MARKET REPORT : Veba generosity swamped by C&W sellers

Veba, the German industrial group which has forged a trading link with Cable and Wireless, must be wondering whether it has an over-optimistic view of the telecommunications group's prospects.

It ended its C&W buy-in, picking up a further 120.6 million shares through Natwest Securities. The buying completed Veba's stated intention of lifting its stake to 10.5 per cent.

Last week when they bid for a 5 per cent stake the Germans let it be known they were prepared to pay up to 435p a share. Such was the institutional stampede to enjoy their generosity that the deal was completed at 395p.

Yesterday, as the Germans sought the remaining 5.5 per cent, they again said they were prepared to stretch to 435p. In the event the scramble to accept was so strong that they completed the buying at 384p with, once again, the offer oversubscribed. Aftertouching 388.5p the shares ended at 379p, up7p.

No doubt the Germans were able to console themselves with the thought they were genuine long-term investors, not indulging in short termism like so many of the selling institutions.

The Veba/C&W deal is an impressive £4bn link that should take the two deep into the German telecommunications industry and provide a base for a European drive.

The City likes the deal. But it is not overwhelmed by C&W's prospects. It frets about the deteriorating Hong Kong situation, the fierce mobile telephones competition and the group's problems in the UK market.

Profits in the year to March are expected to come out at £1,150m, up from £1,084m.

The rest of the stock market survived the latest interest rate increase in some style. The FT-SE 100 index rose 17.4 points to 3,034.7, helped along by New York's positive response to the higher US rates.

Turnover was helped by two programme trades and a Hanson-inspired revisitation of takeover speculation.

The ageing conglomerate is making no secret of its desire to expand. Argyll, the Safeway supermarket chain that has emerged as one of the market's favourite Hanson targets, put on 6p to 275p in brisk trading.

Costain, the builder, where Hanson and P&O are said to be interested, added 1.5p to 24p. It is, in effect, up for sale. Yorkshire Electricity, which is seen by some as the Hanson utilities punt, eased 7p to 762p in a generally dull electric market. But Northern, with Trafalgar on its back, gained 17p to 961p.

TSB, the banking group which has also been linked with Hanson, recovered a further 5.5p to 248.5p.

Scottish & Newcastle slipped 2p to 505p on worries about the impact of the floods on its Dutch Center Parcs holiday centres; Inchcape remained under pressure after its recent profit warning, dipping a further 11p to 301p. The shares have fallen nearly 100p since the profit setback was signalled.

Drug shares remained in form. Wellcome, on its results, climbed 7p to 1,005p and Glaxo, the bidder, 20p to 646p. Zeneca jumped 19p to 901p as bid speculation resurfaced.

Rolls-Royce had another difficult session as stories reappeared about Boeing cutbacks. The shares dipped 1.5p to 157.5p. The failure to announce expected Indian power contracts is probably more important.

British Aerospace rose 11p to 481p with Henderson Crosthwaite again recommending the shares as a buy. It believes the group's break-up value is 800p a share. The restructuring of the civil aircraft side is seen as marking a "major turning point in the company's long-term recovery prospects with the possibility of civil aircraft profits in 1997 after years of losses".

BAe's profits are expected to be £185m for last year, doubling to £300m this year. By 1997 around £500m is expected.

Siebe, the engineering group, rose 12p to 519p following a positive meeting with Henderson; Compass, the contract caterer, improved 3p to 324p on Smith New Court support.

Tadpole Technology was unchanged at 195p as Albert E Sharp, the company's stockbroker, repeated its forecast of £2m profits this year with £10.5m next.

"Investors are unlikely to see a more opportune moment to acquire shares," James Warhurst, an analyst, suggested.

Ramco Energy continued to strengthen on bullish Greig Middleton comments, and APTA Healthcare, a nursing homes proprietor, held at 18p as Charles Stanley made optimistic noises following the recent acquisition.

The stockbroker forecasts profits for the year ended April reaching £850,000, jumping to £2.4m next year. Analyst Richard Slape looks for £3.6m in 1998.

Bensons Crisps crumbled 12p to 18p after it produced a £6.7m loss against a £302,000 profit. The snack maker is being revamped, closing its Newport, South Wales, plant and concentrating production at Kirkham, Lancashire. A £4.6m cash call - a 7 for 4 placing and open offer at 16p - could leave Arlen, the electrical group run by. Grenville Howard, with 11 per cent of the shares.

Allied Leisure, the tenpin bowling group, improved 3p to 20p following a sharp trading recovery. But some wonder whether the revamped group will soon lose its independence. One name in the frame is Bass, the brewing giant, which could see Allied as a useful add-on to its own operations. At 20p Allied looks a sitting duck. In 1990 its shares reached 118p.

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