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Danone Falls on Sale of HP Foods


Cadbury Schweppes was up £0.16 to £5.48. Private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is planning to buy the company's soft drinks business and merge it with drinks firm Britvic, which it intends to acquire from its joint-venture partners Intercontinental Hotels, Allied Domecq, Whitbread and PepsiCo International, The Sunday Express reported.

Oil group Shell Transport was up £0.19 to £5.26, after oil prices traded at all-time highs above $59, on the view that refiners will not be able to keep up with fuel demand in the northern hemisphere winter, while demand from China remains strong.

British Sky Broadcasting was down £0.08 to £5.13 after The Sunday Times reported that the company will unveil plans for a new service allowing customers to download movies and sports coverage over the internet.

Royal Bank of Scotland was down £0.08 to £16.79 after Focus magazine reported that the company wants to make a counterbid for Germany's HVB Group to rival a takeover deal worth nearly € 20 billion agreed with Italy's UniCredito. The bank and HVB both declined to comment on the report.


Michelin was down €.50 to €51.00 after the company's brand name took a dive yesterday when the tire maker said it was unable to guarantee the performance of its tires at Indianapolis. The tire safety concerns resulted in only six of the 20 cars starting the race. Citigroup said it expects this to have little long-term impact on the stock, but warned the fundamentals remain challenging. In addition, according to The Daily Telegraph, the company is making two emergency payments totalling almost £60 million to plug a £286 million black hole in its U.K. pension scheme.

Food group Danone was down €1.05 to €73.15 after the company said that it plans to use the €700 million it will raise from the sale of its HP Foods and Lea & Perrins sauce unit to fund a share buyback program and to help repay a convertible bond of €600 million. HP Foods and Lea & Perrins posted fiscal 2004 sales of approximately €240 million.

Air France-KLM was down €0.26 to €12.91, as oil prices trade at all-time highs, hovering around the $59 per barrel mark.


HypoVereinsbank was up €0.38 to €22.02 after Focus Magazine reported that the Royal Bank of Scotland is preparing to counterbid for the company by offering up to €1.50 per share share just before merger plans get finalized (which is after July 27). Italian bank Unicredito, which is also biddgin for HypVereinsbank, does not expect any counter-offer and does not plan to sweeten its offer by increasing the price or offering a cash component.

Industrial group Linde was down €1.87 to €56.93 after Credit Suisse First Boston reportedly downgraded the company to underperform from neutral, saying that the company's shares have outperformed the European chemical sector by 10% over the past three months. The broker noted, however, that the group cash flow profile remains poor.

Tire and automotive parts maker Continental was up €.97 to €58.37 after Credit Suisse First Boston reportedly gave the company an outperform rating with a €80 price target. The broker said that a pre-eminent position in the fast-growing electronic braking business allows the company to exert pricing power, a rare quality in the automotive world.


Drugmaker Novartis was down 0.50 Swiss francs to 60.40 francs after new data showed that the company's hypertension drug Diovan is more effective in cutting blood pressure than amlodipine, another hypertension treatment. In a separate development, two companies, Ranbaxy Laboratories and Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, have received tentative approval to sell generic copies of Novartis's anti-fungal drug Lamisil in the U.S..


ABN Amro was down €0.19 to €19.95 after Deutsche Bank said that it expects the bank's bid for Italy's Banca Antonveneta will fail and be dropped before July 6. However, the broker said that the key question now is what happens next and it thinks that ABN Amro could be a takeover target. Separately, the company today issued 10,278,482 new shares to Banca Intesa to pay for an additional 3.86% stake in Banco Real, as announced last week.

Royal Dutch oil group was up €0.55 to €52.10 after oil prices traded at all-time highs above $59 per barrel.


Insurer Skandia was up 0.60 Swedish krona to SEK41.90 after the Dagens Industri reported the British insurer Old Mutual will come to Stockholm in the coming days to present a takeover offer for Skandia to its biggest shareholders. The newspaper says also another group, potentially DnB NOR, is preparing a bid for the company.


Cigarette maker Altadis was down €0.74 to €34.23 after the newspaper Expansion reported that the company will launch a new, less expensive brand priced at €1.35 per packet in a bid to stop loss of market share. North American tobacco giant Philip Morris has already substantially lowered the prices of its Basic and Next brands.

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