Market Report: BSkyB boosted by fresh takeover talk

  • @greentoby

Could the £8.3bn takeover that never was be revived? It has not quite yet been a year since Rupert Murdoch was forced to give up on his bid to snap up BSkyB thanks to the hacking scandal, but yesterday's news that News Corp could split itself up fuelled speculation that the broadcaster may become a target again.

After the media group announced it was considering separating into two companies, many in the Square Mile were getting excited over what this could mean for BSkyB.

With talk that a split may involve News Corp's publishing arm – which includes its newspapers The Times and The Sun – being spun off, analysts were claiming this could eventually result in another move being made to take full control of the company.

One of those supporting the idea was Liberum Capital's Ian Whittaker, who said a split "suggests [News Corp] may even have another tilt at Sky in the medium term". Meanwhile, Kepler's Conor O'Shea was adding fuel to the fire by telling Bloomberg that a spin-off could open the way for a fresh approach.

Not everyone was taken with the idea, with some claiming that plurality issues would still remain. However, this didn't stop BSkyB finishing near the top of the Footsie after jumping 18p to 674p – in the words of Alan Partridge, who this week made his Sky debut: "Jurassic Park".

The FTSE 100 narrowly failed to avoid a fourth straight session in the red as it crept back 3.69 points to 5,446.96. Once again tomorrow's start of the latest European Union summit dominated the Square Mile's thoughts, with IG Index's Chris Beauchamp saying it "seems to be doomed to the same inglorious failure as all its predecessors".

Having lost 11 per cent on Monday after a generic rival to its major Adderall XR ADHD drug was approved by US regulators, Shire mounted a recovery of sorts. A number of experts were claiming the fall was an opportunity to buy into the pharmaceuticals company, although its rise of 55p to 1,798p was only a modest bounce.

The wooden spoon went to Royal Bank of Scotland as, following its computer meltdown, it was pegged back another 9.1p to 227.7p. Rival Barclays was a bit better off, however, retreating just 1.85p to 192.4p despite a profits warning from South African subsidiary Absa.

Resolution was left 2.6p weaker at 193.7p after Investec's Kevin Ryan cut his target price by more than half to 147p. The analyst warned current conditions meant the insurance buyout vehicle may not be able to make its planned exit from its underlying life businesses in 2013 or potentially even later, adding that its "short term, cash rich attraction... has disappeared".

Apple supplier Arm Holdings was suffering. The chip designer slipped 16.1p to 483.6p after the German tech group Infineon was forced to lower its sales and margin expectations, saying "global economic uncertainties" were at fault.

The news didn't stop fellow chip company Wolfson Microelectronics racing ahead, however. The small-cap group climbed 10p to 200p after revealing that its Audio Hub technology is being used in the Galaxy S III, which is set to be Samsung's fastest-selling smartphone.

It was certainly a contrast to the events of June 2011: 12 months ago today Wolfson saw more than a quarter wiped off its share price after a profits warning blamed on consumers being increasingly cautious about splashing out on electronics.

Don't expect the Queen to be ordering her shopping from Ocado any time soon. The online grocer claimed the Diamond Jubilee had hit trading, and with it also warning that the next few months didn't look too promising, it was knocked back a huge 22.1p to 86p on the FTSE 250.

The market was not happy with Sweett. The Aim-listed property group saw its share price crash down 3.5p to 19.5p after announcing that delays to transactions meant its final results will not only be delayed until August but will also miss expectations.

Meanwhile, punters' favourite Gulf Keystone crept up 0.5p to 154.75p after a decent update from the oil explorer's Shaikan-5 appraisal well in Kurdistan where drilling operations have ended.