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Rio Tinto has launched a recommended cash offer for Alcan, valuing the Canadian aluminium company at US$38.1bn or $101 a share, trumping an earlier hostile bid from Alcoa of the US. It is big bet on the commodity cycle and a bold move from the new chief executive, Tom Albanese. A cash call on shareholders at some point seems likely: Rio shares are off 2 per cent. It will be interesting to see how BHP, Alcoa and even Anglo American, now run by by an Alcanite, react. Also, presumably, if there was ever anything in the idea, this knocks on the head once and for all any chance of BHP and Rio getting together.

Admiral, the insurance group, has ended discussions about the sale of a stake in Confused.com, its price comparison website, after talks foundered over price and the group’s future management structure. Presumably, Admiral has been encouraged to float the business by Moneysupermarket’s plans. We’ll take a closer look.

HBOS’s Australian operation, BankWest, is to open another 160 branches at what looks like a cost of about £320m. This will more than double HBOS’s Australian network.

And Morley, Aviva’s fund management business, has a new boss - it’s Alain Dromer, former head of HSBC’s global head of investment businesses, who left the bank back in March. He starts at Morley on September 3 and has been given a mandate to create and lead a global asset management operation.

We also have Sports Direct buying a 60 per cent stake in Field & Trek for £5m.

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