Berisford grabs a slice of the action : MARKET REPORT

The FT-SE 100 index gained 25 points to 3,059.7 and the FT-SE 250 index 6.4 to 3,390.2. Share volume was 743.3 million with 21,846 bargains. Government stocks gave ground.

Berisford, the old commodities group that has been transformed by chief executive Alan Bowkett, held centre stage as Associated British Foods sliced its shareholding.

The baking giant sold 10 million shares (6.63 per cent) at 228p, reducing its stake to 7.72 per cent. A few years ago it had about 20 per cent.

Institutions were anxious to pick up stock and the placing by Hoare Govett was heavily oversubscribed. It seems ABF decided to lighten its load to acquire cash to take up its remaining share of Berisford's £317m rights issue.

The cash call follows Berisford's acquisition of Wellbilt, a US group making kitchen equipment, often for fast-food restaurants. The US deal is the second significant expansion since Mr. Bowkett moved in on the then struggling Berisford business. He reshaped the group and although a bid for C&J Clark, the unquoted shoes group, failed he went on to buy Magnet, the bathroom and kitchen group for what was regarded as a bargain £56m.

The ABF sale seemed to spark interest in Berisford shares, prompting two-way activity. There was litte change in the price, 1p firmer at 236p.

The rest of the stock market ended the week on a strong note with the FT-SE 100 index jumping 25 points to 3,059.7 as the interest rate increase continued to be submerged by US enthusiasm. New York has climbed for four days in succession helped along by the terms of the Mexican rescue package and the hope that the latest interest rate increase represents the last in the present sequence.

The FT-SE 100 index has had a more volatile time but rose 37.5 points over the week.

GEC came to life, gaining 10.5p to 290.5p in busy trading. The surge revived thoughts that a Monopolies and Mergers Commission recommendation on its VSEL bid could soon appear, possibly next week. GEC is battling for control of the shipbuilder with British Aerospace, firm at 482p. VSEL held at 1,495p.

Great Universal Stores edged ahead 5p to 528p with London Wall Equities drawing attention to the mail order and property group's break-up value. LWE's John Chaterway estimates GUS is worth 665p a share, making the shares a better asset play than Kingfisher where most analysts have settled on a figure approaching 500p. Kingfisher dipped 1.5p to 423.5p.

Dalgety's successful bid for the Quaker pet foods business lifted the shares 23p to 419p. The proposed sale of the Golden Wonder snacks foods side directed attention at United Biscuits, the KP group, up 10p at 333p, and little Bensons, struggling with a rights issue. The shares, down 12p on Thursday, rose 8p to 26p.

Carrs Milling was firm at 255p as an upbeat trading statement nullified the failure of takeover talks with NWF, a feedstuff and fertiliser group with a share presence on the 4.2 market. NWF shares are priced at about 700p.

The UB advance alerted the takeover-hungry speculators who also returned to Lasmo, the oil group that avoided the embrace of Enterprise Oil last year. Lasmo gained 4.5p to 151p in busy trading.

There is talk of Atlantic Richfield interest and that Enterprise, still with 9.8 per cent of Lasmo, is considering mounting a new bid when the takeover code allows.

Cable and Wireless, linking with Japanese electronics group NEC to develop global telecommunications, recovered 13.5p to 393.5p and Vodafone responded to US buying, up 6p to 187.5p. BT, figures next week, rose 7.5p to 402.5p.

The Friday crop of profit warnings had a telling impact. AAH fell 21p to 282p; Etam 18p to 183p and Sterling Publishing more than halved to 43p.

Allied Radio was another in the doldrums, halving to 3.25p. The group has lost the licences for two radio stations. Utility Cable rose 1.5p to 23p. It has launched an ADR facility.

Highland Distilleries, the Famous Grouse Scotch whisky group with close links with Remy Cointreau of France, tumbled 22p to 383p with talk of a director's share sale doing the damage.

Glaxo put on 20p to 666p as the market took the view its near-£9bn bid for Wellcome, up 13p at 1,018p, would succeed.

British Steel gained 4.25p to 154.75p on SG Warburg support and Hanson continued to attract buyers after its positive shareholders' meeting, improving 2.75p to 235.25p.

Ahead of third-quarter results on Monday British Airways stuck at 369.5p. Its profits are likely to emerge at about £90m, up from £65m. The group achieved another passenger increase in January with the growth in premium passengers outstripping scheduled demand.

Butte Mining made a dismal return. Its Montana lawsuit has been dismissed. It will appeal to the Federal Appeal Court. Suspended at 4p, the shares fell to 2.75p.

Dealings are expected to start in shares of Wessex Trust, a property investment group, on Monday, following the placing of 23 million shares in the group at 10p. After the sale the three founding directors own 40 per cent of the capital, with an Israeli-based business, Padant Lustig, holding a further 26 per cent. Wessex is likely to use its share quote for acquisitions.

Bluebird Toys gained 6p to 230p, still flushed with the success of this week's toy fair and the reception given to its new lines. Takeover talk is also in the air. The group's profits are due to be announced next month and there are signs that forecasts for it are being edged up. Some are now around £19m, which compares with £9.82m produced last time.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Guru Careers: Stockbroker

£Basic (OTE) + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Stockbroker (qualified / p...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence