Market overview: 12 December

Pearson, the owner of the Financial Times and Penguin books, is to sell its 50 per cent stake in FTSE International Limited to the London Stock Exchange.

■ Building materials supplier Ensor posted a 31 per cent rise in half year operating profit, upped its dividend payment 57 per cent but said while the second half has started well, it remains cautious about future trading as economic turmoil in Europe continues.

Exillon Energy, the British oil company with assets in two parts of Russia, has seen production rise between October and November.

■ In a much awaited report published this morning, the Financial Services Authority concludes that there were seven factors which, when combined, led to the near-collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). One such factor was the bank's poor management decisions.

■ Wireless technology and computer chip company CSR is getting out of the digital television system-on-a-chip (DTV SoC) business to focus on areas where it has a larger market presence.

■ East London property investor O Twelve Estates narrowed half year losses and said it is confident of withstanding the continuing uncertain economic environment despite its ongoing debt challenges.

■ The chairman of struggling Grimsby-based company Cosalt has sent a letter to shareholders urging them to sell their shares to him, as time is running out for the company.

Afferro Mining, the west Africa focused iron ore company, is to sell its 38.5 per cent stake in the Putu iron ore project in Liberia.

Central Rand Gold shares have soared 60 per cent to 0.66p after the South African Ministry for Mineral Resources took the decision not to oppose an application by its subsidiary Ferreira Estate to set aside the previously announced decision to cancel the mining right.

■ Shares of Forbidden Technologies surged over 90 per cent on Monday after it announced that it has licensed its FORscene Cloud editing platform to YouTube.

Plant Health Care, a producer of "naturally derived" agricultural products, says tests of its harpin seed treatment "delivers added yield over and above traditional insecticide/fungicide seed treatment combinations."

■ Kazakhstan-focused miner, Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC), is said to be examining allegations of corruption at a Kazakh iron ore subsidiary but denied on Sunday that it was the subject of a formal investigation by Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Reuters reports.

■ Identity theft and credit card insurer CPP saw its shares tumble after admitting that the suspension of Identity Protection sales in the group's UK voice channels is continuing to have a material impact on the group's ability to sell its full range of products in the UK.

■ Oil and gas firm Gulfsands Petroleum has been hit by new EU sanctions in Syria, where the firm operates, which have prevented the group from engaging in activities, including funding activities, connected with its Block 26 fields, until further notice.

■ Following demand from its shareholders for more information, Xcite Energy has given an update on the development of the Bently field, about which the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has had concerns.


Business press headlines courtesy of Weekend City Press Review:

Cameron cold shoulders Europe

David Cameron's decision to veto a new European treaty aimed at protecting the eurozone has left him 'defiant but isolated'. Cameron refused to support the proposed inter-governmental treaty because it did not contain a series of safeguards for the City, including allowing the UK to set higher capital ratios for London banks than elsewhere in the EU. In a front-page comment, John Authers says traders do not think the summit will have done enough to prevent further attacks before Christmas on sovereign debts held by smaller eurozone members. In its lead editorial, the FT urges the Prime Minister to find ways to restore the UK's influence over the single market.[Financial Times pp.1, 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, 15, 20]

Fraud Office steps in at embattled mining giant

The Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into corruption allegations at Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, the FTSE 100 mining company based in Kazakhstan. ENRC and its advisers were summoned to a meeting at the SFO recently and were told about official concerns, including alleged missing funds.[Sunday Times pp.3.1, 3.8]

Germans plot air traffic swoop

Germany's state-owned air traffic service Deutsche Flugsicherung is seeking to acquire the UK government's £500m stake in National Air Traffic Services. The move could be the catalyst for a radical shake-up of European air traffic control, although the Germans would face strong competition for Nats.[Sunday Times p.3.1]

France faces loss of top credit rating

Speculation is growing that Standard & Poor's may downgrade France's AAA credit rating this week following the European Central Bank's decision not to shore up eurozone bond markets. The move could develop as both the UK and European governments seek to come to terms with the fallout from the summit crisis and the UK's veto of a new treaty.[Sunday Times pp.3.1, 1.1, 1.23]

New bidder chases £1.4bn gold miner

Canada's Centerra Gold has joined the bidding for £1.4bn European Goldfields, already the subject of an approach from Eldorado, another Canadian group. European Goldfields became a target in the summer after the Greek government gave approval for it to mine gold deposits in north-east Greece.[Sunday Times p.3.2]

Buyout firm takes aim at Mothercare

Cinven is considering a break-up bid for troubled Mothercare, jettisoning the UK operations to focus on the better-performing overseas business. Cath Kidston chairman Paul Mason is favourite to spearhead the project if it goes ahead.[Sunday Times p.3.3]

RBS report will lead to tighter bank rules

The Financial Services Authority's report into the near-collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland will add to pressure for more oversight and accountability of the Bank of England ahead of a future crisis. Meanwhile, it is claimed that RBS failed to give the markets an accurate picture of its exposure to sub-prime loans before the credit crunch developed.[Sunday Telegraph p.B1]

Backing for Horta-Osorio to resume at Lloyds

UK Financial Investments is supporting the return of Lloyds Banking Group CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio after his sick leave. The decision all but guarantees Horta-Osorio's return as UKFI controls the Treasury's 41 per cent stake in the bank.[Sunday Telegraph p.B1]

Eurozone banks to gain from City pay disclosure

The government's move to exclude eurozone banks from new executive pay disclosure rules risks creating an 'unlevel playing field', according to Bob Wigley, Merrill Lynch's former European chairman. No EU regulator has gone as far as the UK in demanding greater transparency over pay from the top banks.[Sunday Telegraph pp.B3, B6-B7]

Battersea Power Station hits buffers

The troubled Battersea Power Station development is set to be put into administration this week, with Ernst & Young appointed as administrator. The move is being taken by Brendan McDonough, head of Ireland's National Asset Management Agency, and Lloyds Banking Group who are together owed debts of £324m.[Sunday Telegraph pp.B3, B9]

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