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There were rumours this morning that Alliance & Leicester has gone to the Bank of England for funding. We have our doubts because the bank was buying shares back last week. A&L shares were down nearly 7 per cent earlier.
Interesting to see rumours that Bob Diamond might be in the running for the top job at Merrill or Citi. Feels like a long shot but the list of candidates is not endless.
By the way, who would have thought Sir Win Bischoff would find himself chief executive of Citigroup, even on an interim basis? He is an extremely nice and impressive man, and the acquisition of Schroders, which he ran, has been a great success for Citi. But it is at least ironic that he should find himself in charge of the world’s largest bank today when one of the main reasons Schroders had to sell its investment bank was because of an ill-judged and unsuccessful push into the US.
Sam Jones on FT Alphaville has had a useful go at outlining the banks’ CDO exposures. Gillian Tett and Paul J Davies also did some great work this morning on why measuring the subprime losses is so difficult.
And, just to cheer us all up, Tony Jackson told us in his column today why investors are not yet worried enough. “Real-world lending has been artificially inflated for years and now the brakes are on – if not by the banks themselves, then by the regulators,” he concludes. “Forget talk about the credit markets getting back to normal. This could be the new reality.”
Sainbury shares fell 19 per cent on news that Qatar is walking away. We’ll elaborate tonight on Lina Saigol’s column this morning and see whether Qatar’s name is now mud in London. Very painful for Robert Tchenguiz, who has seen just about any stock he is invested in fall today.
Ryanair, Europe’s leading low-cost airline, increased its profits sharply in its first six months and raised its forecast for full-year profits.
And LogicaCMG, the Anglo-Dutch computing services group, said it expected full-year revenue growth for 2007 to be about 3 per cent at constant currency after strong performances in France and the Netherlands offset continuing weakness in the UK and Asia.
Finally, if you enjoyed Jonathan Birchall’s circumvention of the Tesco defences to sneak a peak at its new Fresh & Easy store in California, you should see his terrific audio slideshow online, complete with photos of the stores and interviews with shoppers. You can also watch a short video shot (I believe by Tesco itself) inside one of the stores on YouTube.
Not all the bloggers in the US are impressed with Tesco, though. One, the BusBench, has a go at it for paying low wages. Also, a group claiming Tesco slaughters live turtles in its Chinese stores has posted a video on YouTube. On Democratic Underground.com there is a lively discussion about the merits of Tesco, as there is on Chowhound. The Wellness Advisory also takes a sceptical look