Hobson and Starmin line up targets

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The Independent Online
TWO companies bowed to market speculation yesterday, confirming that they were poised to make acquisitions. Neither would identify the targets or say when the deals would be announced, writes Tom Stevenson.

Hobson, the toiletries maker, asked for its shares to be suspended at 27p after a sharp rise in recent weeks. Starmin, the aggregates producer chaired by Lord Parkinson, did not and saw its shares jump from 31 4 to 5p.

A spokesman for Hobson said market rumours that it would return from suspension having bought Great Mills, RMC's DIY chain, were wide of the mark. It is thought, however, that it will announce the acquisition of a firm worth at least pounds 25m this month.

The appointment as finance director last year of Peter Hallett, a former director of Texas Homecare, fuelled speculation it would expand in the do-it-yourself market.

Starmin, which is in dispute with the Abdullah brothers, former directors who are claiming wrongful dismissal, said it was planning to buy a substantial privately owned construction company. Last year it was rumoured to be talking to Ennemix, a private group based in the Midlands.