BUSINESS LIVE: National Grid to boost £7bn; HL rejects takeover bid

The FTSE 100 is up 0.1 per cent in early trading. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are National Grid, Hargreaves Lansdown, Nationwide, Aviva, Rolls-Royce and Wizz Air. Read the Thursday 23 May Business Live blog below.

> If you are using our app or a third-party site click here to read Business Live

Market open: FTSE 100 flat; FTSE 250 flat

London-listed stocks are treading water this morning as investors mull a new General Election campaign and await fresh economic data due later today. British equities opened flat on Thursday as Britain kicked off the election campaign for the July 4 vote, while investors focussed on more economic data later in the day to gauge the strength of the UK economy.

British Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) figures are due later in the day, capturing investor attention following Wednesday’s CPI data, which revealed a slower-than-anticipated easing in inflation.

National Grid has slumped 7.4 per cent after it said would raise about £7billion via a fully rights issue.

Rolls-Royce is down 1.8 per cent after the engineering company kept its annual forecast unchanged.

Wizz Air has jumped 5.9 per cent after the European low-cost airline forecast a higher annual profit.

Hargreaves Lansdown has surged 11.8 per cent after the investment platform rejected a £4.67billion takeover proposal.

Rival AJ Bell has gained 8 per cent after the investment platform reported its interim results.

Tech firm Raspberry Pi announces it is to float on the London stock exchange next month

Computer maker Raspberry Pi will float on the London stock exchange next month in a major boost for the City.

The Cambridge business, which sells computers to amateur coders and hobbyists, will issue shares in an initial public offering that could value it at £500million.

It has also agreed to sell £27million of shares to semiconductor designer Arm and up to £16million to investment manager Lansdowne Partners as part of the float.

CMA reveals formal probe of vet market

Britain’s veterinary market will face a formal market investigation, after an initial review raised concerns about pricing and competition in the sector.

Concerns that pet owners might not be getting a good deal on veterinary services prompted the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to start looking last September into the vet market, which is estimated to be worth more than £2billion.

Sarah Cardell, Chief Executive of the CMA, said:

The message from our vets work so far has been loud and clear – many pet owners and professionals have concerns that need further investigation.We’ve heard from people who are struggling to pay vet bills, potentially overpaying for medicines and don’t always know the best treatment options available to them. We also remain concerned about the potential impact of sector consolidation and the incentives for large, integrated vet groups to act in ways which reduce consumer choice.

Bloomsbury Publishing chair to retire as group lifts profit expectations

Bloomsbury Publishing chair Sir Richard Lambert will retire and step down from the board after seven years, and will be replaced by current independent non-exec director.

The succession plans were revealed as the publisher lifted full-year profit forecasts forecast after earnings soared 57 per cent on the back of robust demand for fantasy fiction titles, particularly by author Sarah J Maas.

The London-headquartered publisher of Harry Potter books posted a profit before taxation and highlighted items of £48.7million for the year to 29 February, up from last year’s profit of £31.1million.

National Grid profits sink as group balances energy transition with ‘the call for capital delivery’

Neil Shah, executive director at Edison Group:

‘National Grid’s results today showed a decline in profits by 15% to £3.05 billion, showing the difficulty as the company answers to the demand for energy transition while also answering the call for capital delivery. Disruptions in supply chains and ongoing discussions on policy measures cross UK and US have had significant impact on National Grid’s performance.

‘Renewable energy and investment into green capital investment was a huge focus, as National Grid delivered a year of record capital investment and reached a higher proportion of green capital investment at 78% of Group capital expenditure, marking £6billion of green capital investment.

‘All eyes are on National Grid’s announcement on its £60 billion energy transition investment plan over the next five years, along with its decision to sell Grain LNG, its UK LNG asset, and National Grid Renewables, its US onshore renewables business.

‘This clearly shows National Grid’s focus on the decarbonisation of energy system, while also working to deliver more jobs across both sides of the Atlantic. As pressure amounts to push for more renewable and sustainable solutions, it is natural that National Grid is pushing for additional investments.

‘Looking ahead, it seems National Grid is poised for additional growth as the effects of this long-term investment plan come into fruition.’

Anglo American agrees to enter talks with BHP but rejects latest £39bn offer

Takeover target Anglo American has agreed to enter talks with suitor BHP after rejecting the Australian miner’s latest £39billion offer.

The London-listed firm, whose empire includes De Beers diamonds and a potash mine in Yorkshire as well as vast copper and iron ore deposits, has given its larger rival another week to thrash out the terms of a deal.

It marked a significant concession by the Anglo board, which until recently had refused to engage with BHP, having rebuffed two earlier bids worth £31billion and £34billion.

Nationwide reveals £100 Fairer Share bonus for customers again – will you qualify for June’s payout?

Nationwide Building Society has announced it will pay out another ‘Fairer Share’ bonus this year.

Members will receive the payment directly into current accounts in June.

It comes as the mutual giant said its pre-tax profit was £1.77billon in the year to April, down from £2.2billion last year.

Hargreaves Lansdown rejects £4.7bn takeover offer as investment platform says private equity-led bid ‘substantially undervalues’ the group

Britain’s biggest investment platform has become the latest London-listed company to be targeted by foreign bidders.

After the market closed last night, Hargreaves Lansdown said it had received two approaches from a consortium of buyers regarding a possible takeover.

The latest offer – worth 985p a share or £4.67billion – was unanimously rejected by the board ‘on the basis it substantially undervalues Hargreaves Lansdown and its future prospects’.

National Grid to raise £7bn

National Grid is hoping to raise £7billion to invest in energy network infrastructure, via a fully underwritten rights issue of 1.09 billion new shares.

The capital raise is by way of a fully underwritten rights issue at 645p per share on the basis of seven new shares for every 24 existing shares, the company said.

The rights issue will help fund National Grid’s significant capital investment of about £60billion in energy network infrastructure.

Boss John Pettigrew said the move is reflective of the company ‘cementing our position as a leader in the energy transition in the UK and US northeast’.

He added: ‘On both sides of the Atlantic, governments and regulators are moving with increased urgency to attract the levels of investment required to meet their decarbonisation targets.

‘As economies become increasingly digital, electrified and decarbonised, the need for energy infrastructure has rarely been more pressing. Our investment will unlock significant economic growth and, by the end of the decade, National Grid is expected to support over 60,000 more jobs, while also decarbonising our energy systems, bolstering security of supply, and reducing consumer bills in the long term.

‘Our strong track record of infrastructure delivery, positive engagement with our regulators and wider stakeholders, alongside clarity on the scale and profile of our capital investment positions National Grid to take advantage of the significant growth opportunities we see ahead.’