July 5: Strategic investors back Rosneft

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Rosneft’s float is getting heavy backing from strategic investors, whose interests and risk-tolerance are quite different from institutional investors. BP is having a good, hard look at buying a stake and we may hear more on this later today. We said this morning that China National Petroleum Corp and Petronas are already considering taking stakes. As our correspondents in Moscow, London and Hong Kong will explain in tomorrow’s paper, taking minority stakes in what is in effect Kremlin plc is the only way to get access to Russia’s natural resources. I’m surprised, though, that the bloggers are not worked up about this float.

Alliance & Leicester shares are off sharply on news that Crédit Agricole is not going to bid after all, but as Lex noted at lunchtime, it was always a bit of a puzzle as to why they were interested in the first place. Is it just me, or is the Takeover Panel getting a bit quick on the draw when it comes to forcing potential bidders to declare their interest? Incidentally, Max King at Investec has done fun some research of UK M&A past and present. His conclusion, according to Damian Reece in the Telegraph: that deal-doers are so much more timid these days. But are these deals worthwhile? Not according to this week’s research from PwC.

PartyGaming directors have been selling shares again. This time it is chairman Michael Jackson, finance director Mark Weigold and company secretary David Abdoo. Between them, they have dumped about 4.5m shares at 116.4p. The shares are off a touch.

Matalan’s annual meeting in Skelmersdale (where I once visited the yogic flyers of the Natural Law Party) should be lively, given founder and chairman John Hargreaves’ row with the rest of the board about cutting the dividend and whether to take the business private. Our correspondent Eoin Callan is there and will try to get in, but the company is being pretty unhelpful. As Jeremy Warner said this morning, Hargreaves might have a point, if only he’d let us hear it.

BAE Systems doesn’t like the sound of Rothschild’s valuation of Airbus. It is getting a formal audit done before deciding whether to sell its 20 per cent stake.

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