STOCKS TO WATCH: Will French billionaire Patrick Drahi hoover up BT shares as lock-out ends?
Telecoms watchers held their breath yesterday as Patrick Drahi’s six-month lock-out from attempting to buy BT lapsed.
The rumour mill among City bankers over the hard-nosed French billionaire’s intentions has been in overdrive, despite his public support for its management and strategy. It is thought a full-blown move to take over BT could be politically fraught, but is still a distinct possibility.
Another theory is that Drahi could quickly exert his influence through bagging more stock.
On the cards: The rumour mill among City bankers over Patrick Drahi’s intentions has been in overdrive
He initially broke cover with a 12.1 per cent stake, worth around £2billion, in June, borrowing shares to gain crucial voting rights without breaking City disclosure rules.
Word has it he has since been converting some of the borrowed shares into equity and could repeat his summer trick, stunning the board by swiping another large stake.
Deutsche Telekom also holds 12 per cent and could be the kingmaker if Drahi pursues an attempt to gain full control.
Could another ambush be in the works?
Hollywood bowled over by new Covid strain
The recent Covid resurgence appears to have bowled a gutter ball for bosses at Hollywood Bowl.
But the bowling alley operator is this week expected to post respectable annual figures, with profits around £10million.
Peel Hunt analyst Douglas Jack reckons it remains ‘positioned as one of the winners’ with new alley openings planned amid strong demand. Punchy.
EasyJet boss has pay package ‘frozen’
Last year, easyJet chief Johan Lundgren took a 20 per cent pay cut for three months while the airline’s planes were grounded.
The Mail on Sunday later revealed he had quietly hiked his pay back up in late summer despite the fact that the pandemic was still causing significant disruption.
Annual accounts show his package for 2021 has been ‘frozen’ at £794,000, up from £755,000 last year due to the pay cut.
There’s no bonus and the figure is short of his £1.5million bonanza in 2018, but shareholders feeling fed up over the share price rollercoaster might be thinking he should have taken another cut.
They’ve endured a £1.2billion rights issue and seen shares tumble nearly 20 per cent this year alone.
Valneva shares bounce back
Valneva chief Thomas Lingelbach might want to stick a picture of his share price chart on a Christmas card to Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
The Government last year invested in the French firm’s Livingston vaccine manufacturing plant, and signed up for 60 million of its Covid jabs.
Then in September, the contract was terminated when Javid claimed the vaccine was unlikely to get past UK regulators.
Lingelbach accused the Government of throwing the firm ‘under the bus.’ The Euronext-listed shares halved in value to €10.
However, the share price has sprung back, hitting €28 last month aided by a bumper deal with the EU.
Take that, Saj.