BP disappointment

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BP shares fell to a 52-week low this morning after the group issued disappointing Q3 production figures, in part because of the shutdown at Prudhoe Bay. BP did not even produce quite as much oil as it was a year ago, when it was hit by Hurricane Katrina. Analysts had expected production to be up. The effect on profits should be mitigated by the strong oil price and by some tax concessions. The stock later recovered most of its losses.

Expect Mike Turner, BAE Systems’ chief executive, to sound off about the astonishing delays to the Airbus A380 at today’s EGM to vote on his group’s sale of its stake in the aircraft manufacturer. A few months ago we ran a package on what a triumph for British engineering the A380 was. Hmm, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. The other shareholder meeting which should yield some news today is the Misys AGM, which Tom Braithwaite curtain-raised in detail this morning. We have reporters at both meetings.

Northgate Information Solutions has confirmed it has received a takeover approach, as we reported in our market report this morning. The statement said nothing about who the suitors were. There were rumours they might include Capita, but we don’t believe them. The interest is more likely to have come from private equity.

As you read yesterday in our Rumour of the Day (courtesy of Neil Hume in our markets team), Manganese Bronze has signed an agreement with a Chinese car manufacturer to produce black cabs. Zhejiang Geely will make the cabs in Shanghai and is even thinking introducing a local equivalent of the Knowledge. Communist China is just the place for such vestigial restrictive practices, but that’s another topic. The real question is whether these cabs will go south of the river in Shanghai.

Expect more on why Doughty Hanson was forced to drop plans to float a publicly-traded investment vehicle, even after making a number of concessions to investors. This follows poor performance from shares in vehicles floated off by KKR and Apollo Management.

There is, of course, more to do on online gambling, and how much it matters that the banks can call in any loans now that the US has passed such damaging legislation. As we wrote this morning, PartyGaming’s credit facility includes such a clause. PartyGaming’s shares are off another 5 per cent this morning. 888 Holdings says it has no plans to scrap its interim or planned special dividend (unlike PartyGaming, which said yesterday it would cancel its interim divi). 888 shares are up a touch today. Elsewhere in the sector, Playtech, an online gaming software firm, says it has been set back one year financially by the US ban on internet gambling, but is swiftly rolling out new software for Asian games. And, The Independent reported this morning that PokerStars has, not surprisingly, cancelled its plans for a £1.6bn flotation.

Rumour of the Day: Talk of aggressive stake-building in Aer Lingus has driven the recently-floated stock up 3 per cent in heavy volume. BA has been suggested as a buyer of the stock.

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