Picture: 123RF/SOLARSEVEN
Picture: 123RF/SOLARSEVEN

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

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

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

The regulator said it introduced an additional indicator that looks at abnormal trading volume before takeover announcements to glean more information from market moves that may be due to legal and illegal factors.

“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 of 1,070 announcements tested and involves a small fraction of all equity market activity in 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 CEO Andrew Bailey, the bookies’ favourite to replace Mark Carney as Bank of England governor next year, was paid £592,000 in the last financial year, including bonus and pension. This was up by £3,000 , despite a £7,000 drop in performance-related pay to £68,000 .

The 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 at 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%.

Reuters