MARKET REPORT: M&G chief shrugs off bid talk as profits take a hit


The boss of M&G insisted the asset manager can stand on its own two feet amid a wave of takeover speculation.

Andrea Rossi, who took over in October, said the group ‘has what it takes’ to thrive as a standalone company and ‘unleash profitable growth going forward’.

M&G has been the subject of frenzied takeover chatter, with the Australian investment bank Macquarie reportedly among those who explored lining up a possible bid.

Confidence: M&G boss Andrea Rossi, who took over in October, said the group ‘has what it takes’ to thrive as a standalone company and ‘unleash profitable growth going forward’

Confidence: M&G boss Andrea Rossi, who took over in October, said the group ‘has what it takes’ to thrive as a standalone company and ‘unleash profitable growth going forward’

It came as M&G announced a profit of £529million for 2022 – down on £721million the year before.

But this was more than the £477million analysts expected.

Looking ahead, it hopes to save £200million by the end of 2025. Shares rose 0.3 per cent, or 0.6p, to 217p.

Aviva was the biggest riser on the Footsie after it vowed to return money to shareholders on the back of bumper profits.

The FTSE 100 insurance and savings business reported a 35 per cent increase in profits for 2022 to £2.2billion. 

As a result, it will launch a £300million share buyback programme tomorrow. Shareholders will also pocket a total dividend of 31p a share for 2022 compared to 22.05p the year before.

It painted a stark contrast to Admiral (down 1 per cent, or 20.5p, to 1982.5p), which cut its dividend payment by 40 per cent, and Direct Line (down 0.3 per cent, or 0.6p, to 175.3p) axed it altogether.

Aviva shares rose 2.7 per cent, or 12.3p, to 462.4p.

Stock Watch – IQE

Semiconductor wafer-maker IQE warned fewer customer orders would hit revenues this year.

The Cardiff-based group said weaker demand has led to customers reducing the quantity of stock they held, meaning revenues for the first six months of 2023 should be £30million less than the same period a year earlier.

Business should pick up during the second half of 2023, IQE added.

Shares tumbled 38 per cent, or 17.75p, to 29p.

But in a move that will alarm customers, the insurer warned the price of its general insurance premiums would increase again this year as the cost of claims soars.

Earnings at its UK and Ireland general insurance division fell 5 per cent to £338million last year as the value of motor insurance and bad weather claims soared.

The insurer’s latest share buyback programme means it will have returned more than £5bn to shareholders since 2021. It has been under pressure to do so from the activist investor Cevian.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.6 per cent, or 49.94 points, to 7879.98 and the FTSE 250 slipped 0.8 per cent, or 159.07 points, to 19692.9.

Entain cashed in on punters betting on the winter football World Cup. The gambling giant, which owns Ladbrokes and Coral, saw active online customers hit a record high last year.

Its net gaming revenue rose 10 per cent to £4.3billion in 2022 while profit fell to £102.9million. Shares fell 4.5 per cent, or 63p, to 1329p.

At Page Group, candidate shortages and plenty of vacancies helped the recruitment firm post record profits for 2022.

But it said business in Greater China – mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – took a hit during the second half of last year due to Covid lockdowns and restrictions. Shares fell 0.9 per cent, or 4.2p, to 470p.

Informa bought the B2B Events group Tarsus for £788million. The deal was announced as the exhibitions organiser said revenues rose 43 per cent to £2.2billion in 2022 while profits more than doubled.

It was boosted by the gradual reopening of China following strict Covid measures. The company said it expects live events to return there next year. Shares gained 2.6 per cent, or 17.6p, to 697p.

AstraZeneca received a boost after data showed that lung cancer patients who were given its Imfinzi drug before and after surgery lived much longer without the disease progressing or recurring than those treated with chemotherapy.

Shares rose 0.4 per cent, or 44p, to 10866p yesterday.

DS Smith, meanwhile, fell 4.8 per cent, or 16.3p, to 326.8p after the packaging firm flagged lower cardboard box volumes since the start of November than in the same period 12 months earlier.

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