STOCKS TO WATCH: Predator circling Stagecoach trains group

STOCKS TO WATCH: Whispers are circulating that Stagecoach has caught the attention of private equity firm after National Express merger talks

Whispers are circulating that bus and rail group Stagecoach may have caught the attention of a private equity firm after starting £2billion merger talks with its larger rival National Express. 

Senior financiers said at least one buyout firm could be circling the Perth-based company with a view to making a £500million cash offer. 

Stagecoach was founded by Dame Ann Gloag and her brother Sir Brian Souter in 1976. 

In the driving seat: Senior financiers said at least one buyout firm could be circling Stagecoach with a view to making a £500million cash offer

They were selling some of their Stagecoach stock earlier this year, so may be willing to entertain a cash deal with a buyout firm. 

But the identity of the potential buyer is a mystery. Dealmakers tipped Brookfield, the Canadian investment group, because it studied an acquisition of Stagecoach in the past. 

Another obvious private equity predator is CVC Capital Partners. 

CVC was involved in a failed £700 million takeover approach for National Express in 2009. 

The irony of a successful CVC bid for Stagecoach would not be lost on City types with a few grey hairs.

Domino’s creeping up most-shorted list

Domino’s Pizza is creeping up the leaderboard of most-shorted companies on the London stock market. 

According to the ShortTracker website, 3.8 per cent of the company’s shares are on loan to hedge funds which are betting on the price falling. 

The short-sellers include Eleva Capital, Fosse Capital and Glenernie Capital. 

Perhaps they believe our appetite for pizzas at home will diminish if major Covid lockdowns are behind us.

Argo Blockchain a roaring success 

Argo Blockchain, the London-listed cryptocurrency miner, has been a roaring success. Its shares have risen nearly tenfold since it hit the stock market in 2018. 

Now one of its early backers, renowned small cap investor Adrian Beeston, is rumoured to be investing in another technology flotation – Lift Global Ventures. 

Lift, which is chaired by former City broker and financial commentator Zak Mir, is understood to be an investment company planning to buy financial media and technology businesses. 

Word is that Lift is preparing to list on the Aquis Exchange over the next few weeks. 

Other potential backers said to be getting involved in the Lift flotation include small cap lender Riverfort and other well-known City share dealers. 

Pensana shares rise 35% in last month

Pensana’s shares have been on a tear, rising 35 per cent in the last month. 

In part, the rise is due to talk that a US-based activist hedge fund has been building a sizeable shareholding in the rare earth metals firm, which supplies electric car makers. 

City gossips claim the fund has been building its stake through a vehicle called Pershing Nominees Limited, which now owns 15.9 per cent of Pensana. 

Quite what the unnamed investment firm plans for Pensana – which aims to develop Western Europe’s first £90million rare earth processing plant in Hull – remains to be seen. 

But it could be a timely investment if fresh detail about a loan to Pensana from the Government’s Automotive Transformation Fund is announced in the coming weeks.