(Adds comment, background)
LONDON, June 6 Shares in British utility
Centrica, owner of the UK's largest energy supplier
British Gas, outperformed blue-chip indexes across Europe on
Friday after a press report said it had attracted bid interest
from the Middle East.
Centrica declined to comment on the report in the Daily
Mail, which cited "gossip" that Qatari investors had approached
shareholders with an offer to buy "big lines of stock" prior to
launching a full-scale cash bid.
"We don't comment on market rumour and speculation," a
Centrica spokesman said.
Centrica's share price was up 1.5 percent, at 335.6 pence,
at 0730 GMT, one of the top gainers on the FTSE 100 index
and outperforming the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300
index, which was up 0.1 percent.
Traders cited the report as the reason for the move.
Centrica last month warned 2014 earnings would be lower than
expected and said it would put its three biggest gas-fired power
plants up for sale, the latest European utility to take a hit
from loss-making power stations and a mild winter.
The company's stock is down 3.5 percent year to date.
(Reporting by Lionel Laurent and Karolin Schaps in London;
Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson in Paris; Editing by
Sudip Kar-Gupta and Jane Merriman)