We have a cracking scoop for tonight which we’re very pleased with but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that. For now housebuilders remain our big story after confirmation this morning that Taylor Woodrow and George Wimpey are merging. Both shares are up strongly but Taylor Woodrow is up a bit more, 16 per cent higher. It is being helped by speculation that Persimmon may intervene (although would Persimmon really want Taylor Woodrow’s US business?). Other potential targets – Redrow, Bellway and Bovis Homes – are all up strongly. We‘ll do plenty tonight; we might even lay it on with a trowel. For more now on what is driving all these deals between housebuilders, read Neil Hume’s excellent column from last month. Also, catch up on the market gossip through FT Alphaville.
When Mick Davis of Xstrata said two weeks ago that he was ready to do more deals, he clearly meant it. Today, having digested Falconbridge, he announced Xstrata is buying Lionore, the Canada-based nickel producer, for C$4.6bn ($5.35bn).
We’re keeping a close eye on Imperial Tobacco and Altadis after our story this morning that three European private equity houses, including CVC and Cinven, are considering making their own bids for the Franco Spanish tobacco group.
Barclays are off 2½ per cent this morning after a hell of a week last week. It has been assumed that it has codenamed its bid for ABN Amro “Pegasus” after the winged horse of Greek mythology. I haven’t checked this with Barclays but it seems more likely to have been named after Operation Pegasus, the WWII Allied assault on the Netherlands to clean up after Arnhem. Telly addicts will know about Operation Pegasus from the adventures of Easy Company in Band of Brothers.
Rumour of the day: There’s talk of an activist fund taking a stake in Countrywide to block its latest deal, with Apollo. Activists blocked the last one, with 3i. About 9 per cent of the company changed hands on Friday.