Market Report: Astra tipped as bidder for US eye-care firm

Is AstraZeneca's chief executive, Pascal Soriot, ready for an eyesight test? Analysts at Kepler think Mr Soriot could be one of a number of pharmaceutical company bosses eyeing up Bausch & Lomb, the US eye-care company. Private equity firm Warburg Pincus has hired Goldman Sachs to sell the contact lenses and eye-surgery equipment specialist.

Astra won't be alone in its interest – reports have mooted fellow UK-based pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline will be taking a look, as will France's Sanofi, Germany's Bayer and the US groups Merck & Co and Abbott.

The New York state-based company could fetch between $8bn (£5bn) and $10bn, reports in the US suggest.

Ever since Mr Soriot put Astra's planned £2.8bn share buy-back programme on hold when he joined earlier this year, analysts and traders have speculated he is saving the cash for a buying spree to stock up his ever-depleting drugs cupboard.

As Kepler's Fabian Wenner points out: "While there is no way around a larger acquisition for Astra in our view, the company will most likely pick up pharma assets to replace the $7bn in sales it is bound to lose until 2017."

Last month Astra was linked to a bid for the biopharmaceutical group Amarin. But bid chatter around the group has subsequently faded. Today Astra's shares lifted 13p to 3,042.5p, while Glaxo's gained 4.5p to 1,376.5p.

Tullow Oil lost more than 8 per cent the day before, after it admitted it had found a dry well in Ghana. But today some traders began to whisper about a vague bid rumour and the shares recovered 32p to 1,182p.

The miner Anglo American's share-price rise was accompanied by a positive note from analysts at Barclays. The scribes upped their rating to equalweight (hold) from underweight (sell) and gave it a 1,970p share-price target. The shares lifted 49.5p to 1,882.5p as Barclays listed issues that they think its new management should address, including a dividend hike by 50 per cent, a turnaround plan for its platinum miner Amplats and improvements to its Brazilian and copper mines.

The consumer goods giant Unilever received a boost from the analysts at UBS. They decided to raise their share-price target for the stock to 2,590p, prompting the food-to-soap maker to jump up 16p to 2,429p.

The FTSE 100 headed higher and closed at a nine-month high, ahead 20.88 points to 5,945.85. The City is expecting a "Santa rally" – the rise of the stock market before Christmas.

Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said: "We could see a Santa rally delivered but in stealth fashion and in limited quantity."

Meanwhile, some do not expect the index to reach the 6,000 mark by the end of the year. Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital, predicted: "I think you will see a push and a close at the end of year of 5,975 – 6,000 feels a little high with so little cheer around the economy."

Merger chat wasn't just reserved for the top-flight index; analysts at Panmure Gordon picked up on chat about AG Barr and Britvic. The soon-to-be merged soft drinks groups could now be a target for Japan's Suntory, according to the speculation.

Analysts thought Suntory's reported IPO move could lead to a buying spree, with FTSE 250-listed Barr Britvic an "obvious fit". Panmure's Damian McNeela said: "Whilst unconfirmed at this stage, it is thought that proceeds could be used to fund international acquisitions. Suntory is already a Pepsi bottler and licences Orangina to AG Barr. If Suntory were to consider a move into the UK, then we would expect its interest to fall on the enlarged Barr Britvic Soft Drinks company."

Shares in the Irn-Bru owner AG Barr fizzed up 3.5p to 485p and Pepsi bottler Britvic sparkled 2.1p to 393.1p.

There was good and bad news for two Cambridge tech whizzes. The good news for Silicon Fen came from the inkjet-tech firm Xaar. Though sounding as if it would be more at home in a sci-fi film, Xaar said strong sales meant profits for the year will be ahead of market expectations, with a profit margin of around 20 per cent. Shares in the small-cap index group soared 22p to 286p.

But there was bad news for shareholders in the AIM-listed biotechnology group Sareum. The Cambridge based cancer-drug specialist warned shareholders that it won't be able to conclude a deal in time for the year end as it had hoped.

It said "collaboration and licensing discussions around a number of programmes continue" and it is "confident that a commercial deal … will be concluded". The company said it has £4m of funding which gives it "flexibility in funding further work". The shares lost 0.25p to 1.48p.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
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

Asset Finance Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - ASSET FINANCE - An outstanding...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Techincal Accountant-Insurance-Bank-£550/day

£475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...

Sales Performance Manager, Gloucester - £290 p/day

£200 - £290 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Sales Performance Manager, Key Ba...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment