Market Report: Misys retreats despite return of takeover talk

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As analysts argued over whether it would become a bid target again, Misys was left near the foot of the mid-tier index last night.

The group, which has lost nearly 30 per cent since Fidelity National Information Services abandoned its approach back in August, dropped 22.8p to 252.1p despite JP Morgan Cazenove refusing to give up on its takeover chances.

Saying it "would be wrong to assume that Misys could not be a ... target in the mid-term", the broker's scribblers added that while "market conditions may not be favourable today, we believe Misys remains strategically attractive to a number of other candidates".

The analysts, who kept their "overweight" rating, claimed there were a number of Indian IT services companies that could be tempted to make a bid. They picked out Infosys and TCS as two potential aggressors, saying both "could achieve synergies by offering services from their large and experienced financial services teams".

Investors were clearly not convinced, however, instead preferring to listen to Morgan Stanley's Adam Wood, who said a new approach "in the current macro environment is unlikely". He cut his advice to "underweight", highlighting the fact that a significant proportion of its revenues come from investment banks "which are likely to see corporate (and IT) budgets cut".

With an encouraging solution to the eurozone debt crisis failing to emerge over the weekend from the meeting between finance ministers in Poland, the FTSE 100 never looked in danger of stretching its winning run to a fifth day. Renewed fears of an imminent Greek default certainly did not help, and the benchmark index ended up closing 108.85 points, or 2.03 per cent, behind at 5,259.56.

The banks were deep in the red, as Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland retreated 10.7p to 152.7p and 1.39p to 22.88p respectively, while Lloyds Banking Group was driven back 2.39p to 33.42p.

Lloyds confirmed reports that its finance director, Tim Tookey, was quitting to join Friends Life, a move that was welcomed by Investec's Kevin Ryan as good news for the insurer's parent company, Resolution.

"The appointment of a chief financial officer well known in the market as a public company finance leader adds credence to Resolution's plan to IPO or break up Friends Life," said the analyst, although the insurance buyout vehicle still slipped back 6.2p to 246p.

Pessimism over demand led to a drop in metal prices, which in turn left the miners weak. Antofagasta ended up with the wooden spoon after sliding 106p to 1,194p.

Glencore International, meanwhile, fell 17.7p to 437p despite the commodity trader announcing that its chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg, had bought yet more shares.

Rumours that private equity firms could be mulling over an approach helped Inmarsat add more than 13 per cent last week, but punters lost their enthusiasm for the chatter and the mobile satellite group dropped 5.82 per cent to 501.5p.



The bid spotlight was on the aerospace and defence companies after reports emerged that the aircraft parts maker Goodrich could be about to receive an approach from its fellow US group United Technologies.

The news prompted Goldman Sachs to say a bid "could kick start a wave of mergers and acquisitions across the industry", with Meggitt and Cobham among those picked out by the broker's analysts as potential targets. Yet while the former closed near the top of the FTSE 250, advancing 11.4p to 331.5p, the latter eased back 1.3p to 179.6p.

Ocado ended up as one of the most unloved stocks of the day, the online grocer having more than 11 per cent of its share price wiped out in response to its third-quarter update. The group slumped 15.3p to 118.4p after blaming capacity constraints for a slow-down in its sales growth over the period to 16.9 per cent.

Back on the top-tier index, it was not an illustrious introduction to life as a blue-chip company for Ashmore and Bunzl, as the fund manager fell 13.7p to 388.5p while the packaging group declined 9p to 781.5p. Ophir Energy grabbed the gold medal on the mid-tier index, the oil explorer climbing 15p to 299p after being one of seven small-cap stocks promoted as part of the latest indices reshuffle.



Down on the Alternative Investment Market, Gulf Keystone Petroleum was knocked back 7p to 162.5p as the energy group confirmed reports last week that it was mulling over a potential placing.

Elsewhere, Probability soared 16p to 65p after declaring it was in bid talks with the mid-cap bookmaker William Hill, which edged down 7.9p to 438.1p. The mobile gaming company's revelation was one of a number of announcements prompted by the new, stricter takeover regulations which came into force yesterday.

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