Market Report: Quindell are coming out swinging


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The Independent Online

Directors of Quindell are coming out swinging.

The insurance outsourcer’s shares have fallen 54 per cent since an attacking note from the mysterious short-seller Gotham City Research in April attracted speculators, spivs and scrutiny. Yesterday, the directors threw their weight behind the company, with three of them – including chairman Rob Terry – buying 1.5 million shares for £1.9m. Mr Terry said: “We believe the current market valuation of the company is materially below its true value.”

Is it a vote of confidence? The directors have effectively paid for shares with shares, as the purchase was funded through loans secured by 52 million personal shares in Quindell. The company declined to comment on the size of the loans but its share price still rose by 6.75p to 132p at the close, having hit 121p earlier.

Are water companies about to be returned to the mergers and acquisitions spotlight? Severn Trent and United Utilities fended off takeover attempts last summer and have since had a quiet time of it. But now there are murmurings that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund could be mulling a bid for United, whose shares rose 23.5p to 865.5p yesterday.

Elsewhere, UBS was talking up potential deals involving Vodafone. it thinks more acquisitions are unlikely in the short term, but reckons the telecoms giant could spin-off or sell assets worth up to £4bn. Vodafone’s shares rose by 4.95p to 208.5p.

Victory for Republicans in the US midterm polls and better-than-expected results from Marks & Spencer, which was up 39.4p at 444.1p, helped the FTSE 100 to surge by 85.17 points to 6539.14, almost erasing two days of losses.

Poland and the Czech Republic’s biggest vodka-maker Stock Spirits fell by 75.4p to 225p after it warned that full-year results could be up to €10m below expectations. It said higher Polish taxes and aggressive pricing by competitors had squeezed margins.

Shares in the distribution and services business John Menzies plunged by 136.75p to 350p last night after it warned that its aviation division had been badly hit by a slowdown in baggage-handling at Heathrow airport.