Man Group is buying Refco’s futures brokerage operation for $323m. Details are still a bit thin and getting information is tricky while Man awaits formal approval from the court in Manhattan. The initial view seems to be that this is a useful addition for Man, whose track record on integrating acquisitions is pretty good, but will not transform the group. The group says the deal will enhance underlying earnings per share before integration costs in the financial year starting in April 2007. Man shares are up a few pence on the news. Lex will comment and we’ll run the story prominently.
Otherwise, possibly the best, if not the biggest, story today is the confirmation from Kingston Communications that it has received a takeover approach. This, remember, is the company set up by Hull council, which made a fortune on its float a couple of years ago and stands to do so again if the business gets taken over. No bidder named but Thus is the obvious trade buyer; private equity bidders are in the frame as well. Kingston shares are up more than 15 per cent at 64.5p, valuing the group at £332m. However, there has been some talk in other market reports of a bid at 85p a share.
Things have gone a little berserk in telecoms recently so we are trying to put together a package that will explain what is going on. Conveniently, we also have results - not very good ones - from British Telecom. Core earnings are down and investors are worried about margins.
Great full-year figures from Debenhams but the department store group ruled out a return to the stock market in the spring, as many had been expecting. This has been one of the greatest private equity investments of recent years but, separately, a report from Fitch today warns that buy-out firms taking cash out of European retailers they have bought - as Debenhams’ owners have on a grand scale - are leaving creditors vulnerable as shoppers spend less.
We had been chasing rumours of a bid for Rexam (the stock is up just over 5 per cent) but have serious doubts. A couple of better rumours have taken Rexam’s place on the news list since this morning, though.
BPB has produced just the sort of strong first half results you would want if you were trying to repel a hostile bid. They certainly sound pleased with themselves. As far as the bid is concerned, today is Day 38, which means BPB have one more day to make their final defence statement and Saint-Gobain have eight days in which to raise their offer. We will also treat you to an interview with Sir Ian Gibson, BPB’s chairman.
Catch up here with Peter Smith’s interview with 3i chief executive Philip Yea from this morning.
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