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Market Watch

FINANCE

SHARES in Montpellier barrelled up a third after the AIM-listed construction conglomerate grossed a healthy £42 million from the disposal of subsidiary Bullock.

The sum secured from the sale of the social housing contracting outfit to its management was ahead of many expectations and lifted Montpellier's shares to their highest price for nearly six months.

The price valued Bullock at £23 million and, minus debts, left Montpellier with £22 million in cash, which will partly help provide bonding facilities for other subsidiaries on future contract bids.

Elsewhere among the contractors, Costain was down 0.5p at the week's close at 49.25p but trading was heavy, with more than 44 million shares shifting portfolios.

These volumes were a result of improved liquidity provided by shareholder Raymond selling up and investors appreciating improvements made by the outgoing chief executive, Stuart Doughty.

There was also heavy trading in Amec, which wants the Square Mile to forget its contracting roots. That strategy is partly because contractors get hit by provisions on bad jobs ? Amec was bushwhacked by just that problem in the first half of this year and the stock sank.

Traders had bought Aggreko early last week, expecting the temporary power hirer to gain in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's devastating landfall in Louisiana and the surrounding US states.

Brokers Panmure then reminded the market that only 3 per cent of Aggreko's sales stem from storm activity in an abnormal year. This reined in earlier gains and the stock closed up 10.25p at 218.5p.