Mannesmann bid target rumours

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SHARES IN Mannesmann, the German company that last month bought Orange, the mobile phone group, could surge again today amid speculation that Vodafone AirTouch is teaming up with France Telecom to bid pounds 45bn for the group.

A Vodafone spokesman played down the rumours yesterday, declining to comment on the potential deal, which if concluded would cement Vodafone's position as the world's leading mobile player. Mannesmann shares, which have languished since the pounds 19bn Orange purchase amid concerns over the rich pricetag, leapt more than 8 per cent on Friday to 160 euros. Orange shares ended 71p firmer at 1565p.