Listen to this article
The big question we’re asking ourselves today is how badly the IPO market has been damaged by the recent market turbulence. As we’ve reported this week, Brevan Howard will fail to raise the €1bn it wanted for its listed vehicle, which prices this afternoon.
And today, we are reporting on FT.com that 3i, the private equity group, launched the IPO of its infrastructure fund at the bottom of its indicative price range. In Australia last week, Babcock & Brown Infrastructure Group was forced to issue shares at the bottom end of the range. Do these events reflect the peculiarities of each issue (as Breakingviews suggested this morning for Brevan’s BH Macro) or something more fundamental about investors’ risk appetite? Lex says there’s no reason to panic but read tomorrow’s paper for more.
Another day, another big cash pay-out. On Monday it was Scottish & Southern Energy, today it is Drax, which unveiled a 140 per cent jump in full-year pre-tax profits thanks to high power prices and said it would pay a special dividend worth £121m (or 32.9p a share). This is on top of its 9.1p final dividend.
And Royal & Sun Alliance is lifting its final dividend by 35 per cent and its total dividend by 24 per cent after it benefited from tighter cost controls, better weather and strong international growth.
John Lewis’s outgoing chairman, Sir Stuart Hampson, is celebrating “simply stunning” growth in its department stores last year after today reporting a 27 per cent jump in pre-tax profits to a record £319m. Sir Stuart can now go off happy on his road trip across America. The partners should be pleased as well: they are getting bonuses worth 18 per cent of their salaries.
Mike Lawrie, Misys’s new chief executive, today outlined his plans to revitalise the software group. Not very inspiring. He wants to sell a majority stake in Sesame, an outsourcing service for independent financial advisers, to its management (nobody else seems to want it). He also wants a new focus on customer services as opposed to pure sales of packaged software.
And another chief executive is leaving all of a sudden. Yesterday, we said goodbye to Paul Thompson at Resolution and Gordon Cameron at Acambis. Today, Anders Gustafsson is leaving Spirent Communications “to pursue other opportunities”. The non-executive chairman and dominant investor, Edward Bramson, is becoming executive and will oversee a strategic review. The group has also dumped its brokers (Caz and Citigroup). The shares are up more than 3 per cent.
Crest Nicholson is to become the latest UK housebuilder to be taken over, after it recommended an offer from HBOS and Sir Tom Hunter valuing at £715m.