Gossips reckon the group is about to secure a deal to supply the US military with electronic equipment for Smart guided missiles. Colt Telecom improved 4.25p to 78p after Morgan Stanley upgraded its recommendation to “overweight” from “underweight”. The US broker applauded Wednesday’s second-quarter figures from the alternative telecom carrier and told clients to expect the group to be cash-flow positive by 2005 and profitable by 2006.JJB Sports was pushed 9p higher to 201.5p on talk of a bid for the sportswear retailer. If there is a bid for the group it will have to be at a substantial premium to the current share price in order to entice David Whelan, JJB’s chairman, to sell his 40 per cent stake. Last month he dropped his 220p-a-share management buyout offer as he struggled to get venture capital backing for the deal. Cairn Energy jumped 8p to 313p after announcing a drilling success at its GA-3 well offshore Gujarat, Western India.
The company said it had found 44 metres of gas bearing reservoir sands and more oil than it had expected. Following the news, Credit Suisse First Boston reiterated its “outperform” rating and 400p price target.Centurion Electronics, the in-car entertainment group, gained 4.5p to 65p as Steve Cunningham, the chairman, sold 1 million shares, or 4.7 per cent of the company, to institutional investors Mr Cunningham retains a 41 per cent holding in the group. Meanwhile, it was disclosed that HSBC Ventures, the initial venture capital founder of Centurion, had sold 945,000 shares, so reducing its holding to 11.4 per cent.Infast, the inventory management group, rose 2.75p to 36.75p as Williams de Broe was heard to have cleared a seller of 25 million shares from the market. A trading update is expected from the group in the near future and gossips reckon it will talk of improving conditions at Infast as the company moves into the second half of the year.Brokers continued to move their clients into JKX Oil & Gas, 4.75p higher at 36p, telling them to expect good news from the oil explorer’s operations in the Ukraine soon. JKX shares have more than doubled since the start of the year. Sanctuary gained 0.25p to 50.25p despite the sale of 200,000 shares at 50p each by James Driscoll, a non-executive director..
Wall Street and Washington draw battle lines over reform of US tort liability rules
The eyes of legal storms don’t come much more unlikely than this prosperous little town just across the Mississippi river from St Louis. But, for corporate America, the Madison County Courthouse on Edwardsville’s Main Street has become the symbol of everything it believes is wrong with America’s tort liability system – the class-action lawsuits and crippling ten-zero damage awards, the rich and powerful trial lawyers and the ever-rising cost of insurance.
A “judicial hellhole” is how Tom Donohue, the President of the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Tort Reform Association, describes the place – living proof of how “even courts in a small rural county can wreak havoc on companies”. Madison County has achieved this celebrity because of one simple fact – under US law, attorneys may pursue a multi-state class action wherever success seems most likely. For reasons rooted in its unhappy industrial past, Madison County is the anti-business plaintiff’s heaven.In proportion to population, more lawsuits are pending at the Edwardsville courthouse than in any other US jurisdiction: 43 on target for over 90 this year, led by a $10.1bn verdict against cigarette-maker Philip Morris, and a $250m asbestos damages award against US Steel.But now, to the delight of the corporations – and the alarm of Edwardsville’s bars and restaurants – all this may change.