Latest Whitehall shocker puts skids under generators

Power shares suffered yet another Whitehall shock. Generators National Power and PowerGen slumped once it became known the Government intended to hang on to its "golden shares", which, in effect, kills hopes of hostile takeover bids.

NP fell 32p to 527p and PG 12p to 536p; both touched 510p. Since Southern Company, the US group, disclosed its ambitions towards NP the shares have fallen from 605p.

The highly-charged decision destroyed a stock market rally. It had, without much conviction, overcome worries about the local election results and today's US payroll figures. Even worse-than-forecast results from the Kwik Save food discount chain failed to rattle sentiment. But the Whitehall block and a surprise profit warning from the Great Universal Stores mail order and retail giant proved too much.

If the BT bombshell - the end of merger talks with Cable & Wireless - had appeared during trading shares could have gone into free fall. It came after hours although, with BT down 8p at 352p, some clever souls managed to anticipate the break-down. The shares are likely to fall sharply today as the talks have illustrated just how desperate BT is for a Cable- style merger. Cable rose 3.5p to 524p and, after initial uncertainty, is likely to strengthen on takeover hopes.

The FT-SE 100 index ended 29.6 points down at 3,776.4 in often brisk trading. The supporting index lost 2.4 to 4,537.7. Yet in early trading it had all looked so different. Two programme trades helped lift Footsie 23.4; so the downturn wiped more than 50 points from the index.

The generators veto, which can hardly support the case for investing in Railtrack even with the sort of yield reserved for the most highly speculative share, is the third blow electricities have suffered in less than 18 months.

The Littlechild debacle in January last year sent the sector into a spin and last month came the surprise block on the generators' bids for two distributors.

The decision to make the generators bid-proof will almost certainly reduce the chances of the cash-rich duo indulging in generous dividend payments and share buy-backs.

It takes a lot to fuse the market's takeover excitement and in the volatile atmosphere some distributors, such as London Electric, moved ahead in the belief the Government's actions could encourage overseas predators. London gained 13p to 826p.

Commercial Union, the insurance group, recaptured takeover fever. The shares touched 600p, closing up 9p at 590p as stories circulated of a bid, with France's Societe Generale and Germany's Allianz, the names in the frame.

Ladbroke, the betting and hotel group, had another high turnover session although the shares only managed a 2p gain to 195p. Barclays de Zoete Wedd was said to have put a 210p valuation on them,

GUS fell 30p to 687p and Kwik Save 40p to 428p. Argos, after a bright start which took the price to 667p, relapsed to 648p, down 1p. It is said its offer for one of the Signet jewellery chains has been turned down; Signet fell 3.25p to 26.75p. Body Shop International gained 19p to 179p on the 55 per cent dividend increase.

British Airways rose 4p to 524p. Reports that orders for new aircraft for regional routes had been pulled back were seen as reducing rights issue pressure.

Regal Hotels made a strong return. Suspended at 44p since January when it opened talks to buy the White Hart hotels chain the shares stretched to 56p in busy trading. The convertibles, offered at 100p, went to 119p.

The White Hart deal represents the first big disposal from the Forte empire since Granada gained control. Regal paid pounds 120m for 60 White Hart properties, increasing its chain to 83.

Ramco Energy, with oil and gas interests in the former Soviet Union, firmed to 595p as Henderson Crosthwaite placed 960,000 shares at 592p.

Brightstone Properties had an eventful time. It announced a consortium, including the ubiquitous Luke Johnson, would subscribe for 300,000 shares and the group saw its future outside the property industry. Mr. Johnson would join the board.

In less than an hour Clarke, Nickolls & Coombs, once a sweetmaker now a property play, produced a 124p share exchange offer with Brightstone shareholders representing 14.4 per cent accepting. CNC said other shareholders with 29.3 per cent had "signed letters of support". The action left Brightstone up 18p at 120p and CNC unchanged at 7.75p.

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
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

Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Quantitative Risk Manager

Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits