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Brandes has sold just over 1 per cent of J Sainsbury, bringing its holding down from 10.99 per cent to 9.77 per cent. This is being seized on by people in the private equity camp: if 507p a share or below is good enough for Brandes then surely CVC, KKR and Blackstone don’t have to stretch too much further to win everyone over. However, it’s more likely that Amelia Morris at Brandes is simply de-risking by locking in some gains in case no offer materialises. And remember, she firmly resisted selling her holding in M&S to Philip Green even though she did trim her stake along the way. Anyway, we have lots more to say about the potential bid for Sainsbury in tomorrow’s paper. Having marked time this morning, the shares are on the move again this afternoon, up 8½p at 515p.
Otherwise, one of our most interesting stories is also one of our smallest. Monterrico Metals, an Aim-listed miner with copper assets in Peru, has accepted a bid from a consortium of Chinese minerals companies. I think this may be the first Aim-listed miner to be taken over and and I doubt it will be the last.
Lots more action among the builders. Wilson Bowden has confirmed it is being bought by Barratt for £2.2bn (that’s £700m to the Wilson family), and Countrywide has confirmed it has received another takeover approach, having just turned away 3i. This approach seems to have come from Apollo, the US private equity group. And now Galliford Try says it is in exclusive talks about buying another housebuilder, Linden.
Ryanair increased profits sharply in the third quarter ahead of its previous guidance and market expectations, and raised its profits forecast for the full year. Michael O’Leary, Ryanair chief executive, said average fares had risen by 7 per cent in the quarter in sharp contrast to the warning the airline gave last summer that average fares were likely to fall by 5-10 per cent in the second half from October to March.
Chrysalis, the radio and music publishing group, said on Monday that despite the tough trading conditions for the UK radio industry throughout 2006 it had seen signs of improvement in the first few weeks of this year, thanks to a pick-up in the radio advertising market. This followed our story this morning that the company is considering a strategic review that could lead to the sale of its radio operations.