Updates from Scottish Investment Trust, esure and InterContinental Hotels

Adrian Holliday
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, esure, IAG, Tullow Oil
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, esure, IAG, Tullow Oil

Friday saw a 63-point climb for the FTSE 100, ending the week at 6,742.8. BA owner IAG surged more than 4.3% to end Friday at 486.70p; there was also strong gains for IMI and Meggitt, up 3.3% and 3.2% respectively. Oil players continued to be hit with TullowOil dipping 3.1% to 396p; RandgoldResources and BHPBilliton also fell strongly.

For the US, the Dow Jones climbed almost 60 points to end at 17,958.7 - a record high helped by news that US employers added more than 320,000 jobs in November; significantly better than expected.

A subdued start to the corporate news week. We start with news from esure that it has conditionally agreed to acquire 50 per cent of Gocompare.com for £95 million, increasing its holding to 100 per cent. The deal is subject to Competition & Markets Authority approval.

"Gocompare," says esure chairman Peter Wood, "has always been an exciting business and it has developed strongly following our original investment into one of the UK's leading financial services brands. This move lays the ground for further development of Gocompare as part of...diversifying income streams."

Jon Morrell will become chief exec at Gocompare. The selling shareholders of Gocompare are Hayley Parsons, Gocompare's employee benefit trust plus Blue Boar Holdings Limited and current and ex officers of Gocompare.

Next, Scottish Investment Trust says the net asset value per share (NAV) total return was 1.0% for the 12 months to 31 October. The share price total return over the same period was 1.4%.

Earnings per share were lower at 11.51p (2013: 13.41p) owing to a lower level of investment for the first part of the year and a bigger contribution from special dividends in the previous year.

Looking ahead, an increase in US interest rates "has the potential to have a destabilising impact on global markets," says the investment trust, "as the stimulatory measures employed since the financial crisis have relied upon the creation of additional debt."

Lastly, InterContinental Hotels Group says it has agreed an offer from Constellation Hotels France Grand SA - Qatari-backed - to acquire the Paris Le Grand for €330 million.

The transaction is expected to complete by the end of the first quarter of 2015, subject to certain conditions. The proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes says InterContinental Hotels.

Last month a US hedge fund urged InterContinental to consider a merger with a major rival such as Marriott, Hilton or Accor. Marcato Capital Management claim several potential partners would be a strategic fit.

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