News Column

TOP NEWS: Three More Healthcare And Tech Firms Set For London IPO

July 7, 2014



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

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COMPANIES

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Anglo American PLC said it has entered a deal with Lafarge SA for Anglo American to sell to Lafarge its 50% holding in building-materials group Lafarge Tarmac Holdings Ltd for a minimum value of GBP885 million in cash. The FTSE 100-listed mining giant said it has reached an agreement in principle to sell the stake in Lafarge Tarmac, which supplies aggregates and asphalt from more than 70 production plants and over 100 quarries in the UK, and develops sustainable readymix concrete, lime and powder, and cement products. The company said the sale is being made as Lafarge SA plans to offer a full divestment of the joint venture to the European Commission as part of an ongoing proposed merger between Lafarge and Holcim Ltd. The two major cement makers are being forced to shed a large range of assets so that the merger meets European competition regulations.

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Brewing giant SABMiller PLC said it could sell all its 39.6% stake in gaming, hotel and entertainment group Tsogo Sun Holdings Ltd, disposing of a business it no longer considers part of its main portfolio and using the funds to invest in its remaining businesses. In a statement, SABMIller said it will sell up to the whole holding, valued at about ZAR11.7 billion, or about USD1.09 billion, by selling 305 million shares in a secondary placing into the market, and through a deal whereby Tsogo Sun will buy back about 130 million shares for ZAR2.8 billion or about USD260 million.

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Faroe Petroleum PLC said the Butch South West exploration well 8/10-6S in the Norwegian North Sea has drilled to its target depth, finding a good quality reservoir but without any hydrocarbons. The oil and gas exploration company said that Butch South West exploration well will now be plugged and abandoned, meaning that both the eastern and south western flanks of the Butch Main oil discovery have failed to add further resources. The Butch licence is owned and operated by Centrica PLC, which has a 40% stake, while Faroe has a 15% stake, Tullow Oil Norge AS, a subsidiary of Tullow Oil PLC, also has a 15% stake, and Suncor Norge AS holds the other 30%. The south west exploration well started drilling in early June, reached a total depth of 1,945 metres and targeted sandstones in the upper Jurassic reservoir of the Ula formation of the region. It found a 55 metre reservoir space but no hydrocarbons.

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Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey PLC echoed its peers citing recovery in the UK housing market for a strong first half of 2014, with sales and pricing at the upper end of its expectations. All of the UK's major housebuilders have reported an accelerating recovery in the UK housing market through 2013 and into this year, particularly in the southeast of England, where Taylor Wimpey has high exposure. Taylor Wimpey said customer confidence remains high, while visitor levels remain strong. It said during the first half it achieved an average private net reservation rate of 0.71 per outlet per week, compared with 0.67 per outlet per week a year earlier. Average selling price of completions increased to GBP206,000 from GBP188,000, while the average selling price on private completions increased 9% to GBP224,00 from GBP205,000.

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Private hospitals groupSpire HealthcareGroup PLC announced the expected price range for its initial public offering, whilst fellow healthcare company Abzena PLC priced its IPO and technology company ClearStar Inc announced plans to float on AIM. Spire Healthcare announced the expected price range of its planned initial public offering will be between 210 pence and 300 pence per share. On the smaller AIM market, life sciences company Abzena priced its initial public offering at 80 pence, giving it a market capitalisation of GBP77.9 million. The company said it has provisionally raised GBP20 million through the offering of 25 million new shares at 80 pence at this price. It expects to begin trading on AIM Thursday. Abzena is a portfolio holding of Imperial Innovations. ClearStar announced plans to float on AIM. It said that it believes an AIM listing will enhance its credibility and profile within its market place and help grow its business.

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MARKETS

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Stocks indices are trading modestly lower across the UK, with the mining stocks leading the fallers as precious metal prices continue to soften. The market is continuing to react to last week's better-than-expected US economic data, while also digesting the expectation of another downgrade to global growth forecasts by the International Monetary Fund.

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FTSE 100: down 0.2% at 6853.67

FTSE 250: down 0.4% at 15979.18

AIM ALL-SHARE: down 0.2% at 789.13

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The combined effect of the mixed European data has left the the euro marginally higher against the dollar over the session so far, with the pound trading marginally lower.

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GBP-USD: down at USD1.7141

EUR-USD: up at USD1.3595



GOLD: down at USD1313.12 per ounce

OIL (Brent): up at USD110.65 a barrel



(changes since end of previous GMT day)

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ECONOMICS AND GENERAL

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German industrial production declined unexpectedly in May, official data indicated. Industrial output fell 1.8% in May from the prior month, Destatis reported. This was the third consecutive fall in production. Economists had forecast a 0.2% rise after declining by revised 0.3% in April.

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Eurozone investor sentiment recovered in July, after weakening in the previous two months, led by an improvement in economic expectations, survey figures from the think-tank Sentix showed. The Sentix indicator rose to 10.1 from June's 8.5. Economists had forecast a lower score of 7.7. The economic expectations index climbed to 18.3 from 17 in the previous month and equaled May's score. The index rose for the first time in five months.

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International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde indicated a slight reduction to the institution's global growth outlook as investment remains subdued. The global economic outlook to be released later this month would be "slightly different" from previous forecasts, Lagarde said at the Cercle des Economists conference in Aix-en-Provence, France on Sunday. Nonetheless, she said the global activity is expected to gain momentum in the second half of the year and to accelerate further in 2015 after an unexpectedly weak start to 2014.

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Britain's chancellor and foreign secretary began a visit to India for talks on trade and defence with the newly elected government. George Osborne and William Hague arrived in the financial hub of Mumbai where they were slated to meet business leaders. On Tuesday, they were to travel to New Delhi for discussions with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley before meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "The purpose of our India visit is to build even stronger diplomatic and economic ties - good for jobs and growth in both countries," Hague wrote on his Twitter account.

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Berlin stepped up the pressure on Washington over allegations of spying in Germany by a suspected double agent with Chancellor Angela Merkel describing the claims as serious and a possible breach of trust between the two allies. "If the reports are correct, it would be a serious case," Merkel told a joint press conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing. She said the incident "would represent for me a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting cooperation between agencies and partners." The claims that a German intelligence agent had given sensitive information to the US authorities follow a stream of reports about US spying in Germany.

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The US warned Sunday that travellers who show up at overseas airports with electronic devices must be able to turn them on if asked to do so. "Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft," the Transportation Security Administration warned. The move appeared to be connected to a rash of concern about threats to US-bound flights.

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German President Joachim Gauck Sunday warned of further strains in German-US relations after the arrest of a man alleged to have passed documents to Washington. If suspicions are confirmed that an employee of the German intelligence service had spied for the US, then it's time to draw a line, he said. "That's enough of this now," he said. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere called the situation "grave." Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier demanded that nothing more be swept under the carpet.

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Ukraine's military advanced Sunday on the industrial city of Donetsk, where pro-Russian separatists were digging in after losing Sloviansk a day earlier. President Petro Poroshenko called the recapture of the rebel stronghold a "turning point" in weeks of fighting and ordered the continuation of the offensive. The taking of Sloviansk occurred on the day Ukraine and Russia had agreed would be the deadline for starting talks on a long-term ceasefire, but those talks failed to materialize. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a phone call with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, that it was "of grave concern" that the talks between Ukrainian authorities and the rebels had not taken place, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

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Sunni militants stormed a church in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Sunday and kidnapped two priests and a nun, witnesses said. Militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant jihadist group have in recent weeks seized large parts of northern and western Iraq, including Mosul, as well as a string of towns stretching south towards Baghdad. Fighters of ISIL, an al-Qaeda splinter group, also took control of parts in eastern Syria, and claim to have opened the borders between the two countries to establish their own Islamic caliphate.

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Israeli airstrikes killed nine Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip overnight, officials said Monday. Israel bombed a site belonging to the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamist Hamas movement in control of the Gaza Strip, in the area of a defunct airport outside the town of Rafah, near the Israeli border. The bodies of six fighters were found before dawn Monday, Gaza emergency services chief Ashraf al-Qedra told reporters. They were found in a tunnel dug by the Brigades, Hamas-run al-Aqsa television said. Three others reportedly died in Israeli strikes, which were launched in response to more than 25 rocket attacks from Gaza on Sunday and at least a dozen more on Monday.

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Somalia's radical Islamist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for two attacks overnight on the Kenyan coast that police and Red Cross said Sunday left 22 people dead. The shootings took place in the town of Hindi in Lamu County, the site of an attack last month by the militants that left more than 60 people dead. A separate assault took place in Gamba, in neighbouring Tana River County.

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Nigerian security forces confirmed the escape of 63 women abducted by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram last month, local media reported. They managed to flee after their captors left to launch an attack at the weekend against Nigeria's army in Damboa, in the troubled northern Borno State, the Premium Times newspaper reported. "We don't have the details of their escape yet, but we believe God gave them the opportunity at the time the insurgents came in large numbers to attack Damboa," Abbas Gava, a member of a Civilian Task Force set up to help the army halt Boko Haram, was quoted as saying. Between five and seven women remained in captivity, according to Gava, one of them a nursing mother.

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