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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Fancy that - ENRC chalks up a win against lawyers in court

There is plenty of coverage this morning about the court case involving Dechert and Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, the mining company that used to be listed on the FTSE 100 index.

Here is a link to Financial Times piece on the topic: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a38a8140-5b6f-11e4-b68a-00144feab7de.html#axzz3GyEzZleG

And it appears ENRC has won this latest skirmish in the courts when Mr Justice Roth prevented Dechert - the law firm that charged ENRC £16.3 million for conducting an internal investigation - from opening a fees dispute with the mining company to the general public.

Here is the quick back story in case you haven't been following the story step by step: Dechert reportedly said it wanted to put all its dealings with ENRC on view to the public during the case.

However, I am told by my mole down at the courts that the judge disagreed and couldn't understand why Dechert had loaded its witness statements with so much (potentially negative?) information about ENRC.

My court mole has also emailed in some quotes (see below) from the last few days sessions from Mr Justice Roth:

“I consider that there is no ground for finding that [client] privilege was . . . waived completely and for any use of the documents that is wholly irrelevant to that assessment. For example, the affairs of ENRC, as a former public company, have attracted some media interest and I think that the implied waiver to which the . . . application gave rise could not possibly entitle Dechert to hand over all the documents concerning their former client to an inquiring journalist.”

“I have no doubt that the present case is one where the interests of justice require that the reading by the costs judge of the papers should not have the effect of putting them into the public domain.”

“In total, Dechert has billed ENRC over £16.3 million . . . ENRC became increasingly concerned about the level of Dechert’s fees and what it perceived to be serious over-charging.”

“The interests of justice require that the reading by the Costs judge of the papers should not have the effect of putting them in the public domain.”

“There is the potential for very real prejudice to ENRC if the matter were heard in public.”

“The effective protection of ENRC’s rights therefore requires that the matter be heard in private.”

“What legitimate interest has Dechert in that the application should be heard in public?”

“I can see no need for the hearing itself to be in public, which is the issue on this appeal, in order adequately to protect Dechert’s interests. Indeed, I would have thought that a public hearing might have a contrary effect since all the allegations advanced by ENRC regarding its overcharging would than be rehearsed before a public audience.”

Dechert’s solicitor “exhibits a bundle of press articles which he says include reports that ENRC is ‘suing Dechert for overcharging millions of pounds’ . . . I recognize Dechert’s understandable concern to vindicate its position. But I consider that this concern will be entirely met by a public judgment determining the costs application.”

“Finally, it is not suggested that there is some particular public interest on the facts of this case for holding the hearing in public.”

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Top Right Group said to be close to multi-million pound exhibitions deal

Media types might interested to hear that Top Right Group, the company formerly known as Emap, is closing in on a decent-sized events and exhibition deal.

I understand Top Right - which is owned by private equity firm Apax and the Guardian Media Group - is about a month or so away from buying an exhibitions business that would take the group's i2i division into new sectors and new countries.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The missing skyscraper story rumbles on...

Ping - an email arrives from a new reader.

It contains a picture of chap called Mr Seamas Daly, an Irish businessman who founded a printing company called Photo Images Ltd. He is picketing outside a law firm based in Dublin, Ireland.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Ferrovial consortium said to be closing in on £1 billion airports deal - part 2

Regular readers shouldn't be surprised to learn that the owners of Heathrow have just sold Aberdeen, Southampton and Glasgow airports to a consortium comprising Spain's Ferrovial and Macquarie for £1 billion.

That's because little old Betaville reported on Tuesday the deal was likely to be formally announced by the end of this week.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Paulson on Abbvie decision to ditch Shire deal

John Paulson's fund is clearly not happy about Abbvie's decision to examine backing out of the Shire deal. Here is what Paulson, who is a big shareholder in both Abbvie and Shire, has just told Bloomberg:

"We believe this transaction  creates enormous value for Abbvie shareholders. The combination is both strategic and accretive regardless of the tax considerations. As a large Abbvie shareholder we hope the  Abbvie Board reaffirms its commitment to the transaction after its review’’: 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ferrovial consortium said to be closing in on £1 billion airports deal

Here is an interesting snippet on the sale of three airports by Heathrow Airport Holdings.

I have been told that the consortium comprising Spain's Ferrovial, Australia's Macquarie and Singapore fund GIC are close to finalising the £1 billion acquisition of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Back on Tip TV talking about GlenTinto, CSR and Microchip

Great to be invited back on Tip TV with hosts Moose and Zac.

Always a pleasure to chew the M&A market cud with these market veterans. Here is a link to today's show in case you missed it this morning: http://www.tiptv.co.uk/archives/catch-up-on-ma-synergy-healthcare-ma-movement-today-with-ben-harrington-betaville-blogspot-13-10-2014/

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Pasta and mining

I must visit Santini more often.

Back in the days when I worked for The Daily Telegraph, it used to be one of my regular lunching spots as it is (literally) a stones throw away from the Telegraph offices in Victoria/Belgravia. It was also great place for people watching, as you would often see some of the City grandees, bankers and hedge managers dining at the restaurant.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Sir Paul Judge: "curious conversations"

Interesting piece in the Financial Times today on the ongoing dust up between Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation and Sir Paul Judge, the company's former non-executive director and City grandee. 

For readers that don't recall, ENRC is suing Sir Paul for allegedly leaking stories to the media when he was a £125,000 a year non-executive director. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Village gossip - has Bootle called off £100m sale of Capital Economics?

What has happened to strategic review of Capital Economics, the economics consultancy founded by well-known economist and Daily Telegraph commentator Roger Bootle?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

When "old" news becomes new news...

Hat tip to the Bloomberg M&A reporting team for smoking out Glencore's approach to Rio Tinto about a $160 billion merger.

For anybody who hasn't been following closely, Bloomberg revealed yesterday that a few weeks ago mining giant Glencore approached Chinalco, one of Rio Tinto's largest shareholders, to gauge the state-backed company's interest in whether it would like to see to two mining groups combine.

Whimper...or not - part 2

I see Hewlett-Packard yesterday indicated that it is considering further dealmaking after confirming its demerger plans.

According to the venerable Financial Times, Cathie Lesjak , chief financial officer, said HP has material non-public information that is "not expected to be resolved before the end of Q4". Analysts interpreted this "information" as a potential acquisition, according to the Financial Times. Here is a link the Financial Times article: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fddedbcc-4d6f-11e4-9683-00144feab7de.html#slide0

Monday, 6 October 2014

Pub gossip - part 5

Scribblers round at Goldman Sachs last Friday published a particularly bearish note on Marston's, the FTSE 250 pub company, and reiterated the shares are a "conviction sell". Ouch.

Basically, the Goldman analyst argues Martson's is slightly stuck between a rock and hard place because it needs to throw money at its pubs to reposition its estate into larger food-led outlets but can't do this as it also needs to "de-lever" its balance sheet.

Pizzas and burgers

Old Russell Chambers got a mention in Dominic Walsh's diary column in The Times last Friday.

For readers that don't know, Russell is a Credit Suisse banker who became well-known for lending the former PM, Tony Blair, a pair of swim shorts during a holiday on the financier's boat in Barbados. Chambers was subsequently dubbed "Tony Blair's favourite banker".

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Lord Mayor setback for Sir Paul

Interesting to see that former Kleinwort Benson banker Alan Yarrow was earlier this week elected to be the new Lord Mayor of London.

Last time I checked, Sir Paul Judge was one of the leading candidates to become Lord Mayor. Here is a link to a Daily Mail article on the topic: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-2514669/City-London-mayor-hopeful-Sir-Paul-Judge-accuses-ENRC-trying-entrap-him.html

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Top Deutsche Bank dealmaker predicts another "leg to this upcycle"

I was expecting dealmaking the UK to roar back into life after Summer. But it's unusually quiet in the UK M&A market at the moment, with only just a couple of mid-market deals knocking around, such as Greene King's £700m bid for Spirit.

Henrik Aslaken, though, is still reasonably bullish about dealmaking. The head of M&A at Deutsche Bank just told the Financial Times: "we haven't seen the hubris in the boardroom yet, with no outsized megadeal being announced. So it feels like there is another leg to this upcycle."

Monday, 29 September 2014

Microchip Technology appoints...nobody, apparently

I have spent the last few weeks trying to find out which investment bank has been advising Microchip  Technology on its approach for CSR, the London-listed chipmaker. So far, I haven't turned up with anything.

Anyway, it turns out there might be a good reason why I haven't managed to find out (apart from being a rubbish journalist). According to some sources following this situation, Microchip hasn't been using a financial adviser since the negotiations began.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Supermarket sweep

Mike Ashley's multi-million pound punt on Tesco has certainly caused a stir in the London market this morning.

Ashley is a born trader and maverick entrepreneur and I would certainly be wary of betting against him. However, let's not forget that some of the sharpest "professional" investors in global stock markets have already this year taken substantial positions in listed British supermarkets and, so far, it doesn't appear (I say "appear" as these positions may have been hedged) to have been a good trade.

German humour

Alistair Osborne's business comment column in The Times today is well worth read. Osborne is an acerbic writer and professional wind up merchant who I used to work with at The Daily Telegraph. His comment on Rocket Internet's IPO is particularly amusing. Here is a link to it:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/columnists/alistairosborne/article4217149.ece

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pub gossip - part 4

It's a bit late in the day but just a quick note to congratulate Bryce Elder, the stock market reporter over at the Financial Times, on yesterday's scoop about Greene King's £700m takeover approach for rival Spirit. Here is a link to Bryce's piece: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cb3478c6-4338-11e4-be3f-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3EAr0HkhD

Dom Walsh over at The Times also did an excellent follow piece with a comprehensive list of counter bidders for Spirit, including Stonegate and Marston's. However, from what I am hearing I'm not sure Marston's is in the financial position to launch a bid for Spirit.