Markets: Live

Abrdn looks at unit split | WH Smith gets travel lift



Edinburgh asset manager Abrdn is looking to split its private equity business and sell it in batches, according to Reuters.

In July 2022 the company appointed Rothschild & Co to oversee the sale of the division, but it has not managed to find a buyer for the whole business.

The package spans the UK, US and continental Europe, and its sale has been pushed by investors in order to boost declining returns and offload non-core assets.

In February, it was reported that Santander Asset Management was among the suitors for the business, at a valuation of around £250m.

4.30pm: London edges up

The FTSE 100 was closed 3.84 points at 7,902.61, having crept into positive territory near the close. 7,902.61.

Growing likelihood of an interest rate rise in May hurt house builder.  Persimmon fell by 24p to 12.49p and Taylor Wimpey lost 1.75p, falling to 121.5p.

WH Smith boosted by travel surge

WH Smith has revealed plans to open more than 120 shops after a surge in demand for travel helped sales rise sharply over the past six months.

Profits more than doubled as it continues to shift its focus further towards airport and railway station shops instead of its traditional high street spots.

CEO Carl Cowling hailed “strong” current trading and told shareholders performance was “ahead of expectations for the full year”.

Group revenues increased by 41% to £859 million for the six months to 28 February, compared with the same period last year. Pre-tax profits jumped to £45m from £18m.

The group’s UK travel business saw sales jump by two-thirds to £314m, making it the firm’s largest division. High street sales were 1% lower at £266m.

Deliveroo boosted by inflation

Despite a decline in the number of orders in the first quarter of the year, Deliveroo PLC benefitted from continued food price inflation as revenues and the value of orders rose.

Revenue grew 7% to £512m in the first three months of 2023, or 4% at constant currency rates.

Global markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% and the S&P 500 was down just 0.01%. The Nasdaq Composite was flat.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index was up 0.3%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.5%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 0.1%.

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