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April 12: It looks like the London Stock Exchange will meet Nasdaq early next week to discuss the possibility of an agreed bid after the US exchange picked up 14.99 per cent of the LSE yesterday. Nasdaq shares are up 3 per cent. However, the LSE also says it is seeking discussions with “other major exchanges”. It is, of course, sticking to its line that it has strong prospects as an independent company and that the current share price – up 15 per cent at £11.98½ today – does not reflect its growth prospects. Yesterday’s sale by Threadneedle of its LSE stake seems to be forcing the pace of talks at other exchanges as well. Shares in both Euronext and Deutsche Börse are up as investors take the view that Euronext is now less likely to be distracted by London from doing a deal with the Germans. We have lots of great detail and analysis for tomorrow’s paper.
The market seems to have, quite reasonably, lost faith in the wire story from earlier today which said that Verizon of the US was about to approach Vodafone about buying its 45 per cent in Verizon Wireless for $50bn. Vodafone shares, which jumped 3 per cent on the story, ended the day flat.
Apart from more LSE analysis, retail stories will fill much of our rather limited space in tomorrow’s paper. The top stories are that WH Smith is demerging its news distribution business (the shares are up 6 per cent, mainly on hopes this business might be sold) and what more or less amounts to a profit warning from Homebase, the DIY store owned by GUS. Laura Ashley announced its first dividend in 9 years and sent its stock 14 per cent higher. Burberry, which updated the market on trading, looks in decent shape and Austin Reed is also making upbeat noises. Its shares are up 10 per cent.
Eurotunnel has been unable to publish definitive results, saying it could not assume it was a going concern.
Lookers continues to try to fend off Pendragon. It claims today that if a takeover goes ahead, 26.5 per cent of its revenues could be lost as franchise contracts get cancelled and carmakers stop doing business with the group.
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