Babcock International

Ticker BAB

Today's data summary

Market open
% change
+0.89%
Price Pence
566.80
Change
+5.00
As of 08:58 22 Feb 2019
Market cap. Pound sterling
2,867.74 million
As of 08:58 22 Feb 2019

Latest updates

Councillor urges decision on RMB Chivenor in open letter

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

The leader of North Devon Council has urged the UK's defence secretary to make a decision on the future of RMB Chivenor.

In an open letter, Des Brailey said that "doubt and uncertainty among serviceman" was being "perpetuated" by Gavin Williamson's "indecision" over the future of the base near Barnstaple.

RMB Chivenor
BBC

It comes just two months after the closure of Appledore shipyard - less than 6km away - was announced by owners Babcock, putting 200 jobs at risk.

Ending the letter, Mr Brailey said: "The service personnel who work at the base deserve to be told about the future of their site.

"I urge you to make a decision to stop this ambiguity and give a clear indication for the future."

Babcock shares drop in profits fall

BBC Radio Devon

Engineering group Babcock International, which services nuclear submarines at Devonport Dockyard, has revealed a 64% plunge in half-year profits.

Devonport
BBC

Shares fell as much as 12% after the group - the Ministry of Defence's second largest contractor - reported pre-tax profits falling to £65.1m in the six months to September 30, down from £181.9m a year earlier.

Profits were pushed lower by a £120m charge related to the restructuring of its oil and gas business and also including costs such as its decision to sell the Appledore Shipyard.

On an underlying basis, Babcock posted a 2.5% rise in pre-tax profits to £245.5m.

The results follow a torrid time for Babcock shares, which have been sent tumbling after a highly critical research paper posted last month by a mystery analyst called Boatman Capital.

The Boatman report alleged Babcock has a "terrible" relationship with the MoD, while it also claimed Babcock has "systematically misled investors by burying bad news about its performance".

Babcock last week hit out at the report, alleging the claims made by Boatman were "false and malicious", and made reassurances about its financial health.

Babcock 'denied helicopter business problem'

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Babcock International has had to make a significant write down in its oil and gas helicoptor business, "which, interestingly, a week ago they were denying there was a problem with", says Frances Tusa, editor of industry magazine Defence Analysis.

The land business, which includes Rail, defence and armoured fighting vehicles, is down 14% "That is an area which there has been suspicions they've got some significant problems with, again with the MoD, and that the MoD is getting worried about their performance."

'An unusual situation' for Babcock

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

HMS Vanguard submarine
Getty Images

The Babcock-Boatman saga continues.

On Monday, the engineering group finally responded to a report published by the mysterious Boatman Research on 16 October which claimed there were difficulties between the firm and major customer the Ministry of Defence.

Babcock refuted this as did the MoD.

However, hours later the Financial Times reported that the MoD had put Babcock under extra scrutiny over its handling of a contract to support and refit four Vanguard submarines that carry the UK's Trident nuclear deterrent.

Commenting on this apparent volte-face, Professor Trevor Taylor, research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, says: "It is an unusual situation. The contract in question is a really sensitive issue."

He says that while the contract, worth £200m, is not so big the work itself "is really very complex engineering work and it is not impossible that more difficulties have arisen than had been expected."

Too little too late from Babcock?

Babcock International's share price on Monday
BBC
Babcock International's share price on Monday

That statement from the Ministry of Defence about its commitment to Babcock has kept the engineering firm's share price buoyant.

Its stock is now up 2.2% at 613.4p.

Babcock's own announcement about the mysterious Boatman Capital and its report into the company which the firm says contains "many false and malicious statements", evidently also reassured investors as the share price graphic shows.

However, AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould, says: "While these comments partially address some of the criticism from Boatman, one has to question why it has taken Babcock nearly a month to go public on responding to the bear raid.

"Boatman's research note was issued in October when Babcock traded at 672p; its shares have since fallen by 10% in value."

He added: "Babcock may have pacified its shareholders temporarily with today's update, yet it has merely given itself a couple of weeks' breathing space before the big showdown on 21 November when half-year results are reported."

MoD 'committed' to Babcock

New Royal Navy aircraft carrier
PA
Babcock was one of the contractors working on the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers

More on today's intriguing Babcock International story and the "anonymous and so far untraceable" Boatman Capital.

The Ministry of Defence has given a vote of confidence in Babcock, one of the government's key UK defence contractors.

"We monitor the health of all of our strategic suppliers, including Babcock, and remain committed to working with them on a wide range of programmes," the MoD said.

"Babcock plays a key part in equipping our world-leading armed forces and the MoD spent more than £1.7bn with the company last year, supporting thousands of jobs across the nation."

Babcock's shares slid after an analysts' research report from Boatman savaged the company, its directors, and the relationship with the MoD. The trouble is, it's still unclear exactly who, or what, Boatman is.

"Babcock continues to seek to discover who is behind Boatman Capital," the company said in a statement this morning.

Babcock searches for the Boatman

Man follows man with a briefcase
Getty Images

Engineering group Babcock has turned detective, according to an announcement this morning.

The company is trying to ferret out who is behind Boatman Capital, which, Babcock says, published a report containing "many false and malicious statements which the Group strongly refutes".

Babcock says Boatman Capital is "anonymous and so far untraceable".

It adds: "The group continues to seek to discover who is behind Boatman Capital."

The comments from Boatman hit Babcock's shares last month.

Babcock's statement also said that the company "continues to enjoy a healthy financial position".

Appledore Shipyard closure 'a kick in the teeth'

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

"Devastating", "distressing" and "a kick in the teeth" - that's how workers and people living in Appledore have described the news that the town's shipyard is to close in March.

Staff at Appledore Shipyard in Devon have been told by owner Babcock that it will close by the end of March 2019.

Appledore
Bideford & District Community Archive
The yard has a long history in the town

The company recently lost a contract with the Armed Forces of Malta, causing financial difficulties.

Babcock said all 199 workers would be offered a move to Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth, also owned by the firm, on the other side of the county.

Torridge Councillor Peter Christie said it was a "hammer-blow" to lose "relatively well-paid" jobs in the area...