Syndicates rise on takeover hopes

Lloyd's syndicates continued to benefit from speculation that there could be further takeover activity in the sector, with Hardy Underwriting thought to be the most likely target.

Such bid hopes have caused volumes to rise and the stock to trade at 266p. As Hardy has a market capitalisation of around £90m, dealers are optimistic it could be gobbled up.

Dealers recalled Hardy is no stranger to takeover talks, having rebuffed two indicative offers from Omega Underwriting in July 2005.

Traders have also zoomed in on Kiln, although with a value of some £300m, it would be much more difficult to digest.

As Insurance Times went to press, Kiln shares were trading at 104p.

In the broking sector, Jardine Lloyd Thompson was the biggest FTSE 250 faller on Monday, unsettled by a note from Merrill Lynch.

Its shares fell to 400p after the investment bank downgraded the shares from 'neutral' to 'sell', saying the share price, which has risen 8% in the past six months, has outperformed the UK insurance sector by 7%.

Also this wek AIM-listed Aquilo issued a statement that further offers have been made to the company which may lead to "the whole company or certain subsidiaries" being sold. IT

Yvette Essen is stock market reporter for the Daily Telegraph