Goldman stays clear of MGN

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GOLDMAN Sachs, the US securities house which had close links with Robert Maxwell before his death, was a notable absentee from trading when Mirror Group Newspapers shares returned from suspension yesterday.

Goldman, the most active trader of MGN between the time it was floated in April last year and its suspension, was not among the list of 11 of market- makers in the shares.

Its absence caused some suprise, especially as Goldman holds 10 million shares in MGN directly, and another 30 million indirectly through the 54.8 per cent stake controlled by Arthur Andersen, adminstrators of the Maxwell private companies.

Goldman said it could not make markets because of its holding, which would make it privy to information about the possible disposal of the shares.

However, County Natwest was making markets, despite its parent company, National Westminster Bank, holding 131 million MGN shares, equivalent to 23.8 per cent of MGN, also through the adminstrators' holding.

Nobody at County was available to comment on why it could make markets when Goldman decided not to.

MGN shares, suspended at 125p in December, immediately fell to 50p. Trading was heavy throughout the day as the shares rose slightly to close at 52.75p.

The shares opened higher than many in the market had expected, and closed at a lower level than had been hoped, particularly as 15 potential bidders for the company have notified their interest to the Maxwell private company administrators.

More than 18 million shares were recorded as changing hands, but this figure excluded stock which changed hands in heavy late dealing, and New York.

An expected dawn raid from Tony O'Reilly's Independent Newspapers did not materialise, but there were rumours that Quantum Fund, the US group headed by George Soros, was adding to its 3.57 per cent holding.