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RSA bid spec; Virgin up; Trapoil deal

Tue close: RSA Insurance rose 18% to 518.5p after Zurich Insurance confirmed rumours that it is working on a takeover offer. Estimates of an offer range between £4.5 billion and £5.5bn.

Virgin Money rose 10.84%  at 415p after an uplift in mortgage lending helped the challenger bank post a 37% increase in underlying pre-tax profit in its latest half year. Gross mortgage lending rose 44% to £3.6bn in the six months to June 30, compared to the same period in 2014, and the shares are close to 52-week highs.

On the way down were shares in Royal Mail, off 3.4% to 486.7p after regulator Ofcom claimed it breached competition law with price changes by launching plans earlier this year to change prices and terms. It later withdrew them after a competitor complained. Royal Mail said it was disappointed with Ofcom’s findings.

Drax rose 9.86% to 277.4p. First half earnings were up about 15% as it swung to a pre-tax profit. Dividends will also be hiked in line with its policy. It warned, however, that it will be hit by changes to the climate change levy in the second half.

Trapoil fell 15% after falling as low as 26%. The company is to buy Jersey Oil & Gas for £495,000 through the issue of 2.25 million shares. It also raised £800,000 for working capital through the placing of 3.7m shares. As part of the deal, Andrew Benitz and Ronald Lansdell (founding shareholders and directors of JOG) will be appointed to the board as chief executive and chief operating officer respectively.

The  FTE100 snapped a five-day losing streak with hopes for corporate deal-making and robust corporate results offsetting market turmoil in China and worries about emerging-market growth.

It closed up 0.8% at 6,555.28 points, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 1 percent. The FTSE hit a record 7,122.74 points in April but is now more than 8% below that high.


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