I have just got back from Royal Troon, where I spent a pleasant few days dodging the Tiger’s drives and supping gin and tonics on the 19th hole with my old mucker Peter Alliss.
Todd Hamilton, the unknown Yank who snatched the British Open from under our noses, certainly showed a lot of determination to win the play-off last Sunday and seems pretty solid performer. Which brings me to my chum Colin Busby, who has certainly shown a steady hand at the tiller at Kier (how’s that for a tortured link and a mixed metaphor?). What a shame, then, that Colin has decided
to pack it in – he will retire from the contracting and housebuilding group in November. He hit 60 last month and after a 35-year stint at the firm, including leading the 1992 employee buy-out, I think he deserves a spell of R&R in the Bahamas. Colin seems to be leaving the group in a healthy state – shares were up 9p to 679p earlier in the week, close to their year-high, just above the 700p mark.
Talking of solid performers I see that Amec, a long-time darling of the Square Mile that has lost some of its lustre in recent months, may be making a bit of a comeback. The firm has been hit by delays on some of the promised rebuilding work in Iraq but a positive trading statement late last month seems to have sparked some interest among share buyers. An investment vehicle, called Toscafund, run by a hedge fund manager Martin Hughes increased its stake in Amec by 3.4m shares to 28.7m. This did no harm to Amec’s stocks – they rose 32.75p to 293p at the start of the week.
Surely things can’t get worse at Montpellier? Buy, buy, buy
Hunch of the week
In fact, such activity sparked rumours of a £4 a share bid for the firm. Apparently this could come from across the pond by engineering giants such as Jacobs, which is buying consultant Babtie, and Fluor. A note from analyst Arbuthnot said on Wednesday: “… we doubt there is a player waiting in the wings with a bid that is near 50% higher than the recent trading level of 275p but we could be wrong.” Keeping its options open in case a bid does transpire?
A last word on one of the sector’s minnows, which has caught my eye recently, Wigmore Group. The firm had its shares suspended earlier in the summer but escaped after a last-minute injection of £2m. Despite this, the stock stands at a paltry 0.25p. Step in Guardian Capital Ventures, a fund that bought 50 million shares on Monday, giving it a 8.2% stake in the firm. Could this turn Wigmore’s fortunes around?