Market Report: Takeover worries give CWW investors the jitters

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The Independent Online

Long-suffering punters in Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW) are getting the jitters. Last week their spirits were sky-high after it was revealed that – having already had the put-up-or-shut-up deadline extended three times – Vodafone had decided to make a bid for the telecoms firm.

Although CWW agreed to the mobile phone giant's approach, concerns have been growing ever since. Yesterday the group fell for the third straight session, closing 1.15p lower at 33.79p, despite the deal being priced at 38p a share.

The cause has been the worrying noises coming from its 19 per cent shareholder Orbis, which has been attacking the offer as too low.

CWW's latest fall came in the wake of yet more confrontational comments from the fund manager, which reiterated its previous statements that it could decide to remain a minority shareholder in the company.

"Ultimately, we shall endeavour to do whatever we believe is most likely to create long-term value for our clients," it said, "even if this comes at the cost of the short-term price volatility."

The worry for investors is that if Orbis does decide to vote against the offer it could scupper the deal, with Vodafone requiring 75 per cent of CWW shareholders to approve the takeover.

Still, despite the fall many were confident that the deal is likely to go through. IG Index's Chris Beauchamp said the drop in CWW's share price was "overdone" while adding that"Orbis are just making a bit of a noise".

Having broken the 5,800-point barrier on Tuesday, the FTSE 100 was quick to move back down again.

With poor eurozone manufacturing data followed by disappointing employment figures from the US – not exactly promising ahead of Friday's closely-watched, non-farm payrolls report – the benchmark index closed 54.12 points worse off at 5,758.11.

Also weighing on the Footsie was the fact that a number of stocks were trading ex-dividend, including mining giant Xstrata (down 36p to 1,169p) and insurer Admiral (down 26p to 1,174p).

Another losing its payout attraction was Barclays, which dipped 12.55p to 213.65p, while the banks were also being knocked back by the disappointing economic data from the continent.

Scribblers were split over whether the approval of a rival to Shire's Gaucher disease drug Vpriv was worrying or not.

Panmure Gordon's Savvas Neophytou – who reiterated his "sell" advice – said the US Food and Drug Administration's decision to green light Pfizer's Elelyso product supported his theory that Shire's human genetic therapies operations "will face pricing pressures from increased competition".

However, the scribes from Deutsche Bank claimed Elelyso would provide "very little threat" to Vpriv, partly because it was not competitively priced enough. Investors decided to side with the bulls, helping pharma giant Shire – a frequent subject of bid speculation – shift up 11p to 2,027p.

Having been boosted by the revival of takeover rumours last week, CSR was charging up again despite the tale being rubbished by analysts.

The chip designer was lifted 12.5p to 235.3p on the FTSE 250 as Liberum Capital raised its forecasts in response to Tuesday's first-quarter results while saying that "a bid for the full company is unlikely".

Kesa was another stock which was helped by broker support, finishing 1.55p better off at 56p.

Goldman Sachs' scribes decided it was time to remove the electronics retailer from their "sell" list, although they warned they remained cautious over the French operations of the former Comet owner.

Meanwhile, power station operator Drax continued to rise following the revival of vague bid speculation on Tuesday.

It jumped up a further 22.5p to 574p, even as many in the Square Mile talked down the chatter.

Home Retail may have been sliding in the run-up to yesterday's full-year results, but that didn't stop the Argos owner slumping another 13.32 per cent to 87.55p after announcing it was getting rid of its final dividend while pre-tax profits for the year had fallen 60 per cent.

Software firm Kewill charged up 25.99 per cent to 95.75p on Aim after agreeing to be snapped up for nearly £90m by US private equity firm Francisco Partners Funds. The 95p-a-share deal is in stark contrast to the approach it received back in 2010, believed to be priced at around 120p-a-pop, which failed to result in a takeover.

City broker Numis was in fine form following the release of its first-half figures, despite the adjusted, pre-tax profits for the period dropping to £2.6m from £4.1m last year. The group advanced 11.11 per cent to 90p after saying that its pipeline of corporate deals was seeing a "discernable improvement".