BE takeover stands out on lacklustre day for FTSE

The £12.5bn (€15.8bn) takeover of British Energy saw its shares shine today in an otherwise lacklustre session for the London market.

French giant EDF’s improved 774p a share offer for the nuclear power firm drove its stock up the risers’ board, ending the day with gains of nearly 5%, or 41p, to 765p.

But with losses for miners offsetting improved sentiment for banking stocks, the FTSE 100 Index closed down 40.6 points to 5095.6.

British Energy was pipped to the top spot by London Stock Exchange, which said it was taking steps to improve competitiveness. Shares closed up more than 7%, or 58.5p to 882.5p.

British gas parent Centrica, in talks over taking a 25% stake in BE, also saw slim gains despite turning ex-dividend – meaning shareholders are not entitled to the latest payout. The stock nudged up 0.5p to 331p.

Despite uncertainty over the US Government’s banking bail-out plans, traders took some cheer from news of billionaire Warren Buffett’s five billion US dollar (£2.7bn) investment in Goldman Sachs.

Buffett’s confidence boost meanwhile helped several financial stocks make progress with Halifax Bank of Scotland up 0.3p to 180.5p, and Royal Bank of Scotland 6.75p ahead at 210p. Lloyds TSB also added 5.25p to 267p.

Barclays was the exception, off 11.75p at 345.5p, after buy-to-let specialist Bradford & Bingley announced the bank was acting as interest rate swap provider for its covered bond programme.

B&B, which yesterday renegotiated the terms of an onerous deal under which it buys mortgages from US financial services firm GMAC, added 0.25p to 25p.

Back in the top flight, technology group Smiths fell back despite unveiling healthy annual results and a £225m (€284m) contracts boost from the US military. Shares ended the day down 3p at 1016p.

Lambert & Butler maker Imperial Tobacco meanwhile added 60p to 1818p, as the group assured on its financing and said it had made “very good progress” with the integration of Spanish acquisition Altadis.

But mining firm Vedanta Resources was the second biggest faller after the group shelved restructuring plans due to recent financial market turmoil. Shares lost 103p to 1424p, or more than 6%.

Its losses came in a difficult session for the sector amid softer metals prices. Anglo American and Xstrata – down 128p to 2008p and 118p to 2117p respectively – were also prominent fallers.

Elsewhere the UK’s biggest tile and wood floor retailer Topps Tiles unveiled sharp sales falls, but said it had shored up its finances to weather the tough conditions. Shares moved down 0.25p to 61.25p.

The Footsie’s four biggest risers were London Stock Exchange, up 58.5p to 882.5p, British Energy up 41p to 765p, Eurasian Natural Resources up 27p to 635p and Lonmin, which ended the day up 110p at 2650p.

The four biggest fallers were Inmarsat down 50p to 500p, Vedanta Resources down 103p at 1424p, Aviva down 33.75p to 491.25p, and Anglo American, which closed down 128p at 2008p.

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