The collapse over the weekend of package holidays firm Thomas Cook (TCG) dominates market talk in early trade on Monday as the 178-year old business falls into liquidation after emergency funding talks broke down.

Shares in the business are immediately suspended at the 3.45p level that they closed on Friday, although investors have effectively been treating the equity as worthless for months.

Thousands of customers abroad would have to be repatriated in one of the UK’s largest exercises ever.

Thomas Cook’s collapse has significant knock-on effects, with rival holidays operator TUI (TUI) storming to the top of the FTSE 100 leader board in early deals with investors betting that it will pick up substantial business from holidays demand.

TUI shares rallied more than 7% to 901.4p.

Online-only holidays company On the Beach (OTB) also makes positive ground, the stock up 3% to 392.2p, even as it announced that it would take a one-off charge related to Thomas Cook's collapse as it juggles alternative holiday options for holidaymakers with now useless Thomas Cook bookings.

Dart Group (DTG:AIM), the owner of the Jet2 holidays business, is also expected to be a big winner from Thomas Cook’s demise, the shares rallying more than 9% at 922p.

Airlines are mixed with International Consolidated Airlines (IAG), the owner of British Airways, seeing its share price modestly higher at 478p, while EasyJet's (EZJ) stock jumped by more than 6% to £11.205.

UK markets overall opened lower on Monday following the release of weak French economic data, while concerns lingered over the state of US/China trade relations.

At 9am the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down around 30 points, or 0.4%, at 7,313.03.

FINANCE BOSS TO GO AT M&S

Clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS) fell 3.5% to 189.1p on announcing that chief financial officer Humphrey Singer had decided to stand down, at a date that had yet to be determined.

Sports Direct (SPD) nudged 0.2% to 280.2p after it confirmed that it had approached small-sided football group Goals Soccer Centres with a possible offer of 5p per share.

The sportswear retailer already owns about 18.9% of Goals, which is currently suspended from trading after the discovery of accounting errors in its books.

Pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca (AZN) climbed 0.9% to £72.31 after a diabetes treatment was recommended for marketing authorisation in the EU.

Online women's fashion retailer Sosandar (SOS:AIM) said it was having a ‘very strong’ autumn, with revenue in September higher on-year.

‘It has been an exciting time of growth and development for Sosandar,’ chairman Bill Murray said in speech notes for the company's annual general meeting.

Leisure group Brighton Pier (PIER:AIM) reversed earlier gains to slide 2% to 48.5p despite posting a 17% rise in first half profit and said good weather during the August bank holiday had gotten its new financial year off to a bright start.

Light commercial vehicle hire company Northgate (NTG) rose 3.5% to 313p on announcing that it had launched a strategic review under recently-appointed chairman Avril Palmer-Baunack.

The company also said that it was trading in line with expectations, but added that it remained cautious on its outlook, given Brexit-related uncertainty in the UK.

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Issue Date: 23 Sep 2019