The FTSE 100 took a bit of a breather last week, rising by less than 1 per cent as a mixed bag of company results stole focus from the M&A show.
The Bank of England made no move on interest rates, a decision which will not help companies leveraged to discretionary spend such as builders' merchant Travis Perkins.
The group's share price crashed by 9 per cent on Friday as management revealed sales from its Wickes home improvement chain slid by 9 per cent in the four months to the end of October. Even Travis Perkins' finance director Hampden Smith regrets the timing of the £950m Wickes purchase - which has neatly coincided with the high street slowdown. The rest of the sector suffered, with MFI, Kingfisher and the Irish Grafton Group also seeing big falls.
In contrast, the once troubled Marks & Spencer is slowly pulling itself out of the abyss posting a well-received interim pre-tax profit of £308m. Owner of the Yellow Pages, the Yell Group, rose 7 per cent to 495p following its adjusted interim profit of £109m - a 14.5 per cent rise on the previous year. Property management firm Connaught saw its share price rise after posting an interim profit of £9.2m, and private equity firm 3i also produced a strong interim result with the value of its net assets rising by 18 per cent.
The BG Group management must be feeling disappointed. Not only did the oil company report a substantial jump in third-quarter profits, BG unveiled plans for a £1bn buyback and £500m boost to its investment programme. Unfortunately, the share price has overshot on whispers of corporate interest from Royal Dutch Shell.
In contrast, both BT and Cable & Wireless produced results which lived down to the City's low expectations. BT continues to suffer from a fall in demand for fixed lines. The chances of a bid from the German E.ON for Scottish Power must have increased after the group released a lower-than-expected interim profit.
There was some M&A news last week with struggling home builder Westbury admitting to an approach. Rival builder Persimmon has admitted to its interest, confessing late on Friday that it was in talks with Westbury which "may or may not lead to an offer". Persimmon's own shares hit a record high of 950p last week following a well-received interim profit announcement. Merger mania even hit the bank sector last week, with speculation regarding an asset management linkup between Lloyds TSB and the Belgium-based Fortis.
Internet gaming house PartyGaming bought MultiPoker last week for £14.5m to gain control of one of its marketing partners. Kingston Communication, the Hull phone group, received a bid approach from US venture capitalists Carlyle.
John Caudwell plans to sell his mobile-phone empire after also receiving "several" approaches. The owner of the Phones4U chain is looking for more than £1bn for the business he and his brother started in 1987.Reuse content