The FTSE 100 starts a smidge higher on Wednesday at 7,203.64 with gains in the mining sector offset by weak utilities. Sterling is fairly steady ahead of a series of votes by MPs later to try and find a consensus on Brexit.

Ailing department store Debenhams (DEB) jumps 52% after Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct (SPD) proposes a takeover bid worth £61.4m. Sports Direct rose 0.4%. The deal would be conditional on appointing Ashley as chief executive and abandoning a financial restructuring which would more or less wipe shareholders out.

Tobacco company Imperial Brands (IMB) slips 0.2%, despite forecasting annual revenue at the upper end of its guidance range.

Housebuilders Bellway Homes (BWY) gains 1.4% as it posts an 8.7% rise in first half profit, buoyed by higher home completions and selling prices. The company also reports margin pressure which is likely to continue for the remainder of the year and a slight uptick in its cancellation rate from 11% to 13% as Brexit uncertainty hits consumer confidence

Property investor RDI REIT (RDI) rallies 16% as it confirms media speculation that it had received an unsolicited takeover approach from Cromwell Property Group.

Food packing business Hilton Food (HFG) gains 2.1% as the acquisition in 2017 of seafood distributor Seachill helps boost its annual profit by 27%.

Heat resistant materials supplier RHI Magnesita (RHIM) advances 2% on a swing to a full-year profit, as volume growth and pricing gains drive sales higher.

Advertising group M&C Saatchi (SAA:AIM) chalks up a 16% rise in annual profit as it won new projects from clients including Reebok, eBay and Tourism Australia. Its shares, however, are down 0.7%.

Life sciences firm OptiBiotix (OPTI:AIM) Health gains 1.9% on revealing that it has entered into a three-year distribution agreement with Silv Expo for Russia and Kazakhstan.

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Issue Date: 27 Mar 2019