The 65bn dollar (42bn pound) mega-merger between commodities giant Glencore and miner Xstrata was close to collapse last night after Qatar's sovereign wealth fund said it was unhappy with the deal. In a shock announcement, Qatar Holdings, Xstrata's second-biggest shareholder with 10.4 per cent, said that, while it saw "merit in a combination of the two companies, it is seeking improved merger terms". Qatar was widely thought to be ready to back a deal that had already drawn opposition from investors including Standard Life, Schroders and Fidelity. But Qatar's statement sounds the death-knell for the merger as it currently stands. Ivan Glasenberg, the Glencore chief executive who has worked on the merger for three years, was last night in frantic talks with advisers over the company's next move according to The Telegraph.
A British company exploring for oil off the Falkland Islands has enlisted some heavyweight European muscle to share in its venture amid escalating tensions with Argentina over sovereignty. Falkland Oil and Gas has sold stakes in its exploration licences to Edison, an Italian company that is owned by EDF Energy, the huge French state-backed company. Edison becomes the largest oil company to date to take part in the Falklands oil rush, which has been led by small independent enterprises. The move shows that the islands are starting to attract the attentions of larger players, analysts said, writes The Times.
BP's safety record is under the spotlight again after a worker was killed and two were injured in an explosion at a gas pipeline facility in Colorado. The oil giant said that it would co-operate with federal, state and local investigations into Monday's accident. The pipeline, in the San Juan gas basin, has been closed and BP has not given any indication of when it will resume operations. The accident comes two years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which resulted in the death of 11 rig workers and the biggest oil spill in US history. The disaster cost the chief executive then, Tony Hayward, his job. He had promised to "focus like a laser" on safety. In 2005, 15 workers were killed in a fire at BP's Texas City refinery, The Times reports.
The computer glitch at the Royal Bank of Scotland which left millions of customers unable to access their accounts could have been caused by just one junior technician in India, it was suggested last night. The "inexperienced operative" accidentally wiped information during a routine software upgrade, it has been claimed. The member of staff, who was working on the programme for the Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank, is believed to have been based in Hyderabad, India. According to technology website The Register, at least some of the team responsible for the error were recruited in India following redundancies in the department in the UK, The Telegraph
A US judge has ordered Samsung to stop selling its Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer while the court considers Apple's patent infringement claims. US District Judge Lucy Koh said Apple's lawsuit appears likely to succeed. Samsung's Galaxy tablets, powered by Google's Android operating system, are considered by many industry experts to be the main rival to the market-leading iPad. The ruling also comes as Samsung, a distant second to Apple in the tablet market, faces growing competition from rivals, with Microsoft and Google preparing their own tablets. Koh had previously denied Apple's bid for an injunction on the tablet and multiple Galaxy smartphones. However, a federal appeals court instructed Koh to reconsider Apple's request on the tablet, The Telegraph reports.
Families faced the biggest squeeze on household incomes last year since the 1930s, with high inflation, slow wage growth and a weak economy hitting middle-income earners the hardest, official figures revealed. The middle fifth of households saw disposable incomes drop by £1,100 to £24,400 in the year to April, quadruple the average fall of £200 to £30,300 across all households, the report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed. The figures, which track family incomes after tax and benefits, showed that the poorest members of society have borne the brunt of tax and duty rises under Chancellor George Osborne's austerity measures, The Telegraph says TESCO Bank has signed up insurance giant Aviva to provide its customers with life protection products as it confirmed it was entering the final stages of launching mortgages.
The agreement with Britain's biggest insurer was signed for a five year period and will begin later this year. Tesco will sell a range of Aviva protection products, including life insurance and critical illness cover. These will be available on Tesco Bank's website or over the telephone and customers will also be able to obtain information through some of the supermarket group's 2,900 stores. The bank said the deal expands Tesco's existing relationship with Aviva, which already provides a private medical insurance scheme for Tesco employees. The deal has seen the supermarket-owned bank transfer the management of life products from its current provider Friends Life, The Scotsman says.
The Bank of Japan has held off on new monetary easing, according to the Financial Times, "judging that the huge stimulus unveiled in April will be enough to spur price gains in the world's third-largest economy". The central bank said that Japan has "started picked up". [Wed 06:51]
An improved outlook from the Bank of England (BoE) lifted UK markets into the blue by Wednesday lunchtime as investors shrugged off disappointing growth figures from the Eurozone and rising unemployment at home. [15 May '13]
Worse-than-expected growth figures from Eurozone powerhouses Germany and France dampened market sentiment in London on Wednesday morning, as stocks pulled back after hitting fresh multiyear highs the day before. [15 May '13]
BP, Shell and a number of other oil majors are under investigation by European regulators into whether they rigged the price of oil for over a decade, writes The Telegraph. Authorities raided offices of the companies yesterday after MPs and officials suggested that the oil price could be vulnerable to being manipulated in the same way as LIBOR was rigged by the banks. [15 May '13]
A disappointing reading of business activity in the States sparked a late sell-off on UK financial markets on Tuesday afternoon as traders turned nervous ahead some key risk events later this week. [30 Apr '13]
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