AstraZeneca shares fell after the Mail on Sunday revealed that boss Pascal Soriot plans to leave the company.
The newspaper said the 64-year-old has told friends and advisers that he hopes to leave next year, after having been in charge for more than a decade.
However, he has not yet spoken to the company’s board of directors or its president about his plans, according to the report.
With traders back at their desks yesterday for the first time since the report was published, shares in the pharmaceutical giant fell 3.2 per cent, or 344p, to 10,502p.
Soriot has had one of the most successful careers in British corporate history, spearheading the development of the first Covid-19 vaccine and fending off a takeover bid from US rival Pfizer.
Successful stay: AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot is reportedly looking to step down next year, after having been in charge for more than a decade.
AstraZeneca is valued at more than £160bn as it competes with Shell (up 0.3 per cent, or 7.5p, to 2,510p) for the title of largest company in the FTSE 100.
An AstraZeneca spokesperson said: “We do not comment on market rumours. We have regulatory obligations and if there was any truth to a rumor that could significantly affect our share price, we would make an announcement.”
The FTSE 100 rose 0.3 per cent, or 18.68 points, to 7,496.87 and the FTSE 250 added 0.3 per cent, or 59.25 points, to 18,522.44.
Wandisco shares fell after admitting it “suffered months of trauma” following an accounting scandal.
The software group, which will change its name to Cirata next month as part of a plan to distance itself from the “dark days of March 2023”, discovered potentially fraudulent irregularities in March relating to orders, revenues and reservations by a senior sales employee.
Revenue fell to £2.4 million in the first six months of 2023 from £4.6 million during the same period in 2022.
The cash pile plummeted from £15.2m at the end of December last year to just £2.6m on June 30.
Stock Watch – Barkby Group
Barkby Group shares soared after it confirmed reports that it may sell its business that develops robust technology to improve sleep patterns.
The AIM-listed company said it is “exploring options to maximize value for shareholders” of Cambridge Sleep Sciences (CSS).
It could be worth around £50 million, Sky News reported.
Barkby has appointed advisors to conduct a strategic review of its investment in CSS.
The shares soared 163.3 per cent, or 4.9p, to 7.9p.
Wandisco insisted it is in a “transitional year” and still expects to generate bookings of between £5.7m and £7m for the whole of 2023.
He added that it should end the year with around £13m to £13.2m in cash. The shares fell 7.9 per cent, or 5.2p, to 61p.
Miners rose as hopes of a recovery in China’s economy following challenges in its real estate sector boosted metal prices.
Fresnillo gained 4.6 per cent, or 25.6 pence, to 580 pence, Glencore rose 2.2 per cent, or 9.35 pence, to 435.35 pence, Anglo American added 2.4 per cent, or 48.5 pence, to 2071.5 pence, Antofagasta rose 2.9 per cent, or 43 pence. , to 1,509.5 pence and Rio Tinto lost 3.4 per cent, or 166.5 pence, to 5,001 pence.
A positive update from GSK also helped lift the top-line index. The pharmaceutical giant’s proposal for its drug to treat patients with a rare blood cancer that contributes to anemia was accepted for review by the Japanese regulator.
The shares rose 1.7 per cent, or 24.6 pence, to 1,468.8 pence. But Melrose endured a second session of losses when the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) downgraded its rating on the stock to “sector perform” from “outperform.”
He said this was justified given that the aerospace business is valued in line with its peers. The shares fell 5 per cent, or 25.3 pence, to 485.5 pence.
There was better news for insurers L&G and Aviva after brokers Deutsche Bank Research upgraded their price targets.
L&G shares rose 1.6 per cent, or 3.4 pence, to 220 pence and Aviva added 1.5 per cent, or 5.7 pence, to 374.9 pence.
Investors in Sportech dumped their shares when the betting company proposed delisting on AIM.
It cited the “significant burdens” of being a listed company and estimated its trading costs will fall by around £450,000 a year.
At least three-quarters of shareholders must vote in favor of delisting the company from the stock market at its next general meeting. Shares fell 35.6 per cent, or 34.5p, to 62.4p.
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