M&A excitement in the gambling space and a strong showing on Wall Street helped the FTSE 100 to a positive finish on Friday, closing 0.3% higher at 5,842.67.

Bookmaker William Hill (WMH) surged 42.5% to 310p as it revealed it had received two cash bids – raising the prospect of a competitive auction for the business. This led to strength in the wider gambling sector.

Online fashion retailer Boohoo (BOO:AIM) jumped 15.2% to 373.6p, even after an independent review identified 'many failings' in its Leicester supply chain, which was the subject of an under-paid worker scandal earlier in the year.

On the plus side, the review concluded Boohoo 'did not intentionally profit' from the failings. The company said it was implementing enhancements to its supplier audit and compliance procedures.

Infant merchandise retailer Mothercare (MTC) was also a big gainer, rallying 12.7% to 9.5p, as it swung to a full-year profit, having booked a one-off gain on the loss of control of its UK business.

Mothercare, however, also posted an underlying loss as revenue fell. On current trading, its said in the first 28 weeks of the 2021 financial year, its franchise partners had recorded a 39% slump in retail sales.

Elsewhere, budget carrier Wizz Air (WIZZ) descended 1.2% to £30.60 on announcing that it now expected to operate at 50% of capacity in October year-on-year, citing ongoing travel restrictions owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wizz Air also said that, should restrictions remain at current levels, it likely wouldn't operate at a higher level of capacity during winter than its projection for October.

London West End property investor Shaftesbury (SHB) gained 2.8% to 474.2p after it decided to scrap its final dividend, while warning that fresh government lockdowns could stymie a recent recovery in retail footfall.

Shaftesbury said 41% of its rent due for the six months through September had been collected. Another 10% was expected to be subject to deferred collection arrangements, 23% was being waived and 26% remained outstanding at 11 September.

Water utility Pennon (PNN) gained 1.8% to £10.59, having announced that it would update investors in November about its plans for its cash pile, with acquisitions and returns to shareholder both still on the company's radar.

In a trading update, Pennon also said it was on track to deliver 'resilient' financial results for the year through 30 September in line with its expectations, including a Covid-19 hit to revenue of £10 million.

Office assets developer Circle Property (CRC:AIM) rose 1.8% to 150.2p even after it reported a slump in profit as lower revaluation gains of its properties offset a rise in rental income.

Circle Property also declared a final dividend of 2p per share, bringing its total annual dividend to 5.3p per share.

Natural resources royalty and streaming company Anglo Pacific (APF) firmed 12.4% to 115p as it launched an up to £5 million share buyback.

New restaurants IPO Various Eateries (VARE:AIM) made its debut on AIM. The business, founded by hospitality entrepreneur Hugh Osmond, was down 5.6% on its issue price to 69.75p.

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Issue Date: 25 Sep 2020