Market report

More NatWest shares sold | FTSE 100 rises on EY report


The UK Government has sold more shares in NatWest, trimming its ownership of the bank to 35.94% from 36.94%.

Under its former group name Royal Bank of Scotland it was bailed out after almost going bust in 2008 and in recent years the Treasury has been cutting down its stake.

During last year’s Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced he wanted sell more shares in NatWest in a retail sale, similar to the Tell Sid campaign of the 1980s when the government privateised British Gas. This would boost share ownership among the public.

Shares in NatWest closed 5.6p (2.69%) higher at 213.55p, well below their 12-month high of 313p and more than half the 500p average price paid during the bail-out.

Market gambles

La Française des Jeux, which operates the French lottery, has proposed a €2.6 billion takeover of Swedish firm Kindred Group in a deal that would create one of Europe’s biggest online gambling outfits.

Activist investors Corvex Capital and Eminence Capital have pushed for the deal and both have been making aggressive overtures towards Entain, the FTSE 100 operator of Coral and Ladbrokes, over its lagging share price

Entain climbed 43.25p, or 4.7% to 960p, while Playtech, the FTSE 250 gaming technology platform, put on 10p, or 2.4%, to 434.5p. The William Hill owner 888, which was reported to have rejected a £700 million takeover approach from Playtech last year, added 2.75p, or 3.3% to close at 83½p.

FTSE 100 ahead

The FTSE 100 closed 25.78 points (0.35%) higher at 7,487.71 as it regained some ground after last week’s sell-off.

It was expected to start the week on the front foot after a positive outlook on the UK economy from the EY Item Club and  boosted by further gains in the US, including a new all-time high for the S&P 500.

CMC Markets UK chief market analyst Michael Hewson said: “The current divergence between US and European markets is probably down to the belief that the US economy is in much better shape than its European counterparts, a belief that is likely to be reinforced further this week by the latest US Q4 GDP numbers, ahead of next week’s Fed meeting.”

Tesla, Intel, Netflix and GE are among those reporting earnings this week.

In Asia, China’s central bank left its key interest rates unchanged on Monday, as expected by the market.

Compass acquisition

Catering giant Compass Group has served up a £475 million deal to buy CH&Co, the hospitality provider for venues such as Kew Gardens.

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