BTR retreats again on trading statement rumours


The agony continues for BTR, the once high-flying conglomerate which has become a permanent feature of the stock market doghouse.

The shares tumbled 6.5p to 231.5p, lowest for five years as worries grew about the contents of a rumoured trading statement which could, some believe, appear today.

BTR fell out of favour with the rest of the conglom clan. The new chief executive, Ian Strachan, is struggling to reshape the sprawling group into a focused global engineering and manufacturing operation.

Interim profits, produced in September, were subdued but encouraged some analysts to adopt a more positive stance. Yet the shares have continued their seemingly remorseless slide to the particular dismay, no doubt, of many former holders of the 1996 warrants.

After the interim figures, the price, down to 231.5p in the summer, moved to 280p, an encouraging development for BTR, which had issued warrants with a 258p striking price. In the event the group pulled in pounds 280m as most warrant holders were tempted to take up their share entitlements.

The latest BTR retreat occurred as the stock market pondered the sudden weakness in New York and was ruffled by uncertainty on the gilts front, where there was widespread disappointment over the result of the pounds 2.5bn Government stocks auction. It was covered only 1.7 times against expectations approaching 2.5 times.

Footsie fell 16.3 points to 4,045.2 with the supporting indices also giving ground. The overhang from the Government's sales of utility rumps also disturbed sentiment.

HSBC James Capel, famed for its involvement in the long-running mystery of Hanson's National Grid share sale, disclosed it was still hugging most of the British Energy shares it had picked up from the Government. Its total stake, listed as a market makers holding, amounts to 8.75 per cent of Energy's capital. Other securities houses are also sitting on stock the Government unloaded.

Capel acted for Saudi Arabian billionaire Sulimann S Olayan in May when, in a confusing derivatives deal, he emerged as a 12.5 per cent shareholder in the grid.

General Electric Co, figures tomorrow, was little changed at 363.5p. Lehman Brothers is looking for interim profits to be up 7 per cent to pounds 431m. It has put a 1997 target price of 405p on the shares.

British Aerospace ran into turbulence, falling 28.5p to 1,121.5p as the French government suspended moves to privatise Thomson. The aero group was a junior partner in what had appeared to be the successful vehicle for the privatisation.

House of Fraser, the department store chain, was given another takeover whirl with Burton replaced by Sears and Storehouse as the most likely bidders. One suggestion was Sears, which should have cash to spare if it sells its mail order side, might use the Fraser outlets to roll out a national Selfridges chain. Harvey Nichols could, however, emerge as a surprise candidate. It has been flexing its muscles and could see Fraser as a quick route to achieving a more widespread presence.

Glaxo Wellcome fell 11p to 958p. Merrill Lynch has made cautious noises and trimmed its profit expectations. A suggested switch from Cable & Wireless into BT lowered Cable 13.5p to 460.5p and lifted BT 5.5p to 386.5p.

There appeared to be something of a tug-of-war over Maiden, the advertising group. The shares plunged 28p to 266.5p with UBS apparently doing the damage with a profit downgrade. NatWest Securities, however, remained supportive, sticking with its pounds 8.1m forecast against pounds 3.6m last year.

Meyer International, the timber group, was shaved 1.5p to 368.5p with Merrill Lynch downgrading and saying sell. Wescol, a structural steel group, gained 2p to 54.5p as the chairman, Peter Price, confirmed a high order intake.

Enviromed, a medical group, firmed to 24.5p as a US group, Selfcare, demanded a shareholders' meeting to press for the sacking of the board and its replacement by its own nominees. Selfcare has 28.9 per cent of Enviromed, which is resisting the US attack. It is the second US strike this year; earlier a company related to Selfcare was defeated.

Ritz Music made a low-key Ofex debut, holding at its 55p placing. Leslie Wise, the fashion group, fell 11.5p to 37.5p after a bleak statement which included a warning of a dividend cut.

Hansom, the taxi cabs group, reversed 1.5p to 7p, a low. The shares were 53p a year ago. The company raised pounds 1.5m through a share sale at 5.5p.

Taking Stock

rJohn D Wood, the up-market residential estate agent, jumped 9p to 84.5p, a year's high. The excitement stems from the apparent continuing activity in the London housing market with, it seems, the higher mortgage rates blissfully ignored. Joint chairman George Pope has estimated London house prices will rise by at least 20 per cent this year. Last year Wood made profits of pounds 729,000; around pounds 1.2m could be achieved in the current year which ends in April.

rManchester City, the struggling football club, fell 5p to 110p on Ofex after confirming a pounds 10.8m cash call at 80p a share, underwritten by John Wardle and Stephen Boler.

The company promises a bonus issue of shares or warrants if the club wins promotion.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk