Daily Business Live

Aviva targeted by activist; Henry Boot sells Edinburgh land


5pm: Aviva targeted


Aviva rallied 2.7% after activist investor Cevian Capital said it had built up a 4.95% stake in the company and called on the insurer to return £5bn to shareholders next year.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “One might initially think this is an odd move, given that activists often push for asset disposals and Aviva has just finished a big spate of selling international operations.

“However, Aviva is also sitting on a large amount of cash from these sales, and it appears that Cevian wants the insurer to be generous with cash returns to investors and to make deeper cost cuts.”

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.25% at 7,095.09, while the FTSE 250 was 0.06% weaker at 22,895.50.

On the downside oil giant Shell lost 0.87%, although peer BP reversed earlier losses to close up 1.25%, as oil prices broke into positive territory to rise during the afternoon.

The more domestic facing FTSE 250 took a tumble towards close of play coinciding with the release of latest Covid numbers which showed the seven-day average for cases has risen 60%.

The FTSE 100 was boosted by big gains from mining spin off Thungela Resources.

Danni Hewson, AJ Bell financial analyst, said: “While some long-term investors unhappy with the thermal coal operation clearly ditched their shares after yesterday’s demerger from Anglo American, there’s obviously been no shortage in interest from other quarters.

“It will make for an interesting watch and does highlight the fact not every investor is focussed on clean and green.”

8.30am: London nudges higher

Blue chips ticked up a little more strongly than forecast in what has been a tepid start to the week. The FTSE 100 was trading 18 points higher at 7,095.29.

7am: Henry Boot sells Edinburgh land

Henry Boot’s land promotion business, Hallam Land Management (HLM), has completed the sale of 116 plots in Burdiehouse, on the edge of Edinburgh, to national house builder Barratt Developments at a total price of £2.6m.

The site represents the third in a series of completions on the site, which in total has now sold 449 plots in three separate phases for a total price of £12.8m.

The 75-acre site was first contracted under option in 2006 and after a period of sustained promotion through the City of Edinburgh Local Plan review process, the land was partially granted Planning in Principle for approximately 100 houses in February 2012.

The site was subsequently purchased in Autumn 2012 whilst negotiations on a planning gain package were still ongoing. Additional community benefits included within the planning gain package are contributions towards new cycle path networks and a healthcare facility.  

7am: Craneware placing

Healthcare billing company Craneware has raised £136.2 million in a placing of 6,192,652 shares announced after the market closed last night when it revealed the $400m acquisition of US firm Sentry Data Systems.

The issue price is 2,200 pence and represents a discount of approximately 10.2% to the closing mid-market price of 2,450 pence per share on 7 June, being the last practicable day prior to the announcement of the placing.

7am: Paragon sees sharp rise

Buy-to-let specialist lender Paragon Bank posted a 68.8% rise in interim profits to £96.4m and a £40m share buyback as the housing market remained robust.

The company declared a 7.2p-a-share dividend for the six months to 31 March. Net interest margin, the difference between savings and lending rates, rose 3 points to 2.32%.

Impairment charges fell to £6m compared to £30m in the same period in 2020 although the group maintained a cautious outlook as “uncertainties remain” about prospects for small businesses and retail customers once government Covid support schemes are unwound.

6am: Haulage firm deal

Haulage group EFS Global has acquired Scottish firm Courier Connections for an undisclosed sum.

EFS Global, based in Burnley, is one of the North West’s largest freight forwarding and haulage groups. It now has 17 depots and offices across the country and operates its own UK and European road freight fleet.

Courier Connections operates three Scottish depots, in Glasgow, Perth and Broxburn.

Global markets

London’s blue chip shares index was heading for a two-point decline at the open, according to spread-betters in the City, following a slow start to the week, gaining eight points in yesterday’s session to close at 7,077.22.

Wall Street had a mixed session overnight, with the Dow Jones falling 0.4%, the S&P 500 finishing just below flat and the Nasdaq Composite rising 0.5%.

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly lower as Japan’s economy shrank 3.9% in the first quarter, an improvement from the initial estimate of a 5.1% contraction.

The Nikkei 225 slipped 0.14% while South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.06%.

The Shanghai Composite in China fell 0.81% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.42%.

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