Market Report: Elliott Capital has now amassed more than 10 per cent of Alliance Trust

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Katherine "the Great" Garrett-Cox may be about to enter battle again: another activist investor has built up a stake in Alliance Trust.

The investment trust led by Ms Garrett-Cox had to defend itself against the activist investor Laxey Partners in 2011, when Laxey teamed up with Elliott Capital. Alliance won that time, but the US hedge fund Elliot is back, and has amassed more than 10 per cent of Alliance through shares and contracts for difference.

Elliott, controlled by the US billionaire Paul Singer, is well known in the UK. It rattled management at the transport group National Express and is putting pressure on the grocer Morrison. Alliance lifted 9.5p to 454.5p on the news.

The Footsie continued its losing streak into a second day, and the FTSE 100 eased 31.35 points to 6,799.15.

Top of the table was the engineer Weir, despite reporting a 5 per cent drop in 2013 profit. The group, which supplies pumps and valves for the mining, oil and gas sector, revealed a better outlook for 2014, and said its order book was already picking up. Weir was 167p ahead at 2,519p.

Supermarkets took a tumble after food analysts declared that the UK's grocery giants are still struggling to compete with cheap rivals and the internet. Oriel Securities, prompted by Tuesday's strategy day from Tesco, said the sector still had not found "a credible solution to the discounters" and it downgraded its numbers for all the major operators. Oriel said it found Tesco's update "disappointing" and cut it from add to hold. Tesco fell 9.2p to 326p. Sainsbury's was 4.6p weaker at 345.5p and Morrisons was down 4.6p to 235p.

Royal Bank of Scotland said was selling its remaining stake in insurer Direct Line, which reported its full-year results yesterday. RBS, which reports its full-year results today, was down 8.4p to 354p. Direct Line advanced 2p to 263p.

Small cap Heritage Oil updated on production and a tax issue in Nigeria and it jetted up 28.5p to 239p.

The Aim-listed drug discovery group Summit Corporation raised £22m through a placing and offer. The offer was over seven times over-subscribed and it was 0.25p better at 8.75p.