Raid on grandMet shares halts slide


WHAT looked to be a continuation of the dismal run of performances by the equity market was transformed just before the end of the session by a sudden raid on Grand Metropolitan shares by LVMH, the French luxury goods group.

Bidding 630p a share for GrandMet stock, LVMH announced it had bought over 100 million shares, or 4.7 per cent of GrandMet's shares, taking its stake up to 5.25 per cent. LVMH also owns a stake in Guinness, which is trying to merge with GrandMet.

Earlier London's equity market had performed as badly as the weather at Lords and Royal Ascot, where many of the market's leading lights were headed.

Part of the problem was further evidence of a domestic economy running at a rapid pace. But London was equally unhappy with Wall Street's performance on Wednesday, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 41 points.

One helpful factor for equities yesterday was the good showing of gilts which managed to hold on to early gains prompted by a good performance by US Treasury bonds overnight.

Turnover at 6 p.m., boosted by LVMH's raid, was 1.08 billion shares.