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Market report: Investors in Micro Focus unimpressed by chairman's £11.6m stake sale

Kevin Loosemore, the executive chairman of financial software firm Micro Focus, spooked the City by dumping half his shares in the firm and pocketing around £11.6 million in the process.

Loosemore reckons that having just turned 60, “it is time for me to diversify a little”. He cashed in the shares last week and today sought to reassure the City that the move was for personal reasons.

He said: “I remain committed to the business. Micro Focus has tremendous opportunity to prosper and to increase value and I will continue to work to deliver that.”

Although he stressed that around half of his personal wealth remains in the stock, chunky director sales are never a good look. All the more so coming shortly after the FTSE 100 firm warned its integration of the Hewlett Packard Enterprise software business, bought in 2017, “remains a complex and significant programme of work”.

Shares in Micro Focus lost 95.2p, or more than 5%, to 1668.6p, making it one of the biggest fallers on the blue-chip index.

Other fallers included housebuilder Persimmon, ahead of Channel 4 airing a Dispatches investigation tonight that features allegations of shoddy standards and poor customer care as well as those executive bonuses. The builder says it has made headway with improvements and pointed to progress made under its new leadership.

It added: “We are confident that we will be able to demonstrate a sustained change once the measures have had time to take full effect.” The shares told another story, off 30.5p to 1959p.

The FTSE 100 was down 7.30 points to 7498.67 and the FTSE 250 increased 28.92 to 19,580.75 in a quiet start to the week.

Risers included Clydesdale Bank owner CYBG, up 4p to 202.9p, after it agreed a new partnership with comparison website GoCompare to bring energy-switching services to customers that use the lender’s digital banking division.

There wasn’t as much enthusiasm on the mid-cap index for retailer Pets at Home. The firm said it is taking a stake in the online petsitting service Tailster, which provides alternatives to kennels and catteries for owners.

No price was divulged and shares in Pets at Home dipped 0.2p to 200.4p as investors shrugged their shoulders.

Small-cap spotlight

Shares in bakery firm Finsbury Food Group rose on Monday after it reported sales rose 3.8% to £315.3 million in the year to June 29.

The AIM-listed company, which makes Star Wars cake ranges, added profits will be in line with hopes despite cost inflation pressures. The shares gained 2.3p to 66.8p.