Footsie peaks again despite Christmas Eve lethargy

British Borneo Petroleum Syndicate, a throwback to the days of the empire, was the outstanding feature as the stock market dutifully went through the motions of share trading on Christmas Eve.

The shares jumped 56p to an 815p peak after the company revealed a deal with Shell. It has been given the right to explore and the option to develop the Leo field in the Gulf of Mexico. Shell retains an overriding royalty. The Shell deal follows two other Gulf of Mexico developments, announced on Monday.

The group's shares are one of the year's high flyers. A year ago they were around 240p, having bumped along at 82p in 1992.

BBPS, in the distant days when the British Empire straddled the world, enjoyed royalty rights in Brunei. In the 1960s it became little more than an oil investment company, with Shell its major investment. A transformation started in 1989 when Alan Gaynor became chief executive with the object of liquidating the investment portfolio without suffering huge capital gains tax bills.

Then BBPS began to emerge as an oil exploration business. A pounds 55m rights issue allowed it to acquire the North Sea interests of Norway's Norsk Hydro. Other North Sea assets were picked up and then BBPS descended on the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, establishing a substantial gas reserve just before the price of gas rose sharply.

The shares have also been beneficiaries of the takeover excitement which has swept through the oil sector since Gulf Canada rolled out its hostile pounds 432m bid for Clyde Petroleum last week.

Since then Halliburton, a US group, has approached OGC International, an oil services group. Today BBPS is capitalised at more than pounds 500m. When Mr Gaynor arrived it was worth just pounds 20m.

In thin trading Footsie managed to reach another peak. It gained 5.3 points to 4,092.5, preserving the festive run which has produced five days of gains and three peaks, with the index progressing 113.2.

Once again new year's tips and special situations generated odd flickers of life. Barclays de Zoete Wedd is adopting a much less robust stance on the market than NatWest Securities. Whereas NatWest is looking for Footsie to end next year at around 4,600 points, the BZW team is retaining its target at 4,300.

Sunderland, the latest football club to tap the market, enjoyed a spectacular debut. The shares, placed at 585p, scored a 147.5p gain to 732.5p.

Northern Electric returned to market at 637p. The Prudential Corporation increased its Northern stake by 0.64 per cent to just over 12 per cent but was unable to block the CE strike. The two surviving regional electricity companies, Southern and Yorkshire, were little changed.

Allied Domecq, one of the year's worst-performing blue chips, enjoyed a late seasonal rally, thanks to rumours that Lehman Brothers, long-time bears of the shares, were planning to produce a buy review. The shares led blue chips with a 10.5p gain to 450p.

The departure of finance director John Grant continued to unsettle LucasVarity, the Anglo-American group. The price fell 1p to 225.5p.

Sears, planning to sell its Freemans mail order side to Littlewoods, firmed to 90p. Nick Bubb at stockbroker MeesPierson points out that break- up value is more than 120p a share. He believes a disappointing Christmas could force the group to make moves to increase shareholder value, such as demerging Selfridges, which is worth 45p a share. He rates the shares a buy.

Brake Brothers, hit by a profit warning on Monday, had another difficult session. The convenience food group lost 26p to 550p, making a two-day decline of 206.5p.

Shield Diagnostics fell 8p to 147p as the company said it knew of no reason for recent strength. Last month it produced half-time losses and said it was confident of the role of AFT as a risk marker for cardiovascular disease. It is still awaiting clinical trial data from AFT studies. The shares were 173p earlier this year.

Proteus, the drugs group, lost 2.5p to 35.5p and Xenova, another drugs business which was floated at 215p last week, encountered further weakness, falling 8.5p to 195p.

Grampian TV, thought to be a target for Scottish TV, fell 28.5p to 279p and Memory Corporation's revival came to an end with the computer chip repairer off 5p to 63.5p.

Halma, the environmental engineer, held at 190p as Greig Middleton forecast its 21st year of profit headway. It expects the year's figure to come out at pounds 39.5m, up from pounds 33.6m.

Taking Stock

Flextech, the television group, jumped 16.5p to 687.5p with Merrill Lynch making confident noises. It believes that, after early losses, the group's joint venture with the BBC will break even in 2001 and make profits of up to pounds 90m in 2003. The securities house sees Flextech moving into profit next year with a pounds 4m offering. It believes the group figure will be as high as pounds 211.6m by 2003.

Deep Sea Leisure, floated at 160p in October, achieved a 24 per cent interim profit advance to pounds 372,000. It runs Deep Sea World, an aquarium at South Ferry, Fife, and has started work developing the pounds 11.7m Chester Oaks Aquarium between Chester and Ellesmere Port. It is expected to open in the spring of 1998. The shares rose 8p to 172.5p.

Suggested Topics
News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey indulge in some racing at a Point to Point
tvNew pictures promise a day at the races and a loved-up Lady Rose
News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

IT Operations Manager - London - £55,000

£50000 - £55000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Relationship M...

Banking Solicitor NQ+

Highly Attractive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NOTTINGHAM - BRILLIANT FIRM - You wil...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past