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Market Update

Direct Line Sells Division for $700 M, UK Mail Tumbles 13%

Author: Nigel Thomas
Last Update: 11:34 AM ET September 25 2014

4:00 PM Frankfurt – Direct Line agreed to sell its international business for €550. H&M profit surged 20% to 5.3 billion kronor on 21% sales surge. Hammerson plans to raise about £400 million in a share sale. UK Mail tumbled on weak revenue outlook.

In London trading, FTSE 100 index slipped 0.9% or 61.43 to 6,644.84 and in Frankfurt the DAX index declined 1.3% or 129.77 to 9,532.20.

In Paris, CAC 40 index dropped 1% or 44.67 to 4,369.05.

Direct Line Insurance Group Plc rose 0.2% to 297.10 pence after the U.K.-based insurer agreed to sell its international division for €550 million (£430.5 million or $701 million) and promised to return most of the net proceeds to shareholders.

The home and auto insurer forecasted pre-tax gain from the sale of about £160 million or $261 million.

H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB declined 3.9% to 301.20 kronor after the Sweden-based clothing retailer reported net sales in the third-quarter ending in August soared 21.1% to 38.8 billion kronor from 32 billion kronor a year ago period.

Profit in the quarter surged 19.6% to 5.30 billion kronor compared to 4.43 billion kronor and earnings per share jumped to 3.20 kronor from 2.68 kronor a year earlier.

The retailer said sales in three weeks to September 23 climbed 7% and online sales launched in Italy and Spain in August are on “excellent start.”

Hammerson Plc slumped 4.1% to 560.50 pence after the U.K.-based real estate investment company raised about £399.3 million or $652 million in a share sale to funding the £180 million acquisition of the rest of 40% stake of the Highcross shopping centre in Leicester that it doesn''t already own.

UK Mail Group Plc plunged 13.4% to 489 pence after the U.K.-based delivery services provider forecasted revenue for the first-half ending in September may fall 1% after lower than expected parcels volumes in the second quarter.

The delivery services provider will report its interim results on November 18.

William Hill plc jumped 2.5% to 373.30 pence after the U.K.-based gambling company signed a multi-year extension to its existing bingo contract with Playtech Bingo Network with 70,000 players and 20,000 concurrent users on other network bingo licensees.

Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc