Today's market overview
■ Plumbers' merchant
, no longer drowning in a sea of debt, felt confident enough to ramp up its interim dividend by a third on the back of strong profits growth, though like-for-like sales growth has tapered off a tad in the last couple of months.
■ Following a very detailed pre-close trading update earlier in the month, the main full-year figures from copper mining giant
were widely known.
, the engineering support services company, continues to be one of the lucky companies benefiting from the financial crisis with full year expectations still on track.
■ Contract caterer
said the positive performance in the first quarter of its fiscal year continued into the second quarter.
■ Multi-metal mining titan
is thinking about offloading its diamond interests and has begun a strategic review of the business.
■ Privatised defence firm
has confirmed its pension fund will switch to the Consumer Price Index to determine future pension increases.
■ Online gambling outfit
came up trumps in 2011 on the back of a sharp increase in new accounts (IC COMMENT).
, an identity theft and credit card insurer, saw its shares plunge as trading in its shares resumed after a five-week gap (IC COMMENT).
, a water products company, has won a contract worth £1m for its Hydro-Sludge Screen product (IC COMMENT).
nearly doubled half yearly profit as it increased the number of homes sold at a higher average price after a particularly strong performance from its southern divisions (IC COMMENT).
, the Imperial Leather soap maker, has warned the impact of economic and social tensions in its largest market of Nigeria would be significant, resulting in overall performance being some way below expectations (IC COMMENT).
■ Insurance firm
says it could split its business into two to attract a buyer (IC COMMENT).
■ Indonesia-based coal miner
, which was formed in June last year, generated maiden revenues in 2011, helped by its 85 per cent stake in PT Berau (IC COMMENT).
■ The fires are burning at Paiton 3, a new 815 megawatt coal-fired power plant on Java Island in Indonesia, power generator
■ The UK's largest independent oil producer in the North Sea,
, saw pro-forma production rise by one-eighth in 2011 from the year before as it raced to cash in on soaring oil prices.
, a FTSE 100 mining company, has acquired a controlling interest in Optimum Coal Holding.
, the Africa-focused oil company, says full-year profits nearly tripled in 2011, and a 'significant' discovery has been made at its Okoro site, offshore Nigeria.
, the infrastructure investment firm, has been overwhelmed by demand for its shares and so has increased the size of its recently announced placing and open offer.
■ British tungsten miner Wolf Minerals has denied press speculation that it is to raise 50 million pounds from investors.
■ Information services group
has expanded its presence in Japan with the acquisition of an e-mail marketing company, Altovision.
■ Drug development firm
increased its losses during 2011 but managed to regain the rights to its most important compound.
■ Strong sales of new cars helped push revenues higher at luxury car retailer
during 2011, but the firm suffered in the second-hand market.
■ The Colombian spending spree of Latin America focused oil company
has continued, with the group snapping up a private company that controls two exploration and production blocks in the country.
Business press headlines:
The Government has discussed selling some of the taxpayer's holding in
Royal Bank of Scotland
to an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund as the authorities continue to look for ways to cut the state's stake in the lender. UK Financial Investments, which manages the state's 82 per cent stake in RBS, held talks recently with Abu Dhabi wealth funds, though a source said the discussions were not at an advanced stage and no sale was expected in the near future. At current market prices the holding is worth £13.5bn, well below the £45.5bn cost of the direct taxpayer bailout of the bank in late 2008 and early 2009, writes The Telegraph.
The break-up of the Eurozone would trigger a new credit crunch and hammer the British economy, the Treasury watchdog said yesterday. Steve Nickell, a member of the Office for Budget Responsibility, told the Treasury Select Committee that the crisis in the single currency posed a major threat to the UK. He also said that he looks at the odds offered by William Hill to gauge the probability of disasters to help with his forecasts - an admission that bemused MPs. Nickell said the bookmaker was 'a good indicator' of what people think - adding the chance of a Greek exit from the euro was 40 per cent. It came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Greece faces 'a long and arduous road' to recovery and said allowing it to quit the single currency would be 'a huge political mistake', The Daily Mail reports.
will close almost half the UK's 609 stores today, leaving 2,104 people without jobs, in the biggest collapse since Woolworths in 2008. The decision will also spark a temporary ban on all gift vouchers at the store, which sells PlayStation, Xbox and PC video games. Game - the struggling computer games retailer - was put into administration on Monday morning after failing to reach a rescue deal over the weekend. It will now close half the UK portfolio of shops - focusing its efforts on saving the remaining 333 UK stores for a possible deal over the next few weeks. Those 333 stores will continue to employ 2,814 people, until a buyer is found, The Telegraph reports.
Gas continued to leak from a North Sea well owned by French energy company Total on Monday night, more than a day after a "well control" problem saw the Elgin platform evacuated. Total was unable to say what volume of gas was leaking at the field but said it was "taking all possible measures to try to identify the source and cause of the leak and to bring it under control". The majority of the 238 crew on the platform, 149 miles east of Aberdeen, and the nearby Rowan Viking drilling rig were evacuated on Sunday after workers on a standby ship reportedly saw vapour clouds forming and gas bubbling on the surface of the water under the platform, according to The Telegraph.
Nat Rothschild will step down today as the co-chairman of
, the Indonesian coalminer he set up two years ago. The move, to be announced alongside full-year results, is intended to resolve a dispute between the financier and the company's biggest investors. Mr Rothschild, who owns almost 12 per cent of Bumi, will remain on the board as a non-executive director. The Bakrie family and Samin Tan, the Indonesian businessman, who together control a 29 per cent voting stake in Bumi, initially had wanted to remove Mr Rothschild from the board, along with several of his associates, in what some observers viewed as retaliation for his criticism of corporate governance at the company. They were talked into softening their demands by independent directors, says The Times.
Spanish bank Santander is closing 56 branches in Britain to remove overlap in its network after it bolted together three separate businesses, which left it with two branches side by side in some places. Santander's purchase of Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley during the 2008 financial crisis came four years after it bought Abbey National and left it with multiple branches in some towns. It is now closing sites on high streets where there is a clear overlap. The lender, which is preparing to spin off and float its British business next year, said the process should be completed by the end of this year and there will not be any job cuts, The Scotsman reports.