News Column

TOP NEWS: Shire "Willing To Recommend" Raised AbbVie Offer

July 14, 2014



LONDON (Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories Monday.

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COMPANIES

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FTSE 100 listed Shire PLC said it is "willing to recommend" a raised takeover offer from US drugs maker AbbVie Inc's to shareholders. The revised proposal comprises GBP24.44 in cash and 0.8960 shares of the new company for each existing Shire share. Based on AbbVie's share price on Friday, the new offer has a value of GBP53.20 per Shire share, or GBP31.33 billion in total. Under the new proposal Shire shareholders would own around 25% of the new company. Shire said its board is in detailed discussions with AbbVie regarding other terms of the offer, and cautioned there could be certainty that any firm offer will be made. Under UK takeover rules, AbbVie currently has until July 18 to make a formal bid or walk away.

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Online retailer MySaleGroup PLC said it has partnered with its new investor Sports Direct International PLC to launch a Sports Direct offering in Australia and New Zealand. The recently listed retailer said Sports Direct, the UK's biggest sporting goods retailer by revenue, plans to launch in Australia and New Zealand by forming an online partnership with OzSale.com.au, part of the MySale Group, giving Sports Direct immediate access to its 12 million customers. "Its Australian and New Zealand sites will be launched later this year and be ready to ship goods in the same month," MySale said in a statement.

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John WoodGroup PLC said it has acquired Norwegian engineering and industrial services company, Agility Projects AS, for roughly USD164 million, strengthening its Norwegian offshore engineering capability. The FTSE 250-listed industrial services company said Agility Projects is based near Oslo and focuses on activities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, with 650 personnel currently being employed across its operations. Wood Group said Agility will operate within Wood Group Mustang's offshore business and will be headed by the current Agility Group Chief Executive Otto SØberg, along with the existing Agility Projects management team. The company said that the deal is subject to certain conditions, including competition approvals, but if these all go through it should be completed in the third quarter.

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Tullow Oil PLC said the Gardim-1 exploration well at its Chew Bahir Basin in Ethiopia has failed to find commercial levels of oil, adding to questions over the viability of drilling for oil in the country. The FTSE 100 oil exploration company said the Gardim-1 well reached its total depth of 2,468 metres and found minor gas shows but no commercial levels of oil. As a result, the well will now be plugged and abandoned, with its rig being demobilised while results are integrated into its regional basin model. "Whilst our analysis continues, initial indications suggest that the targeted seismic anomalies related to lavas that flowed into a lake basin. Having gained valuable data, including evidence of thermogenic gas, we look forward to the next phase of our exploration campaign in Ethiopia," Exploration Director Angus McCoss said in a statement.

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UK investigator Peter Humphrey and his wife, who were hired by GlaxoSmithKline PLC's China head Mark Reilly in 2013, have been formally charged by Chinese authorities, according to China's state news agency Xinhua. The pair have been charged with illegally obtaining private information on Chinese citizens, the report said, citing prosecutor sources. This included buying information illegally from others, secret photography, infiltration or tailing individuals. Humphrey and his wife Yu Ying Zeng, who together ran a company called ChinaWhys Co Ltd, were arrested last August. Humphrey was contracted by Mark Reilly in April 2013 to investigate an email that made allegations of bribery by Glaxo and contained a sex tape of Reilly. Humphrey was prepaid CNY100,000 for the investigation, and said he only learnt the details of the bribery allegations when he had finished an investigation into suspected whistle-blower Vivian Shi Wen, a former staff member of Glaxo.

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Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC said it has won a contact to supply the new Airbus A330neo with its Trent 7000 engine, while easyJet PLC said it has appointed CFM International SA as its engine supplier for its own Airbus jet order. Rolls-Royce said Airbus has selected its new Trent 7000 as the exclusive engine for the new aircraft, the seventh Trent engine in the series. easyJet said it has appointed CFM International as its engine supplier. Under the terms of the deal CFM will provide 270 engines to power its firm order of 35 Airbus current generation A320 aircraft and 100 Airbus new generation A320neo aircraft. CFM will also provide engines for any future exercise of the 100 purchase rights over new generation aircraft.

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International Consolidated AirlinesGroup PLC said it has converted 20 of the 100 Airbus 320neo options it announced in August 2013 into firm orders. The company said the aircraft will be delivered in 2018 and 2019 and will provide cost savings and environmental benefits. New technology and improved aerodynamics will lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions by 15%, said IAG, as well as providing both noise and NOx performance advantages. Initially announced last year as part of a Vueling order for up to 120 Airbus A320 family aircraft, IAG had also secured 100 A320neo options. The remaining options can be used for any of the airlines in the group - British Airways, Iberia or Vueling - for aircraft replacement requirements, said IAG.

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MARKETS

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Stock markets are trading higher across the UK, rebounding from the heavy sell-off suffered last week, although the rally was curtailed when eurozone industrial production data confirmed a slowdown in May.

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FTSE 100: up 0.7% at 6733.62

FTSE 250: up 0.7% at 15556.59

AIM ALL-SHARE: up 0.6% at 775.01

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GBP-USD: down at USD1.7114

EUR-USD: up at USD1.3623



GOLD: down at USD1321.00 per ounce

OIL (Brent): up at USD106.94 a barrel



(changes since end of previous GMT day)

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ECONOMICS AND GENERAL

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The UK 's business optimism was highest among the developed nations in June amid weakening global sentiment, results of Markit's Global Business Outlook survey showed. Business confidence in the UK, in terms of expected future activity, employment and investment, came in highest among the G4 economies - which also includes the US, Japan and the eurozone - though the measure eased from February's record high. The Markit Global Business Outlook Survey was carried out in June and is based on responses from a panel of 11,000 manufacturing and services companies. The survey is conducted three times a year.

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Eurozone industrial production declined in May for the second time this year, estimates published by Eurostat showed. Industrial production fell 1.1% month-on-month, reversing the 0.7% rise in April. Output was expected to drop 1.2%. Durable consumer goods and non-durable consumer goods fell 1.8% and 2.2%, respectively. Similarly, production of intermediate goods slid 2.4% and capital goods decreased slightly by 0.5%. Partially offsetting the reduction, energy output advanced 3%. On a yearly basis, industrial output grew at a slower pace of 0.5%, following the 1.4% rise in April. The annual rate matched economists' expectations.

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Israel bombed 40 more targets in the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian militants launched at least 20 rockets across the border despite a call by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for a truce. The death toll rose to 172 on the seventh day of the Israeli offensive, with more than 1,200 wounded, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said. The majority of casualties have been civilians, including children and women. Ban expressed concern despite a clear Security Council demand for a ceasefire, the situation in and around the Gaza Strip appeared to be worsening.

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Iraq's parliament Sunday failed for a second time in less than a month to pick candidates for several top posts, and move towards forming a government, as Sunni insurgents seize control of large swathes of the country. Mahdi Hafez, the most senior lawmaker, adjourned the session until Tuesday to allow more time for consultations, saying the blocs had not yet resolved their disagreements over who to nominate for the posts. Parliament has failed since its election in late April to break the impasse that has blocked the process of choosing the country's top three positions of president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker. Outgoing Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who has been in office since 2006, is fighting for a third term despite criticism from opponents who accuse him of monopolizing power and marginalizing the Sunni minority.

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Acknowledging that the situation in Ukraine was degrading, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a dialogue between the government in Kiev and pro-Russian separatists. The two leaders met in Rio de Janeiro before the World Cup final. Russia will host the next World Cup in 2018. They "noted the necessity of the soonest possible resumption of work of the contact group (on Ukraine), possibly in the format of a video conference," said Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov and Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert. Putin said it was unacceptable that shells from the Ukrainian military have landed on Russian soil. His comments came after fighting left dozens dead in the restive Donetsk region of Ukraine and claimed the first fatality on Russian territory.

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Japan's industrial output growth for May was revised upwards, final figures from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed. Final industrial production rose 0.7% month-on-month in May, which was more than the 0.5% increase estimated in the preliminary report on June 29. In April, production grew 2.8%. Shipments fell 1% in May, revised from the preliminary 1.2% decline. Inventories increased by a revised 3% month-on-month in June, following the preliminary estimate of a 2.9% rise. Capacity utilization decreased 0.7% in May, a slower rate of decline than the 2.2% fall in April. On a year-over-year basis, industrial output grew 1% in May, revised upwards from the preliminary estimate of a 0.8% increase. In April, output had risen 3.8%.

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Standard & Poor's Ratings Services affirmed the sovereign ratings on Germany and raised the outlook on Ukraine to 'stable'. Germany's coveted 'AAA' rating was affirmed with 'stable' outlook. S&P said the Germany economy has demonstrated its ability to absorb large economic and financial shocks. The 'stable' outlook reflects the expectation that Germany's public finances will continue to withstand potential financial and economic shocks and that consensus in favor of prudent economic policies will remain. The rating agency also affirmed the 'CCC' long-term foreign currency sovereign credit ratings on Ukraine and upgraded the outlook to 'stable' from 'negative'.

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Foreign ministers from Western powers and Iran failed to unblock major disagreements on a planned nuclear deal Sunday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said after one day of high-level talks in Vienna. Hague and his counterparts from the US, France and Germany pressured Iran to make the necessary concessions for clinching a nuclear deal before the window of opportunity for negotiations closes on July 20. Iran and six world powers have set themselves this deadline for reaching an agreement to curb Iran's nuclear programme, scrap sanctions against the Islamic state, and end more than a decade of diplomatic tensions between the two sides.

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Salvage workers began floating the wreck of the Costa Concordia, more than two years after the cruise ship hit a reef and partly capsized off a Tuscan island. Technicians began working to raise the ship 2 metres by pumping air into tanks attached to it, said a spokeswoman for the ship's owner, Costa Crociere. In an operation expected to be completed within a week, the Costa Concordia will be refloated and towed about 30 metres out to sea. There it will be anchored and the 30 air tanks will be placed in their final positions on its side for a voyage to Genoa, its home port, for dismantling.

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Mario Goetze came off the subs' bench to lift Germany to a fourth World Cup title, 1-0 over Argentina on Sunday as the nation's golden generation finally delivered. Man of the Match Goetze chested a cross from Andre Schuerrle and volleyed with his left foot past Sergio Romero for the winning goal which set the scene for captain Philipp Lahm to lift the World Cup trophy amid his overjoyed team-mates. Joachim Loew's team, who hammered hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semis, became the first European team to lift the World Cup in the Americas with the victory at the Maracana. Germany won their fourth world title following 1954, 1974 and 1990, then also 1-0 against Argentina, and the first big one overall since Euro 1996 after several near misses in recent years.

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