Market Report: The bookie was dealt a blow by the tax-grab on fixed-odds terminals

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The Independent Online

Bookmaker Ladbrokes could soon be the target of a takeover bid, if market chatter is to be believed.

Rumours are circulating that private-equity parties are running the numbers on the bookie, and even rival Paddy Power is named as a potential bidder, with £2 a share seen as a likely price.

Beleaguered Ladbrokes, up 0.1p to 130.8p, has fallen behind rivals when it comes to mobile and the web, and last month the company warned that first-half profits would be lower than last year. The bookie was dealt a further blow by the tax grab on fixed-odds betting terminals announced in last week's Budget.

Shore Capital dredged up another popular takeover rumour yesterday, speculating that the Qataris may make a bid for J Sainsbury – or at least raise their stake.

Analyst Clive Black thinks the weak share price and secure dividend prospect makes Sainsbury's, down 0.1p to 310.3p, an attractive proposition for the Qatari Investment Authority, which currently holds 25.88 per cent.

Peroni brewer SABMiller, up 143p to 2,978p, was boosted by speculation of a megamerger in the drinks industry. Trevor Stirling at Bernstein said the possibility of AB InBev, the world's biggest brewer, making a move for SABMiller, the second biggest, had increased.

B&Q owner Kingfisher, up 24.3p to 430.8p, and easyJet, up 60p to 1692p, helped the Footsie rebound from a six-week low. The FTSE 100 added 84.5 points to 6,604.89.

Cairn Energy jumped 9.6p to 160.9p after the chief executive, deputy chief executive and managing director all increased their stakes in the Scottish oil and gas explorer.

GW Pharmaceuticals performed well yesterday. The company, which develops cannabis-based health treatments, put on 17p to 326p.

Despite warning on profits and revenues, the mobile-payments firm Monitise was 6.75p better off at 75.5p yesterday, after MasterCard bought into the company as part of a placing that raised £109m.

Gulf Keystone Petroleum rose 1.75p to 104p on its first day on the main market after a tumultuous final few days on Aim.