Egg boils on fresh bid speculation

Egg boils on fresh bid speculation

Shares in UK online bank Egg have leapt eight per cent amid renewed speculation about a fresh takeover bid.

Egg stock moved up 8.5 pence to 115.75 on gossip that a takeover bid had been lodged with parent Prudential. The company has yet to comment although French insurer Axa has been mentioned in City circles as a potential stalker.

Prudential pulled an auction of its 79% stake in Egg last year as suitors scaled back their bids in the face of mounting problems in the bank's loss-ridden French arm. Prudential's stock price has yet to recover from the punishment meted out by investors angry at boss Jonathan Bloomer's perceived mishandling of the process.

In the interim, Egg has disposed of its loss-making French operations and forecast full year profits for its UK business ahead of analyst expectations for £69 million. Any new bidder would be taking on a bank with a clean bill of health and at a substantial discount to last year's auction price. Shares in Egg remain well off the year high of 194 pence.

On Monday Egg unexpectedly anounced that founder and former chief executive Mike Harris would be stepping down from the company's board and his present role as executive vice chairman in May.

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