What to watch: £259m THG deal, cancer drug lifts AstraZeneca and US stimulus boosts markets

Kumutha Ramanathan
·4 min read

Watch: FTSE higher on US stimulus hopes, Brexit optimism

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world:

£259m THG deal

DAILY CANDY -- "Daily Candy Collaborations" at Le Bain in New York City on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 -- Pictured: design by GlossyBox -- (Photo by: Neilson Barnard/DailyCandy/NBCU Photobank)
THG's deal represents a channel shift in marketing methods. Photo: Neilson Barnard/DailyCandy/NBCU Photobank via Getty

E-commerce giant TGH Holdings (THG.L) — previously known as Hut Group — announced on Tuesday that it would buy Dermstore.com, an online retailer of high-end skincare and specialty brands that is owned by Target Corp., for a $259m ($350m) deal in cash as it expands its US presence.

The British company, which already owns highly popular retail brands such as Lookfantastic and skin care group ESPA, says the deal will allow it to “become the global leader in online multi-brand distribution for the beauty industry.”

THG (THG.L) shares steadily gained on Tuesday, up 5.2% at around 9.39am in London.

THG shares were among the FTSE gainers on Tuesday morning following the deal's announcement.
THG shares were among the FTSE gainers on Tuesday morning following the deal's announcement. Chart: Yahoo Finance

In the wake of COVID-19, the deal will also support global beauty brands in addressing the channel shift of marketing spend from offline (magazines, TV, etc.) to online via its beauty box business (Glossybox.com and Lookfantastic.com).

The deal is subject to regulatory approval in the United States.

THG said it is also purchasing UK-based Claremont Ingredients and David Berryman for £59.5m, as it plans to scale up its drinks business with the aim of developing flavours tailored to local tastes across the globe.

READ MORE: FTSE gains on US stimulus hopes and post-Brexit high

Cancer drug lifts AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca (AZN.L) shares led FTSE (^FTSE) gains on Tuesday morning as the company announced late on Monday that its drug Lynparza has been approved in Japan for the treatment of advanced ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers, following Phase III trials.

“These three approvals allow patients in Japan to be treated with Lynparza, a targeted treatment personalised to their specific biomarkers,” said Dave Fredrickson, executive vice president of the Oncology Business Unit.

“They further underline the critical importance of biomarker testing at diagnosis, which helps physicians determine a course of treatment tailored to individual patients to substantially delay disease progression,” he continued

This research is a joint effort with AstraZeneca and Merck & Co., a US-based firm known as MSD outside America and Canada. They announced a global strategic oncology collaboration to co-develop and co-commercialise Lynparza.

“For patients in Japan diagnosed with each of these types of cancer there are very few treatment options,” said Roy Baynes, senior vice president and head of global clinical development, chief medical officer at MSD Research Laboratories.

“Approvals for treatments such as Lynparza, the first PARP inhibitor to be approved in these specific types of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and metastatic pancreatic cancer in Japan, enable us to advance this evolving era of personalised medicine and change how these cancers are treated.”

The stock was also boosted by news that its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, could be approved and distributed within a matter of days.

US stimulus boosts markets

London’s FTSE (^FTSE) and its European peers were given a major boost in early trading on Tuesday as markets were buoyed by news of a US stimulus deal and the UK’s Christmas Eve accord with the European Union.

The FTSE (^FTSE) gained 2.6% at around 9.50am in London, reaching a 9 month high. But it is also worth noting that among the laggards were UK banks, with banking giants Barclays (BARC.L) down 3.4%, NatWest (NWG.L) lower 2.7% and Lloyds (LLOY.L) falling 4.2%.

“Pundits are still picking over the bones of the Brexit agreement but there is already a consensus that the deal has not been as good for the UK financial services industry as hoped,” said Jeffrey Halley, OANDA’s senior market analyst for Asia Pacific.

London’s FTSE (^FTSE) largely surged in early trading after the US House of Representatives approved an increase in stimulus payments to help the country get back on its feet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) gained 0.4% in Frankfurt while the CAC 40 (^FCHI) headed higher 0.5% in Paris.

US futures were also in the green. S&P futures (ES=F) were up 0.5%. Dow Jones (YM=F) also gained 0.5% and the Nasdaq (NQ=F) was up 0.4%.

Asian markets were largely positive over the US stimulus deal news. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) gained 2.7% at market close, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) was up 0.8%, and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was down 0.5% at market close. South Korea’s KOSPI (^KS11) headed up 0.4%.

Watch: House passes bill to increase stimulus checks to $2,000