RBS’s little Russian deal

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Royal Bank of Scotland has done a deal with Renaissance Capital to provide currency, interest rate and credit derivative products in Russia. It is not clear at this stage how much capital RBS is investing in the move or exactly how this partnership will be structured. However, it’s a reminder of the allure of Russia and that inside RBS is a vibrant investment bank that dare not speak its name. We’ll find out more and report back in tomorrow’s paper.

Northern Rock this morning kicked off the bank reporting season with a better-than-expected full year profit and said the outlook remained positive despite the Bank of England’s surprise interest rate rise earlier this month. The bank, which specialises in residential mortgages, said pre-tax profit for the year to December 31 2006 was £626.7m, an increase of 26.8 per cent. We will have more on this tomorrow and also on the changes taking place at one of the larger high street banks.

Good news from the pub companies. JD Wetherspoon, the pub operator, reported a like-for-like sales increase of 5.5 per cent for the 12 weeks to January 21 but warned that growth since new year had been slow. And Punch, the largest pub company, said Christmas had been “in line with recent trends”.

N Brown is returning £80m to shareholders after reporting a strong Christmas.

And no sooner do we write a big piece about finance directors becoming chief executives (following Aviva’s move) than another one does it. Today, Kazakhmys said it had promoted Oleg Novachuk to chief executive from chief financial officer. This comes four months after the London-listed copper miner stirred controversy when executive chairman Vladimir Kim was appointed chief executive with effect from January on the departure of Yong Keu Cha. Is this the first time that a London-listed company from the former Soviet Union has responded to shareholder disquiet? Or this the CFO really Kim’s man anyway? We’ll check.

Rumours of the Day: Vedanta shares are up more than 4 per cent on vague takeover rumours, even though it is 54 per cent family-owned. Catch up with the chat on Alphaville. Fresh rumours of a bid from Lafarge are also lifting Hanson shares this morning.

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