July 12: Rosneft aims high

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July 12: Pricing of the Rosneft IPO seems to be in full swing. It sounds like investors are being told to bid towards the top of the $5.85-$7.85 a share range, even though this was too high for many institutions. Last night we established that, having wavered, BP definitely does now want a stake. The Poster, in his Ruminations on Russia blog, says: “The short-selling hedge funds must be licking their lips at the prospect of a large company with a very small real float and investment banks who will be desperately trying to support the price. Expect first day/week volatility.”

You can also read concerns about the float and the role US banks are playing in it at Tom Lantos’s Congress Blog. A top Democrat on the House international relations committee, Lantos says: “Any financial institution involved in the IPO could be at potential risk of violating federal anti-money laundering laws aimed at preventing the proceeds of theft, corruption or other forms of unlawful activity from entering the payments system.”

Mikhail Gorbachev seems completely unconcerned about the provenance of Rosneft’s assets. In his piece for this morning’s FT, he acknowledges that Yeltsin’s sell-off of state assets were “far from transparent and major state assets were transferred into the hands of a ‘trusted’ few’.” But in the same breath he goes on to praise the Rosneft IPO as an illustration of Russia’s economic progress, without once discussing how Rosneft came to own assets that once belonged to Yukos.

Elsewhere, we have strong sales figures from Burberry and GUS. I’m not in the business of product placement, but here is a blog for the girls: Shoewawa. And here is one for the boys: productdose.com. There is some interesting background on GUS and Burberry at Debra De-Jong’s blog. Also, blogginwallstreet compared the pay of Burberry’s new chief executive, Angela Ahrendts, with what she was getting at Liz Claiborne. It concluded: ”On a percentage of revenues basis the American CEO is getting 0.2%, while the British CEO is getting 0.4%. So the British CEO is getting paid twice as much per unit of revenue”. Completely meaningless and deserving no space in the paper, but amusing nonetheless.

BT Group has appointed Maarten van den Bergh, who was rather a non-event as chairman of Lloyds TSB, to replace Sir Anthony Greener as deputy chairman. He will be the senior independent director, charged with finding a replacement for Sir Christopher Bland, who steps down as chairman next year.

Stand by for more news later on Eurotunnel, which has already begun to seek bankruptcy protection, as we reported this morning. The talks with creditors could go right up to midnight.

We’re also working on a package about hedge funds, whose recent performance is giving privet a bad name. “Are the high correlation levels between diverse strategies, reduced financial liquidity and high bullish trend still taking their toll on fund performance?” asks Hedge Fund Reader. And is a hedge fund these days defined by anything other than its hefty charging structure?

Premier Foods has confirmed it is buying the UK and Irish businesses of Campbell Soup for £460m, mostly funded by a rights issue.

And now, although the thought of instant soups and Fray Bentos canned meats does nothing for my appetite, I’m off for some lunch in the sun.

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