Market Report: Brussels muscles in and Bwin loses out


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The Independent Online

It could have been just another boring conference in Brussels. That was until the police arrived at the European Gaming and Betting Association's Responsible Gaming Day yesterday and took away Norbert Teufelberger, co-chief executive of Entertainment.

Reports out of the city said the online gaming group Bwin has been in dispute with the Belgian authorities over gaming licences and its websites for some time. Apparently the public prosecutor in Belgium has been inviting Bwin to come over to Brussels.

Bwin allegedly failed to RSVP, so the authorities decided to take matters into their own hands when they found out that Mr Teufelberger was in town.

Bwin said in a statement: "Norbert Teufelberger was requested to attend an interview with the Belgium authorities. He complied voluntarily with this request and is co-operating fully with the authorities."

Investors weren't willing to gamble and Bwin's shares lost more than 4 per cent on the news, down 4.9p to 113.3p.

Talking of gambling, punters were speculating that there could again be some takeover activity in the aerospace sector on the benchmark index. There were vague rumours that BAE Systems, French rival (and former merger candidate) Eads and possibly Boeing could be taking a look at the US group Hexcel Corporation. BAE shares hovered up 2.1p to 308.4p.

There was a late rally on the FTSE 100 after the decision on Greece's aid was delayed. Eurozone fears and concerns on the outcome of the US's debt problems weighed on investors' minds, but by late afternoon the benchmark index was up, and closed ahead 18.98 points to 5,786.25.

The devastation wreaked by Superstorm Sandy in the US will eventually be cleared up and rebuilt. While, like many companies operating stateside, CRH has been hit in the short term, the Irish builder said its contribution to repairs will give its numbers a boost next year.

In an update to the City, the construction firm and cement and concrete supplier said that although it had suffered "significant disruption to our materials operations in the region over the past two weeks", the aftermath of the hurricane was "likely to result in significant reconstruction work that should benefit 2013".

More generally, CRH is dealing with lower growth in its American operations and a higher rate of decline in Europe. Its third-quarter results revealed that like-for-like sales were down 3 per cent, having been flat over the first six months of the year. But the City clearly thinks the results could have been worse, and the shares edged up 5p to 1,140p.

Liberum Capital's Charlie Campbell said that although its earnings guidance had "slipped", it was by "only a little", and pointed out its cost-cutting programme has been stepped up with €450m (£360m) of new savings. Mr Campbell gave the stock a hold rating and a price target of 1,150p while UBS held its neutral rating.

Better news came from broadcaster ITV. It reported total sales up 4 per cent in the first nine months to £1.57bn. Scribblers at Numis gave it a buy rating, an upgrade from add, and it topped the blue-chip index, up 7.8p to 94.6p.

Over on the mid-cap index, the paper and packaging group Mondi was rumoured to have made a placing of 19.3 million shares, at 634p to 640p, through Barclays. Its shares lost 15.5p to 640p.

The aviation services-to-newspapers group John Menzies reported its positive start to its second half has continued, with ground handling volumes up 2.7 per cent. It expects full-year results to be in line with expectations. It booked in an 11.5p gain to 590p.

The Finnish nickel miner Talvivaara is still having trouble sorting out its leak and is not able to restart production. Concerns on future funding have emerged, and its shares lost another 12.35p to 83.4p.

There was better news for the diamond miner Petra Diamonds, which reported a 70 per cent jump in production year on year. Sales were up, and it signed a new debt facility. Its shares sparkled 2.65p to 102p.

Kazakhstan's biggest mobiles company, Kcell, is coming to London. It plans to list 25 per cent in London and Kazakhstan by the end of the year.

Two pieces of good news in a week for the Aim-listed north sea oil group Antrim Energy helped its shares up 0.25p to 49.75p. Yesterday it said it has hired a floating production, storage and offloading vessel for the development of the Fyne Field. The day before, it started production in the Causeway field.