FTSE 100 slips lower after Reckitt Benckiser chief’s departure

Top-flight shares in London ended the day lower on Wednesday, with consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser among the biggest fallers after the announcement of its chief executive’s departure.

The FTSE 100 index closed 32.34 points, or 0.47%, lower at 6,862.68.

Investors were shaken by the news that the long-standing boss of Vanish and Dettol owner Reckitt Benckiser is to retire after more than eight years at the helm and 32 years with the company.

Rakesh Kapoor is set to stand down by the end of 2019 and the household goods giant has launched the hunt for his replacement.

Shares reacted negatively to the news, closing down 262p, or 4.19%, at 5,990p.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “Kapoor’s early days as CEO were successful with shareholders rewarded with a decent uptick in the share price.

“But the shares have had a much harder time since summer 2017.

“His successor will need to be incredibly energetic, focused and highly skilled as Reckitt will not be an easy company to run.”

The market was also affected by the wider political uncertainty caused by the latest Brexit developments, according to CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden.

“A fall in energy and consumer stocks is hurting the British index.

“Politics will be in play again as Prime Minister (Theresa) May faces a no-confidence vote after last night’s humiliating defeat in parliament.”

The biggest faller on the FTSE 100 was educational publisher Pearson, which said that it was on track to deliver profit in line with expectations but also revealed a decline in revenues as well as persistent difficulties in the US business.

Shares finished 58.04p lower at 918.2p.

Elsewhere on the London market, housebuilder Bovis Homes said it expects to post a record year of profit and cheered “encouraging” early signs for trading in 2019.

Its shares climbed 35.4p to 962.2p.

There was also an update from the troubled Patisserie Holdings, which remains suspended from trading on London’s junior market.

The Patisserie Valerie owner said investigations into accounting irregularities at the firm had revealed a situation that was worse than previously thought. Advisers at KPMG have been hired to help the company “recover from the devastating effects of the fraud”.

In Europe, the French Cac was 0.51% higher and the German Dax climbed 0.36%.

Sterling was in a resilient mood on Wednesday, holding onto gains ahead of a Parliamentary no confidence vote on Theresa May’s Government.

The pound was trading broadly flat versus the US dollar and euro at 1.285 and 1.127 respectively, as MPs once again prepare to cast their ballot.

Oil prices were relatively stable despite concern over data showing higher US fuel inventories and record crude production.

A barrel of Brent crude oil was trading 0.2% higher at 60.72 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Taylor Wimpey, up 8.75p to 164p, Persimmon up 119p to 2,320p, Marks & Spencer up 11.1p to 287p and Barratt Developments up 19.5p to 518p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Pearson down 58.04p to 918.2p, Reckitt Benckiser down 262p at 5,990p, Evraz down 17.1p to 460p and Fresnillo 27.2p to 892.2p.