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William Hill owner rises after £700m deal snub

By John Abiona

SHARES in William hill owner 888 soared after the gambling firm reportedly snubbed a £700m takeover offer over the summer.

888 rejected an offer of 156p a share from gambling software group Playtech in July, according to The Sunday Times.

Shares in 888 surged 19.1pc, or 13.45p, to 84.05p when the stock market reopened yesterday – valuing it at around £375m.

But the group, which will this month crash out of the FTSE 250 index because its value has fallen so far, is worth just over half of Playtech’s offer. City analysts pointed out that both companies have been subject to recent takeover approaches.

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: ‘Playtech is not the only party reported to be interested – in November, the Financial Times reported that US betting group DraftKings was also eyeing up a bid for 888 over the summer.’

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: ‘Playtech has turned from prey to predator, having last year fought off bid interest from a hong Kong consortium and an australian business.’

Playtech shares edged up 1.1pc, or 4.4p, to 420.4p.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.2pc, or 16.39 points, to 7512.96 and the FTSE 250 shed 0.3pc, or 47.4 points, to 18361.25.

Commodity stocks came under pressure as lower metal and oil prices took their toll. Anglo American slid 3.7pc, or 86.5p, to 2224.5p, Rio Tinto fell 2.7pc, or 151p, to 5448p, Glencore dropped 3.1pc, or 14.05p, to 443.65p, BP slipped 1.4pc, or 6.45p, to 471.95p and Shell lost 1.2pc, or 31.5p, to 2536.5p.

Paper and packaging firm DS Smith should cut costs, avoid pursuing expensive mergers and acquisitions and focus on making its operations as effective as possible, according to Barclays.

The bank, which upgraded its rating on the company, said it is one of the cheapest stocks in its industry and should increase in value once sales recover.

Shares increased 1.2pc, or 3.6p, to 300.1p.

But Diageo headed in the other direction amid concerns that brewers and soft drinks producers are more resilient than distillers.

Deutsche Bank researched downgraded its rating of the company behind Baileys, Johnnie Walker and Guinness. Shares fell 0.4pc, or 12p, to 2804p.

Government contractor Capita agreed to sell its stake in the joint business it set up eight years ago with the Department for environment, Food & rural affairs.

The group, which runs the London congestion charge and collects the BBC licence fee, sold its 75pc stake in science company Fera to the private equity firm Bridgepoint for £62m. Capita said the sale will help strengthen its balance sheet and marks the end of its strategy to simplify the business by selling non- core assets. Shares rose 2.5pc, or 0.5p, to 20.5p.

Petrofac gained 22.4pc, or 3.81p, to 20.82p as it said it is weighing up the sale of its non-core assets in a bid to bolster its finances.

The oilfield services group also warned its cash flow will be lower than hoped due to delays in securing advance payment guarantees before the end of this year.

Green energy firms were also on the march.

Ceres Power clawed back some losses after it warned on Friday that revenue for this year will be lower than hoped as it is unlikely to sign a new licensing deal before the end of 2023. Shares rose 3.4pc, or 5.9p, to 180.2p.

ITM Power reiterated its fullyear forecasts as the green electrolyser maker made progress in its 12-month turnaround plan.

Boss Dennis Schulz said ITM needed to cut costs when he took over in December last year. Shares rose 17.3pc, or 8.92p, to 60.46p.





dmg media (UK)