AstraZeneca offloads all anaesthetic rights to Aspen, Next has torrid start to year

Josh White Sharecast | 14 Sep, 2017 07:49 | | |

London open

The FTSE 100 is expected to open 16 points lower on Thursday, having closed down 0.18% at 7,379.70 on Wednesday.

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AstraZeneca has entered into an agreement with Aspen Global Incorporated - part of the Aspen Group - under which AGI will now acquire the residual rights to the established anaesthetic medicines Diprivan, EMLA, Xylocaine/Xylocard/Xyloproct, Marcaine, Naropin, Carbocaine and Citanest, it announced on Thursday. The FTSE 100 drugmaker had already entered into an agreement with AGI in June 2016, under which AGI gained the exclusive commercialisation rights to the medicines in markets outside the US. Under the terms of the new agreement, AGI will now acquire the remaining rights to the intellectual property and manufacturing know-how related to the anaesthetic medicines for an upfront consideration of $555m.

Next had a torrid start to the year and, while it reported a 10% decline in first-half profits, an upturn in recent months has led clothing retailer to lift sales and profits targets for the full year. On total sales down 2.2% to £1.9bn in the six months to July, operating profits fell 9.8% to £352.2m and profit before tax shrank 9.5% to £309.4m.

Newspaper round-up

The UK will not water down rules to protect its financial services sector in the wake of Brexit, the chancellor said on Wednesday as he sent a message to his counterparts in the EU that he would not tolerate protectionist measures being imposed to lure business way. Philip Hammond also told his audience of financiers in a set-piece speech in the City that his priority was to devise policies that would allow the UK to retain its place as a leading global financial centre. – Guardian

The great British boozer is under threat as a result of spiralling business rates, according to a campaign group which warns they are a “ticking time bomb” which could devastate the sector. The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) is calling for an annual £5,000 reduction in business rates for every pub across England, after revealing that since the early 1970s nearly 30,000 pubs have called “last orders” and closed their doors for good. – Guardian

The Government is stepping up pressure on Silicon Valley giants to take responsibility for unlawful material online and share the spoils of the internet with media companies. The digital minister Matt Hancock told a gathering of technology lobbyists that the likes of Google and Facebook must intervene to help preserve freedom and liberal values. The shift is an opportunity for Britain to gain a “massive advantage” after Brexit by being the first country to make sure offline principles apply online. – Telegraph

It couldn’t happen again, could it? It is more than six years since Rupert Murdoch abandoned his last bid for Sky in the teeth of the phone hacking scandal and suffered what he said was the most humble day of his life in Parliament. Much has changed. He has cleaved his empire in two, promoted his sons to lead alongside him and got divorced, and remarried. Yet this week may feel like deja vu all over again for the 86-year-old mogul. The Government said on Tuesday there were “non-fanciful” concerns about governance and compliance at Fox News, including around its sexual harassment scandal. It means 21st Century Fox, the vehicle for the bid, faces an investigation of its commitment to broadcasting standards by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). – Telegraph

US close

Wall Street made small gains on Wednesday as investors took a breather after pushing the S&P 500 to a fresh record high during the previous session, amid a tad of renewed speculation in markets regarding the risk of new provocations from Pyongyang following the latest round of sanction from the UN Security Council.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.18% to 22,158.18, the S&P 500 added 0.08% to 2,498.37 and the Nasdaq 100 was 0.15% firmer at 6,004.38.

Overnight, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin indicated at a conference hosted by CNBC and Institutional Investor that he expected tax reforms to be in place before the current year was out and that they might be made retroactive to 1 January.

“It would appear that a running start to the week and fresh record highs in the S&P 500 has proven a little much for some traders, with profit taking seen ahead of Wednesday’s open,” said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

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