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EasyJet Rises on Bid Talk


From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

Britain

Engine maker Rolls-Royce was up £0.04 to £2.90 after the company said that orders are exceeding deliveries for the first time since 2001. The group expects the number of civil engines in service to increase by 40% over the next five years, to 15,500 by 2010, of which 8,000 will be managed under TotalCare packages. Also, the company won a contract with Air China to supply the Trent 700 engine for its fleet of 20 Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The company said that, together with a long-term TotalCare services agreement for the engines, the total value of the contract is worth $800 million.

British Sky Broadcasting Group was down £0.13 to £5.13, after the company's efforts to win ten million customers by 2010 received a setback on Friday as it emerged that the number of households using a free digital satellite connection to watch television soared in the first three months of this year, The Times reports. The regulator Ofcom's figures showed that the Freesat platform was the fastest growing category of digital viewers between January and March, rising 15.6% to 445,000.

Exploration company Cairn Energy was up £0.19 to £13.19, after it received a 18-month license appraisal extension in Rajasthan covering the Bhagyam and Shakti oil fields. The company noted that preliminary estimates for the field in place volumes are between 35 million and 70 million barrels. The group also confirmed that discussions with the government of India are ongoing regarding an application for an extension of the southern area of the Rajasthan block.

Discount airline Easyjet was up £0.08 to £2.56 on the re-emergence of market talk that 10% shareholder Icelandair might be interested in making a bid. Both companies were unavailable for comment.

Manchester United was up £0.02 to £3.02, on the deadline for Malcolm Glazer's offer. The Times said that shareholders have until 3 p.m. today to accept the Glazer family's £3.00-a-share offer. The Sunday Telegraph said Glazer already has about 92% of shares, enough to compulsorily purchase the rest if he wished. An announcement is expected today after the 3p.m. deadline.

France

Drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis was up €0.70 to €72.05, after the company said that the drug Acomplia helps cut the level of blood sugar, while helping patients lose weight, according to the company's latest research presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in San Diego. Last week the company also said therapy with Lantusimproves glycemic control in patients with Type 2 diabetes poorly controlled on prior insulin regimes.

Dassault Aviation was up €12.00 to €557.00, after chief executive Charles Edelstenne said on Friday that the company has no intention of staying in defense-electronics group Thales, of which it owns a 5.7% stake. Edelstenne said he regrets that despite holding a share in Thales, Alcatel votes with their share. Dassault Aviation, Alcatel (with a 16% stake) and the French state (with 31.3%), all bought their stakes in Thales in 1998 and are expected to respect a general pact.

Cigarette maker Altadis was down €0.32 to €35.35 after Morgan Stanley said British American Tobacco would be its top European pick. The broker said that Altadis and Irish group Gallaher, buoyed in part by consolidation expectations, may suffer some weakness if a deal is not imminent. Separately, the financial-services group Fortis raises its target to €38.70 from €35.45, and kept its buy rating. The broker considers the company a good investment opportunity that could be fuelled by its defensive nature, given current market conditions, and by recurrent rumours regarding possible corporate movements.

Germany

Hypovereinsbank was up €0.39 to €20.41 after the company agreed to be acquired by Italian bank Unicredito for $15.4 billion yesterday in the biggest cross-border banking takeover, the Times writes. Unicredito is to offer 5 shares for each Hypovereinsbank share, valuing each share at €20.50, according to the article. The price represents a 16% premium to the company's average closing price over a three-month period. The Financial Times notes that the combined bank will have more than 28 million customers, more than 7,000 branches and assets of €733 billion. The combined entity aspires to release €985 million synergies by 2008. Reportedly, some 9,200 jobs are on the line, most of which in Poland and Germany. Against this, a restructuring charge of €1.35 billion will be taken in 2005.

Basic materials group Heidelberg Cement was up €10.04 to €60.29, after receiving a buyout offer of €6.52 billion from Spohn Cement, a premium of 19% to Friday's close. Spohn already indirectly holds 13% of the group. Spohn's owner, billionaire Adolf Merckle, who also sits on the board, is seen as attempting to pick up the company on the cheap.

Commerzbank was up €0.37 to €18.45 after the bank UBS increased its target to €21.5 from €20.5.

Deutsche Bank was up €0.40 to €65.39 after Lehman Brothers added the company to European recommended portfolio. Separately, BNP-Paribas has reportedly beaten off competition from Nordic financial services group Nordea to acquire the British arm of Deutsche Bank's asset management, according to the Sunday Telegraph. Deutsche Bank is expecting around £400 million for the unit, although reportedly the buyer will not pay more than £335 million.


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