And finally… barred

A Swiss private bank has increased its multi-million-pound bet on Irn Bru maker AG Barr to fail during the current coronavirus crisis.

And finally... barred

As the government inforced lockdown measures have reduced the demand for drinks, Cumbernauld-based AG Barr has furloughed staff and reduced its marketing efforts and investment.

Simultaneously, the Lombard Odier bank has increased its short position in the company, ignoring a call by the Governor of the Bank of England not to cash in on the COVID-19 pandemic, The Ferret reports.

The head of the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) has labelled short-sellers “indiscriminate parasites” and said the practice should be banned during the crisis, as it has been in other countries.

Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, commented on the problem of short-selling in March. He told BBC News: “Anybody who says ‘I can make a load of money by shorting’ which might not be frankly in the interest of the economy, the interest of the people – just stop doing what you’re doing.”

Ignoring such warnings, Geneva-based Lombard Odier has continued to increase its short position in AG Barr.

According to data collected by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Lombard Odier’s short position on AG Barr was 1.1% of the total issued share capital on 3 March. Since then, it has more than doubled to 2.43% of shares, worth about £13 million.

At the same time, AG Barr’s share price was mostly falling as the company predicted government-enforced closures of pubs, cafes and restaurants would reduce demand for its drinks.

The drinks company has cut back on marketing and commercial activity and frozen investment in items such as manufacturing equipment. It has also delayed the opening of a new £14m liquid processing facility in Cumbernauld.

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