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What a Friday. News everywhere. Hector Sants has been chosen as the next chief executive of the FSA, succeeding John Tiner. The ex-CSFB and DLJ banker has been pretty popular in the wholesale markets he has been responsible for at the FSA and has exercised his powers with a very light touch. However, the reaction to his appointment from the retail market, where he is virtually unknown, may be quite sceptical. Also, were there any serious external candidates? We haven’t heard any names. Irritatingly, the FSA press office says Sants is not available today (apparently he can’t interrupt his holiday). How absurd is that? There’s also no word yet on who succeeds him.
Sants’s memo to staff is a Martin Lukesian treat. “I would like to be seen as the chief executive who really assisted you all to succeed to your potential,” he says. There’s more.
Today’s other big story is that a straight fight for ABN Amro seems on the cards after the Dutch bank was given permission to sell LaSalle in the US to Bank of America. This is a setback for Royal Bank of Scotland but it seems determined to press ahead with a consortium bid that also includes Fortis and Santander. The main interest now for the Scots is ABN’s wholesale bank and maybe a few bits and pieces in Asia, but is that really worth all the effort and risk? It may be and, certainly, RBS’s track record on deals, not least NatWest, is excellent – especially next to Barclays’. One ought probably to give them the benefit of the doubt but RBS shouldn’t count on people doing so and needs to make its case more clearly. There is certainly plenty of room for improvement in the way ABN’s wholesale business is run and a key question may be who one trusts more to get medieval with it: RBS’s Johnny Cameron or BarCap’s Bob Diamond.
Other stuff. A warning about bad weather and higher market costs to fend off competition has knocked 16 per cent off shares in C&C, maker of Magners cider. I’ve never touched the stuff but my colleagues on the desk say it’s revolting. Also, it’s official: Woolworths is worthless. Or at least so says a new research report by Morgan Stanley cited on FT Alphaville this morning.
And we’re checking out reports that a Brazilian judge has issued an arrest warrant for Boris Berezovsky, the Russian billionaire, and Kia Joorabchian, the agent who tried to bid for West Ham football club. Berezovsky has denied any involvement in the case in question and we’re trying to contact Joorabchian or his lawyers.
Finally, as Lombard wrote this morning, the blogosphere is being warmed up by the Rio Tinto/Alcan deal. For an idea of the heated debate between those horrified at the sight of another Canadian company being taken over and those delighted at the price, check out reportonbusiness.com.
Dog of the day: Renewable Power shares are off almost 70 per cent after a profit warning. What a hideous sector this is.
Rumour of the day: Bid rumours surround Quintain Estates & Development, where FT columnist John Plender is chairman. This follows our story this morning that Paul Kemsley, the property investor and Tottenham Hotspur director, has sold his 12 per cent holding to Uberior Ventures, the property investment arm of HBOS. Quintain shares are up more than 4 per cent.