Investors line up L&G as next takeover candidate

A 900p-a-share offer for the Legal & General insurance giant was the hot tip after the stock market had absorbed the pounds 3.1bn blockbuster Granada bid.

Not surprisingly, the strike for Forte produced an array of rumours about likely bid candidates with many bewhiskered old faithfuls forced back into the limelight.

For a long while Forte was regarded as a prime bid target. But in the past few years the catering and hotel group seemed to lose its takeover appeal as it trimmed down to cut its debt mountain.

Still, in a year that has seen a succession of mega-bids with some old favourites falling, the market anticipates much more corporate action.

Rumours of a big insurance strike have strengthened in recent weeks with L&G and Royal Insurance the names put forward.

The L&G buzz was the dominant influence in late trading. The shares, up 13p at 695p, are at a high and many believe, without a bid, are expensive. L&G has pounds 36bn of funds under management. National Westminster Bank has made no secret of its desire to build its investment management side and is regarded as a possible bidder.

A continental strike is also rumoured. Allianz, the German insurer that bid unsuccessfully for Eagle Star a decade ago, could be interested and there is even talk of a German bank, perhaps Deutsche Bank, moving in.

Royal rose 12p to 386p and Commercial Union 9p to 635p. Prudential gained 6.5p to 430p. Banks, helped along by the Whitehall clearance of Lloyds Bank's offer for TSB, were again in demand, with talk of bids and deals capturing the imagination.

Lloyds jumped 21.5p to 871p and TSB 7p to 415p. NatWest, negotiating the sale of its US banking arm, put on 5.5p to 692p.

Standard Chartered, the sector's current takeover favourite, gained 20p to 572p and Bank of Scotland 6p to 272p. Abbey National advanced 19.5p to 621p and Barclays 17p to 810p.

The day's star performer was, not surprisingly, Forte which surged 72.5p to 347.5p. Its satellite companies, Alpha Airports and Savoy Hotel, joined in the fun. Alpha rose 13p to 114p and Savoy came to life with the 'A' shares up 142p to 1,025p on the possibility of independence. The high- voting 'B' shares were unchanged at 1,800p.

Most leisure groups drew strength from the bid. Brewers with hotel interests firmed; Bass was up 4p to 686p and Vaux 7p to 269p; Ladbroke, at one time thought to be Granada's target, ended 1.5p higher at 138.5p after touching 148p.

Pearson and Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television, two companies thought to have been in Granada's sights, fell with Pearson off 11p at 648p and Yorkshire 16p to 612p. Granada fell 48p to 649p.

The takeover excitement gave the FT-SE 100 index another record-breaking day. It jumped 28.3 points to 3,632.4 with another trading peak in New York also helping sentiment.

Vodafone, the mobile telephone group, had a torrid time with American investors, who had more than 40 per cent of the group at the last count, said to be keen sellers. With Seaq putting volume at 56.5 million shares the price collapsed 23p to 216p.

It seems many of Vodafone's hitherto loyal US followers were unsettled by the cautious trading statement, pointing to tighter margins. MAID, with its US offering completed at 242.5p, touched 290p, closing at 250p.

Cable & Wireless, seen as the most vulnerable blue chip to a hostile takeover strike following the boardroom departures, gained 37p to a year's high of 466p.

National Grid, in its when-issued form, traded up to 237p with volume put at 22.1 million shares. The price closed at 228p.

Guinness remained under the weather, although LVMH denied it intended to cut its 20 per cent shareholding. The shares lost 9p to 458p.

Courtaulds, the chemical group, jumped 39p to 399p following better-than- expected figures, but Inchcape tumbled another 12.5p to 255.5p, a year's low. Fears it will be forced to cut its dividend are growing and sentiment was also ruffled by the latest downgrading, with NatWest Securities lowering pounds 10m to pounds 140m. Hillsdown Holdings, the food group, slipped 2p to 156p as the market became aware of a possible downgrading from Barclays de Zoete Wedd.

Opec's decision to roll over the 24.52 million barrels a day production ceiling sent Shell to 801p, up 8p, and British Petroleum to 506.5p, also up 8p.

TAKING STOCK

r Developments are thought to be under way at Jarvis, the once- ailing building and construction group where new management, led by Paris Moayedi, has moved in. The shares rose 1p to 22.25p, valuing the group at pounds 9m. The price has moved between 9p and 29p this year.

After three years of losses Jarvis turned a near-pounds 3m deficit into a pounds 108,000 profit in the first six months of this year and stronger progress is likely in the second six months.

The group is thought to be about to appoint new stockbrokers and expansion moves will follow.

r Telecom Credit Europe, one of the earlier arrivals on the Alternative Investment Market, is rumoured to be set for corporate action. The shares rose 3p to 46p; they have been as high as 53p.

Suggested Topics
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
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

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home