Market report: 888 buoyed by Permira buyout talk as FTSE soars on Ukraine peace negotiations


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The Independent Online

Talk that private equity could be sniffing around 888 propelled the online gaming group to a 15-week high today, in an ebullient market.

888 leaped 9p to 135.25p in late trading after reports emerged that private equity group Permira considers the online gaming group a potential buyout target. The early stage bid speculation came on the same day as Permira sold an 11.2 per cent stake in Hugo Boss to pay down debt. That boosted SVG Capital 1p to 419p – the company started as a vehicle for investing in Permira and still has a lot invested in it, although it is now diversifying.

The wider market continued its steady march upwards, with the prospect of a ceasefire in Ukraine and possible stimulus announcements from the ECB today pushing the bluechip close to a 14 year high.

The FTSE 100 added 44.41 points to 6873.58, reaching a range not visited since May. Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, cautioned that traders shouldn’t get carried away by reports of peach talks between Russia and Ukraine, saying: “It’s always healthy to have a degree of scepticism when reports such as these come out; particularly in this case, given that Russia has always maintained that it doesn’t have a military presence in Ukraine.”

But the prospect of peace in the east helped Greek bottling giant Coca Cola HBC climb 27p to 1431p. The company warned last month that tensions with Russia would hit sales.

Ashtead was one of the biggest risers, putting on 35.5p to 1022p, as the industrial equipment hire specialist raised full-year guidance on the back of the booming construction market.

At the other end of the table financial services supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown lost 66p to 1073p despite a solid set of results, after warning of “challenging” conditions in the year ahead.

Just Eat rocketed 28.9p to 298p on the mid-cap index after Jefferies started coverage of the online takeaway specialist with an emphatic endorsement. The broker estimates the UK takeaway market alone is worth £6.5bn a year and believes Just Eat, which floated at 260p in April, is well placed to grab an increasing share of this business.

Online sports rights group Perform Group rejected Russian billionaire and Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik’s attempt to take the company private again at the same price he floated it in 2011, 260p. The board said the offer undervalued the company and Perform added 0.9p to 258.9p.