London shares are firm in early trade on Thursday as investors look to August UK manufacturing PMI data due later this morning. The FTSE 100 adds 40-odd points, or about 0.6%, to 6,823.

Among the bigger stories is Media FTSE 250 Ascential (ASCL). Its shares slump more than 5% to 251p as major shareholders Apax and the Guardian Media Group (GMG) flog substantial chunks of their respective stakes, sparking two representative directors to leave the board. A total of 80 million shares have been sold at 250p, cutting their stakes to 25% and 14.9% respectively.

Speedy Hire (SDY) continues its ongoing war of words with its biggest shareholder Toscafund over the potential merger with HSS (HSS) ahead of issuing a special general meeting next Friday. In a statement today the company again urges investors to reject proposed resolutions. Shares the the tool hire firm nudge 1.75% higher to 40p.

Speedy Hire depot sign

Energy exploration independent Andalas Energy and Power (ADL:AIM) jumps 13% to 0.21p as it strikes a cooperation deal to fast-track commercialisation of marginal gas fields within Pertamina’s acreage in Indonesia.

A subscription cash call for £500,000 of working capital pings fertiliser play African Potash (AFPO:AIM) to the head of the AIM loser board, the stock slumping close on 31% to 0.22p, an unsurprising move given the similar discount offered for new shares.


Time is running out for former resources minnow ZincOx (ZOX:AIM), now a cash shell after selling its operations. The company's stock slumps 32% to 0.48p as it closes in on a stock trading suspension on 28 October if it cannot find a business to buy.

Deal-hungry car retailer Vertu Motors (VTU:AIM) adds 0.25p at 48.75p on a positive pre-close update highlighting robust half-year trading. CEO Robert Forrester is confident of delivering record full-year sales and profits and declares 'the result of the Referendum to leave the European Union has, to date, not impacted consumer confidence as adversely as some were initially predicting and the Group has not experienced any significant change in consumer behaviour.'

A slump in full year profits at industrial products manufacturer 600 Group (SIXH:AIM) knock the stock more than 10% lower to 8.5p. Analysts at broker FinnCap put on a brave face saying that the figures are 'marginally higher than our forecasts despite some challenging market conditions.' The broker and shareholders will be hoping that pain today will translate into a more contructive business going forward.

Issue Date: 01 Sep 2016