The big corporate event of the day in the UK so far is Burren Energy agreeing to an improved bid from Eni. The shares, however, are trading through the £12.30 offer price, suggesting this process may not be over yet. Eni has irrevocables from about 21 per cent of the shares but these lapse if a rival offer comes in at £13.20 or above.
We’ll have more to do on the bidding for Northern Rock. There is some buzz around on Sky News and the wires about JC Flowers considering withdrawing its interest. We picked something up about this last night but are wary of these sorts of stories. If they do pull out, that would leave Luqman Arnold as the only real alternative to Virgin. His proposal has a lot going for it but Arnold is the negative image of Branson (light on pizzazz, long on substance), which ought to be a good thing, except that he has to win over politicians with their backs against the wall.
Also, Alliance Boots, now owned by KKR and Stefano Pessina, seems to have paid an interim dividend of £1.5bn. There is some dispute about whether this is meaningful or a technicality. We’ll get to the bottom of it and let you know.
Colt saw its shares leap 35 per cent on talk of a bid from AT&T. Movements in this stock are exaggerated by the small free float caused by the Fidelity holding. The company has since said it knows of no reason for the movement in its shares.
Finally, have a chuckle at the expense of Providence Resources, which today proudly announced it had agreed a new $250m revolving credit facility with Macquarie. However, the RNS statement went out at first with some amusing editing marks left in: “Providence Resources P.l.c. (’Providence’) is very pleased to announce that it has agreed a US $250 million Senior First Lien Secured Revolving Line ,000,000Senior First Lien Secured Revolving Line (Tony, sounds painful - can we simply the description?) of of Credit Facility (’Facility’) with Macquarie Bank Limited (’Macquarie’).” Does the “Tony” in question refer to Tony O’Reilly Jnr, the chief executive?