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FTSE 100 Live: Brent crude price up again, Nelson Peltz joins Unilever board

·6-min read
FTSE 100 Live: Brent crude price up again, Nelson Peltz joins Unilever board

Brent crude posted another sharp price rise today after EU leaders moved to ban 90% of Russian oil imports by the end of the year.

Brent rose traded at $124 a barrel, having risen for the past eight sessions in a further blow for motorists faced with record refuelling costs. The spike adds to pressure on OPEC+ ministers to accelerate monthly production rates when they meet on Thursday.

In corporate news, B&M European Value Retail has released annual results while Unilever has appointed activist investor Nelson Peltz, of Trian Fund Management, as a non-executive director.

FTSE 100 Live Tuesday

  • Brent crude near $124 after EU’s Russia oil ban

  • Unilever shares surge on board role for activist investor

  • GSK unveils major deal for US-based vaccines firm

Unilever surges on Peltz board role, FTSE 100 higher

10:08 , Graeme Evans

Unilever’s board role for activist investor Nelson Peltz sent shares surging today as investors eyed the potential for faster change at the consumer goods giant.

Peltz’s appointment as a non-executive director from July comes after his Trian fund management became Unilever’s fourth biggest shareholder with a 1.5% stake in the Dove-to-Marmite firm worth about £1.4 billion.

His previous involvement in the sector saw Peltz serve on the boards of US-based stocks Procter & Gamble, Heinz and Mondelez.

This latest role is likely to heap pressure on Unilever chief executive Alan Jope after criticism over last year’s failed bid for GSK’s consumer health division and a disappointing share price performance so far this year.

The FTSE 100 stock jumped 7% or 234.5p to 3730p today, but had been above 4200p last summer. AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “We may now see the company advance plans to streamline the business.”

Unilever chair Nils Andersen said he looked forward to harnessing Peltz’s consumer sector experience. Peltz added: “We believe it is a company with significant potential, through leveraging its portfolio of strong consumer brands and its geographical footprint.”

The rally by one of London’s biggest stocks and further gains for energy giants BP and Shell on the back of rising oil prices ensured the FTSE 100 index was in positive territory with a gain of 0.5% or 42.14 points to 7642.20.

In contrast to London’s top flight, Europe’s leading markets were lower and the UK-focused FTSE 250 index fell 54.37 points to 20,492.52.

In the second tier, consumer-focused stocks lost some of their recent gains as easyJet slipped back 15.2p to 520p and electricals retailer Currys eased 2.15p to 85.5p.

British Gas owner Centrica rose 0.74p to 78.18p, reinforcing expectations that it will secure promotion back to the FTSE 100 index when the latest quarterly reshuffle is determined based on tonight’s closing prices.

Student housing firm Unite is set to join Centrica in the top flight, at the expense of Royal Mail and ITV. Interactive Investor’s head of markets Richard Hunter said there could be a third change, with Harbour Energy in danger of making a swift exit after just a month as a blue-chip company.

Unilever up 7%, oil stocks protect FTSE 100

09:01 , Graeme Evans

Unilever shares have jumped 7% after Nelson Peltz’s board appointment boosted hopes for faster change at the consumer goods giant.

The stock rose 257p to 3752.5p in a session when the FTSE 100 was close to its opening mark at 7613.15, a gain of 13.09 points.

The ongoing rise in Brent crude prices meant shares in BP, Shell and former Premier Oil business Harbour Energy all lifted 1%. Burberry also improved 13p to 1718p on the back of lockdown restrictions easing in major China cities.

B&M European Value Retail shares tumbled 8% in the FTSE 100 index after its annual results highlighted the “many and varied uncertainties and headwinds” which are likely to impact on its trading performance in the current year.

In the FTSE 250, British Gas owner Centrica rose 2% ahead of its likely promotion in tonight’s quarterly FTSE 100 reshuffle. However, the second tier fell 132.11 points to 20,414.78 following declines of at least 3% for stocks including Wizz Air, Currys and Trustpilot.

GSK unveils $2.1bn deal for US vaccines business

08:32 , Graeme Evans

Pharmaceuticals giant GSK today bolstered its vaccines business with plans for the acquisition of Boston, Massachusetts-based Affinivax in a deal worth an initial $2.1 billion (£1.66 billion).

Affinivax is involved in the development of next-generation pneumococcal vaccines, including for meningitis, bloodstream infections and milder diseases such as sinusitis.

As well as the upfront cost of the deal, GSK has agreed two further milestone payments of $600 million (£475.5 million) based on meeting clinical development milestones. The move comes as GSK prepares for this summer’s separation of its consumer healthcare division.

GSK’s chief scientific officer Dr Hal Barron said: "The proposed acquisition further strengthens our vaccines R&D pipeline, provides access to a new, potentially disruptive technology, and broadens GSK's existing scientific footprint in the Boston area.

GSK’s shares were 5.8p higher at 1733.8p today.

Nelson Peltz joins Unilever board

08:01 , Graeme Evans

Activist investor Nelson Peltz is to join the Unilever board after the Trian fund management business he founded built a 1.5% stake.

The Dove-to-Marmite consumer goods giant said his appointment as a non-executive director will be effective from July 20.

Peltz has previously served on the boards of Procter & Gamble, Heinz and Mondelēz.

He said today: "I am delighted to be joining the Board of Unilever. We believe it is a company with significant potential, through leveraging its portfolio of strong consumer brands and its geographical footprint.

“Trian has made a considerable investment in Unilever. We look forward to working collaboratively with management and the board to help drive Unilever's strategy, operations, sustainability, and shareholder value for the benefit of all stakeholders."

Brent crude at $124 a barrel, FTSE 100 steady

07:46 , Graeme Evans

Brent crude is up to $124 a barrel after supply concerns were fuelled by the EU’s decision to ban 90% of Russian crude imports by the end of the year.

The upward momentum also reflected a potential demand surge from China amid moves to reopen Beijing and Shanghai following recent Covid restrictions.

The Brent price is now firmly above $120 a barrel for the first time in over two months, having risen for the past eight sessions.

The focus now turns to Thursday’s meeting of OPEC+ ministers, although there are few signs that they are planning to change the pace of monthly output.

It emerged yesterday that the cost of refuelling a typical diesel car is now above £100 after the AA said the average price reached 182.59p a litre.

Despite the ongoing inflationary pressures, there are signs that markets are becoming more comfortable with the pace of the monetary policy tightening needed to bring prices back towards central bank targets.

The FTSE 100 index is within 100 points of its February high and is expected to stay at 7,600 when trading resumes this morning.

US markets, which rallied towards the end of last week, are also pointing to a steady start after yesterday’s Memorial Day holiday.

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