Rumours of a Collins Stewart sale resurface

Observers of the sector believe that several smaller finance houses are examining a bid for Collins Stewart, and that Close Brothers - which owns a significant fund-management arm, the market-making business Winterflood, and a growing corporate-finance business - has emerged as one of the most credible bidders. Close Brothers shares dipped 5.5p to 763p yesterday.

Mr Smith has repeatedly denied that Collins Stewart, which he joined in 1996, is up for sale, but rumours of bid interest refuse to die.

The attraction of the story is that there is little obvious synergy between Collins Stewart's old-style stockbroking and corporate finance work - which made the group £38.2m in operating profits last year - and the new inter-dealer derivatives broking business which Mr Smith bolstered through acquisitions over the past few years. That side of the business, which made £51.9m in operating profits, is seen as having much greater growth potential and accounts for the significant majority of Collins Stewart Tullett's £1.01bn market value.

A sale of the stockbroking arm would at least crystallise its value, which Mr Smith has argued in the past is greater than the stock market is willing to believe. Collins Stewart Tullett shares fell 1.5p to 477p.

Dealers were also excited yesterday by a surge of interest in Matalan, the discount stores group that is regularly tipped as a takeover target for bigger retailers with an interest in its portfolio of out-of-town stores. Asda is often in the frame.

Matalan's stock has performed well since results last week which showed that, although sales are falling, profits are holding up thanks to improved efficiency throughout the business. It closed at 190.25p, up 5p,in volume not seen on more than a handful of days since the company floated. More than 4 per cent of the company's shares went through the Stock Exchange, and day traders were particularly active in the expectation of an imminent bid.

The stock market resumed the upward trend that has been halted on only two sessions in the past dozen. Buoyed by bid chatter and positive sentiment towards the heavyweight banking and oil stocks, the FTSE 100 ended up 28.7 points at 5,245.9, another three-year best. The banks, which account for about one-fifth of the value of the blue-chip index have been rising on hopes that interest rate cuts are imminent, taking some of the pressure off the customers who have taken out loans, and holding out the prospect of a renewed uptick in mortgage lending soon. HBOS (up 16.5p at 891p) and Northern Rock (up 10.5p to 823.5p) were the two stocks singled out by Goldman Sachs as it turned more positive on the sector. Other notable share-price rises included Royal Bank of Scotland's 21p climb to 1,738p, HSBC's 13.5p jump to 911.5p, Alliance & Leicester's 2.5p rise to 898.5p, and the 7.5p gain for Barclays, at 571p.

Much of what went down on Tuesday went back up again yesterday. Provident Financial has unsettled the car dealers by saying its Yes car-credit business was feeling the force of a consumer slowdown, but yesterday Reg Vardy said it was enjoying pretty good sales, particularly for company cars. So while Reg Vardy shares were up 13p at 547p, Inchcape and Pendragon were also motoring ahead, up 38p at 2,019p and 5p at 303p, respectively. Even Provident Financial bounced 1.5p to 674p.

There was a big share sale by Ajit Patel, the chief executive of Goldshield, who is on police bail in a Serious Fraud Office investigation into claims that the drug company was among several defrauding the National Health Service. His investment vehicle sold 400,000 shares - worth £1.05m - the proceeds of which will be split between Mr Patel and his brother. Goldshield shares were up 1p to 268.5p.

Shares in the nightclubs owner Urbium got their groove on, up a round 100p at 930p. The company rejected the advances of Regent Inns, which bid 975p a share, but said that other financial bidders had asked to dance. Urbium's shareholders are hoping for a bidding contest, but Regent's appeared content that it has left the floor, since its shares were unchanged at 78.5p.

Speculative traders were buying into Biofuels Corporation, the biodiesel company which has preliminary results due this morning. They were hoping for a more positive outlook than that given in April, when the company said the demand for biodiesel was not proving as strong as hoped. The stock was 6p better at one point, but closed up just 0.5p at 145p as more cautious traders took their profits.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
newsChester Zoo have revealed their newest members
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Generalist HR Administrator, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - £28,000.

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...

Application Support - Enterprise Java, SQL, Oracle, SQL Server

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A well-established financial soft...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape