Market Report: Airtours lifts off amid takeover speculation

An array of rumours sent Airtours, the holidays group, romping to yet another peak. The soaraway shares, the equivalent of 40p seven years ago, climbed 35p to 1,335p.

The yearly shareholders meeting takes place next week and there are rising hopes chairman David Crossland will relate a joyous tale of bumper treading and possibly announce a share spilt, the first for five years.

But, of course, in such a frenetic atmosphere, takeover speculation is not far below the surface. The holiday industry is due for a round of consolidation, having survived almost unscathed a Monopolies and Mergers Commission investigation.

Thomson, Britain's biggest holiday operator, is thought to be planning a summertime flotation which could value the Canadian controlled group at pounds 1.3bn. First Choice, number three in the pecking order, could attract bid attention and there is talk the big unquoted groups, which have a big say in the industry, are flexing their corporate muscles.

Airtours, however, is the market's favourite for a strike. It already has a possible predator on its share register in the shape of the Carnival Corporation, a big, ambitious US group which sits on 29.46 per cent.

Ever since Carnival arrived the market has had the distinct impression it would not be content until it gained control of the British operation, floated only 10 years ago and now valued around pounds 1.9bn.

The stock market made further modest headway in often brisk trading. Footsie, at one time up 51.9 points, closed 23 higher at 5,106.9.

Significantly, supporting shares are perking up and could catch their Footsie peers. The FTSE 250 index rose 6.8 to 4,823.3 and is 120.5 from its peak; the FTSE SmallCap added 10 to 2,350.1 - just 50 from its record. Second liners have often enjoyed a bright opening to the year, only to subsequently fall away.

Somerfield, the supermarket chain, had another heady trolley run, running 16p higher to a 251p peak. Takeover talk is in the air although Credit Lyonnais Laing suggest clients should take profits. The shares were 190p last month.

Cadbury Schweppes, the soft drinks and sweets group, was the best performing blue chip, fizzing 52.5p to 685p. A US deal with Coca-Cola did the trick. Coke, Cadbury's fiercest rival, has agreed to extend an agreement to manufacture and distribute Cadbury's products in the US. The new deal will run until the end of 2,005.

Dr Pepper/Seven-Up is a large part of Cadbury's business and accounts for 15 per cent of the US soft drinks market. It has been under pressure because Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola control much of the US distribution network and have not always displayed much enthusiasm towards Cadbury brands, prompting speculation the UK group would be forced to buy bottling companies.

LucasVarity, the aerospace group, climbed 7.5p to 214p after winning a pounds 2bn Rolls-Royce order.

Financials had a strong session with Barclays, up 45p at 1,658p, leading the way. Halifax hardened 17p 772p as Lehman Brothers produced a 900p target price. A planned share buy-back allowed Rio Tinto to ignore the pull of falling metal prices and gain 15.5p to 713p. BT gained 15.5p to 516.5p on hopes its broadcasting ban will soon be lifted.

Dixons dived 58p to 524p on its disappointing trading statement. Storehouse fell 10.5p to 221.5p after awakening the adage that delay means dismay by postponing its festive comments from today until Monday. Mirror Group lost 2p to 192p following the resignation of director Liam Kane and talk of a Salomon Smith Barney downgrade.

British Aerospace dropped 41p to 1.654p on worries the turmoil in the tiger nations will lead to Airbus orders being shelved. Philippine Airlines underlined the danger by cancelling an order for four Boeings. Rolls fell 5p to 217p. Diageo, the drinks giant, softened 2p to 568p as Panmure Gordon drew attention to its Asian exposure.

Takeover talk lifted Telewest Communications 8p to 78p and Creative Publishing, the greeting card group, 4p to 155p. Sketchley, the cleaning chain where a bidder hovers, said it was in talks to sell its retail division. Public relations group Shandwick International firmed 3.5p to 52p after disclosing negotiations were under way which could lead to a bid. UK Active Value, the fund run by interventionists Julian Treger and Brian Myerson, prompted the talks.

Proteus International improved 8.5p to 63p as expectations grew its BSE test could become a commercial proposition.

News
people
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
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

The benefits of Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Finance Assistant - Part time - 9 month FTC

£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...

Marketing Manager

£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities