Thursday 14 December 2017

RBS sells £507m of Direct Line

Royal Bank of Scotland sold £507m (€584m) more of its stake in UK insurer Direct Line to cut its holding to a minority as part of an acceleration of the state-backed bank's clean-up.

The Ulster Bank owner said yesterday it sold a 17pc stake in Direct Line for 201 pence per share, a 4pc discount to Tuesday's close, to take advantage of a one-fifth rally in the insurer's share price since it was floated in October.

US retail sales hit five-month high

THE rise in sales at US retailers in February was the biggest in five months as an improved jobs market and stronger household finances cushioned the effect of higher payroll taxes.

The 1.1pc advance was more than forecast and followed a revised 0.2pc gain in January. The average projection in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.5pc advance. Sales excluding the volatile categories of cars and petrol climbed 0.4pc.

Mooted disposals at Pru unlikely

STRONG profit and share price performances from Prudential have made it unlikely that Britain's biggest insurer will pursue mooted disposals next year, its chief executive said.

"The current strategy is working very well as evidenced by today's results, and it's a very high benchmark when you think about exercising any of these options," Tidjane Thiam told reporters. "The fact that things are going so well sets the bar very, very high on any change to that strategy."

Commerzbank to sell €2.5bn shares

Commerzbank, Germany's second-biggest, said it will sell €2.5bn of shares to repay the government and insurer Allianz. Shareholders will approve a reverse share split ahead of the sale, which will reduce the number of shares to 583 million from 5.83 billion.

Commerzbank, in which the government owns 25pc after an €18.2bn bailout in 2009, is restructuring its consumer banking unit and cutting as many as 6,000 jobs.

Sterling recovers from dollar low

STERLING recovered from a two-and-a-half year low against the dollar yesterday as investors bought the currency on the view that recent steep falls had gone too far, though a feeble UK economy was expected to keep it weak.

The pound was up 0.3pc at $1.4953, pulling away from a low of $1.4832 hit on Tuesday after data showed UK manufacturing output contracted sharply in January.

Cook looks online for profits boost

TRAVEL firm Thomas Cook aims to boost profits by more than £334m (€385m) in the next three years by moving more of its operations online and further cutting costs.

A long-awaited strategy update from chief executive Harriet Green gave the latest positive signal that the company is responding to radical changes in its industry and sent its shares up more than 15pc to their highest in 19 months.

Irish Independent

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