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March 3: Arun Sarin may have bought himself some more time as chief executive of Vodafone after the group confirmed it was in talks with Softbank about selling it “a controlling interest” in its struggling Japanese business. Some sources suggest to us a deal could be done this month. Vodafone stock is up more than 10 per cent as a result. Analysts value the Japanese business at £5bn-£7bn.

There has been a restoration at Regal Petroleum: Frank Timis is back in charge. Nine months after being ousted from the company he founded, he has lifted his stake from 9 to 19 per cent and has used this to remove the company’s chairman, chief executive and explorations director. He intended to requisition an EGM to remove the current management, but Rex Gaisford, chief executive, has decided to resign instead. Sir Peter Heap, chairman, and Richard Hardman, explorations director, have also resigned. Timis, who is not expected to take an executive role, has installed Paul Morgan as executive chairman. He was president and chief executive of Regal between 1998 and 2000. Timis’s camp claims that Sir Peter and Mr Gaisford are on holiday – Sir Peter is apparently on the SS Minerva enjoying a cruise off Venezuela and Dr Gaisford is apparently in the Canary Islands. Evolution Securities has resigned as the company’s broker.

Things are not looking good for Daily Mail & General Trust or Cable & Wireless: both look likely to be dropped from the FTSE 100 index next week to make room for Corus and Lonmin. SkyePharma (on which we are doing more tonight ahead of next week’s crucial EGM) may be booted out of the FTSE 250 index.

Rank has turned in a sharp drop of almost a fifth in annual profits but announced a £200m share buy-back following the sale of Deluxe Films.

We are also looking at the deluge of small hedge funds floating on the stock market and will try and help you decide whether to short them. These vehicles, heavily dependent as they are on individual stars, seem utterly ill-suited to a stock market listing but Kate Burgess will take a closer look. To get a flavour of some of the colourful people we are talking about, read Kate’s great story from this morning’s paper about Absolute Capital Management. It floated on Aim today and its stock jumped from 141½ to 212p.

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