Wellcome lift for mergers

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The Independent Online
THE stock market loves a takeover rumour. There's nothing like it to drum up business when trading volumes are in the doldrums. The latest theory is that Glaxo is going to take a tilt at Wellcome. The two pharmaceutical companies would form a gian t valued at more than £25bn.

Someone believes the story. Wellcome's shares have risen by almost 5 per cent since Tuesday. Glaxo's have fallen back 7 per cent in the same period.

This is just one of dozens of mooted mergers. City lawyers and merchant bankers are abuzz with talk of big deals in the pipeline. When are they not? But this time they may be right. At last corporate assets are starting to look cheap: the Footsie - the index of the 100 biggest quoted companies - fell through the 3,000 mark on Friday, its lowest closing level for five months. Dealers believe there would be little resistance to it slumping to 2,900 or even 2,800. If we're ever going to see this long-promised rash of deals, it is now.