Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Smiths Heads the Blue-Chip Risers on Talk of a Break-Up; MARKET ROUND-UP

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Smiths Heads the Blue-Chip Risers on Talk of a Break-Up; MARKET ROUND-UP

Article excerpt

Byline: Rosamund Urwin

SMITHS Group's shareholders may soon have cause to smile. The technology firm, which makes airport security scanners, was London's best-performing blue-chip today amid predictions that it will be broken up.

UBS has the company on its Restructuring Watch List, and says that such a move should "create significant value for shareholders." The broking big-hitter reckons its full-year results will show that chief executive Philip Bowman's restructuring plan is delivering.

"Recent data indicate that general M&A activity has picked up," said analyst Avi Hoddes. "With Smiths homing in on the targets of the restructuring programme, we believe the break up of the group is starting to edge closer."

Hoddes recommends snapping up Smiths' shares and has a 1400p price target. Today they rose 17p to 1141p, It was another quiet August day in the City, with equities retreating in thin trading. The FTSE 100 index slid 26.32 points to 5384.2 but the FTSE 250 index, a better barometer of UK Plc than the commodities-heavy top flight, dropped 80.9 points to 10,131.34.

Takeover speculation boosted AIMlisted First Artist in early trading, before the company was forced to reveal that it is discussions with a potential bidder. The entertainment and sport agency said the talks are an early stage and that there is no guarantee that an offer will result.

Its shares surged 41/2p to 181/2p, a gain on the day of almost a third.

Sterling Energy was one of the few other stocks attracting interest. The mutter from the gutter is that the Kurdistan-focused oil explorer will soon say that it has struck lucky.

Its shares surged 21p to 134.9p, making it London's best-performing stock.

Meanwhile, Luminar was in the spotlight for a third day. Wild talk has the struggling nightclubs group on private equity's shopping list, but the shares were also helped by speculation that the owner of the Oceana and Lava & Ignite brands will soon have good news on funding from its lenders.

Luminar ticked up 3/4p to 11.4p, But it was Cairn Energy again that provided the main distraction for those traders who could keep their eyes open. …

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