City fails to unmask Chiroscience's secret admirer


Investors spent most of the day trying to find out who, if anybody, was behind the near 10 per cent share-price rise in Chiroscience, the biotech babe which has attracted several broker's buy notes in the last week.

A round-up of the likely suspects yielded few results. Glaxo-Wellcome, reporting first half figures today, denied it was interested, SmithKline Beecham effectively ruled itself out by saying British biotech companies were too risky to buy outright at this stage in their development while Zeneca declined to comment.

Glaxo itself was the subject of buy recommendations from Societe Generale and NatWest and the shares closed 10p higher at 899p. Chiroscience, who said it had not received any firm approach from anybody, topped the list of FT-SE 250 riser, chalking up a 35p gain at 365p.

Among the drugs tiddlers Phytopharm initially gained 6p to 205p before ending a penny higher as the group sought UK approval for its eczema treatment.

Leisure was again a lively sector following confirmation that Whitbread had made a recommended pounds 133m offer for branded restaurants group Pelican. Whitbread dipped 3p to 686p on the news, but Pelican soared 22.5p to 167.5p. Shares in other restaurant chains rose in sympathy, with City Centre Restaurants advancing 4.5p to 120.5p, Pizza Express closing 6p better at 399p and Canadian Pizza 5p to the good at 88p.

Disappointment that Whitbread had not gone for pubs group Tom Cobleigh knocked its shares back 12p to 210p. A similar fate befell JD Wetherspoon, another themed pub operator, which fell 11p to 864p.

Leading leisure stocks had another good run. The Rank Organisation headed the list of blue-chip risers, adding 10p to 470p on a SBC Warburg buy recommendation. New chief executive Andrew Teare is expected to unveil details of a strategic review of the leisure group next week. Food and drinks giant Allied Domecq filled the number two slot, rising 9p to 438p as Merrill Lynch upgraded from reduce to neutral. Allied is in the process of selling its 50 per cent stake in Anglo-Danish brewer Carlsberg-Tetley to Bass, 2p weaker at 779p.

It was a busy day on the buses. In a chunky 74 page review of the industry, NatWest concluded that diversification by the quoted operators into rail privatisation and overseas expansion offered "tremendous opportunities" and should lead further strong share price performance.

Stagecoach hit an all-time high of 482p, 9p higher on the day, as the broker urged investors to add to their holdings. First Bus, unchanged at 144p, received the same recommendation.

But news that the President of the Board of Trade, Ian Lang, had referred National Express' proposed acquisition of the Midland Main Line rail franchise to the Monopolies and Merger Commission sent the shares into reverse. They shed 12p to 443p after Mr Lang said the company was not prepared to give the undertakings he had sought about withdrawing some parallel coach services and encouraging competition.

Mr Lang was more generous towards promotional printer Bemrose, whose pounds 24.2m acquisition of diary group Charles Letts will not now trouble the regulators any longer. Shares in Bemrose remained unmoved at 340p.

British Airways had a turbulent session. The shares cruised to 526p at one stage after MPs backed its proposed link-up with American Airlines. But minutes before the market closed USAir said it had filed a lawsuit against BA and American alleging that they are seeking to undermine its competitive position and limit competition on transatlantic routes. BA eventually closed unchanged at 518p.

Among media stocks, Pearson fell 18p at 606p on reports of possible delays in the sale of its Westminster Press division and likely cost-overruns for retuning video recorders ahead of Channel Five's launch next year.

United News & Media was also neglected, down 20p at 629p on concern that it may pay too much for Westminster if it becomes involved in an auction for Pearson's unit.

NatWest fell in afternoon trade after announcing first-half results at the top end of expectations. The bank's buy-back of its own shares at 626p pushed the price 12p lower at 616p.

The daily drip-feed of new issues on AIM largely went down well. HIT Entertainment, the children's animation group, closed at a 26p premium to its 163p placing price, but West 175 Enterprises, the US television production company, dipped 5p to 120p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Danny Cipriani of England breaks clear to score his second try
Life and Style
New research says leaving your desk can help you to avoid serious illness
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

£25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral