Takeover buzz lifts BSkyB shares

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The FTSE 100 was 12.8 points lower at 5939.1 in early trading

Investors are betting that News Corp’s takeover of BSkyB will go ahead after business secretary Vince Cable lost his power to block the deal.

BSkyB shares rose more than 1%, up 10.5p to 739p, as Investec Securities said the probability of News Corp being given the green light to acquire the remaining 61% of BSkyB it does not already own had risen to 90% from 66%.

The final decision rests with culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is due to receive a report on the matter from regulator Ofcom at the end of the month.

The rise in Sky’s share price was accompanied by a strong session for banks, although weaker mining stocks and a thin session for volumes meant the FTSE 100 Index slipped from recent highs to stand 12.8 points lower at 5939.1.

Outside the top flight, Northern Foods jumped 7%, or 4.5p to 65p, as it confirmed interest from food tycoon Ranjit Boparan in making an offer for the Fox’s biscuits owner and hijacking an existing deal with Ireland’s Greencore.

In other takeover developments, outsourcing firm Mouchel rose 16% or 12p to 85p after Costain said it had made an all-share approach valuing the embattled company at around £118 million. It was rejected by Mouchel, which said this month it had received buy-out interest from a number of parties.

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