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MARKET REPORT: Gambling firm announces dividend boost due to strong underlying trading

Online gambling firm GVC Holdings lifted shareholders’ spirits along with the market as it announced a second special dividend for the year. The 15.1 euro cents payout means a total for the year of 30 euro cents.

The firm, whose brands include Sportingbet and Betboo, said group profits rose 26 per cent to £177m while revenue was up 8 per cent to £752m.

Chief executive Kenneth Alexander hailed its £1.1bn purchase of rival Bwin in September 2015 after a heated bidding war with 888 Holdings Plc.

Winning: Gamblers also had reason to be cheerful as shareholders approved Betsson’s 9p-per-share offer for UK gaming operator NetPlay TV

He said: ‘Through the hard work of our people we have once again demonstrated our ability to create significant shareholder value through selected acquisitions.’

The company also appointed Will Whitehorn, deputy chair of Stagecoach and a former president of Virgin Galactic, as a senior independent director. Shares rose 5.37 per cent, or 38p, to 746p.

Gamblers also had reason to be cheerful as shareholders approved Betsson’s 9p-per-share offer for UK gaming operator NetPlay TV.

London-based NetPlay’s brands include Jackpot 247 and SuperCasino.com.

The £26.4m offer is expected to close in April. Swedish group Betsson has said: ‘We have a long-term view on NetPlay and will achieve significant cost synergies and operational improvements over time.’ Shares in AIM-listed NetPlay TV closed flat at 8.88p.

But weighing on the market was IG Group Holdings, founded in 1974 as the world’ s first spread-betting firm. It reported a 3.8 per cent fall in quarterly revenue, to £117.4m for the third quarter ended February 28.

Excitement: Hedge fund Pershing Square Holdings that it is seeking a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange

Average revenue per client at the online trading company fell 15 per cent. Shares fell 4.96 per cent, or 26p, to 498p.

THE FTSE 100 closed up at 7,340.71, a 15.99 boost on the day before but a long way from Monday’s record high.Generating excitement was the announcement from hedge fund Pershing Square Holdings that it is seeking a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange. It will continue to list in Amsterdam as well.

Jefferies International has been appointed as financial advisor. It is thought the listing will be around £2.6bn.

It came as healthcare real estate investment trust Impact Healthcare REIT opened the market to celebrate its recent listing. Shares in Impact closed flat at 103p.

A London Stock Exchange spokesman said: ‘Despite recent economic and political events our markets remain resilient and open to investors around the world.

‘This resilience is underpinned by London’s natural strengths. Not just our time zone, language and rule of law but also the deepest, most liquid multicurrency capital markets and the widest breadth of investors.

One Media IP said Youtube’s channel management is encouraging

“Crucially, with our sophisticated financial ecosystem, there is also our ability to constantly be at the forefront of innovation.’

Halma, which makes fire and smoke detectors, healthcare and science equipment, closed as the best FTSE 250 performer. It followed a trading update that Numis said was ‘reassuring’. Bosses said revenue was increasing in all major geographic areas, particularly USA and mainland Europe.

They are eyeing further acquisitions, having bought US company FluxData for £9.6m. Shares closed up 6.51 per cent, or 62.5p, to 1,022p.

At the other end of the market, the day’s biggest fallers included One Media IP as the music rights exploiter announced a difficult year. The Buckinghamshire company, which owns thousands of nostalgia tracks and charges for them on YouTube and elsewhere, said operating profit fell to £28,959 compared to £445,312 the year before.

But chief executive and chairman Michael Infante said: ‘The uplift in our video viewing on YouTube progresses and our channel management is encouraging.’ Shares fell 20 per cent, or 0.62p, to 2.50p.

Meanwhile AIM-listed Ithaca Energy announced production ahead of guidance at 9,310 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Losses after tax fell to £43m, compared to £96m in 2015. Shareholders have until April 20 to vote on a £1.19 per share takeover offer from the Isreali energy group Delek, recommended by the board. Shares rose 0.65 per cent, or 0.75p, to 115.75p.

Shares in international gas company Soco International rose 1.54 per cent, or 2p, to 132.25p, as the board proposed a dividend hike. Shareholders are in line for 5p this year compared to 2p last.

Loss after tax fell to £14.6m, compared to £27m last year. Chief executive Ed Storey said: ‘We performed well against our peers during the prolonged oil price downturn and continued to return cash to shareholders.’