Is that it? After all the big talk, and all the crisis meetings in Whitehall, Russia’s giant Gazprom has descended on the supply businesses of Pennine Natural Gas. This is a tiny, privately-owned company located just off Junction 6 of the M56. The deal, which we think is Gazprom’s first UK acquisition, isn’t even big enough for the price to be disclosed. Shares in Centrica, long regarded as a Gazprom target, are off a touch.
That’s all good fun but much more important is the news that British Airways is among a group of airlines being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading for cartel activities relating to passenger prices and fuel surcharges. BA shares are off more than 5 per cent. With two executives on a leave of absence as a result, this looks serious. BA says it is its policy to conduct its business in full compliance with all applicable competition laws. Virgin Atlantic is also involved.
Rothschild has appointed Anthony Salz, who recently retired as Freshfields’s joint senior partner, as executive vice-chairman. He is a big figure in the City and a big catch for Rothschild. JP Morgan Cazenove was the leading underbidder, we think.
Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein has finally dropped the last part of its name, four years after Bruce Wasserstein stormed out. Allianz’s investment bank will now simply be called Dresdner Kleinwort, although why it sticks with Kleinwort is anybody’s guess. It’s just as German as Dresdner (or Wasserstein).
Mosaic Fashions, owner of Oasis and Karen Millen, is buying Rubicon Retail, owner of Principles and Warehouse in a £353m deal, including debt. Mosaic is listed in Reykjavik and is 36 per cent-owned by Baugur,which also has a stake in Rubicon. House of Fraser shares have fallen on fears that a Baugur-backed bid for the group will now not materialise. There was also some takeover speculation supporting Wm Morrison shares, although that sounds flaky.
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