GCHQ cybersecurity arm investigates Dixons Carphone data breach

Electronics retailer apologises for breach involving 5.9m customers’ bank card detailsA branch of GCHQ, Britain’s intelligence and security service, is investigating one of the UK’s biggest data breaches at a single firm, involving unauthorised access …

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Carphone Warehouse to shut 92 stores amid profits warning

Retailer vows to take action to tackle changing consumer habits in mobile phone marketNearly 100 Carphone Warehouse stores are to close this year as the retailer’s new boss issued a profits warning and pledged to take action to adapt to a changing mobi…

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Dixons Carphone CEO will step down to run chemist chain Boots

Sebastian James, who has led Dixons Carphone for six years, resigned in a surprise move

The chief executive of Britain’s biggest specialist electrical goods and mobile phone retailer will step down to run high street chemist Boots.

Sebastian James, who has led Dixons Carphone for six years, has resigned in a surprise move days before it updates the City on its Christmas trading performance.

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Dixons Carphone: no longer a merger of equals

Disappointing half-year profits have laid bare the different fortunes of the combined companies

The combination of Dixons and Carphone Warehouse was billed as “a genuine merger of equals” back in May 2014, in the sense that the two sets of shareholders each got 50% of the new company. In every other respect, however, the merger now looks completely lopsided.

The Dixons electricals side has enjoyed a great run, defying predictions it would be overtaken by Amazon or even AO World. Like-for-like sales in the half-year to the end of October improved 7%. At Carphone, however, the formula looks broken.

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Dixons Carphone warns of store closures as profits plummet by 60%

Company looks to cut costs by reducing number of shops and switching to a simpler model of business after disappointing half-year results

Dixons Carphone has warned it will have to reinvent its mobile business as rising handset prices and a slowdown in technological development prompt shoppers to cling on to their phones for longer.

Pre-tax profit tumbled 60% to £61m for the 26 weeks to 28 October at the group, which owns Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse, while total sales nudged up 3% to £4.87bn.

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The brothers, the board, and £11m in back pay at Sports Direct

Shareholders are poised to vote on whether John Ashley, brother of Mike, will receive payments frozen over PR concerns

All the talk is about back pay in the Shirebrook offices of Sports Direct at the moment. This week, the independent shareholders of the Derbyshire-based company will vote on whether to pay the older brother of founder Mike Ashley £11m in back pay.

Related: Sports Direct criticised over plan to pay £11m to Mike Ashley’s brother

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BT shares plunge 20% as Italian accounting scandal deepens – as it happened

BBC reports that BT Europe chief will resign today, over ‘extremely serious’ improper behaviour at its Italian arm

5.39pm GMT

It’s been a day to forget for BT, its executives and of course its army of small shareholders. Around 700,000 people own less than 1,600 shares, a legacy of the telecoms group’s privatisation in 1984.

And they as much as anyone will be shocked by the 20% plunge in the company’s shares after it revealed a worse than expected hit to its figures from an accounting scandal in Italy, not to mention a warning of a slowdown in business elsewhere.

BT’s 20% drop today fairly rattled the City. It was one of the biggest ever single-day falls for a company of this sort. Blue chips like BT just don’t make those kinds of losses on one announcement about a part of the business that accounts for just 1% of earnings.

So is this a golden buying opportunity for investors, or does BT merit a fundamental recalibration of its stock price based on the news?

The downside, however, looks ominous. The Italian fiasco will gobble up a whopping £500m in free cash in 2016/2017 and a further £500m in 2017/18. Although BT has largely completed its investigation, there is a risk that this could blow up further and it’s wise to be cautious. The Financial Reporting Council could take this further.

Operating costs seem to be rising, as are debts. Acquisition of EE, while a strategic long-term play, has meant net debts have risen to nearly £10bn. That is also the figure for BT’s pension black hole, which it has to review this year.

5.10pm GMT

There is a degree of caution around the markets, as investors await more decisions from US president Donald Trump after his protectionist rhetoric so far. And with the US reporting season underway, they are also looking to see whether companies can justify their hefty valuations with their results.

Overall, with Wall Street higher by the time Europe closed – with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 61 points or 0.3% – continental markets ended the day higher.

The [UK supreme] court ruling sent the British pound lower, though it finished well off its lows. There was an element of ‘buy the rumour, sell the fact’ in currency markets to the well-telegraphed decision. In all likelihood Article 50 will still be triggered in March irrespective of the supreme court. In many ways this is just one less roadblock out of the way before the UK leaves the EU. If anything, the net effect leans towards a harder Brexit in that Scotland and the devolved assemblies, which mostly voted to Remain in the EU, will have less say.

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