Buyout talk drives FirstGroup higher
SHARES in transport operator FirstGroup jumped yesterday after The Sunday Telegraph revealed buyout funds were circling parts of its US operations.
The group climbed 10.7p to 50.5p, leading risers on the FTSE 250.
Sources said Canary Wharf owner Brookfield, Apollo Global Management and KKR were all among the potential buyers for FirstStudent and FirstTransit – the mid-cap’s most profitable divisions.
Analysts estimate the two divisions could fetch around $4bn (£3bn) if sold. FirstGroup’s entire market cap is only around £600m currently. Despite the surge, the group’s shares are still down more than 60pc this year.
Hot on its heels was Country Life magazine publisher Future, which shot up 268p to a record high of £17.22 after it said full-year profits should be “materially ahead” of expectations.
The FTSE 250 group said strong traffic trends on its websites had continued in recent months, with organic unique visitors to its sites from the UK and US up 25pc and 40pc respectively in August, compared to 2019. Future said: “Combined with a better-than-expected performance of
TI Media in the second half, full-year adjusted operating profit is now expected to be materially ahead of current market expectations.”
Future said the integration of TI Media, which it purchased last year, was progressing well, with higherthan-expected synergies of around £20m expected to be realised by the end of 2021.
Zillah Byng-Thorne, chief executive, said the group was “well positioned to benefit from the continued shift to digital media as we grow our global audiences”.
The two were the standout risers on a strong day for London’s main indices.
The FTSE 100 jumped 2.4pc to 5,937.4, clawing back some of the ground it lost over several painful sessions last week. The index’s performance was boosted by a sharp fall in the value of the pound, which was rattled by reports that the Government may tear up part of the withdrawal agreement with the EU.
Gains were widespread, with housebuilders including Taylor Wimpey and Barratt rising alongside property portal Rightmove after Halifax said UK house prices had risen to an all-time high in August.
Miners also performed well, with precious metal miners Fresnillo and Polymetal among the biggest risers, despite a slight dip in the price of gold.
Equipment hire firm Ashtead rose 132p to £26.93 ahead of results today.
Transport groups fell as the UK introduced new quarantine restrictions on travellers returning from several Greek islands. British Airways owner IAG was the biggest blue-chip faller, down 10.2p at 209.2p, while easyJet and Wizz Air both lost ground on the FTSE 250.