Finnish interest lifts insurer Hastings
SHARES in insurance group Hastings soared yesterday after it confirmed it is in talks with Finnish insurance group Sampo Oyj over a possible cash offer for the London-listed company.
The FTSE 250 group said it had been approached by Sampo and Rand Merchant Investment Holdings Limited – Hastings’ biggest shareholder – over an offer.
Under the terms of the Takeover Code, Sampo and RMI now have 28 days to confirm an offer for Hastings, which was founded in 1996 and primarily provides home and motor insurance policies.
The possible takeover was first reported by Bloomberg News. Hastings said: “There can be no certainty that any firm offer will be made for the company, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made.”
An offer for the group – which had a valuation of around £1.3bn at the end of the London session – would be the biggest UK deal so far this year, giving Sampo a foothold in the UK’s insurance market.
Hastings’ share price jumped as much as 20pc in response to the news, ending the day up 30.6p at 200.6p.
The jump made Hastings the standout performer on a flat day from London’s main market.
Retailer Next led risers on the FTSE 100, hitting a four-month high on the back of its second-quarter update. It climbed 404p to £56.66 after saying it expects to make a profit this year after taking a smaller-thanexpected sales hit due to the pandemic.
Full-price sales in the second quarter tumbled by 28pc, but that was better than equity analysts’ forecasts. Also rising was packaging group
Smurfit Kappa, which climbed 118p to £26.00, a rise of 4.8pc, after its board decided to pay an interim dividend that replaces its scrapped April payout.
The group will pay out 80.9p per share, having scrapped previous payment plans due to the pandemic.
Its revenues fell 9pc in the first half of the year, down to €4.2bn (£3.8bn) compared to €4.6bn for the same period last year, pushing its profit before tax down 16pc to €383m.
Elsewhere, Aston Martin shares drove higher on the back of hopes that demand is recovering in China. In June, the automobile company registered an 11pc rise in retail sales in China. Shares gained 6.42p to 56p.
Less fortunate was Taylor Wimpey, which led blue-chip fallers. The housebuilder fell 10.75p to 122.2p after swinging to a near-£40m loss for the first half of the year.
On the FTSE 250, Wizz Air rose 127p to £35.25 after its first-quarter results beat analysts’ expectations – despite an 87pc drop in revenues to €90.8m.
József Váradi, its chief executive, said the low-cost carrier “maintains strong market and liquidity positions”.