Compass probe looks at trip for analysts

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The Independent Online
THE STOCK EXCHANGE is focusing its inquiry into the recent leak of information about Compass Group's pounds 300m US deal on an excursion for analysts from leading broking houses, say City sources.

Neither the Stock Exchange nor Compass, the catering group, would comment on the inquiry.

However, the trip, at which it has been alleged the deal was openly discussed, has become a talking point in the City. It is not yet clear whether those on the trip have been asked to make written submissions.

Meanwhile, all parties concerned with Compass's purchase of IM Vending are understood to have been asked to say when they first knew it was going to take place.

They are also said to have been asked to divulge any share dealing transactions they undertook before the announcement on 27 April.

The leak of information about the deal forced Compass into issuing a brief statement through the stock market's Topic information service on 26 April because of the adverse effect on its share price.

The statement confirmed it was negotiating a takeover and would make a rights issue to fund no more than half of the acquisition costs. Compass shares fell 13p on 26 April, a day when the FT-SE 100 index rose by almost 25 points.

They fell a further 6p to 310p on 27 April as investors digested the full facts and figures about the purchase and the pounds 150m cash call made on the basis of six-for-19 at 270p a share.

Sources added that the exchange would specifically be looking to see if anyone had intentionally set out to create a false market in dealings in Compass shares.

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