London shares surge in early trade on Monday as investors scent a short-term solution to ongoing Greece debt problems, with speculation running high that a near-term deal with creditors is at last on the cards. That positive spurs the benchmark FTSE 100 index to leap more than 1.3%, or close on 80 points, to 6,790.
Utilities are in demand with water supplier behind Severn Trent (SVT) up nearly 3% to £21.135p, closely followed by sector giant United Utilities (UU.), 2.1% higher at 972p. But its Sky (SKY) that leads the Footsie charge on speculation that the Murdochs may launch another bid to gain complete control of the satellite pay-TV group. Reports have emerged that the media mogul family has turned down two offers for Twenty First Century Fox’s (FOX:NDQ) 39% stake in Sky, lifting the broadcaster's shares 4.3% to £10.83. Read Shares exclusive analysis here.
Former FTSE 100 oil explorer Tullow Oil (TLW) ticks up 0.5% to 363.2p as it finally agrees a settlement on a capital gains tax dispute with the Ugandan government over a farm-down of its assets in the country to Total (FP:PA) and Chinese state operator CNOOC in 2012. Tullow will pay $250 million to end the dispute.
Among the bigger movers, Savannah Resources (SAV:AIM) soars by 78% to 3.7p on a mineral sands tie-up with Rio Tinto (RIO), but there's drawbacks to this joint venture as we reveal in this exclusive article.
Chocolatier Thorntons (THT) leaps more than 40% to 143.25p after recommending a takeover bid from Ferrero. The Italian confectioner is offering 145p per share in cash, valuing Thorntons at £112 million. This represents a tasty 72.3% premium to Thorntons average closing price over the past six months.
Irish small cap E&P Lansdowne Oil & Gas (LOGP:AIM) is up 9.5% to 5.75p after a rig contract is secured to drill the Midleton prospect in the Celtic Sea in August. The well will be operated by Kinsale Energy which holds an 80% interest in the target (Lansdowne 20%) and will fully fund the cost of drilling.
Elsewhere, Spire Healthcare (SPI) rallies 7.5% to 343.9p as it reveals that a deal has been struck by Mediclinic to buy the 29.9% stake in Spire owned by private equity firm Cinven for 360p a share, or £432 million, a 12.5% premium to Friday's 320p close.
Kitty Bingo-owner Stride Gaming (STR:AIM) gains 2.5% to 201.5p after saying trading in the second half is strong with organic growth ahead of management expectations. It expected full year adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) to be not less than £7 million.
Online gaming group Bwin.Party (BPTY) rises 1.9% to 99.7p on news it has sold all of its interests in World Poker Tour to Honh Kong-based Ourgame International for $35 million in cash. Chief financial officer Martin Weigold says the sale is consistent with its strategy of divesting its non-core assets.
Disappointing ruby auction results trigger a 4.9% decline in Gemfields (GEM:AIM) to 60.63p. This prompts analysts to downgrade earnings forecasts for the June 2015 financial year.
Web hosting and cloud data minnow Daily Internet (DAIP:AIM) fails to impress investors despite narrowing full year losses to £140,000 and revenues jumping 67%. The shares fade 2.5% to 1.95p, valuing the business at just £9.4 million.
The sale of a 21-acre site in Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire, sparks a 2.7% higher to 435p rise in shares of MJ Gleeson (GLE). The urban regeneration and strategic land specialist has unconditionally exchanged on the site, close to where King Harold defeated Viking invaders nearly 1,000 years ago, which has planning permission for the development of up to 200 plots.