A surprise takeover approach has been made for high street lender TSB Banking (TSB), sending its shares up 27% to 335.5p. Spanish bank Sabadell has proposed to pay 340p a share, valuing TSB at £1.7 billion.
Britain's fourth biggest supermarket Morrisons (MRW) is marked 2.5% lower to 201.25p as poor full-year results show a steep 5.9% like-for-like sales decline and a slump in underlying profit before tax. Morrisons, where new CEO David Potts arrives next week (16 Mar), honours its commitment with a 5% hike in the full-year dividend to 13.65p, though it announces a cut in dividends and capital expenditure for the new financial year in order to conserve cash and pay down debt.
Online fashion and beauty store ASOS (ASC:AIM) advances 18.4% to £38.81 on a reassuringly strong second quarter trading statement, with sales growth ahead of consensus driven by the UK. Shares highlighted the bowed one-time market darling's contrarian attractions here in February.
Cineworld (CINE) gains 4.7% to 469p after reporting a 1.7% increase in pro forma revenue for the 53 weeks to 1 January in a year when the UK cinema market saw a decline in admissions. On a statutory basis profit before tax is up 72.8% to £75 million following the merger with Cinema City in February 2014. The company says 2015 has started strongly with Fifty Shades of Grey helping it achieve record levels of weekend admissions.
Free-to-air broadcaster ITV (ITV) is up 1.3% to 250.3p as it announces the acquisition of the Dutch production house responsible for The Voice for £355 million. Set up by the creator of the Big Brother series John de Mol, Talpa Media is expected to boost the company's footprint in content and thereby reduce its exposure to volatile advertising revenues.
Kurdistan oil producer Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP) is down 3.6% to 40.5p (up from earlier lows below 40p) as it appeals to creditors to lift restrictions so it can avoid its own personal credit crunch. It wants holders of its $250 million loan notes – which pay 13% and are due in 2017 – to approve a proposal to waive terms written into the debt which could trigger early repayment. It acknowledges its book-equity ratio will fall below a 0.4 threshold when it reports full-year results for 2014 on 9 April and currently-agreed terms could require it to make an offer to repurchase the loan in June.
FTSE 250 oil and gas firm SOCO International (SIA) dives 25% to 179.8p as it reports a huge drop in 2014 production and profits, slashes its dividend nearly in half and warns of further pressure on output in 2015. Heavy impairments and falling revenues saw pre-tax profits drop 86% to $14 million last year with production down 18.5% to 13,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) and guided to fall further to between 10,500 to 12,000 boepd in 2015.
Argos-to-Homebase owner Home Retail (HOME) reverses the best part of 9% to 178.4p on its fourth quarter update, flagging weaker-than-expected trading at Argos in the final eight weeks of the year.
Government outsourcer Serco (SRP) drops 13.8% to 178p as it confirms a £555 million fully underwritten rights issue. It aims to sell around 549 million shares at 101p, a discount of 51% to yesterday's close. Serco will use the proceeds to repay debt.
Going the other way, fellow outsourcer Interserve (IRV) gains 2.7% to 601p on news it secured a £150 million contract to build a biomass plant in Rotherham with joint venture partner Babcock & Wilcox. Interserve's share of the deal is worth £50 million.
A new distribution agreement in the US helps technology minnow Clean Air Power (CAP:AIM) advance 14% to 3.29p. The engineer's natural gas engine technology will be distributed across 22 Bruckner Truck Sales dealerships in the south-west.
Tenpin bowling company Essenden (ESS:AIM) adds 1.5% to 68p on a 59% increase in adjusted profit before tax to £3.2 million in 2014, which chairman Rory Macnamara says is down to improving economic conditions and the business changes implemented over the last five years. He says the company will examine a range of options to enhance shareholder value given 'recent and potential corporate activity' in the bowling sector.