The UK’s benchmark FTSE 100 index closed almost flat at 6,555.39 as Brexit dominated the headlines on Monday, with the UK and EU now at a ‘critical stage’ in their talks over a trade deal.
Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt told the House of Commons that the UK and EU are at a ‘critical moment in the negotiations’ and warned the UK is prepared to walk away from talks if the EU cannot ‘find compromises’.
Volatility in the pound helped the leading index, which is exporter-heavy, but the more domestically-focused FTSE 250 – considered a barometer for Brexit sentiment – fell 1.25% to 19,929.73.
Brexit uncertainty hit domestic-facing sectors like housebuilders and real estate hardest, with high end homes specialist Berkeley (BKG) slumping 7.3% to £44.18 to become the biggest faller on the FTSE.
Britain and the EU are making a last-ditch attempt to strike a post-Brexit trade deal this week, striving to solve key sticking points in fishing, governance rules and dispute resolution.
In company news, cloud communication provider Imimobile (IMO) jumped 49.1% to 600p after it accepted a £543 million takeover offer from networking company Cisco Systems.
Imimobile investors would get 595p a share, a 48% premium to the company’s closing price on Friday.
Retailing group Frasers (FRAS), formerly known as Sports Direct, fell 2.31% to 423.8p on confirming it was in negotiations with the administrators of Debenhams about a potential rescue transaction for the latter's UK operations.
Frasers, however, added that ‘time is short’ and that its position was complicated by the recent administration Arcadia, Debenhams’ biggest concession holder.
Miniature wargames maker Games Workshop (GAW) retreated from highs for the day to advance 1.37% to £100.10 as it guided for a 53% jump first-half profit, buoyed by bumper sales.
Games Workshop also declared an interim dividend of 60p per share, though that was down 40% year-on-year.
Home-improvement retailer Kingfisher (KGF) fell 1.23% to 265.5p as it more than halved a cost-savings target, having decided to return rates relief received from the government due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Kingfisher said it now expected its annual pre-tax profit would include about £85 million of non-recurring cost savings, down from previous guidance of about £175 million.
Specialty chemicals firm Elementis (ELM) fell 2.44% to 123.7p after it rejected a third takeover bid from US rival Minerals Technologies.
The company called the latest offer of 130p per share, which values the firm at £755 million, ‘highly opportunistic, coming at a low point of earnings and value’.
Internet of things investor Telit Communications (TCM:AIM) was 0.25% higher at 201.5p on announcing that a takeover offer lobbed by largest shareholder DBAY Advisers ‘fundamentally’ undervalued the company.
DBAY on Friday flagged a possible offer of £1.90 per share, but then announced it had bought some Telit shares at a highest price of £1.948. Under UK takeover rules, any offer would need to be at or above that price.
Real estate group Land Securities (LAND) fell 2.73% to 705.8p after it acquired an office-led building at 55 Old Broad Street, London, from PGIM Real Estate for £87 million.
Fellow property group CLS (CLI) dropped 3.96% to 218p as it exchanged contracts to acquire two office properties in Berlin, Germany, and Watford, United Kingdom, for a combined £55.9 million.
Alternative asset and corporate services provider Sanne (SNN) shed 3.48% to 555p on announcing that it had acquired private equity fund administrator Private Equity Administrators from founders for up to €30.3 million.
Sanne also said it expected to deliver underlying earnings per share for the year ending 31 December in-line with expectations, ‘despite the market backdrop remaining uncertain’.
Auto dealer Vertu Motors (VTU:AIM) moved 0.89% higher to 28.2p following news that it had acquired a market area of 12 sales outlets in England from Inchcape for £18.7 million, giving it a significant exposure to BMW and Mini vehicles.
Vertu also said its performance had remained ahead of prior year and original budget levels, with pre-tax profit in the nine months through November up around 15%.