Market Report: Trouble in the skies?


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What’s going on with Aer Lingus and British Airways-owner IAG?

Since Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus revealed in mid-December that it had knocked back a takeover offer from IAG, the City has been abuzz with speculation that IAG would come back with a better offer.

The Irish Independent reported earlier in the week that the airliner made a second approach in the range of €2.40 to €2.60 a share, but this is believed to have been knocked back. Now word is IAG is set to table a knock-out €2.95 a share offer over the weekend. The chatter came as IAG, which also owns Spain’s Iberia, revealed a chunky 10.8 per cent rise in passenger numbers during December. IAG slipped 7.5p to 473.7p, while Aer Lingus rose 0.09p to 2.28p.

The FTSE 100 surged 150.13 points to 6,569, with the City cheering Tesco’s turnaround plans. The supermarket leapt 27.25p to 209.25p.

Aviva, up 19.9p at 483.2p, and Friends Life, 14.1p better at 365.1p, were both boosted by the broker Canaccord Genuity, which backed the pending merger.

Online fridge and washing machine retailer AO World tumbled 16.9p to 254.3p on news that philanthropist Norman Stoller reduced his holding from 5.09 per cent to 4.2 per cent.

Investment giant BlackRock has developed a taste for upmarket mixer maker Fever-Tree, snapping up a 5.02 per cent chunk of the tonic maker, which closed up 4.87p at 197.5p.

Foxtons lost 10p to 164p as Credit Suisse cut its earnings forecasts for the upmarket London estate agent by 10 per cent. The bank believes the capital’s property market is cooling and the upcoming general election will put further pressure on activity.

Irish oil producer Petroceltic’s largest shareholder is pushing for the chief executive’s head. Worldview Capital, which owns 28 per cent of Petroceltic, accused boss Brian O’Cathain of “a series of strategic and corporate governance failures”. Petroceltic rose 2p to 124p.

A downgrade of Zoopla from Exane sent the online property portal falling 11.2p to 181.5p. It came as the company’s annual report revealed chief executive Alex Chesterman’s pay totalled £499,000 last year.