P & D fund lifts stake in Lasmo and Enterprise

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(First Edition)

PHILLIPS & DREW Fund Management, which will play a key role in Enterprise Oil's pounds 1.6bn bid battle for Lasmo, yesterday confirmed that it had raised its stakes in both companies, writes Russell Hotten.

On Monday it bought an extra 2.45 million Lasmo shares, taking its stake to 15.88 per cent, by far the largest of any investor.

Enterprise supporters pounced on the news as an indication that PDFM was stakebuilding in advance of backing the bid.

However, analysts were more sceptical as PDFM also bought an estimated one million Enterprise shares, taking its holding to around 5per cent.

'PDFM is just being bullish about the oil price and is putting money in the sector,' one analyst argued.

PDFM has raised its stake in Lasmo from 14.11 per cent when the bid began in March. Its verdict could be decisive, and analysts had felt that it was cool on the offer.

Lasmo's trading volume hit 14 million shares on Monday and the price fell as investors opted to take cash in the market. Trading yesterday was thin, with 2.9 million Lasmo shares changing hands.