Greyhound bus operator First Group told shareholders yesterday it was ‘examining all appropriate means’ to create value – management code for ‘get ready for a sell-off’.
The transport group held its first AGM since turning down what it described as an ‘opportunistic’ takeover approach.
The troubled business’s shares had shot up after the April offer from private equity firm Apollo, before crashing when the suitor walked away and falling even further in May when First Group ousted its chief executive over the fumbled deal.
Greyhound bus operator First Group held its first AGM since turning down what it described as an ‘opportunistic’ takeover approach
But shares climbed again yesterday by 2.7per cent, or 2.3p, to 87p as investors began to regain confidence and the chairman said progress was being made in flogging off parts of Greyhound, the US bus firm.
First Group’s executive chairman Wolfhart Hauser said: ‘In July we were able to begin the process of withdrawing from most of Greyhound Canada’s operations in the west of the country, which will address some of the long-standing issues in that part of the business.’
In the UK, First Group operates Great Western Railway, South Western Railway and the TransPennine Express. It has not paid a dividend since 2013.
The FTSE 100 ended the day up 0.34pc, or 25.88 points, at 7626.3 despite pub group Greene King taking a slide.
Greene King was the FTSE 250’s biggest faller after broker Berenberg said the business was a ‘value trap’ and accused it of using debt refinancing, which was destroying shareholder value to make profits appear better.
Greene King was the FTSE 250’s biggest faller after broker Berenberg said the business was a ‘value trap’ and accused it of using debt refinancing
Its shares fell 5.8per cent, or 33p, to 535.4p. The blue-chip index was balanced out by property developer Berkeley Group, which built up a rise of 2.5per cent, or 91p, to end the day at 3685p.
Improved sentiment in the housebuilding sector helped lift Berkeley from the slump it had wallowed in since warning on the property market in June.
STOCK WATCH: Kromek
Radiation detection company Kromek had its products put to the test last week as its ‘dirty bomb’ detector was used to protect President Trump during his visit to Brussels for a Nato summit.
The mobile phone-sized D3S device was used by Belgian authorities to search for radiological threats in cargo, vehicles and buildings.
Kromek shares rose this month when it revealed full-year revenue was up 32per cent to £11.8million.
Yesterday, shares fell 0.9pc, or 0.25p, to 27p.
Some of that positive sentiment rubbed off from Galliford Try, which was also making gains despite noting its construction division had swung into the red due to costs associated with a troubled Aberdeen bypass.
Galliford had been working on the bypass with Balfour Beatty and Carillion. However, Carillion’s downfall meant it had to take on further costs.
The sums remaining should be lower than the £25million charge it was lumped with in the first half of the year, it said. Despite the Aberdeen drama, Galliford’s regeneration arm and Linden Homes housebuilding businesses were performing well. Full-year results were expected to be on track. Shares climbed 4per cent, or 33p, to 866.5p.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, warned: ‘Investors must hope the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route is the last of several troublesome legacy construction projects and the company at least has the controls in place now to avoid the large-scale, fixed-price contracts that have been the problem in the past.’
Earlier this week, fund manager Neil Woodford revealed his firm had built a 5per cent stake in Galliford’s housebuilding peer Taylor Wimpey, up 0.4per cent, or 0.75p, to 175.6p.
SSP Group, the business behind the train station bakery Upper Crust, gave investors a taste of success as revenue increased by 7.3per cent. Like-for-like sales were up 2.7per cent, and SSP sounded confident of its growth prospects.
Though UBS analysts gave the business a ‘sell’ rating, and said that the share price could come under pressure due to ‘softer’ trading in the rail sector, SSP’s shares rose by 3.1per cent, or 20.3p, to 678.4p.
Cyber security firm NCC Group also pulled its shares up by 9.3per cent, or 18.8p, to 220p as revenue rose by 8.3per cent to £233.2million.