From flying taxis to painless vaccines: seven companies to watch this year | Business


BT

In all likelihood, BT will be under new ownership, or at least involved in a takeover battle, in June of next year. Billionaire Patrick Drahi has assiduously built his stake in UK telecoms giant, having spent more than £ 3bn to acquire 18% to date, making him BT’s largest shareholder.

After his last purchase in December, Drahi is now prohibited under UK rules from mounting a full take-over bid until June 15, although he may continue to strengthen his grip by acquiring more shares.

Drahi, an activist investor known for his sharp cost cuts in the companies he controls, will also use his time to allay political concerns about a possible foreign takeover of BT, a company seen as essential for domestic infrastructure at broadband and mobile. The government has already fired a warning shot, saying it will “not hesitate to act” to protect BT, and in January ministers will be granted stricter powers to block takeovers of sensitive domestic assets under of the new law of 2021 on national security and investment.

Nonetheless, BT’s days of independence seem numbered. Deutsche Telekom, BT’s second largest shareholder, with a 12.06% stake, said it “is considering all options” regarding the future of the UK company. He is considered a “kingmaker” in any game for BT: if Drahi bought his stake, he would hit the 30% threshold at which a takeover bid must be filed.
Marc Sweney

ITM power

This year could offer a breakthrough for one of the UK’s leading green hydrogen companies as it prepares to capitalize on a boom in demand for clean burning gas, with plans to expand into the ‘international.

ITM Power, a little-known company listed on Aim, has established itself as a company to watch in the UK’s burgeoning green hydrogen industry. At its Sheffield plant, it manufactures electrolysers that turn renewable energy and water into an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil gas.

A hydrogen-powered car fills up in an ITM Power installation. Photograph: Sunpix Environment / Alamy

The company, which in recent months won the chance to supply a 100 megawatt electrolyser to Shell’s refinery in the Rhineland of Germany, plans to open a second electrolyser plant in Sheffield and has confirmed that its first plant in the foreigner would follow before 2024.

Demand for green hydrogen is expected to explode over the coming decades as major economies begin to seriously pursue their climate goals. Green hydrogen can replace fossil gas in power plants, factories and even heavy trucks and ships, and unlike rival ‘blue hydrogen’, it is not derived from fossil fuels and its production does not cause no carbon emissions.

ITM Power will fuel its growth with the £ 250million it successfully raised last month. Its year-end business update shows its electrolyser order book has grown by more than 60% since September to reach the equivalent of 499 megawatts, while its bidding pipeline rises. to just over 900 MW.
Jillian ambrose

Revolution

The banking and payments app, once known for its popularity among the ‘finance brothers’, is finally making headlines for more than controversial working conditions and its founder’s alleged ties to the Kremlin.

Over the past year, Revolut has consolidated its overseas presence – with its services now available in more than 35 countries – has applied for banking licenses in the US and UK, and has become one UK’s most valuable fintech startups, worth around £ 24bn after funding from major global investors including Softbank in Japan.

This is a testament to the company’s insatiable appetite for growth, with its founder – former Russian-born Lehman Brothers trader Nik Storonsky – stating that he intends to make it Great Britain’s largest bank. Brittany.

Since launching in the UK six years ago, Revolut has grown from a prepaid card offering focused on currency exchange to a full-service app offering business accounts, children’s debit cards, investments, payday advances and cryptocurrency exchanges. He also filled his boardroom with people from Goldman Sachs and HSBC, and appointed former Standard Life Aberdeen boss Martin Gilbert as his chairman. The move helped restore and solidify its reputation, after facing bad press in 2019 for allegedly overworked staff.

Storonsky admitted the company made mistakes, but aimed higher. If 2021 is any indication, Revolut will continue to hit milestones in 2022, assuming it doesn’t disperse too much.
Kalyeena makortoff

Vertical aerospace

Realistic illustration of a small black four-winged rotor airplane on a circular landing pad, viewed from a height, just above
Artist’s impression of the Vertical Aerospace flying taxi on an airstrip. Photograph: Vertical Aerospace / Reuters

The Bristol-based flying taxi pioneer is listed on the New York Stock Exchange just before Christmas via a Spac (specialist acquisition company), apparently confirming his entry into the big leagues.

However, investors are now wondering if flying taxis – or electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) airplanes, as they like to be officially known – will turn out to be Tesla or tulips. Shares surged, then quickly fell 30% in the first week – working for takeoff, much like the embryonic eVTOLs seen in public so far.

That said, Vertical Aerospace has a provisional order backlog of £ 5.5 billion from American Airlines and Virgin, and partners such as Rolls-Royce, Microsoft and Honeywell. It also aims to rise above the competition by keeping a driver on board its vehicles, which could speed up regulatory approval. Ultimately, he claims, his VX4 plane will be able to carry four passengers at 200 mph for “taxi-like” costs.

Let’s not just talk about helicopters… (eVTOLs, we promise, will be incomparably safer, quieter and greener).
Gwyn Topham

Arrival

Following a similar path to Vertical, Arrival was listed in New York in March through a Spac merger. The company, which plans to make electric vans, taxis and buses, saw its market value climb to $ 13 billion (£ 9.7 billion) after its IPO, amid the mania of the electric vehicle market, but is now back to $ 5.1 billion as investors. wait for his first income. This year will bring the first real test of his abilities.

UK-based, with its first factory near Bicester, Oxfordshire, Arrival says its vehicles are already as cheap as fossil fuel equivalents and cost much less to run. Bus tests began in December and production begins in the spring. Production of the vans will start this summer, followed by cars designed in partnership with Uber in 2023.

Yet perhaps the most eye-catching aspect of Arrival’s rise is something buyers will likely never see: Founder Denis Sverdlov, a Russian telecommunications billionaire, set out to turn the logic of auto manufacturing upside down. at large volume. Instead of the long assembly lines started by Henry Ford, Arrival uses robots to build vehicles in a single small “cell.” That could mean lower installation costs – and a whole new model to put factories next to their bigger markets.
Jasper Pretty

Mark & ​​Spencer

The Main Street mainstay appears to have had more turnaround plans in its 137-year history than it has sold hot meals, but its latest post-pandemic overhaul has finally seemed to pay off. last year.

M&S must now capitalize on improving the fortunes of its once ailing clothing and housewares division. The retailer dared to dream that these sales had crossed a milestone in the past year; in 2022, he will have to prove to investors that this recovery is not temporary.

As the chain clings to its position as the UK’s largest clothing retailer, analysts wonder if recent fashion acquisitions, including the historic name Jaeger, and a stake in enduring brand Nobody’s Child, may continue to drive up clothing sales.

A partnership with delivery company Ocado has got off to a good start and food sales appear to be encouraging. The question now is whether M&S will increase its stake in the joint venture.

Stocks are still languishing at about a third below their value when chief executive Steve Rowe took office in 2016. There is speculation that he will step down in the next 18 months, and he will surely want to leave at a level raised. Despite some earnings improvements, M&S still has some way to go before it can reclaim the spot in the FTSE 100 it lost in 2019.
Joanna partridge

A medical device with a short nozzle instead of a sharp needle pressed against someone's arm
Scancell’s needleless injection technology.

Digitization cell

This spin-out from the University of Nottingham, founded in 1997 by Lindy Durrant, professor of cancer immunotherapy at the university, specializes in the development of cancer vaccines and has started testing them in humans. But when the pandemic struck, the company decided to change its vaccine technology to develop Covid vaccines, working with the two Nottingham universities and backed by £ 2million funding from the Kingdom’s innovation agency -United.

The vaccines aim to induce high immune responses of T cells in the body to identify and kill infected cells, as well as to generate antibodies that neutralize the virus. Scientists say that a strong T cell response would provide longer lasting immunity, as antibody protection wanes faster, as shown by current Covid jabs.

Since many people are afraid of needles, Scancell decided that their vaccines would be delivered via spring loaded injectors that use a narrow stream of liquid to pierce the skin. The first trials with 40 healthy volunteers began in South Africa in October, and another trial is planned in the UK, and data from the studies is expected by June.

The company’s two largest shareholders are US healthcare investor Redmile and Singaporean Vulpes Life Science Fund, while Durrant and other executives own 1.8% of the company. Its shares have skyrocketed over the past two years, rising from nearly 7p in early January 2020 to over 20p, but remain well below their closing high of nearly 57p, reached in October 2012.
Julia kollewe


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