Wave of Gulf money heads to UK

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More Gulf money is being invested in the UK: ElectricInvest Acquisitions, a unit of Bahrain-based private equity firm Arcapita, is buying Viridian, the Northern Ireland’s main electricity supplier, for £1.6bn. Only last week, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, the largest public company in the Middle East, announced the purchase of the Teesside-based European base chemicals and polymers business of Huntsman Corporation for $700m in cash.

Severstal, the Russian-listed steel group, confirmed it plans to list in London by the end of this year. No details on the size of the offer were available but sources have suggested it could raise $1.5bn and value the group at more than $12bn. Alexei Mordashov plans to sell down part of his 90 per cent holding in the process, possibly to 75-80 per cent.

I know Irish jokes are frowned upon these days but you have to laugh at the Irish government. A week ago it was prepared to sell shares in Aer Lingus for €2.20 in a float; yesterday it said ‘No’ to €2.80 from Ryanair. And the same management which floated the business at €220m now says an offer 27 per cent higher “undervalues” the group. The brains behind all this are AIB Corporate Finance and UBS, who were joint sponsors of the IPO and also advised the government, as well as Goldman Sachs and Merrion, who advised the company. What the employees’ share scheme trustees decide do will be interesting. Might the premium offered now by Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary be enough to make them overcome their antipathy towards him? Separately, there is a strong trading update today from discount rival Easyjet.

We will have more today on BP, following our story this morning that documents sent to staff show BP’s popularity among key decision-makers has fallen to all-time lows after problems at its Alaskan oilfield.

Rumour of the Day: Talk of a private equity bid has driven Tomkins shares up nearly 7 per cent. Volume in the stock was already twice the daily average by lunchtime.

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