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Liverpool FC confirms it is being bought by George Gillett, owner of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, and private equity man Tom Hicks for £174m (of which ITV gets £17.4m for its 10 per cent stake). For great background on these two, read Josh Chaffin and James Politi’s piece from Monday’s paper. So, that is now Chelsea, Man U and Liverpool in the hands of overseas sports fans. What about the other one of the big four, Arsenal? Tony Tassell on our markets desk, who keeps a much closer eye on these things than I do, says rumours about Arsenal have been rumbling for some time. Last year the Sun said Arsenal had had unofficial talks about a takeover but that a consortium had pulled out of discussions over an asking price of £350m. It cited a list of Russian tycoons thought to be interested, including Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska. The People reported last weekend that Dubai crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashin al Maktoum might turn his attentions to Arsenal after walking away from an approach to buy Liverpool. Tony says go to this blog, Arsenal News Review, to chew it all over. You’ll never blog alone.
BP’s 12 per cent drop in fourth quarter profits is less bad than the 22 per cent some had expected but nobody cares about that because the guidance on production growth is a shocker. Our energy editor Ed Crooks is seeing the company this morning and will report back with all the gory details. However, it looks like the company predicts a 12.5 per cent decline in the amount of oil it produces.
3i plans to raise more than £1bn for a London Stock Exchange-listed company devoted to infrastructure investments. This highlights the continuing interest in this asset class despite plenty of credible people (including S&P) who say this is a bubble. It is worth noting that overnight shares of Macquarie Bank fell sharply after the Australian investment bank which has been heavily involved in infrastructure forecast second-half earnings would slow from its record first-half results.
Good figures today from Aviva, even if not quite as great as Legal & General and Friends Provident. It has reported a 22 per cent rise in full-year sales to over £31bn to the end of December, boosted by pension changes in the UK and stronger equity markets.
ARM Holdings, the microchip designer, said it was confident of achieving full-year dollar revenue growth in 2007, despite a sharp fall in fourth-quarter profits. Tim Score, the chief financial officer, said that despite the slow demand since the start of the year, revenue growth for the full year is likely to be around 15 per cent. The shares rose 3½ per cent.
Regent Inns said trading continued to be hit by new licensing deregulation as customers arrive “later on the high street”.
J Sainsbury shares are up 1 per cent on news that Texas Pacific Group and Cinven are serious about assembling a rival consortium to bid for the supermarket group, as indicated in our front page news story on the weekend. We also see the Qatari royal family and related Qatari investors took a 1 per cent stake in Sainsbury’s on Friday.
And Mark Woodbridge, whose home was searched in connection with the SFO investigation at Torex Retail and whom we wrote about this morning, has stepped down as finance director of AT Communications and its shares have fallen more than 10 per cent.
Rumour of the day: Strange one this, but Neil Hume is hearing rumours of a bid for Cable & Wireless from Deutsche Telekom. DT hardly seems strong enough for that sort of move but somebody else might be. The shares are up nearly 3 per cent.