Market Report: Asos shares leap after Amazon speculation


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Could Amazon really buy Asos? After three profit warnings in seven months, the online fashion retailer is looking increasingly vulnerable to a bid.

UBS yesterday revived the takeover rumour that enchanted the City earlier this year, speculating that the e-commerce giant Amazon could pay up to £50 a share for Asos – more than double its current price.

The bank thinks such a deal would help Asos cut operating costs, while for Amazon it would “increase the strength and number of brand relationships and give access to a fashionable, low price own-label offering”. Asos rocketed 304p to 2,227p.

The Irish oil and gas explorer Petroceltic was boosted by more concrete takeover talk after revealing that Dubai-based Dragon Oil, which is listed in London and drills offshore in Turkmenistan and Tunisia, had made a 230p-a-share bid the company. Dragon is angling for Petroceltic’s prize Ain Tsila gas field in Algeria. Petroceltic jumped 40p to 218.5p, while Dragon Oil slipped 13p to 561p.

After last week’s dreary performance the FTSE 100 recovered 35.74 points to 6,563.65 yesterday. BG Group added 27p to 1,093p after announcing that the Egyptian government had handed the company $350m (£219m) as part of efforts to clear its energy debts.

Recruiter Hays rose 6.8p to 122.7p amid optimism ahead of Thursday’s first-quarter results. Just Retirement climbed 6p to 126.3p after Deutsche Bank claimed investors had misunderstood the Conservatives’ pledge to abolish the so-called “death tax”. The bank argues that the ease of passing on an annuity plan to a relative or spouse could actually lead to an increase in sales of annuities, rather than hurting the industry.

A profit warning saw Management Consulting Group collapse 5.5p to 20p. The small-cap group blamed poor trading at Alexander Proudfoot, one of its two main practices, for the downgrade.

On AIM, the iodine products specialist Iofina leapt 6.5p to 50p as it said revenue for the year so far had already surpassed last year’s total and crystallised iodine production was booming.