Market Report: Rumours over franchise bid derail FirstGroup and Stagecoach shares

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The operators slid after reports over the weekend that the East Coast Mainline franchise could go to the French.

The Department for Transport is rumoured to favour a joint bid from Eurostar and Keolis for the reprivatisation of the route that connects London to Scotland. An announcement is due as soon as this week.

FirstGroup, the only bidder flying solo, was the worst hit, tumbling 9.8p to 110p. Stagecoach, which has tabled a joint proposal with Virgin, fell by 5.5p to 362.55p.

The Footsie inched up 1.66 points to 6752.42, with little about to spur the index either higher or lower.

FTSE operator the London Stock Exchange was one of the best performers as Citi pushed the prospects of a cash return for investors.

Following LSE’s recent £1.6 billion acquisition of Russell Investments, Citi expects the financial-services group to offload Russell’s Investment Management business. This will help it pay down debt while still allowing it to hand as much as £750 million to shareholders. LSE climbed 46p to 2149p.


Salamander Energy ticked up 1.5p to 92.62p as it agreed terms for selling the business to Ophir Energy. But Ophir’s investors remain unconvinced — the news sent its shares down 4.7p  to 165.65p.

The odds were against the bookies today, with Newham council preparing to lead a campaign backed by 80  local authorities up and down the country to limit bets on controversial, fixed-odds betting machines.

The campaign is calling for wagers to be capped at £2, a far cry from the £100 every 20 seconds that gamblers can currently stake. It comes despite the announcement at the start of the month of limits on the machines based on time played and total losses. Ladbrokes fell 5.4p to 114.95p, while William Hill lost 13.9p to 345.1p.

Mobile-commerce specialist MoPowered collapsed 2.12p to 5.12p on AIM after warning that smaller and fewer contracts in the second half mean revenue will be lower than forecast.

Quindell continued its recovery, climbing 15.25p to 86.12p. There is speculation the embattled insurance outsourcer, which parted company with its chairman and founder Rob Terry last week after controversial share dealing, could offload parts of its business.

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November 25, 2014 |
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