Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BSkyB Goes into Orbit on Talk of a Soccer Bonanza; Market Report

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BSkyB Goes into Orbit on Talk of a Soccer Bonanza; Market Report

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL CLARK

RUPERT Murdoch's BSkyB lit up City trading screens today with a rise of 251/2p to 7081/2p amid mounting speculation it will extend its football coverage when it renews its threeyear contract with the Premier League.

The satellite broadcaster is believed to have offered the same price as last time but in exchange wants to double the number of Premiership games broadcast. Brokers say the deal is likely to fall foul of the EU, which wants to open the games to a wider audience.

The Premier League, which was meeting bosses of the 20 member clubs today, has already increased the number of broadcasting packages from three to four, and BSkyB is expected to obtain the premier gold and silver packages - giving it the pick of the matches.

Meanwhile, broker Credit Suisse First Boston has raised its target price on BSkyB from 660p to 820p ahead of its full-year results due next week. The figures are expected to reveal a surge in subscriber numbers. Brokers forecast that adjusted pre-tax profits would be between [pounds sterling]230 million and [pounds sterling]235 million, compared with a loss of [pounds sterling]22 million in 2002.

Share prices made headway after a slow start. The FTSE 100 index rose 48.7 points to 4144.3. The Dow opened 27.31 points higher at 9153.76 in New York this afternoon.

Shares in London Stock Exchange were up 61/2p at 3261/2p despite a 10% decline in equity trades during July to 4.81 million.

The value of trades slumped from [pounds sterling]461 billion to [pounds sterling]314 billion.

Shell rose 61/2p to 399p in heavy turnover of 104 million shares. That followed a cross in 39.5 million shares at 3991/2p. BP was up 71/2p at 4323/4p. Barclays gained a further 21/4p to 4791/4p on further consideration of yesterday's profit numbers. US securities house Morgan Stanley has upgraded from equal weight to overweight and raised its target price from 420p to 510p while Deutsche Bank has moved from sell to hold with a target of 475p. …

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