Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

More High Street Retail Therapy on the Cards; Market Report

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

More High Street Retail Therapy on the Cards; Market Report

Article excerpt

Byline: MALCOLM WITHERS

PROSPECTS for further mergers and management buyouts in retail resurfaced today as Debenhams agreed a 455p bid from Baroness Retail that sent its share price up 23p, taking it 3p above the offer.

Permira, which had received a Debenhams board recommendation at 425p, was said to be considering its position. WH Smith added 33/4p to 3551/2p and Next climbed 201/2p to 1139p. House of Fraser added 1/2p to 941/2p and Mothercare 1p to 1991/2p on hopes of more takeover activity.

Among blue-chips, it was the usual mix of financials and insurers that ensured a positive opening as the FTSE 100 gained 28.9 points to 4271.1.

Amvescap led the way with a 161/4p gain to 524p with Royal & SunAlliance defying the doubters about the success of its [pounds sterling]960 million rights issue and adding 31/2p to 1173/4p.

The 30% rally in the benchmark index since 12 March is likely to have partially restored the fortunes of those banking arms that manage the investments of more well-to-do customers, none more so than at Royal Bank of Scotland, where the wealth division suffered a 10% drop in business in the six months ending June. Its insurance division has grown into Britain's third-largest general insurer, thanks to the acquisition of Churchill to add to its Direct Line operation. Bad debt appears to be minimal. There was talk of share buybacks by RBS and it added 18p to 1588p.

ICI topped the Footsie fallers with a 2% slip to 1831/2p, down 41/2p, as Smith Barney downgraded the chemicals and paints group.

Acambis soared 5%, or 201/2p, to 387p following research at Virginia's George Mason University that suggested the smallpox vaccine may help protect people from Aids.

Healthcare group Amersham received a boost from Goldman Sachs as the US broker lifted its target price to 610p from 560p. Earnings YOU CAN BUY AND SELL SHARES ONLINE FOR [pounds sterling]15 AT www.thisismoney.co.uk This is Money Share Dealing Limited is an appointed representative of The Share Centre Limited. …

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