January 25: Honeywell wins Danaher duel

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Honeywell looks like it has won the battle for control of First Technology after last night raising its bid to 385p. That trumped Danaher’s offer of 330p but Danaher has just announced it will not be digging any deeper. Not very good news for those investors who drove First Technology up 44p to 402p this morning. No word yet from First.

Mark Tucker, chief executive of Prudential, this morning sought to sidestep speculation that Aviva has it in its sights by saying he was sure the Pru had an independent future. He confirmed that he was looking for acquisitions in the US, although he wouldn’t comment directly on our story this morning that he is interested in the US life business being sold by JP Morgan Chase for up to $1bn - there is no certainty he won’t be outbid. The group said insurance sales rose 15 per cent in 2005, in line with forecasts. The stock is little changed.

We’re looking again at Linde’s approach for BOC, announced yesterday. Can Linde go higher than £15? BOC shares are up almost 5 per cent today at £14.63 - 3p above what BOC was offered by Air Liquide and Air Products in 1999. Should BOC not be bidding for Linde instead and will it consider a Pacman defence? What non-core bits could be sold off after any deal? BOC’s logistics; Linde’s forklift trucks?

Qinetiq will be valued at up to £1.3bn when it floats next month, it was announced today. This is about £200m more than previously expected. The stock will be priced between 165p and 205p. However, the political row thunders on and we’ll bring you more on all of that - plus more on the investment case for and against Qinetiq tomorrow. Lex has already commented and seems happy with the valuation. The prospectus will be available for downloading from Qinetiq later today.

Better than expected 2005 profits from Northern Rock, despite the slowdown in the housing market.

The finance director of F&C Asset Management, Ian Paterson Brown, is leaving “by mutual agreement” after 24 years at the company. The move comes just days after Alain Grisay took over as the group’s new chief executive. The chief investment officer, Tony Broccardo, was replaced, rather abruptly, last year by Fernando Ribeiro.

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