pounds 450m Keebler sell-off expected at United Biscuits

MARKET REPORT

Shares in the troubled United Biscuits were actively traded yesterday amid a rumour that it had found a buyer for its Keebler snacks business in the US. Dealers were talking about a sale price of between pounds 450m and pounds 500m.

More than 3million shares were traded and the price closed 2p higher at 286p, having touched 294.5p at one time during the session.

The likely buyer for Keebler, according to dealers, is one of four US groups - PepsiCo, Campbell Soups, Nabisco and General Mills.

UB as a whole is still viewed in some quarters as a possible take-over target for Cadbury Schweppes, down 10p to 529p. Cadbury expressed an interest in UB two years ago. One dealer added that Nestle could not be ruled out of any possible take-over strike.

The sale of Keebler now would come as a welcome relief for UB, which has been struggling to make headway in its main markets principally because of fierce international competition in snacks. Cash from the disposal would also bolster the company's financially stretched balance sheet.

A bid for UB was just one of dozens of rumours that were circulating around the market yesterday. But for the intervention of a soft opening on Wall Street, the rumours looked set to drive share prices to all-time highs.

The FT-SE 100 share index, which was almost 23 points higher in morning trading despite the release of worrying public sector borrowing requirement data, finished at 3,562.2, up 4.9. The all-time closing peak was set a month ago at 3,570.8.

Trading volumes were better than Monday's, but the final tally of 657.7 million shares to change hands was not the kind of figure to associate with yesterday's early runaway performance by the FT-SE 100 index.

Shares in Gartmore, the fund management group, closed 5p lower at 288p amid talk that National Westminster, up 4p to 644p, had abandoned its take-over plans. City sources said that it had pulled out of the bidding because it thought the likely pounds 400m asking price was too high, given Gartmore's heavy dependence on business with institutional clients. This contrasted with NatWest's strategy of concentrating on business with private investors.

BAT Industries, up 1p at 550p, is till though to have its hat in the ring. So to is ABN Amro, owners of Hoare Govett stockbrokers, Dresdner Bank and Nationsbank.

Meanwhile, NatWest yesterday dipped into its bulging purse for $135m (pounds 86m) to buy Gleacher, the privately owned US-based mergers and acquisitions firm.

Analysts expect the deal to be just one of several to be rolled out by NatWest in the coming months. The bank is being strongly tipped as a suitor for Royal Bank of Scotland, ahead 9p to 534p.

Analysts at SBC Warburg reckon that a predator for Royal Bank of Scotland would have to pay between 680p and 750p a share, valuing the company at between pounds 5.4bn and pounds 6bn. The valuation includes a pounds 1.76bn price tag for the bank's Direct Line insurance business.

Almost 7million shares in Royal Bank of Scotland were traded yesterday as the latest wave of bid rumours circulated. The speculative list of other suitors includes HSBC, up 3p to 951p, and Abbey National, down 6p to 557p.

ADT were a strong market, spurting 22p to 920p on strong speculation that the Bermuda-based company, headed by Michael Ashcroft, was on the verge of selling its European car auction business. This was thrown open to the highest bidder back in May at a reserve price believed to be around pounds 200m. Prudential Ventures is understood to be competing strongly against an American auction company to buy the operation, which made more than pounds 23m of profits last year.

It was also a good day for Tottenham Hotspur supporters as the shares soared to an all-time high of 195p, up 14p on the day. The annual meeting is being held today, and there is a chance that Alan Sugar, chairman, may announce that he is to lessen his grip on the company, selling shares to some institutions.

Manchester United fans had a small cheer as the price firmed 1p to 197p. But Millwall continues to languish at 3p.

In oils, Arco dropped out of the running for Aran Energy as its pounds 178m take-over offer was trumped by a pounds 203m cash bid. Aran has yet to decide whether to recommend Statoil's terms.

Corporate results were thin on the ground, and those that did make statements met with mixed reactions. They included Tie Rack, up 4p to 154p, Paterson Zochonis, up 3p to 463p, and Henry Boot, unchanged at 207p.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence