Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Break-Up Bid Hopes Power Pearson Higher; MARKET ROUND-UP

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Break-Up Bid Hopes Power Pearson Higher; MARKET ROUND-UP

Article excerpt

Byline: MICKEY CLARK

SPECULATIVE buying continued to drive media giant Pearson today, pushing its shares up 8p to 8321/2p amid claims that it may soon find itself on the receiving end of a [pounds sterling]7 billion bid from private-equity outfit Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Pearson, which owns publisher Penguin and the Financial Times, was chased sharply higher in late trading yesterday amid talk of a break-up bid.

KKR, headed by former media tycoon Lord Hollick, is the name in the frame.

Pearson has been pushed as a recovery play by a number of big broking houses during the past week. Some say 2007 could be the year its boss, Dame Marjorie Scardino, starts delivering for shareholders after a 10-year reign. The US educational business is starting to perform strongly on the back of increased government spending, and the For Sale sign may soon go up at the Pink'un.

Selling the FT could raise as much as [pounds sterling]500 million - well within the grasp of News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch.

Share prices generally traded below their best levels as Wall Street posted losses this afternoon. The Dow was off 16.90 at 12,560.20 while the FTSE 100 index rose 16.5 to 6221.0.

Pubs chain operator Mitchells & Butlers retreated 11/2p to 684p after US broker Citigroup placed five million shares on behalf of one fund manager at 677p.

There was also talk of a big seller looking to place stock in international bankingoutfit Standard Chartered. The shares touched 1471p before paring back their lead to 3p at 1460p.

Motor trader Pendragonslipped 3/4p to 911/4p in heavy turnover that saw more than 78 million shares change hands after broker Panmure Gordon downgraded from buy to hold and slashed its target from 140p to 103p. A single parcel of 37.9 million shares went through on the ticker at 88p, equivalent to more than 5% of the company. At the last count, Axa Framlington was Pendragon's biggest shareholder with 41 million shares, or 6. …

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