Shares held by directors at some of the biggest companies in the FTSE 100 changed hands over the past week in a number of noteworthy transactions.

However the biggest deal came from AIM-listed law firm Gateley (GTLY:AIM), with directors and employees cashing in £11m worth of shares, representing 4.1% of the company’s issued share capital, in a placing to meet demand from institutional investors.

Among those selling shares were chief executive Michael Ward and chief operating officer Peter Davies, who sold 250,000 shares and 265,000 shares respectively at 200p each, netting them £500,000 and £530,000 respectively.

'SHARE IN SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS MADE'

Ward said, ‘The placing is in line with the board’s commitment to allow and incentivise our partners and employees to realise part of the value they have helped to create in an orderly fashion, and at a price one third higher than the company's previous realisation event.

‘In this way both shareholders and employees can share in the significant progress Gateley has made in the last year.’

He added, ‘In October last year we announced that the Gateley Partners had entered into new five year orderly market agreements, once again demonstrating their long term commitment to the group and creating a stable and structured platform from which internal and external shareholders can invest with confidence.’

Gateley’s share price has been on a decent run in the past year, rising over 25% to 206p today.

In its half-year results to 31 October, the firm reported an 11.8% rise in revenue to £51.8m and a 10.2% jump in pre-tax profit to £5.5m, with basic earnings per share increasing over 10% to 3.92p.

Other notable transactions over the past week involve banking giant Barclays (BARC), Premier Inn owner Whitbread (WTB) and water services company United Utilities (UU.).

FORMER BOND BOSS SNAPS UP BARCLAYS SHARES

Barclays non-executive director Mohamed El-Erian, a renowned economist who used to run American bond giant Pimco and now advises its corporate parent Allianz, bought 110,000 shares in the bank at 177p apiece, investing a total of £194,000.

It comes just three months after El-Erian said he was tilting his personal portfolio towards more cash holdings and less stocks, citing market anomalies and political uncertainties as key considerations.

Shares in Barclays dropped last week with investors shocked to hear that UK regulators are investigating links between its chief executive Jes Staley and disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The news overshadowed what were fairly decent results for the year to 31 December, with both the UK retail and the global investment bank contributing to an improvement in profits and a fall in their cost-to-income ratios.

WHITBREAD HR BOSS SELLS MORE SHARES

Meanwhile, Whitbread’s group HR director Louise Smalley sold 8,000 shares in two transactions – 5,000 shares at £47.34 each and 3,000 shares at £47.68 each – for a total sum of around £380,000.

The deal is Smalley’s second big transaction in a year after she offloaded over 11,000 shares last February, netting a total of just under £550,000.

Whitbread shares, currently around £47.44, have had an up-and-down year as the company has struggled with structural cost inflation affecting the hotel sector as well as political and economic uncertainty in the UK.

In response the company has embarked on an ‘efficiency programme’ to help offset rising costs while it sees the business environment improving.

FINANCE DIRECTOR SELLS BEFORE RETIREMENT

The other big FTSE 100 director deal of the week comes from United Utilities finance director Russ Houlden, who sold 18,000 shares at £10.02 each for a total of just over £180,000.

The deal is the latest in a series of share sales by Houlden in the past few years ahead of his retirement in July.

In its half-year results to 30 September 2019, the firm reported a slight increase in revenue to £935.5m, up from £916.4m in the same period in 2018, as well as a small rise in underlying operating profit to £391.7m, up from £367.8m.

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Issue Date: 20 Feb 2020