Charles Pretzlik: Regal hits cash (maybe)

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So there was something of value in Frank Timis’s oil wells after all. Royal Dutch Shell has signed a preliminary $410m agreement to take a 51 per cent interest in two Ukrainian gas fields controlled by a subsidiary of Regal Petroleum, the Aim-listed oil and gas group founded by Timis. Regal had already lost a similar deal with someone else, so don’t assume this one is in the bag yet.

The bigger news of course is in the markets, where the FTSE 100 was off more than 100 points as oil surged towards $100. This is despite Bank of England minutes which suggested interest rate cuts on the way and knocked the pound to a 4½-year low against the euro. The index remains just above 6,115, an important resistance level.

Business-to-business activities helped DMGT increase underlying pre-tax profits by 11 per cent to £288m in the year to end September. The publishing group also confirmed that Martin Morgan would take over as chief executive next September, when Charles Sinclair retires after 21 years in the role. With Lord Rothermere in charge there it’s not as big an event as that might sound, although the fact that it has chosen a B2B man tells you something about where the group’s aspirations lie. Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has “no intention of stepping down”, group FD Peter Williams said despite months of rumours to the contrary.

Thomas Cook said it planned to double operating profit to €620m in the next three years as it beefs up its independent travel arm. It has also identified additional savings from its merger with MyTravel which will now reach €200m in total, it said, an increase of €60m on its earlier prediction.

Finally, watch our View From the Top interview with Peter Clarke, chief executive of Man Group. He explains how many hedge funds he thinks will suffer in the current turmoil, the prospects for commodities, how he thinks Man can take advantage of the market instability, and much more.

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