This weeks sharewatch

Another week, and another takeover approach, this time with John Laing attracting a suitor. With the international spotlight firmly on the UK (see opposite page) and continued talk of consolidation at all levels of the industry, share prices are reaping the benefits.

Overall, the Construction and Building Materials Index rose 3.4% last week to 4104. As housebuilder Persimmon and contractor Carillion press ahead with their proposed takeovers of Westbury and Mowlem respectively, the City has turned its attention to the rest of the sector for signs of further consolidation.

Persimmon looks set to have won the race to be the first housebuilder to enter the FTSE 100, but further activity among rivals is expected.

A merger between Taylor Woodrow and Wimpey has been mooted in the City as a strong possibility in the future, as they could combine not only their UK work but also their – more successful of late –North American businesses. Neither company had a strong week last week, Taylor Woodrow rose less than 1% to 343p and Wimpey actually fell 6.4% to 422.5p.

Another tie-up often discussed in the City is a reverse takeover of housebuilder Wilson Bowden by Redrow, both of which fell last week a little more than 1%, to 1292p and 483p respectively.

Despite serious concerns within the industry about the well-publicised steep rise in gas prices affecting UK companies, shares in energy-intensive companies such as Baggeridge Brick and Hanson were not obviously affected last week. The former stayed flat at 147.5p, and Hanson rose 2.1% to 614p.

In the support services sector, eyes were on Jarvis as it announced a £61m loss in the six months to September. Shares in the company fell less than 1% last week to 94.75p. Richard Entwhistle, chief operating officer, was given 1 million share options when he was appointed in August. If the company’s share price rises to 108p by this time next year he could cash in about £80,000, rising to £160,000 and £240,000 in the subsequent two years, dependent on further share price rises.

Construction outperformed the All-Share Index, which rose 0.4% to 2793.