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Market report: LSE soars on Refinitiv takeover hopes

Louis Ashworth
·2-min read
Refinitiv
Refinitiv

London Stock Exchange Group’s shares jumped the most on the benchmark, up 764p to £87.54, after its takeover of Refinitiv, the data provider backed by Blackstone and Thomson Reuters, received a major boost.

The European Commission was reported to have agreed to give the $27bn (£20bn) deal the green light.

The commission is set to clear the transaction after the exchange agreed to new concessions to address antitrust concerns, according to a report by Reuters citing unnamed sources.

The bourse operator had already struck a €4.3bn (£3.9bn) deal to sell Borsa Italiana to Euronext and offered to allow rivals access to some of its data for a decade.

The City’s benchmark FTSE 100 index closed firmly higher after the UK became the first country in the world to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, from Pfizer and BioNTech.

While traders were initially tentative about the announcement, stocks rose in afternoon trading. The FTSE 100 added 78.66 points to 6,463.39, while the FTSE 250 rose 32.96 to 19,877.7.

Countryside Properties fell 3.2p to 440.8p after finding itself under attack from investor Browning West, which is demanding the company replaces chairman David Howell and splits off its housebuilding arm to focus on its partnerships business, which works with local authorities and housing associations.

Browning West, which has built up a 9.4pc stake in the FTSE 250 company, also wants to install its founder Usman Nabi on the board.

It said it was going public after private discussions with Countryside revealed a “reluctance” to address “significant deficiencies” or “consider meaningful opportunities to significantly enhance shareholder value”.

Countryside said it was focused on “acting in the best interest of all our shareholders” and listened carefully to them. Full-year results are due on Thursday.

Shares in office space company IWG fell 23.6p to 328p after it announced it is offering about £350m of convertible bonds in order to fund M&A opportunities.

In an adjacent update, the group said its trading performance had improved since its last report in early November. Stifel’s Sam Dindol said: “We continue to expect investors to look through near-term challenges to the group’s wider opportunities given its strong balance sheet.”

Among small-caps, construction outsourcer Kier Group rose 2.4p to 79.90p after Sky News reported Guy Hands’ private equity group Terra Firma had reopened talks with its advisers over a potential takeover of its housebuilding division.

Conduit, a reinsurance start-up, raised more than £800m amid a general pick-up in listing activity.

Its shares, sold at 500p a piece, ended at 510p on the grey market on Wednesday ahead of unconditional trading next week.