Vodafone AirTouch, the global mobile phone giant, saw its share price falter last week. It retreated to its lowest level in at least three weeks. The decline in Vodafone’s stock price had a direct knock-on effect on the FTSE 100 index. The index of leading UK companies came under sustained pressure last week as it struggled to hold on to its recent gains. Investors remain cautious about the direction of interest rates on both sides of the Atlantic. The telecoms sector has not been red hot with investors in recent weeks. The exit of some high-profile names such as Baltimore Technologies, Kingston Communications, Thus Telecom and Psion from the UK top index seems to have diluted investor optimism, at least in the short term. Also, the relative calm in the sector largely explains the somewhat dull markets with low volumes of transactions.
BT deals promise hot stuff in the telecoms sector
BT’s proposal to set the sector alight involves making various strategic acquisitions. Last week, the company announced that it intends to buy media companies as part of its strategy to build strong broadband Internet business. The company has hinted that it is even prepared to hatch a deal to rival the one struck a few months ago between America Online and Time Warner. It has also emerged that BT could even consider seeking an Initial Public Offering for Openworld, its broadband Internet subsidiary. BT is reported to be actively contemplating media targets, which it can then use to provide content for its Internet operations. BT has its fingers in so many pies but appears unable to harvest value from its vast empire. Many market analysts are frustrated that shareholders have been denied access to all the nectar and blame the company’s poor performance on the stock markets on the management.
Cross-Channel ad rivals announce $1.89bn collaboration
Saatchi & Saatchi, the UK advertising company, and Publicis, its French rival, announced that they were tying the knot with a $1.89bn agreed deal. The all-paper transaction puts the combined company in fifth position in world rankings. But as if that was not enough, both companies are now in talks with Cordiant about possible merger. If the talks are successful, all three companies will be able to amalgamate their subsidiary businesses. Saatchi & Saatchi and Cordiant own Zenith Media between them while Publicis is parent to Optimedia.
Business-to-business provider admits loss of £2m
Just2Clicks, the UK business-to-business (B2B) provider of Internet platforms, which floated on the London stock markets in February raising £50m, said last week that it made a loss of nearly £2m for the trading period to the end of March. The company also urged new entrants to join its business sector so that e-commerce, particularly B2B, can develop at least in the UK. Just2Clicks, whose stock price has massively underperformed the market so far, was resilient last week despite the news of the trading loss.