Market report: Investors pile on InterContinental Hotels


Speculators who piled into InterContinental Hotels Group yesterday on bid hopes could be about to get their figures burnt.

IHG, which owns the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands, jumped 76p to 2,302p after reports over the weekend that it had rejected a £6bn bid from a mystery US suitor, believed to be rival Starwood, earlier in the year. Traders are hoping the bidder will return to the table, but many in the City are sceptical.

IHG rallied earlier this month after announcing a $750m special dividend and raising the possibility of further asset sales. Jonathan Jackson, the head of equities at Killik, reckons this makes IHG an expensive target and highlighted the company’s ongoing buybacks – any company in ongoing talks couldn’t buy its own shares under takeover regulation. IHG declined to comment.

Former takeover target AstraZeneca tumbled 76p to 4,252p after Pfizer officially threw in the towel. Another pharmaceutical deal rumour from earlier in the year was dredged up by some traders: GlaxoSmithKline, up 7p at 1,634p, is said to be eyeing a £1bn bid for US rival Ariad. GSK declined to comment.

The rise of Eurosceptics over the weekend failed to dent the markets, with the FTSE 100 tracking European and US markets higher yesterday. The Footsie closed up 29.19 points at 6,844.94.

Aveva, maker of oil rig design software, jumped 189p to 2,350p on the mid-cap index, thanks to an  11 per cent rise in  full-year profits.

Rightmove’s chairman Scott Forbes cashed in a £7m stake in the online property Goliath, roughly half his holding. It comes less than a week after rival Zoopla announced plans for a £1bn float next month. Rightmove added 9p to 2340p.

Aim-listed African metal explorer Bellzone Mining jumped 1.43p to 4.02p, after major shareholder China Sonangol confirmed it won’t make a takeover bid.

Astar Minerals climbed 0.35p to 1.32p on news of a joint venture deal in Mexico that will see the company bid for oil and gas concessions. Mexico’s energy sector is being reopened to foreign operators for the first time since the 1930s.