LONDON -- In London the bids have come in thick and fast this morning, to lift the
index 60.00 points to 6,328.50.
First, the French invasion: No sooner does
unveil an agreed 900 million pound ($1.5 billion) offer for
, the builders' merchant, than
launches a hostile 420p per share bid for
Blue Circle Industries
, the beloved British cement maker, valuing BCI at 3.4 billion pounds.
Meyer rose 70p to 496, not quite in line with the bid terms, and BCI gained 19p to 433 as the market anticipates a ding-dong battle. Analysts are suggesting that BCI could be worth as much as 450p per share.
Among the banks, it's make-your-minds-up time for the institutional shareholders of
down 21p at 11.67 pounds. Most institutional investors are expected to decide early next week whether to back one of the two Scottish banks,
Royal Bank of Scotland
Bank of Scotland
Yet investors may still decide to stick with NatWest's own management, and if they take that option, either Royal Bank of Scotland or Bank of Scotland could fall prey to
. Royal Bank of Scotland fell 7p to 995 and Bank of Scotland 4p to 616. Lloyds, additionally boosted by news of the sale of its new-business capability of
, the life subsidiary of
Zurich Financial Services
, is 12p higher at 635. Both Scottish banks have so far announced minimal acceptances for their offers.
is up 25p at 364 with turnover already at 89 million shares after reports that the U.K. mobile-phone group is willing to give
, its German counterpart, almost 50% of the equity of a combined group. A deal between the two now looks a distinct possibility and Mannesmann was up 13.60 at 293.85 euros.
This comes after details Monday of Vodafone's strategic alliance with
. Vodafone's offer for Mannesmann closes on Monday.
The U.K. competition watchdog's statement on the grocery chains has been well received by the supermarket companies this morning, breathing life into
, up 4p at 167.5 and
, 7p to the good at 208.
added a penny to 341, but, surprisingly, the sector's takeover favorite,
, is stuck in a rut at 127.5.
Tech stocks returned to favor, helped by the overnight
, a technology investment firm, jumped 110p to 25.62 pounds and
Geo Interactive Media
gained 47p to 21.12 pounds.
made further good progress in the wake of Monday's excellent trading statement, with the shares up 64p at 37.5 pounds.
The continent's markets got a good bounce in early trading, as investors decided Monday's selloff might have been a bit overdone. Gains, however, were capped ahead of the meetings of the
and European Central Bank
later this week. Midday the
in Frankfurt was up 91.76 at 6927.36 and the
in Paris was 109.30 higher at 5769.11.
Technology shares were leading gainers in Frankfurt, with both software-maker
and electronics giant
forging higher. SAP was up 19.50 at 803 euros and Siemens was up 3.69 at 142.80 euros.
surged, after the Finnish company reported record profits for the fourth quarter of 1999. The company's shares climbed 10 higher to 194 euros.
, a subsidiary of German telco
, got a boost after reports that the ISP would soon be the exclusive provider of
travel services. Freenet.de was 2 higher at 158 euros on the