Bid whispers on a dull day bring star billing to BICC

Market Report

BICC, one of the market's great underperformers, was the unlikely star of a dull day as whispers of corporate action swirled around the construction group.

The stock soared nearly 14 per cent in respectable turnover as the prospect of a bid or of a major share reshuffle whetted dealers' appetites.

At the end of flat day for the overall market, BICC was sporting a 12.5p rise to 103p. There were two tales behind the climb. One school of thought argued that the owner of the rail maintenance company Balfour Beatty could again find itself under siege from predator Wassall, up 2.5p to 221p. The acquisitive investment vehicle fought a bitter battle with the BICC board a few months ago, only to see its 125p-per-share offer rejected.

However, the bid scrap left Wassall with a chunky 9 per cent plus stake in BICC, which could be an ideal platform for another strike. Critics pointed to Wassall's protestations that BICC's recent sale of its cables businesses had made the company far less attractive.

Proponents of this theory suggested that Wassall was looking to offload its stake, possibly to one of BICC rivals which could then launch a bid for the group.

The market was convinced that whoever bids will have to offer more than the 125p put on the table by Wassall. The other construction-related rumour centred on RMC. The building materials maker jumped 53.5p to 1092p amid speculation that it is poised to sell its Great Mills do-it-yourself chain. Mooted buyers included Homebase owner Sainsbury, up 5.5p to 416.75p, and Kingfisher, down 22.5p to 716.5p, which already has B&Q. Smaller rival Norcros jumped 14p to 95p after unveiling a 103p-per-share management buyout offer.

The rest of the market was dull as hell, as Wimbledon and the forthcoming long weekend in the US combined to restrain trading. After Thursday's fireworks, the FTSE 100 ended a mere 3 points higher at 6,491.9 despite another rip-roaring rally in the Dow. At the London close, the US index had broken through its all-time intraday high after a goodish set of employment numbers, but the FTSE 100 failed to take notice. The second liners were buoyed by bid talk and outperformed, with the FTSE 250 ending 37.7 better at 5935.1 and the Small Cap moving 13.4 higher to 2676.9.

The main interest came from intriguing takeover rumours. Marks & Spencer, where talk of trading problems is still rife, lost 5.75p to 360.75p amid wild speculation of a strike for clothes chain House of Fraser, up 4.5p to 91.5p. However, a different whisper suggested that HoF could go to another retailer or opt for a lucrative sale and leaseback of its properties.

Struggling cash-and-carry group Booker remained unchanged at 95.5p despite vague talk of a 120p-per-share strike by the US retail giant Wal-Mart.

In a completely different sector, United Utilities surged 24.5p to 819p on talk that rival Scottish & Southern Energy, down 12.5p to 645p, or a US competitor were having a look. A positive outcome of the imminent water watchdog review also helped United.

Reed International rose another 17.25p to 465p on continued rumours of a bid from Dutch rival Wolters Kluwert. Rival Emap, up 57p to 1,204p, was helped by Merrill Lynch support and hope of bolt-on acquisitions.

Away from the takeover chat, Granada beamed 64p higher to 1,246p as brokers upgraded after recent presentations. Engineer Invensys kicked off its share buyback programme and firmed 14.5p to 318.75p, while Dixons, results next week, soared 42p to 1328p as investors grew more and more eager on the Freeserve flotation.

Cable & Wireless featured prominently among the falling blue-chips as a profit warning caused a 12.5p sell-off to 781.5p. SmithKline Beecham bled 24p to 840p after delaying the $1.3bn sale of its US labs due to a database blunder, while rival Glaxo Wellcome shed 32p to 1820p on fears over NHS budget cuts.

In the FTSE 250, microchip designer ARM Holdings stormed away, jumping 163.5p to a record high of 952.5p - a rise of over 20 per cent. Goldman Sachs believes that forthcoming results will be fantastic and the market is waiting for a bumper contract, possibly with Texas Instruments. Computer group Computacentre buzzed 31p better to 543.5p after the predicted deal to suppy BT with desktop products arrived. Palmtop organiser-maker Psion was 50p higher to 870p as CSFB said "buy" and slapped a 1,000p price target.

The Magnet kitchen group Berisford cooked a 11p advance to 252p after unveiling a pounds 231m offer for US rival Scotsman Industries.

BATM Advanced Communications, the hi-tech communications group, rang up a 32.5p rise to 865p after an upbeat annual meeting. It plans to leave AIM very shortly and should go straight into the FTSE 250, sparking some buying from the tracker funds.

The bears had a picnic on Group Chez Gerard. The steak-and-chips restaurant group fried 27.5p lower at 222.5p amid rumours of an imminent profit warning. The transport company First Group travelled 17.5p lower to 323p on persistent fears that it might lose its train franchises, while United Biscuits crumbled 5.75p down to 186p after a bearish trading statement. Somerfield, down 6p to 268p, was hammered by brokers' downgrades.

City of London PR soared 28p to 125.5p as dealers tipped it as the next takeover target. The sector is excited after the expected pounds 47.9m all-share offer by public relations giant Incepta, up 1.25p to 39.75p for smaller rival Lopex, up 4.5p to 82.5p.




Suggested Topics
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

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