When you own 170 stocks worth $100,000, your eyes begin to glaze over in a market meltdown. Everything is down across the board, but some of the most interesting situations are for companies in the middle of takeovers or capital raisings.

The Coles board will be most unhappy by the Chinese wobble as its prospects of fetching more than $15.25-a-share from the private equity barbarians are diminished as the stock fell 19c to $15.43 this morning. Similarly, Qantas shares are only 3c weaker at $5.16, although its putative 35% shareholder, Allco Equity Partners, has lost 17c to $4.01.

Other takeovers hang in the balance. Would Lazard have skittled the Flight Centre privatisation yesterday had it known the market was about to take a heavy tumble. Pacific Equity Partners and the Flight Centre founders were offering $17.20 a share, but the stock is today suspended pending an announcement. Maybe Lazard will accept that for its 12.5% stake after all, because if the deal falls over the stock will probably return at about $16.

Fund manager Perpetual will be having similar thoughts about whether it trashes the $6.10 privatisation offer for APN News & Media, as has been threatened in recent weeks.

Companies like Worley-Parsons must be thankful they got away a recent $400 million-plus placement at $28 a share, because today it hit a low of $26.85 before bouncing back to $27.98 by 12.15pm.

Even bigger was AGL’s $900 million placement last week at $16.60. AGL shares slumped 45c to $16.25 this morning so its forthcoming share purchase plan for retail investors is unlikely to be well supported.

Babcock & Brown Infrastructure is another stock that’s been suspended today as it tries to bed down a $325 million placement.

QBE Insurance was luckier as it today announced it had completed a $406 million placement yesterday at a hefty $32.48 a share. I picked up 17 shares at $31.70 this morning and the stock was down $1.27 at $32.35 by 12.20pm.

Rapidly growing fund manager and developer MFS has been riding the property bubble with its ears pinned back but its shares are suspended this morning as it tries to complete a capital raising. It all comes down to the timing.

Peter Fray

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