Private Investor: This Spanish invasion is good for me - and BAA shares

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The Independent Online

However, because private punters' bids were so drastically scaled back, I wound up with just 305 shares, that is £600 worth, rather than the £2,500 worth that I was looking for. Thus I am looking at a paper "profit" of £60 before costs. As I said last week, in those circumstances, it's worth my hanging on to the shares in my Hargreaves Lansdowne nominee account, until the account charges become prohibitive (no sign of that yet, though).

I've also started to see my money from the takeover of O2 by the Spanish Telefonica group. Most of this is profit, as it happens, because I bought most of my O2 shares after the great telecom and technology share crash four years ago. Takeover speculation then stated to buoy the shares, although the gossip never seemed to amount to much until Telefonica came up with the money. I even got cash rather than shares. So my thanks to the Spanish.

Come some to think of it, most of the recent action in my portfolio - and my life - has had a Spanish edge. I had a letter I didn't understand about opening a bank account with Grupo Santander, whose shares I accepted when they took over Abbey National, and, of course, the big corporate news of the last week, potentially at least, is the possible bid for BAA by Grupo Ferrovial, which is, in case you didn't know or haven't guessed by now, Spanish.

I don't quite know why there seems to be such a flood of Spanish capital coming into the British market just now, but it's the biggest invasion since Philip II decided to send his little Armada over here to try to upset Elizabeth I's rule over England. By the way, I never knew until a few weeks ago that Philip was Elizabeth 's brother-in-law. Families, eh?

Still, things are friendlier now and, as I say, in the case of O2 and now BAA, I do have to thank the Spanish for pushing up the value of my holdings. The trouble is that I can't really help wondering why, as usual with these takeovers, if these Spanish business people and investors think that some of our great companies are such wonderful investments, the rest of us can't see things that way as well. Why, in other words, did it take Grupo Ferrovial's announcement that it was mulling over a bid for BAA to lift the shares out of their doldrums?

The best that can happen is that the spurt that BAA shares put on at the end of last week will continue until we see the shares breach the £9 or £10 mark. That would be valuing BAA at well over £12bn, so it's a lot of money to raise, but really peanuts when you consider the magnificence of BAA's assets, especially the triple jewels of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Why anyone would want to fly, say, by Ryanair out of Luton to Barcelona, and be turned away at the check-in for being a few minutes late is beyond me (yes it happened to me).

The worst that can happen is that shares subside a bit and that in due course BAA puts in place a scheme to separate the operating company from the property side of the business. That too would add value.

So I have decided to put a little of the money I've received from one Spanish takeover - O2/Telefonica - into another prospective Spanish venture, BAA.

Another chunk of cash is going into a business that, having sampled it, I have a good feeling about: the Spanish tapas chain named La Tasca, quoted on AIM. Now for a nice glass of rioja to celebrate.

s.ogrady@independent.co.uk

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