Market Report: Kazakhmys quiet on fate of ENRC stake

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The Independent Online

A 23-page trading update from Kazakhmys contained a mine of information, but the burning question that every City trader wanted to know was left unanswered. What will happen with Kazakhmys's stake in rival miner Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation?

The copper miner Kazakhmys, the single largest investor in ENRC with 26 per cent, said it would write down the value of the holding to close to the market value, implying an impairment of at least $1.5bn. It said that the value dropped to $1.55bn at the end of 2012 from $3.29bn at the end of 2011.

Its chief executive Oleg Novachuk's only comment on the subject was: "We are open to all possible options. As soon as we see an opportunity, we will use it, but currently it is difficult to see what will be the next step."

The Kazakhstan-focused miners have been surrounded by bid rumours for months. Despite a lack of news on the stake sale front, there was plenty of other detail for investors to study.

Kazakhmys's full-year profits dropped by more than 30 per cent to $1.36bn (£899m) because of weak prices and rising costs. Revenues fell 5.9 per cent to $3.35bn as the price of copper declined by 10 per cent over the year.

As expected, billionaire Vladimir Kim – Kazakhstan's richest man – stood down as chairman, and the former London Metal Exchange boss Simon Heale has come on board. But he was welcomed with a tumbling share price. As the biggest fallers in the benchmark index, the shares lost 58p to 619p.

Kazakhmys's decision on the future of its stake is a key issue for the miner, which is seeking to increase its free float to comply with London regulations. ENRC's shares dipped 8.6p to 338.4p.

At the other end of the spectrum, Kazakh's AIM tiddler Sunkar Resources updated the market with a detailed feasibility study on its Chilisai phosphate project in the country and the shares rocketed 9.62p to 13.75p.

Back on the FTSE 100 index, and joining Kazakhmys at the bottom of the table was Royal Bank of Scotland, down 22.9p to 323.9p as its £5.1bn full-year loss was more than analysts expected.

The index managed to hang on to the gains, and added another 34.9 points to 6,360.81.

City scribblers thought National Express was travelling in the right direction after its 2012 results, and the shares journeyed to the top of the mid-cap index, up 24.7p to 220p.

Howden Joinery results were also solid and it raised its dividend to 3p, which accompanied a share-price rise of 23.6p to 214p. Final results at the hedge fund Man Group were ahead of market expectations, but the performance on asset growth is a big worry for investors, and the shares declined 2.7p to 100.3p.

Nigel Wray, chairman of Saracens Rugby Union Club, decided to sell another slice of his shareholding in the pizza maker Domino's. He offloaded 5.6 million shares at 518p, reducing his stake to just under 3 per cent. He sold around £22m of shares last year. Stephen Hemsley, non-executive chairman, disposed of 1.1 million shares. Domino's share price topped up with another 18p to 537p.

Investors continued their demolition job on the small-cap steel contractor Severfield-Rowen's share price as it launched a £48m rights issue. Britain's biggest structural steel group has gone cap-in-hand to shareholders to raise £50m to put it on a firmer footing after a series of contract cost overruns damaged profits.

The contractor has been hit by £20m of cost overruns – British Land's Cheesegrater in Leadenhall Street was one of eight problem contracts that emerged last month when the chief executive Tom Haughey was ousted. But analysts think its £209m order book "remains robust". Jefferies' Andy Douglas rates the group a "hold" with a 107p price target.

Details of the rights issue and its full-year results today sent the share price south, down 3.5p to 68p.

Over on AIM, the cake maker Finsbury Food sold its Free From business to Edinburgh-based Genius Foods, founded in 2009 to specialise in gluten-free baked goods. Finsbury shares packed in a 7.5p rise to 51p.

The AIM tiddler Central Rand Gold completed a positive scoping study on its Crown West mining project, and the South African gold miner's shares glinted up 0.06p to 0.58p.