Wolseley has become the latest British company to report challenges in the US as a result of the slowdown in the housing market there. Overall, the building materials group reported its 10th consecutive year of record profits but its shares fell 5 per cent on news of a near-£700m placing to help pay for past and future acquisitions.
The drop in the dollar hit funds under management at Aberdeen Asset Management, according to its latest trading statement. Elsewhere in financial services, Close Brothers has published strong full-year results thanks to asset management and market making, and Standard Life has confirmed (still not explained) Alison Reed’s departure as finance director.
Icap has confirmed it held merger talks with the London Stock Exchange and that these are now over. As Norma Cohen and Sarah Spikes wrote this morning, it is hard to see anyone other than Nasdaq standing much chance of buying the LSE, what with Nasdaq’s 25 per cent and the presence of hedge funds on the register who paid a high price for their shares and want cash. Lex takes a closer look at this. Interestingly, Icap’s official statement describes the talks with the LSE as “exploratory”, whereas Icap chief executive was quoted on a newswire saying they were “extensive”.
Tullow Oil, one of the leading oil explorers focused on West Africa, is buying another West African specialist, Australia’s Hardman Resources, for about $1bn. You can find a webcast on the deal on Tullow’s own website.
Mark Zaleski, the chief executive of QXL Ricardo, the online auction, is stepping down unexpectedly. The stock was the sharpest riser on the London market last year (up more than 1,000 per cent). I don’t know why he’s leaving yet, but our reporter is on the case.