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EMI Group shares rose 23 per cent after the company said it was in talks that may signal a bidding war for the U.K.'s largest music company. EMI, producer and retailer of recordings by the Spice Girls, the Rolling Stones and other artists, didn't disclose the names of potential bidders. The company has been in talks to be acquired by Montreal-based Seagram for as much as US$9bn since January, and the discussions intensified last week. There was speculation it was also in talks with Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp and other bidders. "It could be the start of a nice little bidding war," said Lawrence Peterman at Kyte Securities.

Nycomed Amersham shares slipped 3 per cent to a 52-week low of 1,916 pence last week on worries about US competition and the possibility that it may be dropped from the FT- SE 100 index after only six months. Shares in the drugs and medical products maker have shot up by 55 per cent in the last year after the merger of Amersham International and Nycomed ASA of Norway and the formation of a major joint venture with Pharmacia & Upjohn in biotechnology instruments.

Paul Diggle at SG Securities said that while the company gained major economies of scale, especially in the US market for X-ray diagnostic supplies, it is also facing serious competition from firms like Mallinckrodt.

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