Market Report

Bruce joins Phoenix | Wood rises | NatWest share sale

Stephanie Bruce
Stephanie Bruce: rising at Phoenix

Closed book pensions company Phoenix Group has hired Stephanie Bruce as its interim finance boss to replace outgoing CFO Rakesh Thakrar. 

Mr Thakrar, who has been at the company for 23 years, will remain with the business to ‘ensure an orderly handover’ before stepping down after Ms Bruce receives regulatory approval, at a date to be announced. 

She was a non-executive director of Phoenix between June 2022 and May 2023 and will report to managing director Andy Briggs. While she will attend all board meetings she will not become a statutory director. 

Ms Bruce left Abrdn in May 2023 after four years as chief financial officer having been subject to shareholder concerns about her remuneration.

She was in post at was then Standard Life Aberdeen when the assets and Standard Life brand to Phoenix. 

Shares in Phoenix fell by 12p, or 2.3% to 508.5p.

Wood Group

Shares in the oil and gas engineer Wood Group edged above 200p on reports of a higher offer from the Middle East engineering company Sidara.

The Aberdeen company revealed last week that it had rejected a £1.4 billion offer of 205p a share on 30 April as it “fundamentally undervalued Wood and its future prospects”.

Analysts expect Sidara to come back with a higher bid, but one below the 240p a share that the buyout fund Apollo offered for Wood last year before withdrawing its interest. There is talk of Apoll re-entering the race.

Wood’s share price has hovered at about 150p over the past year but have risen on the back of the speculation. They closed 4.5p higher at 200.25p, their highest in a year.

More NatWest shares sold

The UK taxpayer’s shareholding in NatWest Group (RBS) has fallen to 26.95% as a result of its ongoing trading plan and ahead of a likely sale of some shares to retail investors.

The stake is sharply down since December when the government had a 37.98% holding. At the end of 2022 it was 45.9%.

Anglo American rejects BHP bid

A sweetened £34 billion takeover approach from BHP for its rival Anglo American has been rejected by the FTSE 100 mining group as “highly unattractive”.

BHP has raised its offer by 14.6% to 0.8132 BHP shares per Anglo share, implying a price of 2753p per share, compared with £25 under its 16 April approach.

Full update here

London close

The FTSE 100 was 18.77 points, or 0.22% lower at, to 8,414.99 as investors drew breath after last week’s fevered rise.

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