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.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksJK Rowling to publish new story set in wizard's world for Halloween
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
News
peopleCampaign 'to help protect young people across the world'
Life and Style
tech

News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

CTO / Chief Technology Officer

£100 - 125k: Guru Careers: A CTO / Chief Technology Officer is needed to join ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker