Christies in takeover frame as investor builds stake


Christies International, the world famous auctioneer, could soon be under the bid hammer.

Joseph Lewis, a Bahamas-based investor, has acquired 12 million shares in two days, lifting his stake to 25.32 per cent. He declared a 4 million purchase on Tuesday and yesterday said he had picked up another 8 million.

The group's shares rose 4p to 213p, coppers below their year's high.

It is thought Mr Lewis has been stalking Christies for more than a year. His buying first attracted attention in the summer when, through his investment vehicle Abel, he said he had 16 per cent.

The auctioneers are familiar with large overseas shareholders. Japanese interests have featured on the group's share register and Sweden's Wallenberg family once had 7.5 per cent. ADT, the controversial car auction and security group created by Michael Ashcroft which is now based in Bermuda, once had a 24 per cent interest. To cut debts it was forced to sell - losing an estimated pounds 80m.

Mr Lewis could be banking on a Christies trading upsurge. Profits last year fell pounds 2.5m to pounds 16.4m. The market is looking for pounds 20m this year and more than pounds 25m next.

But the speed of his build-up is more likely to herald a more predatory interest. A fine art collector and racehorse breeder he is said to speculate in the currency markets.

He is not noted as a corporate player, although he has been involved with quoted London companies, including a leisure group.

The stock market had a roller-coaster session swinging from a 17.2-points fall to an 8.6-gain and ending 1.4 down at 3,662.8. New York's failure to hold the 5,200 level, touched in early trading, ensured a late rally petered out.

Government stocks offered a little inspiration, despite a poor reception to the auction. They scored gains of over pounds 1, encouraged by US Treasuries.

The Footsie upheaval was announced after the market closed. Anticipating its departure, Inchcape slumped 19p to 217p but Midlands Electricity, helped along by its proposed special dividend and share split, took its removal calmly, gaining 18p to 983p.

British Petroleum followed the Government's share sale with a 7p gain to 524p with Smith Barney, the US investment house, and NatWest Securities backing the shares. NatWest was also keen on Shell, up 5.5p to 820.5p.

BT continued to decline, worried by the proposed Oftel price curbs and increasing competition. The shares fell 6p to 352p, lowest for three years.

Bass jumped 26p to 695p following its results; Ladbroke, despite the failure of the rumoured Bass bid to materialise, gained 2.5p to 160p. Rank Organisation's encouraging trading statement lifted the shares 16p to 425p.

Berisford gained 17p to 190p following its profits recovery, but NFC lost 10p to 139p after its profit collapse. Vymura, the wallcovering group, slumped 35p to 104p on a profits warning.

Williams Holdings gained 7p to 321p with SBC Warburg moving from hold to buy.

Standard Chartered fell 16p to 588p (after 580.5p) as stories, subsequently denied, circulated that it planned to close its money market and derivatives operations.

Megalomedia, the new Saatchi vehicle, continued its heady progress, gaining a further 11p at 94p. The shares were relisted on AIM on Tuesday at 33p.

Another AIM newcomer had a spectacular start. Flomerics, a software group, was placed at 130p and closed at 205p. Profits of around pounds 400,000 are forecast for this year against pounds 406,700. Pet City, with 35 superstores selling pet requirements, is due to make its AIM debut today and some suggest another heady performance. The shares were placed at 300p and an opening price of more than 350p is expected.

T&N was actively traded ahead of an expected US judgment over asbestos claims. The shares shaded to 120p.

Cluff Resources, involved in bid talks, had another eventful session, jumping 14p to 92p with stories going the rounds a deal had been agreed. The shares have become a speculators' delight.

Recently they fell back sharply as rumours the talks had been abandoned went the rounds.

Newcomer Wilmington, once part of the Maxwell empire, made an impressive start, closing at 61p against the 50p issue price.

Psion, the hand-held computer group, continued to suffer from the loss of NatWest Securities as one of its two market-makers. The shares tumbled 70p to 765p.

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
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

PMO Analyst - London - Banking - £350 - £400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Banking - London - £350 -£400 per d...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

Test Lead - London - Investment Banking

£475 - £525 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Investment Banking, Technical ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn