Takeover favourites continue to attract the limelight

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Bids, real and rumoured, continue to captivate the stock market. Although much of the exuberance so evident on Thursday evaporated yesterday many of the takeover favourites still managed to produce lively displays.

And none more so than Cable & Wireless which powered ahead 11p to 448p in busy trading. Since stories surfaced last weekend that BT, off 4p at 394.5p, had been given what amounted to a Whitehall nod and a wink that a bid would not run into regulatory problems, Cable shares have raced ahead a remarkable 43p.

This week ABN Amro Hoare Govett suggested Cable enjoyed a 600p break- up value. The suggested BT offer is 560p with a sale of its UK Mercury telephone operation a condition of Whitehall approval.

Whether BT has received Whitehall clearance over Cable is still in doubt. What is not disputed is that Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, has blocked the telecommunications giant from buying the minority interest in its Cellnet mobile telephone offshoot.

Yet the owner of the minority 40 per cent interest, Securicor, was buzzing with anticipation that, perhaps, a deal could still be arranged. Securicor ordinary shares jumped 67p to 1,610p and the "A" non-voters 30p to 990p. Security Services, controlled by Securicor, improved 40p to 888p.

Yorkshire-Tyne Tees, the television group, was another caught up in the action. The market was intrigued by a succession of agency crosses with Cazenove, Yorkshire's broker, seemingly deeply involved.

One theory was that one of Yorkshire's big shareholders, Granada and MAI, had decided to retire from the scene. The Government's new measures rule out the possibility of either mounting a bid for control.

But the discreet way Cazenove seemed to be going about its business led some observers to ponder whether a stake was being built.

Yorkshire shares rose 33p to 528p, a two-day gain of 42p.

Granada, inherited its Yorkshire interest, when it acquired LWT. MAI moved in only last month, splashing out 500p a share for Pearson's 14.8 per cent stake. With most of the trades going through at around 520p, even late-comer MAI could scramble out with a profit.

Legal & General joined the bid candidates, jumping 22p to 535p on talk Allianz, the big German insurer, was preparing to pounce.

A Continental strike at the UK insurers has for been expected and Allianz with its unsuccessful bid for Eagle Star in the mid-1980s made clear its UK ambitions.

L&G is thought to be worth around 650p a share to the Germans.

Among the other prime targets Thorn EMI romped ahead 31p to a 1,348p peak and Zeneca gained 12p to 1,093p with talk of a Hoffman La Roche statement soon. Medeva was up 8p at 249p and Fisons 7p at 194p, raising hopes the long-awaited merger had at last been agreed.

The rest of the market had a roller-coaster session. An early 12.9-point gain gave way to a 22.2 fall but another record-breaking New York display had reduced the slippage to 4.3 to 3,366.1 by the close.

Meconic, a drugs group, was on a high for its debut, closing at 173p against a 135p sale price.

Lonrho, figures next week, fell 2p to 147.5p. There are suggestions it may announce its intention to sell its stake in Ashanti Goldfields.

British Steel, due to produce year's figures on Monday, was firm at 166p. NatWest Securities is looking for a surge from pounds 80m to pounds 470m. But the investment house regards the shares as overvalued - its target price is 140p.

Redland, the building materials group, dipped 3p to 450p as Hoare Govett trimmed this year's forecast and cut pounds 16m to pounds 454m from next.

Tesco tumbled 7p to 288p as SG Warburg said switch into J Sainsburys, down 2.5p to 444p. Courtaulds, the chemical group, was helped by stockbroker recommendations and what was described as a "badly-executed" buying order. The shares improved 15p to 473p.

David S Smith, the packaging group, gained 11p to 596p, reflecting an agency cross at above the then market price. Seaq put volume at 2.4 million shares.

Enviromed, the health care group crashed 31p to 49p following the profit warning that was accompanied by news of a possible bid. Tadpole Technology remained under pressure, off 2p at 40p. Magnum Power was one high-tech share caught in Tadpole's wake, losing 7p to 173p.

FirstBus, the merged Badgerline and GRT operation, started its new route at 146p. Frost, buying Burmah Castrol's petrol stations for pounds 83m, gained 5p to 275p. The deal has prompted forecasts for this year to be lifted from pounds 13.2m to pounds 17.6m and next year from pounds 16m to pounds 24.5m.