The FTSE 100 was broadly flat in early trading above the 7,250 mark as investors were not unduly spooked by the air strikes on Syria over the weekend.
Activist investor Elliot Advisors is now the largest investor in Costa Coffee-owner Whitbread (WTB) and is pushing for the company to spin-off its coffee chain as it sees little overlap with the rest of the business including hotel group Premier Inn and Beefeater restaurants. Shares in the company advance 3.3% to £39.35 on the news.
The largest FTSE 100 faller is advertising giant WPP (WPP) as investors have their first opportunity to react to the resignation of long-running chief executive Martin Sorrell. Sorrell had been subject to a misconduct probe before announcing at the weekend his decision to stand down. The shares are down 2.5% at £11.59 as the company is now confronted with a succession issue – a topic we discuss here.
Drug maker Shire (SHP) is up 2% to £36.79 as it agrees to sell its cancer drug business to French rival Servier for $2.4bn. The move could complicate a potential takeover attempt for Shire from Japan's Takeda.
Also on the management merry-go-round is Vedanta Resources (VED) which is flat as it unveils Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan as its new CEO. Venkatakrishnan currently heads up AngloGold Ashanti.
AIM-quoted miner Anglo Asian Mining (AAZ:AIM) gains 9.75% to 43.9p as it reveals a 26% year-on-year increase in gold production from its Azerbaijani Gedabek project in the first quarter. This increase in production, driven by expanding mining capacity, enables the company to cut debt 43% to $10.4m since the start of 2018.
Peer Orosur Mining (OMI:AIM) heads in the opposite direction, down 9.8% to 5.75p as it reports lower production in the third quarter thanks to a change in it’s approach at the San Gregorio gold project in Uruguay to optimise its economics.