Treasury cuts NatWest stake | Ryanair rises | STV hire
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4.30pm: Blue chips close higher
London equities had a bit of a rollercoaster day, opening higher and dipping afternoon trade before closing 14.12 points up at 7,770.99.
1pm: Airport hotel
Radisson Hotel Group is expanding its Scotland portfolio by opening a Radisson RED at Edinburgh Airport.
It will be built a mile from the airport and is set to open in late 2025.
The hotel will feature 204 guest rooms, and 2,000 sq ft of meeting and event space, including a 1,300 sq ft conference room.
NatWest has bought back 469 million shares from the Treasury at a price of 268.4p per share, at a total cost of £1.26bn, reducing government ownership in the bank to 38.69% from 41%.
CEO of NatWest, Alison Rose, said: “This transaction reduces government ownership below 40% and demonstrates positive progress on the bank’s strategic priorities and the path to privatisation.
“NatWest Group’s robust balance sheet and capital generation allow us to continue lending responsibly and supporting the customers and communities we serve whilst delivering sustainable returns to our shareholders, including the government.”
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Griffith said: ““Today’s sale is another major milestone in returning NatWest to full private ownership as promised. The government has now sold well over half of its shareholding.
“The government intervened in NatWest (formerly the Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS) with the objective of protecting financial and economic stability during the 2008 global financial crisis.
“The Office for Budget Responsibility has been clear that – without the government’s interventions in the financial sector – the cost of the 2008 global financial crisis would almost certainly have been far greater.
“The government will only dispose of its NatWest shareholding when it represents value for money to do so and market conditions allow.
“Alongside progress being made by the ongoing trading plan, HMT and UK Government Investments continue to keep all options under active consideration for future sales, including via accelerated bookbuilds if conditions permit.”
Ryanair posted a near-record profit of €1.43 billion for the year to the end of March and said it was cautiously optimistic that profits would rise in the next 12 months.
Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers expects summer European short-haul capacity to remain below pre-COVID levels, but with peak fares trending ahead of last year.
Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said: “Our widening unit cost advantage over all competitors, our fuel hedging, strong balance sheet and our very low-cost aircraft order book, as well as our proven operational resilience, creates enormous growth opportunities for Ryanair over the coming years.”
The Dublin-based carrier flew a record 168.6 million passengers, beating its previous annual record of 149 million before the pandemic. It hopes to grow traffic to 185 million this fiscal year.
However, it said recent Boeing delivery delays, which has left it short of 10 aircraft, may push some of that growth into the lower yielding second half and may reduce the target slightly.
7am: House prices at record
House prices hit a new record high in May, as the housing market continued to defy pessimistic forecasts at the start of the year.
Rightmove’s house price index showed the average price of property coming to market jumped by 1.8%, £6,647, to set a new peak of £372,894 as sellers responded with increased pricing confidence.
The 1.8% monthly increase is the biggest of the year so far, and significantly higher than the historic average rise in the month of May of 1%, Rightmove said.
7am: STV board appointment
STV has appointed Naomi Climer to the board as an independent non-executive director with effect from 30 May. Ms Climer becomes chair of the remuneration committee and a member of the newly constituted Environmental, Social and Governance committee.
In addition to a career in broadcast, media, engineering and technology, she brings significant plc board experience for music and audio products group, Focusrite, and smart sensing software and hardware developer, Oxford Metrics. She also serves on the board at Sony UK Technology Centre, is co-chair of The Institute for the Future of Work and sits on the UK Government’s Science and Technology Awards Committee.
Until March 2015, Ms Climer was president of Sony’s Media Cloud Services, based in California, where she was responsible for building and incubating a Media Cloud Services business for the global B2B environment.
Her career began at the BBC, where she trained as an engineer and later became controller of technology at BBC News. Before joining Sony in 2002, Ms Climer was director of technical operations at ITV Digital.
President Joe Biden has cast doubt on the prospects of a deal on the US debt ceiling being achieved before the 1 June deadline set by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Republicans and Democrats are working on plans to raise or suspend the debt ceiling which sets how much money the government can borrow. If a deal cannot be reached the Treasury may run out of cash.
Mr Biden has called Republican offers ‘unacceptable’ and talks last Friday ended without progress.
Speaking at the G7 meeting in Japan yesterday, Mr Biden said of the Republicans: ‘Much of what they’ve proposed is simply unacceptable.
Economists have pushed back their expectations of when the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates and have raised their forecasts for inflation and the strength of the job market, a survey released on Monday showed.
They now believe the US central bank will lower its targeted policy rate in the first quarter of next year rather than the final three months of this year, according to the survey released by the National Association for Business Economics.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was up 0.8%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.1%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 1.1%