MARKET REPORT: Glut of BT shares to hit the market this morning as Orange plans to dump 33% of its stake worth £384m
A glut of BT shares will come on the market this morning after Orange revealed plans to cut its stake in the telecoms giant.
An update posted after trading closed yesterday said it represented about 33 per cent of Orange’s holdings, or 133million shares – worth £384million at last night’s closing price.
The French-owned firm originally took the stake when BT bought mobile operator EE from it for £12.5billion last year.
It was locked out of selling them until January, when many investors suspected it would, but an accounting scandal in Italy sent BT’s shares tumbling by 24 per cent, or 93p, and are now worth 289.7p, falling 0.5 per cent, or 1.4p yesterday.
Sell-off: Orange took a stake in BT when BT bought mobile operator EE from it for £12.5bn last year but it was locked out of selling tany shares until January
BT said the sale of Orange’s shares – through a private placement – would allow it to carry out an intended buyback it announced in May, aimed at tackling a dilution of employee share options.
Oil and gas explorer Cairn Energy sank to the bottom of the FTSE 350 yesterday after the Indian government denied it access to millions of pounds worth of frozen payments.
Cairn Energy said it is owed the amount in unpaid dividends from mining firm Vedanta Resources.
The payments arise from Cairn Energy’s 10 per cent stake in Cairn India, a separate subsidiary it set up in 2006, in which Vedanta has owned a controlling stake for several years.
Cairn Energy believes it is owed a total of £81.5million, comprising historical dividends of around £41.5million and a further dividend of £40million.
Its stake and dividends in Cairn India have been frozen by the New Delhi government since 2014.
Avanti Communications rose in morning trading after signing a £3.5million contract with a new customer.
The government believes Cairn Energy has yet to pay taxes for setting up Cairn India. Cairn Energy is seeking around £780million in damages from the Indian government over the dispute, claiming it has not been treated fairly. Shares fell 5 per cent, or 9.4p, to 178.2p.
The FTSE 100 enjoyed a strong session on the day Brexit talks began, rising 0.81 per cent, or 60.27 points, to 7523.81.
It was boosted by weakness in the pound and a partial rebound of retail stocks, which were battered by a DFS profit warning and weak spending figures last Thursday.
Fashion chain Next rose 1.3 per cent, or 55p, to 4148p, while high street staple Marks and Spencer advanced 1.6 per cent, or 5.4p, to 350.6p.
But in the more junior markets weakness among retailers continued, with Carpetright down 5.1 per cent, or 10p, to 185p, and Topps Tiles down 4.2 per cent, or 3.75p, to 86.25p.
A 0.4 per cent jump in oil prices in early trading helped Royal Dutch Shell rise 0.7 per cent, or 15p, to 2175p and BP advance 1.3 per cent, or 6p, to 472.65p.
Meanwhile, commodities giant Glencore had a strong day, up 2.9 per cent, or 8.2p, to 287.95p. Shares rose after Bloomberg reported that the firm would move its global sugar trading desk from London to the Netherlands in 2018.
Shares in education publisher Pearson suffered after the company was cut by analysts at Goldman Sachs.
The broker said that ongoing efforts to cut costs at Pearson will continue to be offset by difficulties in the US market, where students are increasingly moving away from textbooks to online learning.
Goldman even suggested that this could get worse in the academic year beginning in September, with internet education resources set to take further market share from traditional publishers.
It cut its target price for Pearson to 495p from 519p and reiterated its ‘Sell’ rating. Shares fell 1 per cent, or 7.5p, to 705.5p.
In the mid-cap index, Capita was a big winner after being upgraded to ‘Buy’ from ‘Hold’ by analysts at Jefferies. Shares advanced 3.9 per cent, or 25p, to 670.5p.