Investors remain fixed in sell-off mood as weak inflation data from China and Germany reignites fears about a global economic slowdown. The benchmark FTSE 100 in gets pushed sharply lower in early trade Wednesday, slumping 75 points to 6,318, a rough 0.8% decline.
The Footsie loser board is led by UK drugs maker Shire (SHP) as it faces a likely knockout blow to its agreed takeover. US rival Abbvie (ABBV:NYSE) confirmed overnight that it could pull the plug on its £32 billion buyout after new US tax laws slam the door on overseas sales tax dodges. Shire claims that it will be due a whopping $1.64 billion break clause payout if the deal is scuppered but that fails to prevent the shares collapsing 25% to £38.49 in early trade.
Bluetooth microchips designer CSR (CSR) stuns the market by announcing an agreed 900p per share takeover by US peer Qualcomm (QCOM:NDQ). The announcement comes right out of the blue with CSR having been in possible merger talks with another US semiconductors manufacturer, Microchip Technology (MCHP:NDQ), for several weeks. The shares jump 31% to 863p, implying that the market sees the £1.56 billion Qualcomm offer as a knockout deal.
Despite plummeting oil prices BG Group (BG.) bucks the wider negative trend in the sector, gaining 1.3% to £10.38, after nabbing Statoil (STL:OL) chief executive officer (CEO) Helge Lund as its new boss. The company had been without a CEO since the departure of Chris Finlayson in April and Deutsche Bank comments: 'Viewing positively the track record and contribution of Helge Lund to Statoil over the past decade we see this as a positive step for BG, removing as it does a key uncertainty and filling the gap with a widely regarded industry heavyweight.'
Mining group Aquarius Platinum (AQP) falls 5% to 19p as a Chinese consortium terminates talks to buy the miner's Blue Ridge project in South Africa.
Language translation services software supplier SDL (SDL) rallies 5.5% to 327.5p as a third quarter trading updates lends confidence to the group's turnaround strategy. New licences and better margins are in evidence in the update for July to September, although Canaccord analysts echo Shares own recent sentiments that SDL needs to deliver full year expectations 'before we can say with conviction that management’s significant restructuring activities are able to deliver sustainable profitable growth.'
The departure of well regarded chief executive officer Leo Quinn from defence technology specialist QinetiQ (QQ.) to Balfour Beatty (BBY) sees its shares head in the opposite direction down 9.6% to 198p.
Challenger bank Aldermore has ditched its planned IPO as market appetite dries up amid the recent sell-off. Hopes to raise £75 million of funding is clearly beyond it, and this may not be the last IPO plan to get pulled.
Kazakh explorer Roxi Petroleum (RXP:AIM) falls 20% to 14.25p as the market expresses frustration at a lack of progress on its BNG asset. Despite drilling the successful exploration A5 well testing the deeper potential of BNG in July the company is only just about to commence a flow test on the discovery to determine commerciality - to date pressure issues mean oil has only flowed for short periods.
A big third quarter for big data sparks a 12.5% jump in WANdisco (WAND:AIM) shares to 337.5p. The once hot AIM favourite has signed big data partnerships with both IBM (IBM:NYSE) and Oracle (ORCL:NYSE) in the US, as well as with another unnamed Fortune 100 tech giant. Over bookings jump 49% although the company remains in hefty cash burn mode.
A delivery deal with Amazon sends news and magazine distributor Connect (CNCT) soaring 17%, up 23p to 161p. The business, formerly known as Smiths News, will supply ‘click and collect’ style deliveries for the online retail behemoth through its existing network. Chief executive officer Mark Cashmore tells Shares that the service is now live at 500 retailers and will be rolled out to thousands more in 2015. He says the deal could be worth between £5 million and £10 million in profit annually to Connect in three years’ time.
Start-up specialist Imperial Innovations (IVO:AIM) delivers an eye-watering 38% return from its portfolio of technology companies in the 12 months to 31 July. Imperial’s stock trades 5% higher at 470p.
Private bank Arbuthnot (ARBB:AIM) bizarrely flags an 'improving economy' in a third quarter update. The shares rise 4.6% to £11.30 as investors tune in to the surprising comments. The company also flags better prospects for its 53%-owned retail operation Secure Trust (STB:AIM). Its' shares rise 3% to £24.93.
Acquisitive car retailer Vertu Motors (VTU:AIM) cheapens 3.5% to 55.5p despite speeding in with record first half figures. Pre-tax profits accelerated 51.1% to £13.3 million in the half to end-August and the dividend rises 16.7% to 0.35p.