(Alliance News) - Stock prices in London opened lower on Wednesday, with eyes on a bunch of takeovers.

In the FTSE 250, Royal Mail owner IDS agreed to a takeover by a Daniel Kretinsky-led group. Meanwhile, Foresight Sustainable Forestry shares shot up, after Averon Park said it will buy the firm for GBP167 million.

The FTSE 100 index opened down 19.28 points, 0.2%, at 8,234.90. The FTSE 250 was down 64.73 points, 0.3%, at 20,640.54, and the AIM All-Share was down 2.55 points, 0.3%, at 805.81.

The Cboe UK 100 was down 0.2% at 822.25, the Cboe UK 250 was down 0.3% at 18,117.26, and the Cboe Small Companies was down 0.1% at 16,872.60.

In European equities on Wednesday, the CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.6%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt was down 0.5%.

German consumer confidence is forecast to improve in June, according to survey data jointly compiled by GfK and the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions on Wednesday.

The June forecast for GfK consumer climate indicator improved to minus 20.9 points from minus 24.0 in May. This was better than FXStreet-cited market consensus of minus 22.5.

This marks the fourth month in a row that consumer confidence has improved in Germany.

Meanwhile, household confidence in France was stable in May.

According to the National Institute of Statistics & Economic Studies, its measure of consumer confidence in France stayed at 90.0 points, below FXStreet consensus of 91.0 points.

The pound was quoted at USD1.2768 early on Wednesday in London, down compared to USD1.2780 at the equities close on Tuesday. The euro stood at USD1.0855, lower against USD1.0875. Against the yen, the dollar was trading at JPY157.09, higher compared to JPY156.94.

In the FTSE 100, Ocado lost 5.4%. It fell to the bottom of the index.

Ocado's stint in the FTSE 100 is set to end, with another technology firm Darktrace set to replace it in the top flight, according to indicative index changes by FTSE Russell on Tuesday.

Final index review findings are released on June 5, using data from a day earlier.

Based on closing on data as of Friday, grocer and warehouse technology firm Ocado is set for the FTSE 100 chop, with wealth manager St James's Place also set for relegation.

St James's Place lost 1.5%.

At the top of the FTSE 100 index was Fresnillo, up 1.8%.

RBC raised its rating for Fresnillo to 'outperform' from 'sector perform'.

In the FTSE 250, International Distributions Services rose 2.7%, after it said it has agreed to a cash takeover offer from Daniel Kretinsky-led EP Corporate Group and J&T.

EP Corporate Group and J&T are to pay 360p cash for IDS shares, plus a final dividend and 8p special dividend. IDS said it final dividend is 2p, so the total value of the offer is 370p per share. This values IDS at GBP3.57 billion.

"IDS has the potential to become a leading international logistics player. Both the IDS board and EP are acutely aware of their responsibilities to IDS and particularly to the unique heritage of Royal Mail and its obligations as the designated Universal Service Provider of postal services in the UK," said IDS Chair Keith Williams.

"The IDS board believes that the offer from EP is fair and reasonable given that there are uncertainties ahead and allows investors to realise value at a significant premium."

Elsewhere in London, Foresight Sustainable Forestry shot up 30%.

Averon Park said it will buy Foresight Sustainable Forestry Co for GBP167 million.

Averon Park offered 97 pence per share to the forestry investment trust managed by Foresight Group LLP, a premium of 33% to Foresight's closing price of 73.0p each on Tuesday.

Foresight Sustainable's directors consider the terms of the offer fair and reasonable, having been advised by brokers Stifel.

Foresight's Chair Richard Davidson said: "The offer from Arizona Bidco is at a price that represents a significant premium to the volume weighted average price for the past three months. We believe this offer represents good value for shareholders, and therefore we are recommending it. The structure of the deal means investors can continue to participate in the compelling investment fundamentals presented by the forestry and carbon credit industries through a private structure."

On Wednesday, the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed down 1.3%.

Australian consumer price inflation accelerated for the second month in a row in April, official data on Wednesday showed.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, consumer prices rose 3.6% annually in April. This was higher than FXStreet-cited market consensus of 3.4%.

Annual inflation stood at 3.5% in March, and 3.4% in February.

In Japan on Wednesday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was down 0.8%. In China, the Shanghai Composite was up slightly, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 1.7%.

In the US on Tuesday, Wall Street ended mixed, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.6%, the S&P 500 up marginally and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.6%.

Brent oil was quoted at USD84.16 a barrel early in London on Wednesday, up from USD83.56 late Tuesday.

Gold was quoted at USD2,353.40 an ounce, lower against USD2,359.03.

Still to come on Wednesday's economic calendar, there is a German inflation reading at 1300 BST.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

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