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LONDON MARKET PRE-OPEN: Ascential Buys Stake In Avast's Jumpshot Unit

(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London are seen opening flat on Monday as investors tempered ...

Alliance News 22 July, 2019 | 7:40AM
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(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London are seen opening flat on Monday as investors tempered expectations over the size of the US Federal Reserve's interest rate cut ahead of its monetary policy meeting later this month.

In company news, Whitbread announced the results of its tender offer and FTSE 250-listed Avast sold a stake in its marketing analytics platform to midcap peer Ascential for USD60.8 million.

IG futures indicate the FTSE 100 index is to open 6.60 points higher at 7,515.30. The blue chip index closed 15.61 points higher, or 0.2%, at 7,508.70 on Friday.

Hospitality firm Whitbread completed its GBP2 billion shareholder payout via the purchase of 40 million shares at 4,972 pence per share.

The Premier Inn hotel chain owner said this marks the successful completion of its capital return programme with a total of GBP2.5 billion returned, including the tender offer and previous share buyback programme. Whitbread said the tender offer was oversubscribed and no further capital returns are planned.

Responding to press speculation, high street bank Metro Bank confirmed that discussions regarding the potential sale of a loan portfolio are taking place. However, the company said there can be no certainty at that an agreement will be reached.

Antivirus software maker Avast said its subsidiary, Avast Software BV, has agreed to sell 35% data intelligence company Jumpshot to WGSN - a subsidiary of information and events company Ascential.

Ascential will pay USD60.8 million in cash for the stake, and the remaining 65% will continue to be held by its current shareholders, comprising mainly of Avast Software, with minority stakes held by participants of Jumpshot's stock option plan.

Ascential said it also had an option to take a majority ownership position in Jumpshot no sooner than January 2021.

Reporting its interim results, Ascential said its saw strong strategic progress and organic growth in revenue and profit.

For the half year to June 30, revenue increased to GBP236.2 million from GBP188.9 million last year, with growth of 8.7% on an organic basis and 11.0% on a proforma basis. Pretax profit was up to GBP30.5 million from GBP23.1 million last year.

The company declared an interim dividend of 1.8p, down from 1.9p the year before. Ascential said the slight reduction reflected the disposal of its Exhibitions business, which last year generated 4.0p per share of adjusted diluted earnings per share.

Ascential added that its is trading in line with expectations for the full year and remains confident in its overall performance and prospects for the year ahead.

Elsewhere, Barclays upgraded supermarket chain J Sainsbury to Overweight from Equal Weight.

In the US on Friday, Wall Street ended lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.3%, S&P 500 down 0.6% and Nasdaq Composite ending 0.7% lower.

Investors paused for breath after last week's gains as the New York Federal Reserve attempted to alleviate comments from its president John Williams, who had suggested the US Federal Reserve would cut borrowing costs by 50 basis points at its policy meeting later this month.

The Japanese Nikkei 225 index closed down 0.2%. In China, the Shanghai Composite is down 0.8%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is down 0.8%.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition maintained its majority in the upper house, official election results showed on Monday.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito won 71 seats in Sunday's elections for the House of Councillors, more than a half of the contested seats in the upper chamber of parliament. A total of 370 candidates vied for 124 seats in the elections, about half of the upper house, where the ruling coalition now holds a total of 141 seats and the opposition camp has 104.

Shanghai fell with investors in China piling cash into companies listed on the country's new Nasdaq-style exchange.

Twenty-five stocks debuted on the Shanghai Stock Exchange's Sci-Tech Innovation Board - dubbed the STAR Market - in which listing and trading rules have been eased to help channel funding to start-ups.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2504 early Monday, flat against USD1.2507 at the London equities close Friday.

The economic events calendar on Monday has UK CBI Industrial Trends Survey at 1100 BST.

By Arvind Bhunjun; arvindbhunjun@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2019 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar
Ascential PLC 340.40 GBX -0.47 -
Sainsbury (J) PLC 217.40 GBX -1.36
Avast PLC 425.20 GBX -0.33 -
Whitbread PLC 4,608.00 GBX -0.22 -
Metro Bank PLC 185.60 GBX -1.33 -

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Alliance News

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