Marlboro firm Philip Morris tightened its grip on Vectura earlier, as it emerged that more than a fifth of the inhaler maker’s shareholders had already sold up ahead of the tobacco giant’s £1.1 billion takeover.
The in-market purchases were made at 165p a share, the same as the takeover price Philip Morris agreed with the board of FTSE 250-listed Vectura last week.
The 22.6% stake strengthens the US firm’s position ahead of a shareholder vote and also highlights that the City thinks this is now a done deal after Philip Morris saw off an earlier bid from private equity firm Carlyle.
Health and science bodies are less happy and have hit out at the prospect of the Wiltshire-based firm’s research into respiratory diseases being funded by a company whose tobacco products can cause them. Vectura shares were today 0.6p higher at just below 165p.
The move came in a lacklustre session for the wider London market, with the FTSE 100 index down 26.17 points at 7,154.94 and the FTSE 250 index 36.61 points higher at 23,730.14.
Infrastructure services business Balfour Beatty came under pressure in the FTSE 250, despite returning to profit at the half year stage and declaring an interim dividend 43% higher than the pre-pandemic level. Shares slid 5% or 18.6p to 300.4p.
There was better news from Middle East-based payments firm Network International, which surged more than 10% as it forecast revenues this year will be slightly higher than in 2019.
On AIM, Angling Direct shares were 1.6p higher at 73.6p after the fishing tackle and equipment retailer reported half-year sales growth of 20% as it benefits from more anglers being able to get out on the UK’s waterways.