Market Report: Deadline fast approaching for Zurich Insurance to make an offer for RSA

Swiss insurance giant has until 5pm on Tuesday to make a firm offer

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Bid target RSA was the only blue-chip stock trading in the black on Monday with the deadline for an offer from suitor Zurich Insurance fast approaching.

The Swiss insurance giant has until 5pm on Tuesday to make a firm offer or else it will be unable to bid again for at least six months under UK takeover rules.

It is thought RSA, run by former RBS boss Stephen Hester, will request the deadline is extended, which it must do by the same time.Zurich revealed last month it was considering a bid for the More Than insurer with the price tag thought to be in the region of £5.5bn.

Since spiking on the news, RSA’s shares have retreated as the City’s hopes of a deal have faded.RSA, up 3.7p at 495p, was the sole Footsie riser with the remaining 99 stocks losing at least 1 per cent  of their value.

The FTSE 100, hammered by continued fears over China’s growth, plummeted 288.78 points or 4.7 per cent to 5,898.87 – the first time since December 2012 the UK’s benchmark index has dropped below 6,000. It was also the biggest points fall in one session since September 2011, when the US Federal Reserve first unveiled its $400bn quantitative easing plan amid concerns over the health of the global economy.

Not even defensive stocks – normally a blessing for bulls in a market meltdown – were immune. Johnnie Walker-to-Smirnoff maker Diageo trickled 44.5p lower to 1,640p, while Primark owner Associated British Foods lost 81p to 3,032p.

FTSE 250 fashion retailer N Brown managed to put on 7.1p to 305.4p after an upgrade to buy from broker N+1 Singer, which suggested the stock’s recent falls make it a steal for bargain-hunting investors.

Over on AIM, oil and gas group San Leon Energy, whose shares have tanked almost 80 per cent in a year, leapt 6p to 59.5p as it confirmed it had received a takeover bid for the business. Mining junior Minera IRL slipped 1.13p or 29 per cent to 2.75p as it ousted its interim chief executive, who is under investigation amid allegations of “impropriety” at the firm.

Tiddler African Potash almost doubled, up 0.94p at 1.99p, as it agreed to supply up to 500,000 tonnes of fertiliser to a Zambian company.