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What to watch: Bicester Village-owner faces rent shortfall, Ted Baker appoints full-time CEO, and oil dives

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Shoppers at Bicester Village designer outlet centre, in Bicester, England. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Bicester Village-owner faces rent shortfall

Retail property company Hammerson (HMSO.L) is facing a huge shortfall in rent due to the coronavirus, the company said on Monday.

Hammerson, which owns locations like Bicester Village outlet mall and the Brent Cross shopping centre in London, said it had received just 37% of its second quarter rent in the UK so far.

Two key shopping centres in Leeds and Leicester have also been closed and Hammerson said its operations in France and Ireland are also facing disruption.

Hammerson withdrew its financial guidance for 2020 as a result and scrapped a proposed dividend. The company is also cutting costs and spending.

“The Board strongly believes that conserving liquidity is the right decision for the business, and in the long-term interests of shareholders and colleagues,” Hammerson said.

Shares crashed 13.8%.

Ted Baker appoints full-time CEO

Struggling fashion brand Ted Baker (TED.L) has confirmed Rachel Osborne as full-time chief executive.

Osborne joined Ted Baker first as chief financial officer in November 2019, before being quickly promoted to acting chief executive in December 2019. She had previously been chief financial officer at Domino’s Pizza and held senior roles a Vodafone and John Lewis.

“We have challenges to face into in the coming months, not least the significant uncertainty caused by COVID-19, but I am confident that we will succeed through the hard work of our colleagues and the strength of our brand,” Osborne said. 

"Over the last few months we have put together a clear plan to transform Ted Baker and ensure its long-term success."

Acting chair Sharon Baylay said: “Rachel has already made a significant contribution to Ted Baker, working tirelessly in recent months to develop a transformation plan for the business.”

Ted Baker has seen shares fall over 90% over the last two years after a series of problems at the business, including the exit of its founder over allegations of inappropriate behaviour and the discovery that stock had been overvalued.

Shares fell a further 11.5% on Monday.

Oil dives

Oil crashed to a 17-year-low on Monday, as the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia continued.

Crude oil (CL=F) was trading 4.7% lower at $20.48 per barrel. Brent (BZ=F) fell by 6.5% to $23.31, having touched an 17-year-low earlier in the session.

The slide in oil came as the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, which began at the start of the month, continued. The market has been flooded with supply just as demand is plunging due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Pictures of grounded aircraft fleets sitting parked on runways across the US point to a global economy that has ground to a virtual standstill with US crude at one point dropping below $20,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

“In some cases, producers in the US are paying to have oil taken off their hands, they can’t give it away.”

Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB.L) stock fell 2.3% in London, while rival BP (BP.L) shed 3%. That helped push the FTSE 100 down 1.7%.

Elsewhere, Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) fell 1.1%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) dropped 2.3%.

Overnight in Asia, China’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) fell by 0.9%, the Hang Seng (^HSI) dropped by 1.4% in Hong Kong, Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) fell by 1.5%, and the KOSPI Composite Index (^KOSPI) in South Korea closed flat. Australia’s ASX 200 (^AXJO) rose by 7%.

In the US, S&P 500 futures (ES=F) slipped by 0.4%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) fell by 0.6%, while Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were down by 0.2%.

EasyJet grounds entire fleet

One of Europe’s largest budget airlines, EasyJet (EZJ.L), has announced that it would be grounding its entire fleet of planes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The group confirmed in a statement on Monday 30 March that due to “the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments” in response to stopping the spread of COVID-19, it will also be putting its cabin crew on a two-month leave of absence.

EasyJet also reiterated that it had worked with union Unite to “collaboratively” reach an agreement to furlough arrangements for its cabin crew.