Market Report: Appetite for acquisitions sends Compass higher

It was a busy day for Compass yesterday on the acquisitions front, as the catering company confirmed one deal while rumours flew that it was on the trail of another.

The world's biggest contract caterer announced that it had purchased the cheerful-sounding Life's A Party, an Australian food services company, for just over £14m. Compass said the deal "provides an excellent opportunity for Compass Group Australia to expand its existing presence in [the education and leisure sectors]".

While investors digested the news, market gossips were discussing speculation from the other side of the Channel that Compass may make a bid for the French vouchers group Edenred. The company, which was demerged from Accor last June, specialises in prepaid services and has a presence in 40 countries.

Listed on the NYSE Euronext in Paris, its price shot up nearly 3.5 per cent to €17.14, while Compass was also on the move, climbing 6p to 555.5p. Traders pointed to the fact that when releasing its final results last week, the company said their ongoing strategy involved looking at other businesses, with one adding that Compass "has got a pretty good track record of getting value from acquisitions".

However, Evolution Securities' Nigel Parson said he would be "very surprised" if the speculation was accurate, and he believes Compass is more likely to focus on smaller deals in the catering sector. "Everything about contract catering is discipline and eating in-house, and everything about vouchers is freedom and eating where you want," he said.

Overall the FTSE 100 just failed to finish in positive territory, losing 22.68 points to 5,528.27. It completed a turbulent November for the top-tier index, during which time it retreated more than 160 points despite touching a high of 5,875.35.

Investors continued to worry about the eurozone while data from the US showed house prices in September had fallen again; however, manufacturing and confidence data from the States was more positive.

The markets' recent volatility was blamed for the postponement of an initial public offering of Vedanta Resources' copper business. The miner was expected to list Konkola Copper Mines at some point this month, but an IPO will now not take place until 2011. It is anticipated that it will raise $1.1bn, but following the announcement of the delay Vedanta was knocked back 24p to 1,986p.

Carnival was near the top of the blue-chip index, as it added 53p to 2,622p thanks to a thumbs-up from Numis. The broker called the world's largest cruise company "a high-quality business" and said that the industry outside North America is "young... with low market penetration and significant growth potential", as it raised its advice to "buy". At the bottom, Resolution was still suffering from being given an "underweight" recommendation by JP Morgan Cazenove as it dipped 8.3p to 211.3p. Meanwhile, with the threat of further strike action growing after cabin crew called for a new ballot earlier this week, British Airways shed 5.6p to 255.6p.

On the FTSE 250, Gartmore was among the losers of the session as one of its potential buyers ruled out any chance of it making a bid. The CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management said yesterday that it was "very, very unlikely" that it would attempt to purchase the hedge fund group, which has been for sale since it lost the high-profile Roger Guy at the beginning of last month.

Although he accepted that Aberdeen's statement was not good news for Gartmore, a trader did point out it was not among the major names that have been talked about as a potential buyer. Still, Gartmore was driven back 3.5p to 101.8p while Aberdeen - which released forecast-beating pretax profits - stayed steady on 179p.

Also struggling was the safety equipment company Halma, which shed 15.4p to 313.6p, despite revealing that its first-half pre-tax profits had gone up by 29 per cent. Elsewhere, reports that Taylor Wimpey is looking to sell its US unit Taylor Morrison did not prevent it falling 0.48p to 23.81p.

SThree was doing much better, as it was driven up 7p to 287p thanks to Panmure Gordon. The broker changed its advice on the recruitment company to "buy", and the broker's analysts said that "recent reassuring statements from Harvey Nash, Randstad and Hays should allay fears that the company remains on track".

Among the small-caps, the travel company Holidaybreak was boosted 20p to 290p as it said that its education unit would continue to grow after it announced that it was about to buy a 50 per cent stake in Meininger for €36.5m. The German group provides accommodation for school tours, a market which Holidaybreak sees as resilient.

Meanwhile Silverdell, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market, revealed a huge 317 per cent jump in pre-tax profits, and the asbestos removal specialist company advanced 0.5p to 8p.

Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
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

Test Lead - Financial Reporting - Banking - London

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Banking, Financial Reporting, ...

Business Analyst, Retail Bank, £375-400p/d

£375 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

PMO Analyst - London - Banking - £350 - £400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Banking - London - £350 -£400 per d...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game