The FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) has dipped this morning as traders remain wary of increased tensions between the US and Russia following the missile strikes in Syria. Sir Martin Sorrell’s departure from WPP also had investors wondering how the advertising giant would cope without its founder while Whitbread led the index as Elliott Management increased its stake in the company.
The blue chip share index fell 0.39%, down 27 points at 7,236.80 by 11.00 GMT.
WPP (LON:WPP) shares fell 5.2% as Martin Sorrell left the firm “in the best interests of the business” as an investigation into “an allegation of misconduct” was concluded. Sorrell’s resignation will be treated as a retirement by WPP, although he will receive no payoff or pension, as he will retain his share options. Citi analysts said in a note: “It is not clear whether the current margin targets or dividend payout will survive management change.”
Whitbread (LON:WTB) was the biggest winner in early trading, up 6.3%, as US hedge fund Elliott Management confirmed that it had dipped its stake in the hotel and coffee shop group to 5.3%. Morgan Stanley analysts said: “Its reported push for a (coffee-shop) Costa demerger differs from the company’s current strategy, likely leading to further speculation, which should support the shares.”
Shares in Irish pharma company Shire (LON:SHP) rose 1.0% as it said it had agreed to sell its oncology business to French drugmaker Servier for $2.4bn. Shire has been a possible takeover target for Takeda but the oncology division was of particular interest to the Japanese company.
Finance software company Sage (LON:SGE) shares continued to extend their losses, down 3.4%, after a downgrade from JPMorgan to Neutral from Overweight.
On the currency markets, sterling pushed to a post-Brexit referendum high, up 0.40%, against the dollar to $1.4302 and gained 0.16% against the euro to €1.1570.