Shire and miners push FTSE into the black

It was an unusually eventful Friday as several acquisitions and takeovers were announced among small, mid and large caps.

Rare diseases specialist Shire (SHP) bounced back from recent weakness. Media sources on Wednesday reported that the US Federal Trade Commission had filed a civil action against one of its subsidiaries, ViroPharma.

The action against Shire concerned citizen petition submissions ViroPharma filed about its antibiotic product Vancocin. Shire gained 1.6% to £46.44.

Strong copper and iron prices also boosted mining stocks as Anglo American (AAL) rose by 3.2%, while Antofagasta (ANTO) and Glencore (GLEN) made smaller gains.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.2% to 7,248.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil slipped at least 0.8% higher to $53.47 and $56.21 per barrel, respectively.

Copper rallied 1.2% to $5,908 per tonne, while gold fell 0.9% to $1,224 per ounce.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 were in positive territory.

Japan's Nikkei 225 led the pack in Asia with a 2.5% gain as investors were encouraged by the US stock markets and a stronger dollar supported Japanese exporting businesses.

The Hang Seng and SSE Composite made smaller advanced of up to 0.4%.


Durex owner Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) confirmed it will spend $16.6bn on baby formula firm products group Mead Johnson.

The confirmation emerged with Reckitt's full year results which revealed an 8% rise in operating profit to £2.41bn and 7.1% rise in the final dividend to 95p per share.

Copper miner Rio Tinto (RIO) announced Shell's chief financial officer Simon Henry will join its board from July, helping the stock to advance 2.4% to £34.64.


Chemicals group Elementis (ELM) said it will boost the size of its personal care business with the $360m acquisition of SummitReheis, which will provide a strong position in the antiperspirant market.

The company reported the deal expects to deliver earnings and free cash flow accretion in the current financial year.

Investors were concerned after David Buttress resigned as chief executive of fast food delivery group Just Eat (JE.) due to 'urgent family matters'.

He said he will work full time until the end of March, after which chairman John Hughes will have an executive leadership role, until a new CEO is found.

Pub retailer Greene King (GNK) claimed it had a 'strong Christmas' with 4.5% rise in like-for-like sales over a three week festive period. It saw £7.4m go through its tills on Christmas day, up 6% on the previous year.

However, the market was not fooled by the optimistic statement as the stock declined 1.8% to 688.5p. Third quarter trading slowed compared to the previous three months as its 'pub company' division like-for-like sales growth was 0.8% versus 1.3% at the half year stage.


FIH (FIH), formerly Falkland Island Holdings, received a 300p per share takeover bid. The offer was from Staunton Holdings, a business linked to the family of FIH chairman Edmund Rowland.

It represented a 27% bid premium, although it is below the 400p level at which the shares traded a few years ago. FIH suffered from the delays in developing an oil and gas industry in the Falklands Islands. This was meant to boost visitors to the island where it runs shops and support services.

Lottery management services provider Boxhill (BOX) slumped by over 20% as progress in its payments division during the second half of the year slowed as new regulations hit the firm.

Private equity group Advent sold its remaining 12.1% stake in DFS Furniture (DFS) for 228p per share, a small discount to last night's closing price of 231p.

Amur Minerals (AMC) eased back after its stock initially soared 23% after updating the estimated size of its Kun-Manie project in Russia. The new resource statement was 101.3m tonnes of material grading 1.03% of nickel equivalent.

It reported the amount of metal in the ground is worth $10.5bn at current prices, but this value does not consider the cost of extracting, processing and transporting the metal to customers.

Operations are likely to be challenging as its project is located in a hard-to-reach area with limited infrastructure.