July 31: Our newslist is led by HSBC’s first half results, which show sharply increased profits thanks to growth in the investment bank and in its emerging market businesses. They also include a 19 per cent rise in bad debts, confirming the impression left by last week’s figures from Alliance & Leicester, Northern Rock and Egg that charges against unsecured personal loans in the UK are rising.

We are expecting more news on Betonsports, with hearings scheduled in the US today. Thepokerblog is a good place to go for more online discussion about the case the regulation of online gambling in the US. There is more great discussion at Bettingmarket.com, which says: “there are some grounds for wondering whether the doomsday hysteria currently surrounding the Betonsports case, is indeed justified.”

Severn Trent shares are higher on takeover speculation despite the company denying a weekend press report that it had received a takeover approach from a private equity firm. I am just back from the well-watered golf courses and soaking wet peaks of Switzerland to read in none other than Ashfield Today that some Severn Trent customers had to endure the heat in Nottinghamshire without water for parts of last week.

Not everyone thought they would get this far, or that it was worth bothering, but Boots and Alliance Unichem have finally completed their merger. The new company, formed from what is really a takeover by Alliance, is called Alliance Boots. It published its first trading update today.

Oleg Deripaska is buying LDV, the British van maker bought out of administration by private equity firms at the end of last year. Vedomosti reported earlier this month that Deripaska was one of the backers of Rosneft’s IPO. Find out more about him in The Russian Journal, which calls him the Aluminium Pimpernel.

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