Market report: Events giant Ascential slips on £200m sell-off by biggest backers

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The largest shareholders of Ascential, formerly known as Emap, cashed in on the events and magazine business’s stock-market rally today by selling £200 million of shares.

Private-equity firm Apax and Guardian Media Group together offloaded 80 million shares at 250p each in a placing run by Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The sale means a £60 million payday for the loss-making owner of the Guardian and Observer newspapers, which retains a 15% stake in Ascential. Apax remains the largest shareholder with a 25% stake.

Shares in Ascential, owner of the Cannes Lions advertising festival and magazines Retail Week and Drapers, have fared well since floating in February at 200p.

The shares today slipped 12p, or 4.5%, to 253p.

Blistering UK manufacturing data sent sterling soaring — and that weighed on the FTSE 100, whose constituent companies make most of their earnings outside Britain. The blue-chip index was still up 20.95 points at 6802.46.

Bid speculation resurfaced at car and plane components maker GKN, driving the shares 6.7p higher to 317.7p. Foreign firms are thought to be eyeing up the FTSE 100 company.

Clydesdale bank owner CYBG drifted 4.9p lower to 265p as broker Macquarie downgraded the stock to Neutral, arguing: “While we remain positive UK banks’ post-Brexit fears are overdone, the CYBG valuation looks stretched.”

Shares in trains and buses operator Stagecoach fell 1.8p to 217.9p as RBC Capital cut its profit forecasts for this year and next.

It warned that losing the South West Trains contract next year, for which it is battling with rival First Group, could see “debt expand and equity shrink”.

Gas and power tiddler Andalas Energy struck a partnership with Indonesia’s state-owned oil company PT Pertamina and the shares rose 0.01p to 0.2p.

AIM punters began to lose patience with African Potash, which again issued shares at a big discount, causing them to dive 0.08p, or 23%, to 0.25p.

The £500,000 fund-raising at 0.21p was accompanied by changes to a controversial £690,000 loan from the finance chief’s wife. 

As the company has been unable to pay back the loan before September, it has been extended for a fee worth 5% of the total outstanding amount, on top of the £60,000 paid in December and a 1.5% monthly interest rate.

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September 1, 2016 |
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