Legal &General buyout talk continues to dominate FTSE

TALK that blue chip insurer <strong>Legal &amp; General </strong>is to be a target for Clive Cowdery&rsquo;s <strong>Resolution </strong>buyout vehicle continued yesterday.<br /><br />Traders were saying that L&amp;Ghas already been approached by Cowdery, despite the fact his buyout vehicle is currently in a closed period ahead of its merger with rival insurer Friends Provident.<br /><br />But City A.M. has been steered away from Resolution as the mystery buyer, and understands no such contact has taken place.<br /><br />The most likely candidate remains <strong>National Australian Bank</strong>, which already has a trading relationship with L&amp;G, experts were saying last night.<br /><br />Traders decided to sit tight, with L&amp;G shares registering a 0.2per cent gain to 87.95p by the market close.<br /><br />The FTSE100 closed 1.7 per cent lower yesterday, the lowest closing level in more than two weeks, pressured by losses in mining stocks and banks while BAE Systems fell on prosecution fears.<br /><br />The blue-chip index closed 86.09 points lower at 5,047.81, mirroring early falls on Wall Street as data showed the US manufacturing sector grew at a slower pace than expected in September.<br /><br />Lonmin led the miners lower, down 8 per cent, weighed down by a Deutsche Bank downgrade to &ldquo;sell&rdquo; from &ldquo;hold&rdquo;. Antofagasta, Anglo American, Fresnillo and Eurasian Natural Resources lost 3 to 5.4 per cent as metals prices fell across the board.<br /><br />&ldquo;The momentum seems to have slowed down as investors feel the stock market recovery is outpacing real economic recovery... many traders see the FTSE ending the year around these levels,&rdquo; said Arifa Sheikh-Usmani, equity trader at Spreadex.<br /><br />Banks were among the biggest decliners, with <strong>Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland</strong> and <strong>Standard Chartered</strong> shedding 1.8 to 4.5 per cent.<br /><br />Among the fallers on the FTSE was <strong>BAE Systems</strong>, which lost 4.4 per cent as the Serious Fraud Office said it intended to seek the Attorney General&rsquo;s consent to prosecute the firm.<br /><br />Property firm <strong>Segro</strong> slid 5.5 per cent after Goldman Sachs changed its stance on the company to &ldquo;sell&rdquo; from &ldquo;neutral&rdquo; to reflect the impact of incorporating its takeover of Brixton.<br /><br /><strong>London Stock Exchange</strong> fell 0.5 per cent as the firm said it had entered merger talks with trading platform <strong>Turquoise Trading</strong>.