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Monday, 28 July 2014


Freed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky reacts during his news conference in the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, December 22, 2013.

Yukos ruling casts Russia further into the cold

28 July 2014

The Hague’s arbitration court ordered Russia to pay $50 bln to the expropriated oil group’s former shareholders. Moscow will appeal, but could lose again. It will then have to either blow a hole in public finances or ignore the penalty – and spend years in debtors’ hell.

Signage is seen at the front of a branch of Lloyds TSB bank, in the City of London.

Ripping off the BoE is new low for British banking

28 July 2014

Lloyds was kept afloat by billions of pounds of emergency liquidity from the Bank of England. It has now emerged the UK bank was fiddling repo rates to lower the fees on that lifeline. Every revelation like this sets back the sector’s bid to regain public and political trust.

A nurse prepares a vaccine shot at a hospital.

Reckitt pharma spinoff looks like a cold turkey

28 July 2014

The UK group is kicking its Suboxone habit. It plans to demerge its prescription drugs unit whose lead product is a heroin substitute. Reckitt is open to a trade sale and that might be more remunerative, but revenue and profit declines mean valuations could be thin either way.  

People stand near a branch of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in London November 1, 2013.

RBS gains much-needed buffer against bad news

25 July 2014

Investors welcomed the UK bank’s lower bad debts, plus asset sales coming faster than expected and at higher prices. The progress brings capital targets closer, lessens pressure on RBS to get a high price for its U.S. arm, and makes forthcoming litigation costs more bearable. 

Hugo Dixon

Hugo Dixon: Euro crisis is sleeping, not dead

28 July 2014

The euro zone is suffering from stagnation, “lowflation,” unemployment and debt. It’s not well placed to weather shocks, such as a further deterioration of relations with Russia. A pact to boost inflation and ramp up structural reform is the best way to insure against disaster.

A microphone of Sky Sport TV station is seen before the German Bundesliga first division soccer match between Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim in Munich March 10, 2012.

Sky Europe transforms BSkyB investment case

25 July 2014

The UK satellite group is paying its 39 pct shareholder Fox 4.9 bln stg for sister Sky outfits in Germany and Italy. The businesses are close already and the price looks reasonable. Sky Europe promises scale, growth, and cost savings. But leverage will soar and cash returns shrivel.

Smiling Union Jack piggy banks

UK’s strong GDP has a soft centre

25 July 2014

The headline - 0.8 percent second-quarter growth - sounds good. But construction shrank and industrial production was weak. Only services were strong. It sounds like a warning of future problems. Expectations of a UK interest rate rise may be delayed, leading the pound down.