AGORACOM Founder, George Tsiolis and Chief Market Commentator, Allan Barry Go Via Satellite to discuss and debate Allan’s Best picks this week. Companies Included on this week’s show are:
In the papers: William Hill tipped for cash call after Playtech deal
Deal of the day: A hefty contract with the US Government spurred Instem 29.7% higher to 126p. Its software will be used by the US National Institute of Health to help to manage studies across America, looking into such areas as the effects of carcinogens on the public health. The deal is potentially worth US$7.6 million over a decade.
Gilts: UK government bonds drifted lower as investors continued to draw courage from signals by central bankers across the world that huge stimulus spending measures have a way to run yet. The June gilt future settled 12 ticks lower at 116.69. In the cash market, the yield on ten-year gilts edged less than one basis point higher to 1.96%.
Bankers face bonus cap in Brussels swipe at City: Brussels is to curb bankers’ bonuses from next year in a major blow to the City and the Government. Britain was the only EU member to oppose the plan, supported enthusiastically by France, which is likely to give a competitive edge to New York and Hong Kong over the Square Mile.
Groupon ditches Andrew Mason after a setback too far: Just 24 hours after he boasted that customers loved Groupon’s daily discount coupons, the company’s founder has been forced out by his board. Andrew Mason’s departure came at the end of a day in which nearly a quarter of the company’s value had been written off.
William Hill pays out £425 million and everyone’s a winner: William Hill is being tipped to announce an equity issue after agreeing terms to buy out its online gambling partner in a £425 million deal. The agreement with Playtech, which owns nearly a third of William Hill Online, comes as Britain’s biggest bookmaker is poised to complete a £490 million takeover of Sportingbet in tandem with GVC Holdings.
Energy bills to rise until 2021: Household energy bills are set to rise over the next decade after National Grid approved Ofgem’s revised £38 billion programme to connect wind farms and power stations to the electricity grid and to replace old gas pipes.
Inquiry into Heinz trading is extended: An inquiry into alleged insider trading before Warren Buffett’s US$28 billion bid for H J Heinz has widened to include London as regulators have uncovered further suspicious activity surrounding the offer.
Kazakhmys founder Vladimir Kim ready to give up chairman’s role: The billionaire Founder of Kazakhmys is standing down as chairman to make way for a former boss of the London Metal Exchange. Vladimir Kim, who led the copper miner through its London flotation in 2005 and still owns a 28% stake, will be replaced by Simon Heale, who is already on the board as a Non-Executive Director.
New finance chief for Rio as big mining shuffle goes on: The changing of the guard continued in the FTSE 100 mining industry as Rio Tinto appointed Chris Lynch, a former finance head at BHP Billiton, as its chief financial officer.
Direct Line braces for Esure challenge: Direct Line has stepped up to the challenge from a listed Esure by warning that there was no room for complacency. The company, which was spun out of Royal Bank of Scotland last year, admitted that the motor-insurance industry was likely to become even more competitive this year but said it expected to remain the market leader.
£50 million rights issue for Severfield-Rowen: Severfield-Rowen, the UK’s biggest structural steelwork company, has unveiled a rights issue to raise nearly £50 million to help give it more breathing space from its lenders, following a very difficult 2012.
Slide in Asia and Australia slows Hays: A slump in Asia’s job market and lower recruitment in Australia as mining projects were put on hold sent Hays pretax profit down 6% to £56.7 million in the last six months of 2012.
O2 boss credits wi-fi and loyalty scheme for customer surge: Britain’s second-biggest mobile network, O2, claimed to have regained the initiative in the battle of the phone giants as it won more customers than rivals EE and Vodafone in the last three months of 2012.
Public sector boost for Capita’s profits: A series of public-service contract wins helped the outsourcing giant Capita increase its profits last year. Pretax profits rose 10% to £425.6 million as it extended a £30 million-a-year tie-up with the Government to help train civil servants.
The Daily Telegraph
Jaguar Land Rover urges Government to invest to fuel growth: Jaguar Land Rover has urged ministers to put investment in innovation at the heart of Government policy if it is to successfully rebalance the economy and boost economic growth.
BP Gulf probe did not address impact of cost concerns: BP's investigation of its disastrous 2010 Gulf of Mexico blowout did not address the impact of cost overruns on the well, a BP executive said on Thursday, in the final day of testimony this week in the massive civil trial over the spill.
Lloyds Banking Group chief promises to lend £5 billion to small business as mis-selling bill rises to £6.7 billion: The head of Lloyds Banking Group has promised to lend at least £5 billion to its one million small business customers this year as part of a pledge to give them all the support they need.
The Questor Column:
RBS Boss admits chastening year as losses breach £5 billion: Royal Bank of Scotland declared on Thursday it was on track for a partial privatisation next year but sparked a fresh row over bonuses at the scandal-hit institution. The bank posted an annual loss of more than £5 billion and Stephen Hester, its chief executive, admitted 2012 had been a chastening year after its £390 million Libor rigging fine.
UK to fight EU plan to cap bankers’ bonuses: Britain is to challenge an EU agreement to slash bankers' bonuses at a meeting of European finance ministers next week after Boris Johnson condemned the proposal as a deluded measure.
IAG defends BA-Iberia merger as Spanish airline falls to near €1 billion loss: International Airlines Group has said it is too early to judge the British Airways-Iberia merger after its strike-hit Spanish unit pushed the wider business to a near €1 billion (£863 million) loss with a write-down that all but wiped out BA's profits.
Shale gas lobbyist urges UK companies to publicly disclose use of all chemicals: Revamped UK Onshore Operators Group says voluntary guidelines will help industry show it can access shale in an environmentally sensitive but also economic way.
British American Tobacco light upon electronic cigarettes, claiming they are healthier than regular products: British American Tobacco, the maker of Lucky Strike cigarettes, is pouring funds into new electronic cigarettes, known as e-lights, as it seeks to diversify.
Reed plans for £300 million buyback as profits soar thanks to strong financial position: Publishing and events group Reed Elsevier promised to hand back another £300 million to shareholders this year after profits jumped 25%.
Willie Walsh sticks to flight path for airline group: Airline Boss Willie Walsh defended the merger of British Airways and Iberia despite losses at the Spanish carrier which dragged the enlarged International Airlines Group into the red.
National Express hit by cut in OAPs subsidy: The transport group said it had been unable to overcome the decline in passenger numbers following the Government decision last year to scrap half-price fares for the over-sixties and the disabled. It resulted in its UK annual coach profits slumping by £14 million to £20.6 million on revenues down 2% to £255.1 million.
Republic jobs saved by Sports Direct buy-out: Leisure goods chain Sports Direct saved more than 2,000 jobs after it bought fashion chain Republic out of administration. Founded by Newcastle United Owner Mike Ashley, Sports Direct said it had bought 116 Republic stores, the failed retailer's Leeds head office, all of its stock, its website and own brands such as Soul Cal, Fabric and Crafted for an undisclosed sum.
The Scottish Herald
Faroe agrees to buy stake in Lowlander: Faroe Petroleum is set to increase its exposure to the UK North Sea and Norway after agreeing to acquire stakes in two assets.
Diageo poised to seal stake in United Spirits: Diageo took a major step towards acquiring a 53.4% stake in United Spirits, part of the Indian-based business behind Glasgow distiller Whyte & Mackay, after the deal won the approval of the Indian competition regulator.
RBS plans to float branches on stock market: Royal Bank of Scotland boss Stephen Hester admitted the bank was struggling to sell a batch of branches and is preparing to float them on the stock market. The bank disclosed the move alongside another huge annual loss and a raft of plans including the partial-float of its Citizens bank in the US and further shrinkage of the investment banking operations, mainly in London and overseas.
Shareholders poised for maiden Direct Line dividend: Direct Line, which was spun out from Royal Bank of Scotland last year, is to pay shareholders a maiden dividend of 8p per share after reporting better-than-expected profits for 2012. Chief executive Paul Geddes said the group was also on track to trim £100 million off its annual running costs by next year, having announced about 1,100 job cuts since September.
Ex-BP Boss Hayward in new foray: Former BP Boss Tony Hayward is set to make a return to offshore oil drilling in 2013, the first time Hayward has returned to the waters since leaving BP after the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
Bankia collapses to record loss: Rescued Spanish lender Bankia posted the countrys biggest ever corporate loss of €19.2 billion (£16.5 billion), driven by huge write-downs on bad property assets.
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