Market Report: Ladbrokes edges up as watchdog says 'game on' for £2.3bn merger

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The competition watchdog’s final verdict on the £2.3 billion merger between bookmakers Ladbrokes and Gala Coral went with the form book earlier as the pair were ordered to sell up to 400 shops to get the go-ahead.

The Competition and Markets Authority’s ruling was much as expected, paving the way for a new High Street betting giant as the sector looks to weather tax blows and the huge rise of online gambling. 

The City nudged Ladbrokes shares up 0.2p to 134.4p while elsewhere among the bookies William Hill took a breather after its 5% rise in the previous session on takeover interest from Mecca bingo owner Rank and online rival 888 Holdings. Hills added 0.1p to 328.9p, Rank edged 0.8p lower to 235.1p and 888 was 1p better at 230.5p.

Another riser on the FTSE 250 index was sheds developer Segro, which has seen soaring demand for new warehouse space, fuelled by retailers’ needs for fast-delivery access to London.

Demand has not been weakened by the EU referendum result and Segro’s chief executive David Sleath is “optimistic about the outlook” given a shortage of warehouses in the right place. 

The firm also revealed it has poached Soumen Das from developer Capital & Counties as its finance boss. Shares in Segro shot up 13.4p, or more than 3%, to 434p.

Elsewhere in the property world, student digs developer Unite updated the City on its half year to June 30.

Student housing — if you believe television comedies such as Fresh Meat — is cramped and full of boozy party animals. 

But Unite has seen the benefits from Britain’s freshers wanting to bunk down in dedicated student accommodation, and has forecast rental growth of 3%-4% for the next academic year.

But it admitted that returns on potential new buildings in London remain tough because of factors such as planning charges, and Unite shares slipped 6p to 627p. 

The fall was not enough to stop the overall FTSE 250 index rising, up 1.48 points to 17,092.46.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 index was in positive territory, climbing 16.11 points to 6726.24, as it added to yesterday afternoon’s rebound from 6690. 

Analysts at Accendo Markets said: “This bodes well for bulls hopeful of seeing the impressive post-Brexit bounce get a second wind towards 7100 all-time highs.” 

Risers on the blue-chip index included shopping-centres landlord Hammerson and BT, which is hanging on to Openreach, up 9p to 557.5p and 18.2p to 405.7p respectively.


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July 26, 2016 |
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