Neil gets his new car on Friday. He has decided to tick one of the main wishes on his bucket list and buy himself an Aston Martin
keyring. He has always wanted something substantial to slam down on the table in a pub to mark his arrival, and this seems to be the most hygenic and legal option. In the meantime his 1984 Fiat Punto gets updated to a 1997 Mondeo, with folding wing mirrors and a Recaro front seat. He will be unbearable for a while. Neil does have five shares in Aston Martin, which we once clubbed together and bought him for Christmas, and they may well be on the rise today following news that Daimler, the owner of Mercedes-Benz, will take a 20 per cent stake in Aston Martin Lagonda in return for providing £286 million worth of engine and hybrid electrification technology. In addition, £125 million is to be raised in cash from new shares issued to Lawrence Stroll’s controlling consortium and two new investors.
Shares in the company rose 4¼p, or almost 8 per cent, to 58¾p, doubling Neil's pension pot, but the company often called 'The Dwarves', given that it has famously gone bust seven times in its 107-year history, are not attracting global confidence, one observer reminding us that this is the third time Aston has raised equity this year and another commenting ruefully that the net effect of the recapitalisation is to take Aston’s cash balances from £300 million to £500 million, enabling it to buy two of its own cars.
Over the Channel both French and German stock markets fell by 4 per cent during trading today and the FTSE in London fell to its lowest level in six months, losing three per cent as traders decided to stop mythering over a possible Biden Presidency and M Barnier leaving his gonads on the table of the DBIS, and returning to the Coro ... blah, blah, blah. That great friend of Britain, President Macron, is to give a televised speech this evening in which he is widely expected to announce "un lockdown pour un mois à partir de cette semaine", whilst Angela Merkel took one look at the bars and restaurants of Germany and slid a silent hand across her throat. Those lambs at the London Stock Exchange took one look at all that and the FTSE 100 fell for a third session in a row, losing 85.23 points, or 1.5 per cent, to sit at 5,643.76, taking it back to where it was in the middle of April. Dear God, not back there again.
Mind you, the French are a bit chuffed (un peu étouffé) as Paris's Charles de Gaulle has overtaken Heathrow as Europe's busiest airport, with the London hub reporting a sky-high loss of £1.5 billion in the first nine months of 2020. Because an airport needs planes (and passengers). Truth is that Heathrow is no longer even the busiest airport in Great Britain; that accolade goes to Thruxton in Hamphire, from which three flights went out just this afternoon. Passenger numbers at Heathrow between July and September were down by more than 84 per cent compared with the same period in 2019 and the airport's third-quarter revenue fell by 72 per cent year on year to £239 million.
The retailer Next is doing its best to buck the gloomy trend, buttressed by its online sales, which were up 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of this year, offsetting a 17.9 per cent drop in retail. More than half the business it does is online and, as a consequence, overall sales were better than expected, up 2.8 per cent in the three months to 24 October, compared with the same period a year ago.
Better news for Rolls Royce, who we in the NTI newsroom won't need to mention now for a couple of months, as it has secured support to tap investors for £2 billion and guarantee a hefty war chest to ride out the tricky period between now and next Thursday. Rolls asked shareholders to back a heavily-discounted rights issue on the basis it would unlock £3 billion in additional debt options to navigate ... you know.
Neil is just polishing his key, practising by slamming it down on the photocopier and looking for the acclaim surely a Mondeo-owner deserves. Isn't it going home time yet?