Boots leads FTSE gains

A surge in shares in Alliance Boots fuelled an advance for the London market today as investors jumped on the stock after a bidding war for the pharmacy and retail giant erupted in the City.

A surge in shares in Alliance Boots fuelled an advance for the London market today as investors jumped on the stock after a bidding war for the pharmacy and retail giant erupted in the City.

Boots was trading 8% higher at 1134p, up 84.5p, after private equity groups Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Terra Firma went head to head in a battle for the group.

Terra Firma upped the ante after it put a £10.8bn (€15.9bn) offer on the table in conjunction with The Wellcome Trust, topping the earlier agreed £10.6bn (€15.6bn) bid from KKR and deputy chairman Stefano Pessina.

The saga saw the FTSE 100 Index on the front foot as it rose 49.7 points to 6490.3 by mid-morning.

The improvement followed the second record close in as many as days for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which finished marginally higher.

There was also a recovery for Asian stocks following heavy losses yesterday, when traders expressed concern that China's economy might overheat.

With takeover activity at the forefront of traders' minds, Barclays Bank followed Boots up the risers' board with a gain of 18.5p to 756.5p.

The mining sector also added its weight to the market as its shrugged off yesterday's fears over rate hikes in China. Vedanta was up 23p at 1397p and Antofagasta rose 6.75p to 517p.

However, oil firms featured heavily in the handful of fallers, with BP down 1.5p at 570p and BG Group also off 1.5p at 723.5p. Royal Dutch Shell lost 4p to 1751p following problems with equipment at its Anacortes refinery in Washington.

In the second tier, housebuilder Taylor Woodrow advanced more than 3% after reports said that a rival bid may be on the cards, with top tier Persimmon circling the group.

Woodrow, which is currently preparing a merger deal with George Wimpey, rose 14.75p to 511.75p. Wimpey was up 4p at 620p and Persimmon gained 6p to 1410p.

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