Speculators bet on Zeneca - come hell or high water


It is either the ramp of the year - or someone, somewhere has privileged information about the Zeneca drugs group.

Not for the first time the shares zoomed ahead in busy trading. They touched 1,588.5p, a peak, closing at 1,587p, a 43p gain.

The relentless progress - the shares were 1,085p in October - has been spurred by takeover hopes. The story going the rounds yesterday was that an pounds 8bn facility was being prepared in the money markets for either Glaxo Wellcome or Roche, the Swiss group, to put towards a takeover war chest.

At its present market price Zeneca, spun off from Imperial Chemical Industries, is worth around pounds 15bn.

According to market gossip an offer of around 1,800p a share, in line with some estimates of the group's basic worth, is likely to materialise in the next few days.

But the whole exercise could be self-feeding. Many fund mangers were caught on the hop by Glaxo's bid for Wellcome. They are not going to make the same mistake twice; most are prepared to hang on to their Zeneca shares, come hell or high water, just in case that so far elusive offer should appear.

With such a reluctance to sell and market-makers desperately seeking to keep their books square, it does not take much to inject exuberance into the drug group's shares.

It could, however, be significant that the shares have been pumped higher since Roche, dripping with cash, produced results and let it be known that it was seeking acquisitions.

Zeneca is the sort of strike it needs to recapture the prime position it enjoyed before its great Swiss rivals, Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy, merged.

Talk of more bullish analysts' comments - Barclays de Zoete Wedd was said to be about to put pen to paper - also helped the Zeneca price.

Glaxo Wellcome, thought to be unlikely to attempt a Zeneca strike, gained 24p to 939p with UBS said to be avid buyers.

The two drug groups contributed more than six of the 14.5 points the FT-SE 100 index gained to 3,887.2.

Retailers were encouraged by an upbeat Confederation of British Industry survey and superstores overcame some of Wednesday's unease following Tesco's attempt to resurrect a price cutting battle.

Railtrack chugged along cheerfully reaching a 259.5p peak, up 9.5p.

The group's property potential is the latest influence to drive the price. The much derided share continues to enjoy an attractive dividend yield and there remains a sneaking suspicion it could enjoy corporate activity.

Eurotunnel, however, was back in the sidings, off 2.5p to 98.5p.

Lasmo flared 6.5p to 202.5p, Director Richard Smernoff picked up shares which would seem to destroy the market theory that the oil group is preparing to pounce on Tullow Oil, up another 3p to 117.75p.

BPB, the plasterboard group, put on 4p to 367p as analysts visited its new Berlin plant.

Lucas Industries, about to enjoy a more powerful index weighting as LucasVariety, was busily traded; the shares fell 5p to 231p. It is likely to go into Footsie later this month.

National Power, as Kleinwort Benson moved to a sell stance, fell 7.5p to 386.5p. The partly-paid, ahead of next week's final instalment, lost 7p to 250p.

Bass fretted about the Carlsberg Tetley takeover and rumours of problems on its betting side. The shares fell 14p to 801p. Allied Domecq continued its progress following its proposed CT sale, gaining 3p to 471.5p.

Rolls-Royce's Farnborough contracts again powered the shares, up 5p to 235p. British Aerospace, on Airbus orders, rose 16p to 1,015.5p.

Lonrho's decision to look at offers for its hotels chain pushed the shares 1p higher to 177p. Granada, enjoying further evidence of the demand for hotels as it seeks to sell many of its Forte properties, rose 8p to 864.5p.

Melrose Energy, raising cash for its signalled Siberian oil venture, put on 3p to 53.5p and Caird, the waste disposal group, responded to a return to profits with an 87.5p gain to 562.5p.

MAID, the on-line information group, added 18p to 328p and BGT managed a 90p rise to 1,810p following applications for approval for a blood-clotting factor.

Leeds, a textile group not the football club, was the day's worst performer. The shares crashed 61.5p to 137.5p following a profit warning. Caspian, owners of Leeds Utd, rose 1p to 28p on the club's Premiership win.


A sudden display of life at Fenchurch, the insurance broker, has awakened takeover hopes. The shares rose 4.5p to 97p, the second day running a share which has been going steadily downhill has attracted buyers. US insurance groups are said to be prowling around Fenchurch, which produced disappointing interim profits, prompting year's estimates to be reduced to pounds 6.5m. Last year it achieved pounds 8.4m.

Greenhills, the restaurant group, held at 9.5p. In a reverse takeover it is acquiring Browns Group which has a club in London's Covent Garden and takes in a stretched limousine hire operation. It is also thought to have pub interests. The deal will be funded by shares, probably priced at 10p, and two Browns directors will take over the running of the enlarged group.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own