© Reuters

A Heineken-owned pub group has been fined £2m after “seriously and repeatedly” breaking the legally-binding Pubs Code over almost three years.

Star Pubs and Bars, which operates the pub estate business of Heineken in the UK, is in trouble over so-called pub tie rules. The Pubs Code Adjudicator said Star had “persisted in forcing its tenants to sell unreasonable levels of Heineken beers and ciders” when tenants wanted to break the tie with the brewer. Star did so even after the PCA intervened, and despite what the watchdog said were “clear arbitration rulings”.

On top of 12 identified breaches, the PCA found “systemic corporate failures” by Star — including by requiring the company’s compliance officer to ensure that the rules were “interpreted to the commercial benefit of Heineken UK”. An unusual approach to compliance to say the least.

All the juicy details from the watchdog in the statement here.

Briefly

Ryanair is the latest airline to cut back its winter schedule as demand for flights falters. It now plans to fly only 40 per cent of last year’s flights between November and March. Before it reckoned it would fly 60 per cent.

Shopping centre landlord Hammerson has only managed to collect two-thirds of the rent due this year, weeks after the final quarterly instalment was due from tenants. But collection rates for the latest payment, due in late September, have at least been better than the June quarter.

Yesterday Just Eat Takeaway reported a 45 per cent increase in orders, today it is the turn of Domino’s Pizza to disclose a sales surge. Its UK and Ireland sales were up 19 per cent in the 13 weeks to the end of September, to £342m. The cut in VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent had helped sales, Domino’s said. It has created 5,000 new jobs. Pub group Marston’s is at the other end of the spectrum: its sales since reopening in July were down 10 per cent, though that is better than the pub sector as a whole. It is reviewing the future of 2,150 jobs.

Online white goods retailer AO.com reckons there’s been a “lasting step change” in shopping habits. Its revenues for the six months to September were 57 per cent higher than last year. Early on, it benefited from the closure of bricks and mortar rivals. But it has continued to see higher than usual sales since competitors have reopened.

One of the frontrunners for the Rio Tinto chief executive job has ruled himself out of the running. Newmont boss Tom Palmer, a two-decade veteran of Rio until he jumped ship in 2014, told the FT he wasn’t interested in replacing ousted Jean-Sébastien Jacques, who will leave Rio by the end of March.

Rolls-Royce will raise more than expected through a bond issue that forms part of a big refinancing for the aerospace group. It will issue £2bn in new debt, more than the £1bn-plus it had said it was targeting. It will pay 4.625 per cent for the 6-year notes and 5.75 per cent for the 7-year notes.

Also out today are updates from retailer Dunelm, recruiter Hays and housebuilder Countryside Properties.

Job moves 

British American Tobacco has appointed a new chairman. Luc Jobin, a non-executive director of the company since 2017, will take over from Richard Burrows as chairman in April next year.

Beyond the Square Mile 

© FT Montage/Bloomberg/Getty

Tech giants are facing the threat of an EU attempt to break them up after France and the Netherlands jointly issued a call for the bloc’s competition authorities to take pre-emptive measures as they prepare sweeping legislation to curb the companies’ market power. Cedric O, France’s digital minister, and Mona Keijzer, the Netherlands state secretary for digital affairs, backed calls for swift action. It included forcing the likes of Facebook and Apple to allow their users to take their private data to a competing platform or banning companies such as Google from promoting their own services at the expense of smaller rivals.

Booming markets drove a surge in third-quarter earnings at Goldman Sachs’ trading and asset management businesses, helping the Wall Street bank to post its strongest profitability since 2010. “We put out a plan and we believe we’re executing,” David Solomon, chief executive, told analysts as he revealed a near-doubling of Goldman’s third-quarter net income to $3.6bn. Investment banking fees were also strong at Bank of America and Wells Fargo but both banks were hit by falling interest rates, which took a painful toll on third-quarter profits.

Zoom is to bring applications and paid-for events to its video meetings service, in a bid to consolidate its grip on the huge new audience that flocked to its platform during the pandemic. On Wednesday it launched OnZoom, a marketplace where anyone can promote and sell virtual events. The company will provide tools for organisers to create, market, host and charge for events, and a marketplace where consumers can sort through classes, concerts and other events or find fundraisers to support.

Essential comment before you go

JET reportedly paid Rapper Snoop Dogg a £5m advertising fee this summer and it appears to have worked

Lex
The secret sauce of market share gains alongside profit growth may finally be within reach for the UK-listed food delivery group Just Eat Takeaway.

Lombard
Given the uncertain outlook for consumer spending, Asos’s share price, over 40 times next year’s earnings forecasts, is high. Bunzl’s straightforwardness, meanwhile, is a blessing during a period of high uncertainty.

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