler, of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s infectious diseases agency, said in Berlin.
More than 5.3 million people across Europe have contracted the disease and more than 204,000 have died, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. That compares with 8.3 million cases in the United States and 7.7 million in India.
Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes underwent intensive care on Thursday, just a day after German Health Minister Jens Spahn tested positive.
The resurgence in recent weeks has been in contrast to some countries in Asia, from China to South Korea or New Zealand, where violent lockdowns and rigorous contact tracing have helped contain the disease.
According to a Reuters tally, October 21 saw the highest total of COVID-19 cases reported in a single day at 422,835.
“WE ARE A LOT”
Grappling with the enormous costs of the coronavirus, European leaders are eager to avoid a repeat of the comprehensive lockdown that killed their economies in the spring.
As cases increase and health services are under increasing pressure, they are forced to impose and expand local restrictions aimed at reducing public gatherings to a wider area.
Italy’s three most populous regions – Lombardy around Milan, Lazio, around Rome, and Campania around Naples – have imposed curfews. Britain also tightened restrictions in three more regions on Thursday.
Amid growing public concern, Germany’s statistical office noted that sales of toilet paper rose nearly 90% last week from pre-crisis levels with an almost as sharp spike in disinfectant and soap sales.
Only Sweden, a European outlier that relies heavily on voluntary measures to promote social distancing, is an exception, stating that senior citizens no longer need to isolate themselves given the lower rates of COVID infection than in spring.
As the crisis intensifies, much of the public goodwill seen in the first phase of the lockdown has evaporated and the central government has engaged in heated arguments with local authorities from Manchester to Madrid over issues ranging from health and welfare to transportation and schools.
With winter approaching, health services are looking ahead with concern as the influx of COVID patients coincides with the usual seasonal respiratory disease.
“We’ve been flooded,” said Bruno Megarbane, head of intensive care at the Lariboisiere hospital in Paris. “So there is a fear that we will be faced with a very difficult situation.”
Reporting by Reuters bureau; Written by James Mackenzie