Takeover chatter has surrounded telecoms giant Vodafone recently but yesterday a City expert called up a list of suitors.
Citi's Simon Weeden declared potential bidders included "SoftBank and AT&T, possibly in partnership with America Movil". US group AT&T has already been widely rumoured but Mr Weeden said the "smaller, post-VZW Vodafone" is a "potential bid target" and raised the target to 260p on a day the stock went ex-dividend and finished down 4.85p to 227.2p. Mr Weeden added: "We see relatively little downside even without a bid, with a dramatic improvement in its top-line growth over the next 12 months."
Other stocks going ex-dividend kept the wider market in the red and the FTSE 100 was down 16.93 points to 6,681.08.
GlaxoSmithKline said it will sell part of its stake in South African Aspen Pharmacare for about £450m, and was 3.5p healthier at 1,631.5p.
Barclays analysts picked out some housebuilding stocks they expected to perform well: Redrow, up 0.5p to 268.1p, Barratt Developments, rising 4.4p to 325.5p, and Taylor Wimpey, 0.1p better at 107.1p.
Barclays also forecast that shareholders will see payouts at Persimmon, of around 45p a share, and Taylor Wimpey, of 14p a share, next year. Persimmon was 22p weaker at 1,163p. Barclays said the sector is "gazing through a once-in-a-generation window of opportunity", and added: "Listed housebuilders are currently observing attractive land-buying opportunities."
Oil and gas services business Kentz spurted 13p to 555p on news of a Qatar contract that Liberum Capital said should "give extra confidence that its large engineering bidding pipeline will lead to further awards in the near term".
Concerns about the delayed court case for gold miner Centamin in Egypt saw it tarnish 3.17p to 46.73p. Aircraft-leasing company Avation agreed to sell two aircraft and soared 10p to 123.5p.
Beacon Hill Resources, a coal producer, said its rail logistics project at a Mozambique mine is on schedule, and warmed up 0.03p to 0.84p.