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NEWS - Britain's Ftse Steady At Multi-year Highs As Severn Surges

Britain's Ftse Steady At Multi-year Highs As Severn Surges

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Britain's top share index held near 5-1/2 year highs on Tuesday as a jump in water company Severn Trent following a takeover approach was balanced by fresh worries for miners, including a South African strike.

Britain's top share index held near 5-1/2 year highs on Tuesday as a jump in water company Severn Trent following a takeover approach was balanced by fresh worries for miners, including a South African strike.

Shares in Severn Trent leapt 15.1 percent after it confirmed it had been approached by a consortium led by Canadian infrastructure investor Borealis and the Kuwait Investment Authority.

Rival United Utilities - which has also been the subject of bid speculation - was up 4.1 percent and traders said it could attract further interest.

"The focus this morning is on the prospect of a bid for Severn Trent from Canada, and you wonder if Britain is going to be left with any utilities that haven't been taken over," Knight Capital director Ioan Smith said. "Particularly with the collapse of the Betfair deal, the market can get excited about some fresh M&A activity in the works."

Mid-cap Betfair fell 6.7 percent after it ended takeover discussions with CVC Partners after the private equity firm said it would not make a third revised offer for the online gambling company.

By 0758 GMT, the FTSE 100 was flat, just 2.41 points lower at 6,629.35, with utilities adding 5.5 points to the index.

Mining stocks fell 1.4 percent, taking their decline to the year to 19.2 percent and helping knock 7.6 points off the index, as Monday's weak data out of China was compounded by fresh industrial unrest in Africa.

A wildcat strike halted work at South African mid-cap platinum miner Lonmin's operations, and triggered falls in South African-focused blue chip peers Anglo American and Randgold Resources

Rio Tinto fell for a second day as protestors in Mozambique blocked a coal export railway for a second day.

"Fears over China growth have seen the sector down so far this year, but these strikes aren't helping," Zeg Choudhry, head of trading at Northland Capital Partners, said.

"I was going to be a buyer of Lonmin today (following their results yesterday) until I came in and saw the news in South Africa." (Editing by Catherine Evans)


 

 

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