Mystery bidder targets building group Mowlem

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The Independent Online

Shares in Mowlem enjoyed their steepest rise for more than five years yesterday after the construction group confirmed it had received a takeover approach.

Mowlem was forced to issue a statement after its shares spiked almost 16 per cent higher at one point. They closed up 25p, or 14.5 per cent, at 198p, their steepest gain since May 2000.

The company said the talks were at a "very early stage" and refused to reveal the identity of the mystery bidder. "There can be no certainty that this approach will lead to an offer for Mowlem," it said.

The statement ends several days of speculation that a mystery bidder was building up a stake in the company, which focuses on infrastructure projects. Mowlem posted a loss in the first half of its financial year after writing down £70m from the value of a range of its contracts in the UK and Australian market.

Separately, shares in the British ports and logistics group P&O jumped 30 per cent to 404p, valuing it at £3bn, as the market reacted to the news that it had received a takeover approach. The bid interest, which is not a firm offer and has no price attached to it yet, has come from Dubai Ports World, which is owned by the ruling family of the Middle Eastern emirate. Analysts said that the move was likely to lead to a bidding war.

Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein has raised its 12-month target price from 150p to 200p, saying the first-half results marked a turning point in its fortunes.

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