Bid rumors send London markets higher

| March 6, 2006 | 0 Comments

Activity in the telecommunications sector helped send London equities markets higher on Monday. The FTSE 100 was up 0.6 percent to 5,897.8, the highest it has closed in nearly five years. Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 advanced by 0.8 percent to an all-time high close of 9,546.0.

Both Vodafone and BT Group were up on the news that AT&T has made a $67 billion bid for BellSouth. This move in the US highlighted mergers and acquisitions activity in the UK and spurred hopes of further activity.

Vodafone was up 2.9 percent to 125p on the proposed sale of its Japanese division, which has not been performing to expectations, to Tokyo-based SoftBank, and on speculation that Vodafone would also sell its 45 percent stake in US company Verizon Wireless, even though most analysts felt that the sale of the Verizon shares was unlikely. BT Group added 5.1 percent to 231¾p.

Elsewhere in the sector, Colt Telecom was up 6.9 percent to 69¾p, Cable and Wireless gained 0.5 percent to 108p on rumors that it was being targeted by Thus Group, which was even at 15½p.

In the tobacco sector, BAT gained 2.5 percent to £14.43 on an upgrade from Citigroup.

In the retail sector, Matalin gained 3.8 percent to 198p on a report that its founder and chairman was talking to private equity buyers about selling his majority stake in the company. MFI Furniture was up 4.1 percent to 94¼p, also on interest from private equity groups. Home shopper N Brown gained 8.4 percent on the day to 214p.

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