FTSE 100: 7364.56 ▼ -60.84 (-0.82%)
Shire (SHP) has jumped to the top of the FTSE 100 on reports Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical (4502.T) was moving closer to tabling a deal for its UK rival.
Shares in the pharmaceutical group jumped 2.8% to £36.90 after Reuters reported Takeda was sounding out major creditors to support a bid.
Japan's largest drugmaker said last month it was considering a bid for Shire, and has until 25 April to lodge an offer.
But Takeda is smaller than Shire, meaning any takeover is likely to require share issuance or additional debt. Shares in Takeda are down 10% since it announced it was considering a bid.
On the FTSE 250, shares in FirstGroup (FGP) jumped 6.6% to 108.5p after the transport operator rejected a takeover approach from US private equity firm Apollo Global Management (APO.N).
FirstGroup disclosed the offer, which it claimed 'fundamentally undervalues the company and is opportunistic in nature' after its shares jumped 7.4% to 101.8p yesterday.
Playtech (PTEC) was up 4.7% at 797.4p after the gambling technology company agreed to buy a 70% stake in Italian rival Snaitech (SNAI.MI) for €291 million (£253 million).
The FTSE 100 was flat at 7,257 amid fears over possible US action against Syria following its suspected chemical weapons attack.
'Fading fears of a full-blown trade war between the US and China have been a big positive for global stockmarkets, but equity investors are now taking money off the table ahead of possible air strikes against Syria,' said Lee Wild, head of equity strategy at Interactive Investor.
'Already at odds with Russia over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, the risk here is of serious escalation of hostilities in the Middle East if Donald Trump and the West provoke Syria's allies Russia and Iran.'
It wasn't only takeover bids and reports powering the big movers on the UK market.
Among 'mid-cap' stocks, Greene King (GNK) jumped 11.6% to 518.8p after the pub operator said annual pretax profit would be largely in line with forecasts, despite fears over the impact of cold weather in February and March.
Dunelm (DNLM) was up 10.6% at 579.5p after the retailer reported a 4.6% jump in third quarter sales.
Man Group (EMG) rose 7.4% to 188.6p after the hedge fund reported a 3% rise in assets in the first quarter.
Saga (SAGAG) was up 5.8% at 123.8p after the travel and insurance group for the over-50s lifted its full-year dividend to 9p.
Among 'small-cap' stocks Carpetright (CPRC) slumped 14.2% to 36p as the struggling retailer said it would seek creditor approval to close 92 stores.