Market Report: Granada sparkles on talk of Sky sell-off to Vivendi

GRANADA WAS the star of the show yesterday amid whispers that it is about to shed its stake in BSkyB.

Granada, the TV and hotels group, beamed 46p higher to 1,204p on pretty chunky turnover on hopes of an offer for its 4 per cent interest in Rupert Murdoch's satellite television group BSkyB, which closed 7p higher at 601.5p.

Dealers were speculating that the French utility giant Vivendi is sniffing around Granada's Sky holding. The rumour had a certain appeal.

The Paris-based conglomerate has recently announced the takeover of the media group Pathe - which owns a 17 per cent stake in BSkyB - and is believed to be keen to buy some more to broker a merger between Sky and its French rival Canal Plus.

Granada's stake in Sky is held in a company jointly owned with Pathe and the UK media group Pearson, down 8p to 1,318p. The two British companies have long said that they wanted to sell their stakes and it would make sense for Vivendi/Pathe to buy them out .

The story was lent further strength by sources close to Pearson. They said that although no approach has been made, they expected the French to get in touch over the next few months, maybe after the September close of the Vivendi/Pathe deal.

Buying out Pearson and Granada would give Vivendi a near 25 per cent stake in Sky and would enable the French group to challenge Mr Murdoch's dominance of BSkyB.

The Gallic company owns a 34 per cent stake in Canal Plus and is keen to merge it with Sky to create a European pay TV powerhouse. Talks between the two broke off in March after a row over the management control of the merged company. Since then, the Australian-born tycoon, who owns around 40 per cent, has tightened his grip on the company through his recent appointment as chairman.

However, an enlarged stake would boost Vivendi's negotiating power and, according to some daring traders, could even lead to a bid for the whole of BSkyB.

Granada's rival Carlton was also in demand, rising 17p to 533p ahead of an important conference at broker ABN Amro later this week. The Carlton's spike re-ignited talk of a merger with Granada. However, analysts dismissed the idea.

The rest of the market had an "off" day as worries about US interest rates depressed sentiment. A bout of profit-taking in some heavyweight stocks did not help. The FTSE 100 refused to attack its all-time peak and ended 28.8 lower at 6,552.4, slavishly following Wall Street's downward path. A mini-rally just before the close, triggered by a similar move in the Dow, spared the index the blushes of closing at the day's low. Several big players are unwilling to take positions ahead of next week's US Federal Reserve meeting.

The FTSE 250 was also on the losing side, finishing 22.3 lower at 5.925.1. The Small Cap confirmed its good form and bucked the trend to close up 4.2 to 2,652.

Invensys, the old BTR Siebe, fell foul of the profit-takers and shed 13.75p to 316.5p - the day's worst blue chip - as dealers cashed in on the recent good run.

Billiton, one of the out-performers of the past few months, took a pasting. The mining giant shed 7.5p to 208.25p after rival Alcan warned that the aluminium market is looking grim.

Resurfacing worries over US bonds were a good excuse to sell the financials. Halifax was a casualty, losing 22p to 800p. Abbey National, down 23p to 1,302p, and Barclays, 21p lower at 1,990p, were also unloved.

The fund manager Perpetual kept the sector's flag flying, soaring 167.5p to 3,650p on growing speculation of a strike from Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley.

Telewest jumped 7.5p to 283.75p on continued hopes of a merger with rival cable company Cable & Wireless Communications, up 11.5p to 625.5p.

Hilton, the old Ladbroke, booked a 4p rise to 276.5p as Salomon Smith Barney went positive and talk of a merger with its US namesake returned.

Services group Hays firmed 20.5p to 710p after CSFB said "buy" and dealers whispered of an imminent acquisition, while Marks & Spencer greeted Sir Richard Greenbury's departure with a 1.5p rise to 363p.

Orange was squeezed 29.5p lower to 878.5p after British Aerospace, down 1.5p to 408.5p, said it would sell its remaining 5 per cent stake through a pounds 700m convertible bond brokered by JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

Takeover talk buoyed the midcappers. The building materials group Rugby constructed a 6p rise to 128p on whispers that a bid is near. Smaller rival Tudor jumped 5.5p to 79p after unveiling an 80p-per-share takeover offer. Express Dairies milked talk of sector consolidation and imminent liberalisation of the dairy market to rise 5p to 140p. Computacentre clicked 30p higher to 433.5p ahead of an analysts' presentation today and amid some vague US bid talk. Computer services specialist FI Group jumped 20p to 322.5p ahead of next week's results.

Micro-chip maker ARM Holdings buzzed 35p better to 717.5p after signing a deal with the US telecom equipment giant Lucent, while engineer Halma soared 14.5p to 113p after good results and a share buy-back plans.

Rail maintenance group Jarvis used to be a go-go stock. Yesterday it turned into a went-went stock, plummeting 171.5p to 322.5p after appalling results. Fellow Railtrack clients Amec, down 7p to 256p, Amey, 17.5p worse at 722.5p and BICC, 6p lower to 90p, fell in sympathy.

Chemring was the star tiddler. The defence group rocketed 20p higher to 168.5p after confirming a bid approach.

Bombed-out bio-tech Cortecs recovered 1.5p to 14.75p amid hopes of positive drug trials. Allied Carpets rolled 1p higher to 37p on vague bid talk, while rival Carpetright jumped 12p to 386p after well-received figures. Property group Compco shed 6p to 310.5p after placing over 3m shares at 280p to pay for five properties recently bought from Brixton Estates. MTL Instruments, a maker of industrial kit, plunged 25p to 265p after a profit warning, just like tiny housebuilder Tay Homes, down 6.5p to 103.5p.

SEAQ VOLUME: 980.5m

SEAQ TRADES: 73,938

GILT INDEX: N/A

TOPS ESTATES, the shopping centres developer, soared 29p to 165p yesterday after a 5 per cent stake was sold at 170p. Insiders said the chunky line of stock is part of the near 16 per cent holding owned by activist shareholder PDFM. The buyer could be another property group eager to buy Tops, where chairman Everard Goodman owns a 44.4 per cent stake. Dealers mentioned the George Soros-backed Delancey Estates, which recently failed to buy Greycoat.

BUYERS WERE all over carpet-maker Stoddart International yesterday. The shares firmed 0.75p to 6p as dealers talked of a possible takeover bid. Rivals Gaskell and Victoria are rumoured to have been attracted by Stoddart's undervalued shares. Either could plump for a bid north of 10p per share, valuing the company at over pounds 6m. Last year, Stoddart lost pounds 2.1m on sales of pounds 42m and the stock is trading at hefty discount to its estimated 19p-per-share NAV.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
News
Justin Bieber performing in Paris earlier this year
people
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
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

Head Of Compliance Policy - Global Bank

MARKET RATE: Real Staffing: A Global Banking organisation has some exciting gr...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Financial Planning Manager, Qual Accountant, £380

£300 - £380 per day: Orgtel: Financial Planning Manager, Banking , London, £30...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil