Daily Mail

M&G chief shrugs off bid talk as profits take a hit

- By John Abiona

THE boss of M&G insisted the asset manager can stand on its own two feet amid a wave of takeover speculatio­n.

Andrea Rossi, who took over in October, said the group ‘has what it takes’ to thrive as a standalone company and ‘unleash profitable growth going forward’.

M&G has been the subject of frenzied takeover chatter, with the Australian investment bank Macquarie reportedly among those who explored lining up a possible bid.

It came as M&G announced a profit of £529m for 2022 – down on £721m the year before.

But this was more than the £477m analysts expected.

Looking ahead, it hopes to save £200m by the end of 2025. Shares rose 0.3pc, or 0.6p, to 217p.

Aviva was the biggest riser on the Footsie after it vowed to return money to shareholde­rs on the back of bumper profits.

The FTSE 100 insurance and savings business reported a 35pc increase in profits for 2022 to £2.2bn. As a result, it will launch a £300m share buyback programme tomorrow. Shareholde­rs will also pocket a total dividend of 31p a share for 2022 compared to 22.05p the year before.

It painted a stark contrast to Admiral (down 1pc, or 20.5p, to 1982.5p), which cut its dividend payment by 40pc, and Direct Line (down 0.3pc, or 0.6p, to 175.3p) axed it altogether.

Aviva shares rose 2.7pc, or 12.3p, to 462.4p.

But in a move that will alarm customers, the insurer warned the price of its general insurance premiums would increase again this year as the cost of claims soars.

Earnings at its UK and Ireland general insurance division fell 5pc to £338m last year as the value of motor insurance and bad weather claims soared.

The insurer’s latest share buyback programme means it will have returned more than £5bn to shareholde­rs since 2021. It has been under pressure to do so from the activist investor Cevian.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.6pc, or 49.94 points, to 7879.98 and the FTSE 250 slipped 0.8pc, or 159.07 points, to 19692.9.

Entain cashed in on punters betting on the winter football World Cup. The gambling giant, which owns Ladbrokes and Coral, saw active online customers hit a record high last year.

Its net gaming revenue rose 10pc to £4.3bn in 2022 while profit fell to £102.9m. Shares fell 4.5pc, or 63p, to 1329p.

At Page Group, candidate shortages and plenty of vacancies helped the recruitmen­t firm post record profits for 2022.

But it said business in Greater China – mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – took a hit during the second half of last year due to Covid lockdowns and restrictio­ns. Shares fell 0.9pc, or 4.2p, to 470p.

Informa bought the B2B Events group Tarsus for £788m. The deal was announced as the exhibition­s organiser said revenues rose 43pc to £2.2bn in 2022 while profits more than doubled.

It was boosted by the gradual reopening of China following strict Covid measures. The company said it expects live events to return there next year. Shares gained 2.6pc, or 17.6p, to 697p.

AstraZenec­a received a boost after data showed that lung cancer patients who were given its Imfinzi drug before and after surgery lived much longer without the disease progressin­g or recurring than those treated with chemothera­py.

Shares rose 0.4pc, or 44p, to 10866p yesterday.

DS Smith, meanwhile, fell 4.8pc, or 16.3p, to 326.8p after the packaging firm flagged lower cardboard box volumes since the start of November than in the same period 12 months earlier.

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