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Bid talk surrounds Kingfisher as FTSE closes up 7 points

Bid talk surrounded Kingfisher on Tuesday afternoon, as the FTSE 100 finished up after a late surge.

US retailers Home Depot and Lowe’s were cited as possible bidders for the B&Q owner, with a price of up to £3.50 a share. That would be a significant premium to the current price, which rose 2.3% to finish at 237p, and would value the group at more than £8bn.

The FTSE 100 ended 7 points up at 5,357, having nursed losses all day due to concerns that German economic growth had come in lower than expected. Sentiment turned more positive amid better-than-expected US industrial growth and Fitch affirming the US’ triple A credit rating.

Traders pondered whether to ditch defensive positions and go for value, after Goldman Sachs suggested a good run for UK water companies including United Utilities and Severn Trent might be over. Goldman suggested the sector more broadly might do better than the UK water stocks from now on. United Utilities finished 1.1% down, and Severn Trent 2.2% lower. was the top climber among the mid-caps after UBS said its price of £1-a-share implied that everything that could go wrong, would, and priced in no upside. The shares rose 8% to reach 114p.

British Land was a faller, as investors turned negative on property on economic concerns. If, as recruiters suggest, there are fewer bankers being hired and a downturn is on its way, maybe the demand for space expected in a few years’ time will not after all be as high as anticipated, the story went. The shares fell 3.5% to 544p.

Broker Evolution was a climber after it emerged that it had received several approaches. Investec said it was bidding earlier this month, and Canadian broker Cannacord came out of the woodwork on Tuesday. Evolution shares climbed 9% to 90p.

British American Tobacco climbed 2% after Nomura said the cigarette giant was proving able to raise its prices significantly, offsetting volume declines. The shares finished at £27.84, short of Nomura’s price target of £30.20.

There was further speculation as to whether Ladbrokes could swoop in and buy Sportingbet, after Aim-listed GVC Holdings confirmed that it was in talks with Sportingbet about a reverse takeover of the latter’s Turkish language website business. Ladbrokes shares fell 2% to 126.5p, while Sportingbet rose 7% to 53.5p. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds