Market Report: Rupert Murdoch’s promotion of sons has reignited speculation about a bid for Sky


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The Independent Online

BSkyB moved higher in a subdued market yesterday, amid renewed speculation that it could be a bid target.

Rupert Murdoch’s promotion of his two sons within his media empire has reignited speculation about a possible bid for Sky. UBS said at the start of the year the broadcaster could be a target for either Murdoch or the likes of Vodafone or O2.

The chatter comes amid consolidation in the US market, with Comcast taking over rival Time Warner for $45bn and reports of talks between Dish Network and DirecTV. Sky added 14p to 930p.

The Footsie fell 16.98 points to 6588.32 yesterday as banks and miners hit the index. The US Federal Reserve blocked the shares buyback and dividend plans at HSBC, off 2.9p at 608.3p, and RBS, down 4.2p at 301.9p, amid concerns over capital, while fears of a Chinese slow-down continued to weigh on the mining sector. It wasn’t helped by Glencore Xstrata’s suspending production at an Australian mine after a fall in coal prices– down 4p to 307.1p.

Tullow Oil fell 18p to 759p after a disappointing update on its Kenya project. Mid-cap Scottish explorer Cairn Energy was up 6.2p at 173.3p after upgrades from Investec and Goldman Sachs.

AIM-listed Mediterranean Oil & Gas toasted a victory in the courts over one-time partner Leni Oil & Gas. Leni, run by David Lenigas, sold out a 10 per cent stake in a Malta site to MOG for $1, which it then flogged to Tony Hayward’s Genel Energy for $10m. Leni, down 0.07p to 0.74p, claimed MOG had mislead it over the deal, but Mr Justice Males decided not, saying: “Litigation like the oil business is a high risk activity and LGO failed to strike oil.” MOG welled up 0.87p to 6p.

Horizon Discovery started life on AIM with a pop. The Cambridge-based biotech firm, which works on disease mapping and personalised medicine, hit 214.5p after floating at 180p. Panmure Gordon was the book runner.

South African coal operator Strategic Natural Resources collapsed 3.5p to 3p after revealing its had a winding-up petition from London Commodity Brokers, seeking $1.15m. Its subsidiary Elitheni was also hit with a court order in South Africa, freezing the firm’s interest.