Standard Life has come in at last, just hours before the deadline, with a bid of just under 720p in cash and shares for Resolution, which is above the market price and more than Hugh Osmond’s 691p cash offer. Will it be enough for a recommendation? Our insurance correspondent Andrea Felsted doesn’t think so.
Alistair Darling has spent the morning in front of the Treasury Select Committee answering questions on Northern Rock. Regulators need to look more at liquidity and the FSA should have asked harder questions of the bank, he said. The decision not to offer liquidity sooner was Mervyn King’s, he said, but added that he backed him. That looks like rather nifty footwork, given that the Treasury is charge of the tripartite regulatory process. “We had a number of discussions about it, but he took the decision. I’ll back the governor,” were his (rather weaselly?) words. Catch the details on FT Alphaville or watch the meeting online here.
Royal Dutch Shell says third-quarter underlying profits fell 8 per cent to $6.39bn on the back of lower refining margins and sales volumes. The figures were a bit above expectations, but not necessarily for the right reasons. More on that later.
We’ll be checking out some more lines on BP today, including one in the Wall Street Journal overnight that ex-BP traders are to be indicted in spite of the group’s $303m settlement this week of propane-related charges (a settlement, incidentally, some congressmen aren’t sure about). And we’ll look at suggestions that BP is about to pay a $50m fine to close down an investigation into its Texas City explosion. I think there is a Justice Department press conference later.
EasyJet is taking over GB Airways, a franchise carrier of British Airways based largely at London Gatwick airport, from the Bland group in a £103.5m cash deal. The market loves it: EasyJet shares are up more than 7 per cent.
Sir Philip Green said like-for-like sales at his Arcadia retail group rose 2.1 per cent in the last financial year in spite of the poor weather hurting summer spending. No dividend again.
Aviva, the insurer, said new business sales for its core life and pensions units rose 21 per cent to £22.9bn in the first nine months of the year, boosted by strong performance in its overseas markets.
We also have Q3 updates from Reuters and Thomson Corp. The former is doing well despite (or because of) the financial turmoil, while the latter has been held back by costs related to its merger with Reuters.
Capita has lost the London congestion charging contract. Ouch. Shares down 5 per cent.
Finally, 299 new managing directors of Goldman Sachs were named today, including Jonathan Sorrell, son of Sir Martin.