BA’s commercial director, Martin George, has resigned after admitting that “inappropriate conversations” took place in his department over the setting of fuel surcharges on long-haul air fares. Iain Burns, BA’s head of communications, has also resigned. Both men had been on leave of absence since mid-June, when BA was plunged into a criminal and civil investigation by UK and US competition authorities into alleged price-fixing.
Osprey, the international consortium which includes Commonwealth Bank of Australia and 3i, has raised its offer for AWG, the UK water group, and snapped up another 9.6 per cent of the stock. This followed a story in our pages that Merrill Lynch might join the hunt. The revised offer of £15.78 a share values the water company at almost £2.25bn and comes after AWG’s board last week accepted an offer of £15.55 from Osprey. The consortium now holds just over 22 per cent.
Lots more activity in online gaming again. Trading in World Gaming shares was suspended this morning due to what the company said was a “fundamental uncertainty over its ability to continue trading”. Empire Online says its chairman, Leonard Steinberg, will step down at the end of the month. He said something about it being the right time for someone else, etc. The company is working hard on plans to move away from online gaming, a source told Reuters. Others in the sector are having to try something similar.
We have more to do on Aim today. This morning we ran two very interesting stories about London’s junior market. One said that dozens of American companies planned to float on London’s junior market; another said that a Tatarstan company called Kazan is finding that the appetite for investing in foreign companies may be waning. Supply and demand of international stocks are getting out of kilter.
The London markets have reacted calmly to the Korean crisis, helped by a rising commodity prices lifting the resources companies which make up such a large chunk of the market. There are, however, two demergers to watch. Shares in Biffa, the waste management business demerged from Severn Trent, began trading today and got off to a solid start. Grey market trading began this morning in Experian and Home Retail Group (Homebase and Argos), marking the beginning of the end for GUS.
Plus there is a float... Having slashed its price last week, Hogg Robinson rose 8p to 98p on its debut in heavy volume.