Market Report: Nigel Wray and Lord Ashcroft raise shareholdings in sports agency TLA Worldwide


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The Independent Online

The Saracens chairman Nigel Wray clearly loves rugby but Lord Ashcroft is not normally associated with sports investments. Yet the high-profile pair have raised their shareholdings in the sports agency TLA Worldwide, up 0.5p at 46p.

Mr Wray now owns just shy of 9 per cent of the AIM-listed company, while Lord Ashcroft, the businessman and former deputy chairman of the Conservatives, has upped his stake to 12.4 per cent.

Representing baseball stars in the US makes up a huge chunk of TLA, which reported revenues of $20.8m (£13.3m) in 2014.

In March, TLA snapped up sports marketing agency Elite Sports Properties in a $19.5m deal that added Olympic stars Sir Chris Hoy and Rebecca Adlington to its books and gave it more exposure to the UK and Australian sports markets.

Mr Wray would also have had a keen eye on the estate agent Hunters, up 10p on its AIM debut to 70p. He is the largest shareholder, with 18.8 per cent, and will be hoping to replicate his success with Domino’s Pizza, another business that runs a franchise model.

The FTSE 100 edged 21.88 points higher to 6,630.47, and with no progress likely in the Greece crisis until the weekend, attention turned to US non-farm payrolls data. America added slightly fewer jobs in June than expected but the number was not low enough to dispel the notion of an interest rate hike this year.

AstraZeneca, up 69.5p to 4,168p, was among the top blue-chip risers after an upgrade to a “buy” recommendation from analysts at Berenberg bank who suggested the drug giant might be making big strides in the fight against cancer. They reckon that the company’s “franchise” of cancer drugs will grow in value from $2.8bn this year to $6.9bn by 2023.

Reduced fracking in the US due to the oil price slump has hurt the FTSE 250 oil services group Hunting, down 28p at 572p.

On the junior market, Audioboom, which runs a weekly podcast featuring Russell Brand and counts property tycoon Nick Candy as a director, fell 0.25p to 5.85p after warning that time spent finalising its deal with the  US radio firm Cumulus has delayed advertising revenues this year.