Daily Business Live

BT bid talk | Markets rebound | AG Barr upgrades


4.30pm: BT in bid sights

Shares in BT Group were up as much as 9% today after India’s Reliance Industries was tipped as a potential bidder.

A media report in India suggested billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate may try to get a controlling share in BT, or that it may propose a partnership with Openreach that would bankroll the accelerated roll-out of fibre broadband.

On 10 December the lock-up agreement barring French billionaire Patrick Drahi’s Altice from bidding for BT expires.

With a 12% stake, Altice will have a pivotal part to play in deciding the future of the business.

Equities rebounded as worries over the Omicron variant of Covid-19 receded and confidence grew in current vaccines proving effective.

The FTSE 100 index closed 65.92 points higher at 7,109.95.

“The harder the drop, the stronger the rebound. As is often the case after outsized, one-directional, moves in financial markets, you often see a sharp move in the opposite direction,” said Fawad Razaqzada at thinkmarkets.com.

“Investors are evidently making an assumption today that Omicron may not be as bad as had been feared on Friday, and that vaccines may still prove effective. It will take some time – possibly a couple of weeks at least – to understand this variant better, given how little is known about Omicron. “

9.30am: Quick response underpins market

Decisive action by governments to try and control the spread of the new Omicron Covid variant has restored some confidence among investors, says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

“Despite tougher rules on travel and the reintroduction of wearing face masks in different locations including shops, investors have taken an optimistic view that the pandemic’s new flare-up can be contained.

“The FTSE 100 joined other markets in Europe with a 1%+ hike on Monday. The UK market was led by BT amid more takeover chatter and a rebound in cyclical sectors including oil, mining and banking.”

The FTSE 100 was trading 64.51 points higher at 7,108.54 recovering some of Friday’s 266 point sell-off.

Sentiment was also more positive on Wall Street. Around London’s close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.5%, the broader S&P 500 index gained 1.2% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.6%.

7am: AG Barr upgrades forecasts


Soft drinks firm AG Barr said both revenue and profit before tax for the full year should be ahead of market expectations while the fast-moving situation in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic remains a risk.

In a trading update it said the positive trading momentum reported at its interim results in September has continued and sales have grown ahead of expectations, across Barr Soft Drinks and Funkin business units. 

“Our performance in both the “on the go” and hospitality sectors remains particularly strong and our recent innovation launches have exceeded our expectations.  In what remains a challenging supply chain environment, our production and wider supply chain have maintained their resilience and supported the growth in volume we are experiencing.

“Assuming no significant changes to current market conditions, we expect revenue to be in the order of £264m and profit before tax to be around £41m.

“The fast moving situation in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic remains a risk. However, we expect our revenue momentum to continue into 2022 and we plan to provide a further trading update in early February 2022.”

7am: CMA to probe Babcock deal

Competition watchdogs have launched a further investigation into the £10m sale of Babcock’s Aberdeen-based oil and gas aviation business to CHC Group.

Full story here

7am: White steps in for Regnier

Santander UK has confirmed that Mike Regnier will become chief executive, joining from Yorkshire Building Society, where he has been CEO since 2017 and prior to that chief commercial and chief customer officer.

Yorkshire Building Society has announced that Stephen White has been appointed as interim chief executive with immediate effect. He will work with Mr Regnier to ensure a smooth transition before he leaves the Society.

… more follows

Global markets

Markets were expected to claw back some of the value lost in Friday’s wipeout with spread betters predicting the FTSE 100 to show a 66 point lift to open at 7,010.30.

However, worries over the potential economic impact of the Omicron Covid variant, which saw the blue chip index lose 266 points on Friday, look set to influence the direction of world markets.

Shares in China slipped as concerns lingered about the newly-discovered and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant.

The Shanghai Composite slipped 0.30% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.20%,

The Nikkei in Japan slumped 1.63% while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.89%.

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