Opinion: That empty chair: A broadcaster backdown for good, honest commercial reasons

11 March 2015 | analyst insight

LIBERUM OPINION: Ian Whittaker, Liberum Media Analyst

Email Ian or call him on: +44 (0) 20 3100 2089

Ian Whittaker

Commercial factors will, I believe, force the UK’s broadcasters to give up their provocation to use an empty chair where an absent David Cameron should sit in the televised election debates. 

(Full background to this ongoing story is here

For the BBC, the obvious risk is over Royal Charter renewal and the structure of the licence fee. The bulk of the Conservative party and press already thinks the Corporation is a hotbed of metropolitan, Oxbridge lefties who hate Tories.  

Assume the Conservatives form the next government. In a bid to quell restive backbenchers in the run-up to a divisive and challenging EU referendum in 2017, the government may throw them a BBC bone.

Less commented on, though, is the risk for the commercial broadcasters.  

The government has just launched a review into whether the main commercial channels (ITV, Channel 4 and Five) can charge pay-TV operators for carriage of their channels. This may be a huge and very profitable source of new revenues for the broadcasters and a major cost for operators such as Sky.

So for the commercial broadcasters to empty-chair Cameron risks their positions in this debate.

The Conservatives would, of course, claim that whatever decision is  taken was impartial.

But Archie Norman, ITV's Chairman and ex-Conservative Party Chairman, has the sufficient political nous to know the risks.

Channel 4's bosses, meanwhile, would have the extra consideration of fuelling what it would see as an unwelcome privatisation debate.

But the broadcasters are standing together on this issue, no?

Well, the platforms tend not to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good (ITV CEO Adam Crozier recently blamed its weak performance in audience share partly on the BBC).

There is too much temptation for one broadcaster to break ranks.

There will be two other considerations for the broadcasters.

First, the Conservatives look to be edging into a sustained lead (ahead by 2 percentage points with YouGov this week) as Labour's Scottish problem appears to worsen. Betting on the Conservatives winning the most seats has tightened considerably over the last 24 hours.

Second, no one really seems to care about the debates. It is seen as a typical media elite debate that ‘luvvies’ and political hacks relish yet no one in the real world gives a damn about. Lord Ashcroft's findings seem to support this.

The broadcasters will sound tough for a few days to save face and then back down, blaming the PM and/or voter apathy on the issue.

1-0 to Cameron

Election-focused Liberum UK Consumer Survey shows tempered optimism

10 March 2015 | Mentions of Liberum

(LONDON) British householders have tempered their optimism on the outlook for property prices but continue to plan for house moves and improvements, Liberum’s lastest quarterly survey of UK consumers suggests. 

“We’ve also highlighted sentiment ahead of the UK general election in May and it helps illustrate why the outcome remains so up in the air,” said Liberum Media Analyst Ian Whittaker, who leads the survey. 

“The good news for the economy? Few are putting off their spending plans ahead of the election. And fewer people think they're the 'squeezed middle',” he noted. 

Click on the image below to get PDF infographic

Consumer Survey March2015

The survey, which has run for more than five years, highlighted support from potential voters for improved spending on care for the elderly and council housing. 

The Brexit referendum outcome is finely balanced but Scotland must remain part of the UK, those polled across the country said. 

Increased support for David Cameron as Prime Minster sharply outpaces that for Ed Miliband, with UKIP’s Nigel Farage markedly falling away compared with the previous survey. 

Our poll, carried out in January, shows a wobble on overall confidence of the British consumer, with net positives as a percentage of all answers falling 3.3 percentage points to 6.6%, fuelled in part by concerns over job security and the softer property price trend. 

By comparison, the average score in the 18 months to October 2014 was 11.6%. 

“The January data feels like a blip to us given lower fuel costs and improving employment prospects,” Whittaker said. 

1,003 respondents were asked their views in January/February 2015. The respondents were evenly distributed by gender (males: 49%, females: 51%), across age groups and throughout the social classes (A-B: 27%, C1-C2: 48% and D-E: 27%).

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Emma Kane 
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We're hiring for an Administrator in Investment Banking

18 February 2015 | People

We're seeking an efficient, motivated administrator to provide comprehensive administration support to the London-based Investment Banking team.

> Click here for the full job spec and where to apply.

Reporting to the Investment Banking Assistant, the ideal candidate should have experience in a corporate environment in a PA, administration or client services position.

Working in a busy office, they should have excellent time management, communication and organisational skills, as well as being highly accurate and hardworking.

This is a great opportunity to work for a successful and collaborative department in an innovative Investment Bank.

Key Responsibilities

  • Organising travel (flights, hotels, car) and visas for ad-hoc trips and roadshows
  • Invoicing, retainers and expenses – working closely with the finance team
  • Diary management and maintenance of corporate client calendar
  • Phone cover within the team
  • Client take-on procedures
  • Correlation & preparation of Investment Banking information for Board Meetings
  • Preparation of presentations, pitch documents & placing letters
  • Assisting with various client and marketing events including Awards dinners
  • Preparation of client reports
  • Assisting with the development of peer analysis information
  • Support on corporate client and deal roadshows
  • Taking minutes at various meetings
  • General office assistance.

XLMedia plc names Liberum Joint Corporate Broker

12 February 2015 | Corporate Brokerships

XLMedia PLC (Ticker: XLM LN), a global digital publishing and marketing company that directs traffic to online gaming operators, has named Liberum as Joint Corporate Broker. 

The business has a market capitalisation of £130m and is listed on AIM.

XLMedia attracts players through online marketing techniques that include proprietary websites and then seeks to channel high-value traffic to gambling operators. 

It generates revenue through the fees paid by the gambling operators. XLMedia takes a cut of the lifetime revenue those players provide operators. 

XLMedia recently acquired a business to help it move into customer acquisition for social gaming apps. 

The company floated on AIM in March 2014.  Its next results are in due in March 2015.

Company website:

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Head of Content: Adam Smallman @LiberumSmallman

Press Enquiries: Redleaf Polhill

Emma Kane 
George Parrett
Karl Wiseman 

+44 (0)20 7382 4747

Liberum industrial indicator sees sharp slide

06 February 2015 | Mentions of Liberum

(LONDON) There is potential for a significant decline in orders from the world’s metal bashers after Liberum’s proprietary Early Cycle Indicator fell markedly this week, raising a concern that the strength of many US industrial companies can no longer offset a weakening outlook elsewhere. See chart below taken from research note.

Early Cycle Indicator Chart

The monthly Indicator, created by Liberum’s European Capital Goods Analyst Daniel Cunliffe (picture below), weights new orders from the Purchasing Managers Indices versus inventories in Europe (50% of the Index), the US (30%) and China (20%).


“Whilst Europe moved out of negative territory for the first time in five months, rising to 1.04 from 0.99, this was more than offset by a large fall in the US from 1.27 to 1.04”, Daniel said. 

“This was the biggest drop in the US series since October 2009 and while it is just one data point, it does raise doubts over whether US strength can offset a weak outlook in Europe and Asia,” he added. 

The ECI is 80% correlated with volume growth at giant global industrial firms and offers a six-to-nine month lead on trends. The early cycle refers to the critical period after a slowdown when companies buy smaller items such as ball bearings or drill bits for products sold, or projects delivered, in the near term. Late cycle refers to major capital expenditure such as factories and power plants that meet rising demand from the early circle. 

The 16-year-old index has seen such falls exceeded in just six periods, with most of those occurring as a result of extreme events such as the collapse of Lehman Brothers, 9/11 and the Iraq War. 

The index has now fallen below 1.05 for the first time since June 2011, which preceded a material fall in volume growth. There was a similar trend when the index fell below 1.05 in April 2008.

Follow or Contact Liberum

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Daniel on Twitter

Press Enquiries: Redleaf Polhill

Emma Kane 
George Parrett
Karl Wiseman 

+44 (0)20 7382 4747


The Graduates of 2015

30 January 2015 | people

Here's what our previous graduates are saying about their front-line experience in research, investment banking, trading and sales.

Our graduate recruitment programme for this year is now open.

(Left-to-right below) Robert Johnson, Jamil Miah, Ciaran Donnelly and Carole Madjo.

Gards Photo 2015

What was the recruitment process like?

“It was clear to me from the outset that Liberum has a very clear view of what it is looking for. This is a product of the flat organisational structure of the firm. I felt it has a very clear understanding of what kind of candidates are going to be successful in the company, which is reflected in how many graduates have gone on to be an important part of the company.” - Ciaran

“I really enjoyed the recruitment process because it took place in a positive and non-stressful environment which made me feel at ease during the interviews.” – Carole

Describe the business

“At Liberum, there is a great togetherness about the firm. I believe this comes from being a 100% employee owned business. There is a personal feel to it and you can see it in how much people care about the success of the firm.” – Ciaran

“The work is challenging and the standards are extremely high. I feel like I am learning to work to a high standard and great level of attention to detail.” – Robert

“People are also really nice to each other and most importantly know each other. It is really pleasant to work in a place where everybody knows your name.” - Carole 

9X9 Image 500Px 2014 09 24 (1)

Does the rotation experience work?

“Rotating into four departments really gave me a better understanding of the equity market. Graduates gain a lot of experience, more than what would be achievable in a larger company, so you can discover which position suits us the most.” - Carole

“Other banks’ graduates get a textbook awareness of these things through the CFA curriculum. At Liberum, graduates learn the job and its pressures for themselves. And also have the pleasure of the CFA exams!” - Robert

“Another great thing is how it supports you when taking your exams, either CISI or CFA. You are given a huge amount of support, from study leave to supporting materials, giving you the best chance to gain these qualifications.” - Ciaran

What are you currently doing?

“I’m in Investment Banking which has been fantastic. You are supporting multiple projects, giving you exposure to exciting projects from day one. Most recently, I have worked on a project advising a client on their options on how to raise capital in order to make a possible acquisition.” – Ciaran

“I’m assisting in the preparation of a research report on the housebuilding sector, working with financial models and using the data to present emerging themes and trends in the industry. With a General Election approaching, it also involves looking at political research and polling data to present.” - Robert

“I’m currently supporting with a key publication for the Small & Mid-Cap Sales team, which involves publishing our thoughts on select emerging companies. This involves meeting with a diverse range of company management to understand their business model and key themes affecting their industry sector, whilst identifying unique investment ideas for the companies.” – Jamil

“I am currently working in the Trading desk. My current tasks include updating and optimizing spreadsheets for the Small & Mid Cap trading team and calling clients to update them on the company’s recent achievements.” - Carole

And your best bits so far?

“The one that really stands out was the day the potential merger between Glencore and Rio Tinto broke. I was working in the mining research team and within seconds everything was turned up a notch. The phones were buzzing, everyone wanted to know what was going on. It just typifies for me what working in this industry is about, everything can change in a second and you have to be ready for anything because everything can change on any given day.” – Ciaran

“Working on an IPO in Investment Banking. It was really interesting to see the process from end to end and learn the different pressures and stresses along the way – most of which are different to what a textbook will teach you.” - Robert

“When I worked on a value-add piece of research on the currently topical Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market whilst working with the Oil & Gas team. It supported the Analysts on the team to understand the future growth of the LNG market given the volatile macroeconomic conditions.” - Jamil

“I was the first graduate to host the Sales morning meeting - a really good experience.” - Carole 

Where are they now?

Ciaran joined the Media Equity Research team permanently.

Jamil and Robert both joined the Investment Banking division permanently.

Carole joined the Consumer Equity Research team, and subsequently has pursued opportunities elsewhere.

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+44 (0)20 3100 2000

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