FRIDAY MARKET CLOSE: Shire climbs as investors call for deal

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Takeover target Shire leapt to the top of the FTSE 100 as reports emerged that leading shareholders were urging it to accept a £30 billion offer.

Shares in the drug maker climbed almost 6 per cent as management continued to mull the offer from US rival AbbVie, worth more than £51 a share.

It closed 270p higher at 4,870p on a day that the wider market finally stabilised after four days of falls that took more than 200 points off the FTSE 100 Index.

Referring to the Portuguese bank that caused markets to wobble on Thursday, market analyst Chris Beauchamp of IG said: “After the panic comes the calm, and investors find themselves in a much more reflective mood about the outlook for Portugal than they were 24 hours ago, reassured that Espirito Santo is not about to emulate Samson and pull the eurozone edifice down with it.”

The Footsie was 17.8 points higher at 6,690.17. Another big riser in the top flight was Imperial Tobacco after the maker of Lambert & Butler and JPS cigarettes said it was looking to boost its presence in the United States by buying assets from two of the country’s biggest players, Reynolds and Lorillard.

The Bristol-based company is in talks with the two firms about buying some brands that they may wish to sell in order to secure regulatory clearance for their merger deal. The stock jumped 3 per cent or 81p to 2,740p.

Friends Life was also proving popular after announcing it is to sell Luxembourg-based wealth manager Lombard to funds managed by investment firm Blackstone in a deal worth up to £356 million.

Friends, which gained the business through the purchase of Friends Provident in 2009, plans to use £261m of the proceeds for a share buy-back. The stock was 5.4p higher at 325.6p.

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