Share indices in the week to 4 April 2003
The City has no idea if the rumour is any truer than the story that William Shakespeare was a woman, but has responded with equal curiosity. Since the middle of last week, analysts have been hearing whispers that someone is in for Amec.

But they are finding the identity of the rumoured buyer as elusive as the answer to who was on the grassy knoll when JFK was shot. For one thing, they can’t see where Amec would fit – it would have little value for a British contractor and it’s difficult to see how a venture capitalist would make money out of an acquisition. So they have taken the sensible course of speculating wildly.

A US contractor perhaps? But the likes of Bechtel and Halliburton have surely got other things on their minds, such as prising Iraq contracts out of George Dubya. A utilities company might make more sense. But the unseemly mess that has followed AWG’s purchase of Morrison makes this a turn-off. Anyway, Amec can’t complain – its shares shot up 6.9% to 212.75p.

Less of a mystery were the 25.1% hike last week in the share price of Atkins and the 4.2% rise enjoyed by Balfour Beatty. They rose after the announcement that the Metronet consortium had finally closed its London Underground PPP deal.