Wellcome Is Building a Marks & Spencer Stake

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 7, 2008 | Go to article overview

Wellcome Is Building a Marks & Spencer Stake


Byline: MICKEY CLARK

The worlds largest medical research charity, The Wellcome Trust, has emerged as the mystery stakebuilder in shares of Marks & Spencer, down 5p at 279p.

The word in the Square Mile claims Wellcome has acquired 39.4 million shares, worth almost ?110 million, in M&S, or 2.5% of the company just under the mandatory disclosable level.

Earlier this week, the shares spiked on talk of stakebuilding by the French supermarket chain Carrefour, or billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Several years ago M&S rejected an offer worth 400p a share (?8 billion) from billionaire retailer Sir Philip Green.

Bid target Lonmin rose a further 26p to 3452p after telling shareholders to reject the unsolicited offer of 3300p a share from Xstrata. That may come as sweet music to the speculators, who have already decided the Anglo-Swiss mining company will have to cough up more cash if it wants Lonmin, but some institutions are taking a different view of the outcome.

Word is, some of Lonmins big institutional shareholders were dribbling out stock into the market place this morning, happy to take a nice return on their investment. Some have even been prepared to accept the offer from Xstrata outright. One dealer commented: Xstratas offer is all cash and in these markets cash remains king.

Meanwhile, Xstrata, down 20p at 3148p, has bought a further 4.1 million shares in Lonmin, stretching its stake to 10.7%. Lonmin, the worlds third-largest platinum producer, described Xstratas offer as wholly inadequate and opportunistic.

Morgan Stanley says a successful acquisition of Lonmin would take Xstrata into the big league of platinum producers. It continues to rate Xstrata at overweight and says it remains the growth company among the bigger mining companies with a pipeline of inorganic growth options and opportunistic acquisitions providing wideranging choices for the future. …

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