MARKET REPORT: S4 Capital bounces back after a dismal few days

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MARKET REPORT: Sir Martin Sorrell offered respite as his digital advertising company S4 Capital bounces back after a dismal few days

Sir Martin Sorrell was given a break yesterday as S4 Capital bounced back after a dismal few days.

Shares of the digital advertising and marketing company jumped 10.5%, or 10.4p, to 319.4p.

The rally followed a 40% drop in the previous two sessions after S4 said on Wednesday that its auditor PwC refused to sign its accounts, delaying its results for the second time.

Concern: A cloud of uncertainty hangs over S4, which was put in place by Sir Martin Sorrell (pictured)

The stock is still down 32% since then and 63% since its peak of 870p in September. The rout has seen £85million wiped out the value of Sorrell’s nearly 10% stake over the past three days as the company’s value plummeted.

A cloud of uncertainty now hangs over S4, which was set up by Sorrell, 77, after he left WPP. He led WPP for 33 years, growing from a £1million business in 1985 to a market capitalization of over £16billion when he left in 2018.

S4 employs over 7,500 people in 33 countries and reached the £1 billion unicorn milestone in just over a year.

The FTSE 100 rose 0.3%, or 22.22 points, to 7,537.90 while the FTSE 250 rose 0.3%, or 57.94 points, to 21,218.01.

April 1 meant a pay rise for millions of people after the UK’s national living wage rose by 6.6% from £8.91 to £9.50. But it has also been accompanied by a host of energy price and tax hikes.

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter said: “People are facing the financial pain of rising energy costs, water tariffs, council bill and vehicle duties this month.”

“Concerns are growing that we haven’t seen anything yet in terms of energy shock.”

Russia’s biggest steelmaker NLMK did not release its first financial statements for the year as its shares were suspended at 32 US cents.

The biggest riser in the FTSE 100 was Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Durex and Strepsils condoms, as shares rose 3.1%, or 178p, to 6010p. Barclays analysts have set a target price of 9100p per share, down from a previous target of 8800p.

Arch-rival Unilever, whose brands include Marmite and Ben and Jerry’s, rose 1.5%, or 53p, to 3,508p. It was given a target price of 4600p by Credit Suisse while Morgan Stanley, which was not so enthusiastic, reduced its target from 4200p to 3800p. Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever were part of a group of companies operating in Russia last month that experts say “have blood on their hands”.

Mining giants Anglo American rose 2.4%, or 97p, to 4,069.5p while Rio Tinto gained 2.4%, or 144p, to close at 6,225p.

This week, Anglo American sold its remaining 8% stake in South African mining company Thungela Resources while Rio Tinto bought the Rincon lithium project in Argentina for £630million.

Fashion brand Next saw a small rebound, adding 1.3%, or 76p, to 6108p.

But Homewares retailer Dunelm fell 1.3%, or 14p, to 1077p. The FTSE 250-listed company yesterday appointed Karen Witts as chief financial officer.

Witts, who held the same position at Kingfisher for seven years, will join the Dunelm board in June.

Asset manager Sanne has seen significant growth, with turnover up 16.5% last year to £203.7million. It follows a £1.5bn takeover of Apex Group in August after a battle of suitors between Apex and Cinven, a private equity firm in London.

The business reported a loss of £2.2million before tax in 2021, compared to a profit of £20.5million the previous year. The shares fell 1%, or 9p, to 905p.

Packaging giant Smurfit Kappa fell 0.1%, or 4p, to 3,409p after announcing it would exit Russia. The FTSE 100 firm said the Russian operation represents less than 1% of its expected sales.

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