London speculators were betting on the Amvescap shares late last week in response to rumors that the fund firm may be on the receiving end of an offer from Janus Capital Corp. The rumors pushed up Amvescap's share price on both Thursday and Friday.
The rumors were reported in a number of British papers, including the Financial Times
and the Guardian
The rumors appear to have been sparked by a sequence of events, including the sudden resignation of a Janus director last week and the hiring of a former Janus executive by Amvescap.
Amvescap was subject to a hostile takeover attempt by Canada's CI Financial last August. The offer was rebuffed by Amvescap's board and CI later sold its shares.
More recently, Amvescap hired former Janus CFO Loren Starr as its CFO on October 4. That move created a connection between the two fund firms that may be helping to lend credibility to the otherwise unsubstantiated rumors.
Finally, last week Janus independent director Robert N. Burt resigned suddenly, explaining only that he felt strongly that the "strategic option we are pursuing" isn't in the best interest of company shareholders. He did not provide details of the strategic option, but some wonder if it involves a significant purchase or sale of assets.
Still, there have been no reports of either firm hiring investment bankers to help negotiate a deal.
Another event unrelated to a takeover, may also have helped push Amvescap last week. On Friday, UBS issued an analyst report that raised Amvescap's outlook to "buy" based on stronger management and declining outflows. UBS put a target of 430p on the London-traded shares. The shares touched 400p on Friday and closed at 393p.
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