UK stocks get off to a flying start on Monday with the FTSE 100 up 0.7% to 7,157 points and the FTSE 250 up 0.4% to 19,116 points.

Defensive stocks are leading the way with Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK), NMC Health (NMC) and Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) the top risers on the FTSE 100.

In company news, fashion retailer Superdry (SDRY) has called a general meeting for 2nd April at the request of co-founders Julian Dunkerton (above) and James Holder to consider their election to the board of directors.

The board has unanimously recommended that shareholders vote against their election, blaming Mr Dunkerton for the poor sales of the Autumn/Winter 2018 range and insisting that his return would damage the business.

Superdry shares hold steady at 526p.

Meanwhile department-store operator Debenhams (DEB) has confirmed that it is in ‘advanced negotiations’ with its lenders to extend its loan facility from £40m to £150m in an attempt to fend off Mike Ashley’s bid to take control. Shares advance 2% to 3.6p.

Last week Ashley (above), chief executive of Sports Direct (SPD) and owner of Newcastle United, attempted to sack most of Debenham’s directors and appoint himself to the board.

Independent oil and gas explorer Cairn Energy (CNE) lowers expectations for a speedy resolution to its Indian court case, sending its shares down 6% to 184p.

In its latest update it says that the timetable for issuing the award has been dragged out longer than expected and ‘is unlikely to be before late 2019’.

Cairn took the Indian tax authorities to court in 2015 over retrospective taxes imposed on it and is claiming $1.4bn in compensation. It still maintains it has a ‘high level of confidence in the merits of its claims’.

Challenger banks Charter Court Financial (CCFS) and Onesavings Bank (OSB) confirm that they are in merger talks after weekend press speculation.

Under the terms of the deal, Onesavings Bank shareholders would own around 55% of the combined bank and current chief executive Andy Golding would lead the new group.

The two firms are specialists in buy-to-let mortgages, which has been a difficult market for the last year as buyers pull in their horns, yet there are no details of cost savings and both banks want to keep their own distribution platforms.

Shares in Charter Court rise 6% to 325p while shares in Onesavings Bank top the FTSE 250 with a rise of 8% to 400p.



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Issue Date: 11 Mar 2019