Suspect share price moves before M&A deals fall in Britain

Suspect share price moves before M&A deals fall in Britain
FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo -
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Toby Melville(Reuters)
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By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Fewer company takeover announcements in 2018 were preceded by unusual share price moves that might point to insider dealing, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said on Tuesday.

The FCA said its “market cleanliness” indicator showed that 10% of takeovers were associated with abnormal price movement before the deal was announced, down 12% on the year and its lowest level since 2006.

The figures will help the watchdog to show that efforts to crack down on market abuse are bearing fruit.

The regulator said it has introduced an additional indicator that looks at abnormal trading volume ahead of takeover announcements to glean more information from market moves that could be due to legal as well as illegal reasons.

“Overall, of all unscheduled announcements in the UK during 2018, 6.4% saw abnormal increases in trading volumes ahead of them,” the FCA said in its annual report published on Tuesday.

This represents 68 out 1,070 announcements tested and involves a small fraction of all equity market activity during the same period.

The FCA said it opened 87 market abuse-related investigations in the year to March 2018, with a similar number in the last financial year that ended in March 2019.

“Our supervisory reviews of market abuse systems and controls at sponsor firms have, so far, resulted in improvements being required at 40% of firms reviewed,” the FCA said.

The annual report also revealed that FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey, the bookies’ favourite to replace Mark Carney as Bank of England governor next year, was paid 592,000 pounds in the last financial year, including bonus and pension.

This was up by 3,000 pounds, despite a 7,000 pound drop in performance related pay to 68,000 pounds.

The annual report showed that the mean gap between male and female pay at the FCA for the year ending in March 2019 was 17.8%, down slightly on the prior year and lower than many of the financial firms the watchdog regulates.

The FCA also published an ethnicity male to female pay gap for the first time, showing a mean gap of 27.2%.

(Reporting by Huw Jones. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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