We have a couple of cracking features lined up for Saturday’s paper but the news is led by British Airways. It has produced a disappointing set of full-year results and, more importantly, has set aside £350m to pay for possible fines and settlements with authorities investigating allegedly illegal price fixing of long-haul fuel surcharges on air cargo. The provision compares with full-year profits of just over £600m, so this hurts. BA shares are off sharply. Like the pilot that he is, chief executive Willie Walsh – he has done some great things over the last 18 months – sounds unfazed: the margin target is unchanged and there is even the prospect of the first dividend since 2001.
We’ll also pick up on the bidding war looming for Cadbury-Schweppes’s drinks business, as reported on in this morning’s Telegraph. And Ladbrokes said it suffered a 10 per cent slide in profits in the first four months of the year.
I notice that the Wall Street Journal reported today that Royal Bank of Scotland is trying to reach some sort of agreement with Bank of America over the sale of LaSalle by ABN Amro. I haven’t looked into it but it feels like a very long shot indeed.
Rumours of the day: The market is alive with more speculation this morning that Royal Dutch Shell is in talks with someone. The shares are up more than 2 per cent, making a rise of more than 6 per cent in two days, which is a lot for a company this size. Names suggested range from BP and Gazprom to BG and Cairn. My friends on FT Alphaville have chewed over all this in some detail. Royal & Sun Alliance is being driven up again on rumours of a bid from Sampo of Finland.