Aug. 01--A mega mountain of cash – around pounds sterling 70bn to be precise – has been burning a hole in Vodafone's boss Vittorio Colao's pocket ever since the mobile phone giant sold its 45pc stake in Verizon Wireless to parent Verizon Comms in September 2013.
It was then one of the biggest deals in corporate history, which some experts said left Voda vulnerable to a US bid, while others said it gave Colao carte blanche to go on a worldwide spending spree. Earlier this year he acquired Spain's largest cable operator, Ono, in a deal said to be around euro 7bn, and now rumours are rife that he is about to splash the group's cash further afield.
Shares of Singapore-based fully fledged telecommunications group Starhub closed at Singapore dollars 4.26 on well above average turnover of 3.5m on red-hot whispers that Vodafone had approached its board with a 'friendly' takeover offer believed to be in the region of S$6-plus a share, valuing the group at around pounds sterling 4.5bn.
Starhub, in March of last year, became the first telecoms company in Singapore to offer High Definition (HD) voice. It also provides dial-up and broadband internet access. It is Singapore's second-largest telecoms company and also supplies PayTV, mobile phones and landline telephone services.
Although some analysts believe the chances of a bid for Vodafone, 4.1p off at 198.1p, have diminished following AT&T's proposed purchase of DirectTV, a bid for the company is possible at some point, and Colao is only too aware of that and is therefore keen on taking Vodafone further out of any cash-rich predator's reach.
Scrappy selling of blue chips dragged the Footsie down 43.33 points to 6,730.11.
Argentina's default, a shock profits warning from sportswear group Adidas on Russia trading concerns and growing worries about a possible early US interest rate hike got the day off to a bad start.
Then matters were made worse when dealers saw shares of Portugal's Banco Espirito Santo plummet almost 50pc to a record low after the bank reported a euro 3.6bn first-half loss.
Wall Street didn't help by falling 200 points-plus in early trading, after jobless claims rose more-than-expected in the latest week, and the well-watched Chicago Purchasing Managers Index unexpectedly fell in July to its lowest since June 2013.
Dealers on the Street of Dreams are now keeping all digits crossed that today's crucial US non-farm payrolls (employment) figures come up to scratch.
They are expected to show a rise of 230,000 new jobs, a strong result, but less than June's 288,000 figure.
Asset manager Schroders plummeted 109p to 2390p despite a 50pc increase in the interim dividend to 24p and in-line half-year profits. What spooked the market was a warning that the short-term outlook for retail investor demand is uncertain given no clear trend in markets.
Platinum mining giant Glencore declined 11.45p to 360.05p amid revived gossip that it is lining up a cash offer for the outstanding 75.5pc of Lonmin, 7.5p cheaper at 228.2p, that it does not already own.
Intu Properties, owner of the Trafford Centre and Lakeside shopping centres, added 8.5p to 328.8p on consideration of a better-than-expected interim net asset value forecast of 372p a share, which was 10pc ahead of broker Liberum Capital's 344p a share forecast and 8pc higher in the six-month period.
New World Resources was the dog of the day, collapsing 2.82p or 26pc to 7.93p. Those unfortunate investors still holding stock in the Czech coal miner sprinted for the exit on hearing that the proposed euro 118m rights issue, which has been called as part of a debt and equity restructuring plan, has been priced at a staggering 83pc discount to the prevailing price. Will the next one out the door please turn out the light.
Buyers of Ariana Resources, 0.28p better at 1.15p, swelled overall turnover to 393m as they heard that the company has finally been able to announce the long-awaited $33m debt facility with which to bring its Kiziltepe gold-silver mine into production.
Kiziltepe is part of the Red Rabbit joint venture in Turkey with Proccea, and the financing agreement was secured via the joint venture company.
With a modest construction period, it is feasible that Ariana will be able to commence maiden commercial production in the first-half of 2015.
Support services company Redhall fell 6p or 22pc to 21.5p after saying it has revised its forecasts for the year and now expects to broadly break even before exceptional items at the operating profit level.
Disappointing interims prompted selling of Promethean World, 4.38p down at 27.25p.
BUYERS chased Gulfsands Petroleum 6p or 12pc higher to 54.5p on hearing it has made a commercial discovery onshore in Morocco. It was the fourth well of Gulfsands' drilling programme but the first to have been drilled using the recently acquired 3D seismic data. The LTU-1 well is being monitored for pressure build-up, after which it will be temporarily suspended as a future gas producer. Cantor has a target price of 72p.
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