Markets & Finance

European Movers: GDF, Alitalia, TomTom


Plus more European stocks making headlines Friday

France

GDF was up €0.52 to €39.26... Seeks 6.1% rise for gas prices - press - the company has asked the French government to raise gas prices 6.1% at the beginning of 2008, Les Echos reports.

UBI SOFT was up €6.18 to €65.57... Raises 2007-08 sales target - the company raised its sales target for 2007-08 to more than €840 million, with around €410 million for third quarter, vs previous forecasts of €825 million and €330 million, respectively. The target for current operating income before stock options has also been revised upwards to at least 12% of sales, compared with the previously announced forecast of at least 9%. The company says this reflects the combined impact of the stellar performance turned in by Assassins Creed and the ensuing major leverage effect on profitability, as well as lower-than-anticipated R&D costs due to the postponed release dates for Tom Clancy's End War, Brothers in Arms and Far Cry 2.

AIR FRANCE-KLM was down €0.14 to €24.08... Rumours of low bids / Shares suspended - the company has bid €0.35 per Alitalia share while Air One has bid €0.01 per share, Reuters reports citing a source close to the talks. Alitalia's shares have now been suspended. The shares were trading -7.49% at €0.805 at the time of suspension. Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi has highlighted there are no deadlines in the sale process of the government's stake. The FT reports that the government could be concerned that domestic hostility could lead the company to withdraw its bid. Local press have it that Alitalia Chairman Maurizio Prato could resign if there are further delays in the sale process of the government's stake in Alitalia.

Germany

DAIMLER (DAI) was down €0.68 to €65.98... Board revamp / Offloading property / Broker action - the company has named former Nokia executive Sari Baldauf and BASF CEO Juergen Hambrecht as members of its supervisory board, replacing as of next month Earl Graves and Peter Magowan. In other news: the company has agreed to sell property in Berlin to S-E Banken. Without saying where it got the information from, Bild Zeitung reckons the company could make at least €1.2 billion from the sale. On the broker front, Citigroup lifts target to EUR 80 from €72, reiterating buy.

DEUTSCHE TELEKOM (DT) was unchanged at €15.09... Credit Suisse ups target to €17.50 from €15.50, reiterating outperform.

Italy

ALITALIA was down €0.11 to €0.76... First price only a reference - the company has said that that bid prices cited in Reuters reports are only a first reference point and correspond to non-binding offers. Reuters says citing a source close to the talks that Air France-KLM has bid €0.35 per the company share while Air One has bid €0.01 per share. the company 's shares have now been suspended. The shares were trading -7.49% at €0.805 at the time of suspension. Unions have threatened a wildcat strike if government chooses a partner without consulting them Deutsche Bank and corporate law firm Orrick have denied rumours that suggest they will act as advisors for the consortium led by Evergreen. Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi has highlighted there are no deadlines in the sale process of the government's stake. The FT reports that the government could be concerned that domestic hostility could lead Air France-KLM to withdraw its bid. Local press have it that Chairman Maurizio Prato could resign if there are further delays in the sale process of the government's stake in the company

MEDIOBANCA was down €0.23 to €14.88... Shareholders agree on stake sale - the company 's shareholder pact has approved the sale by UniCredit of a 7.37% stake in Mediobanca for €1.2 billion or €15.85/sh to seven investors that include Mediolanum, Sal Oppenheim, Benetton and Fininvest. Investor Romain Zaleski, who currently holds 2.2% in the company , reportedly said that it would be very difficult for him to take part in the company 's shareholder pact.

Netherlands

PHARMING was down €1.26 to €1.40... KBC downgrades as Rhucin EU backing fails - KBC Securities downgrades to reduce from accumulate and cuts target to €2.50 from EUR 3.50 as the company fails to win backing from Europe's drug regulator for its Rhucin product, a medicine for a rare blood disorder. the company plans to appeal against the decision. KBC says chances for approval are reasonable but the company had already had a lot of time to discuss the product with the EMEA as it was filed 18 months ago. Looks likely that Jerini's competing product will receive approval in first quarter08. the company 's sales may be lower due to fiercer competition.

TOMTOM was up €1.27 to €53.15... Report: Sells more than 10 million PNDs - Taiwanese IT paper Digitimes reports that the company will sell more than 10 million PNDs this year due to strong demand in fourth quarter. This would be in excess of the company 's expectations.

Nordic

SKANSKA was up SEK1.50 to SEK125.00... Sells stake in Brazil hydroelectric plant - the company agrees to sell its 50% stake in the Ponte de Pedra hydroelectric plant in Brazil. The company says equity sale price is SEK1 billion with capital gain of SEK550 million. Suez is the buyer. the company is developing a new office and media house in Stockholm for Modern Times Group. The company says investment amounts to SEK520 million.

Spain

COLONIAL Unchanged at €3.25... No decision made regarding Gecina - the company says it has made no decision regarding a potential merger with Gecina, but prelimiary talks have taken place. the company is reportedly in talks with Joaquin Rivero, chairman of Gecina, the French property group, about merging to create Europe's second largest real-estate group. the company has closed a deal with ING to sell a building in Madrid for €80 million, Expansion writes. Adds Hemisferio will buy a buidling in Barcelona for €55 million. The company says the company is undertaking these property sales to reduce debt.

United Kingdom

CENTRICA was up £0.07 to £3.71... pretax profit to be in line, sees higher tax rate - The company says market conditions have become more challenging in recent months as wholesale gas prices have risen. Adds this has altered the mix of the profits significantly, leaving underlying pre-tax results in line with expectations but with a slightly increased effective tax rate. The company says British Gas Residential has 16 million customer accounts.

NORTHERN ROCK was up £0.06 to £0.92... Virgin no longer preferred bidder Virgin Group was stripped of its preferred bidder status in the battle for the company after rival Olivant threatened to walk away unless it was put on an equal footing with Sir Richard Branson's company, The Times writes. The company says the company agreed to the measure at a meeting with representatives of the Treasury, the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority and the bidding consortium. In exchange, Olivant agreed to remain in the auction until at least mid-January.

NORTHERN FOODS was up £0.08 to £0.91... To buy back up to 5% of ordinary shrs - the company says to buy back up to 5% of its ordinary shares and will be financed from existing bank facilities. Adds that has continued to make steady progress across its businesses.


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