Market Report: Investors disappointed after hoping for juicy takeover bid for Salamander Energy


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The Independent Online

Investors hoping for a windfall from a juicy takeover bid for Salamander Energy have been disappointed.

The Asian-focused oil and gas explorer fell to the bottom of the small-cap index, down 8p to 119.5p, after admitting it had called time on efforts to sell itself. Salamander put out the “For Sale” sign in May, after its touting of individual assets attracted punters’ interest in the whole operation.

Shareholders were optimistic about the prospects of a deal, speculating that bids could be as high as 200p a share. But whatever offers were made clearly didn’t satisfy the board, which yesterday opted instead to sell a 40 per cent stake in its Greater Bualuang field in the Gulf of Thailand to Sona Petroleum for $280m.

Chairman Charles Jamieson said the deal, which will see $50m returned to investors, “represents the best outcome for shareholders and the wider group.”

The blue-chip index was quiet, with traders reluctant to take any big positions while geopolitical uncertainties rumble on.

The FTSE 100 lost 21.01 points to 6728.44.

Defensive stocks continued to be in demand, with gold miner Fresnillo up 14.5p to 915.5p and Randgold Resources up 40p to 5105p. Utilities including Severn Trent, up 17p at 1943p, and National Grid, 2.5p better at 866.5p, were also trading well.

Barratt Developments led the fallers, down 9.4p at 354.2p, after Rightmove’s asking price survey registered its first monthly dip since December.

Jefferies came out to bat for TSB, arguing that branch reductions and an IT overhaul could boost the bank’s earnings by as much as 100 per cent in the long term. TSB gained 7.25p to end the day at 292p.

The likelihood of further sanctions against Russia hammered ITE Group, which organises conferences in the area. ITE, down 18p to 197p, warned just last week that instability in Ukraine had hampered its performance in the third quarter.

Shanta Gold climbed 0.37p to 14.25p on AIM after better-than-expected production figures. The Tanzanian gold producer has now had five quarters of rising production.