FTSE Close: Stocks end mixed; DS Smith surges on £10bn bid interest

DS Smith soars on £10bn Mondi bid interest; FTSE closes mixed as BAT rises on ITC stake sale potential.

Mark Rogers

Mark Rogers

The FTSE 100 ended lower on Thursday, closing down 0.4% at 7,595.48, while the domestically-focused FTSE 250 index slipped 0.1% to 19,102.72. The AIM All-Share finished off 0.4% at 751.10.

DS Smith was the top-performing FTSE 100 stock, soaring 10% after revealing it received a preliminary takeover approach from sector peer Mondi. Mondi shares dipped 0.2% as it noted any deal would need to meet its capital allocation framework. Mondi is in the early stages of mulling a bid for its packaging rival in a deal that could create a €10bn sustainable paper packaging leader.

British American Tobacco added 7.1%, hinting it may sell part or all of its 29% stake in Indian tobacco giant ITC, worth around £14bn. BAT has been working to complete the regulatory process required to give it the flexibility to sell part of its 29% stake. This would allow BAT to release and direct capital to other areas. BAT also achieved an important milestone as its non-cigarette New Categories unit reached profitability ahead of projections.

Consumer goods maker Unilever rose 3.2% after announcing a new €1.5bn share buyback programme, helping offset a 9.7% drop in 2022 pretax profit to €9.34bn on a 0.8% revenue decline.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca fell 6.4% as the drugmaker reported Q4 sales of $12.02bn, shy of the $12.09bn expected. However, CEO Pascal Soriot emphasised “another year of strong progress.”

On the downside, Digital 9 shares plunged 24% after an antitrust review was opened into the $575m sale of its Verne data group.

FTSE All-Share Risers

Riverstone Energy 14.25%, Ashmore 9.93%, Smith (DS) 9.78%, Cab Payments 8.9%, Babcock 8.25%, British American Tobacco 7.12%, Brown Advisory 7.09%, Syncona 6.23%, S & U 5.79%, Smurfit Kappa 5.32%.

FTSE All-Share Fallers

Digital 9 -23.71%, James Fisher and Sons -12.87%, Astrazeneca -6.36%, Pz Cussons -5.98%, SSE -4.69%, Persimmon -4.31%, Schroder Income Growth Fund -4.23%, Funding Circle -3.78%, Vh Global Sust. -3.68%, Capital -3.55%.

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