Pilkington Finance Chief Says It Isn't in Bid Talks

Pilkington Plc's finance chief said the U.K. glassmaker isn't in takeover talks after the stock rose 18 percent following speculation that a Japanese company may be considering a bid. ``We're not in discussions with anyone,'' Finance Director Iain Lough said in a telephone interview. ``We're watching the stock like everybody else.

It's market speculation.''

Shares of St. Helens, northwest England-based Pilkington, the world's No. 1 maker of car windshields, rose as much as 21 pence to 138.75 pence. They closed at 125.5 pence, a 6.6 percent gain, for a market value of 1.61 billion pounds ($3 billion).

Bid speculation concerns Nippon Steel Corp. or Nippon Sheet Glass Co. Ltd. said Frederic Boissel, a trader at Global Equities in Paris. He said an approach ``seems plausible.'' Nippon Glass already owns 20.6 percent of Pilkington and may increase its stake, Credit Suisse First Boston analysts said in a Jan. 6 note.

``Rumors about a bid for Pilkington have been doing the rounds for years, but they're certainly increasing at the moment,'' said Rachael Waring, an analyst at Numis Securities in Liverpool with a ``reduce'' rating on the stock.

Pilkington's net income surged 31 percent to 51 million pounds in the six months through September after it reduced costs, cut debt and paid less in one-time charges. Shares of the company have advanced 38 percent in the past six months.

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