Updates from HSBC, Tullow Oil and Whitbread
Overnight in Asia the Nikkei's recent ascent was stemmed very slightly, down -0.09% overall to 9,510, while the Hang Seng - just - moved into positive territory, up +0.01%.
We start with HSBC and an agreement with US authorities to pay out almost £1.20bn to settle money-laundering accusations. Shareholders were warned by boss Stuart Gulliver earlier this year that the bank was exposed to such a fine.
"We accept," says Group chief exec Stuart Gulliver, "responsibility for our past mistakes. We have said we are profoundly sorry for them, and we do so again. The HSBC of today is a fundamentally different organisation from the one that made those mistakes."
It needs to be a different organisation because the US authorities are less likely to be forgiving the next time. The HSBC fine is large, partly because the US authorities claim HSBC's activities exposed its financial system to drug money, as well as terrorism concerns.
Next, Tullow Oil. Tullow has announced it is buying Norwegian exploration company, Spring Energy Norway, for $372 million. It also intends to sell its exploration and development assets in the UK and Dutch Southern North Sea ("SNS") gas basin.
Tullow says, additionally, its Ghana Jubilee Phase 1A production has commenced and "the Okure-1 exploration well has encountered low net to gross oil bearing reservoir in a secondary objective."
The first Jubilee Phase 1A production well, Tullow said, "has been brought on stream and is now producing in excess of 16,500 bopd resulting in field production of over 90,000 bopd. This is the first of five Phase 1A producers which are planned to be completed before mid 2013."
Finally, double digit sales growth for hotel and restaurant player Whitbread (as well as owner of Costa and Premier Inn). Total sales climbs 14.4% with like-for-like sales growth of 3.3% it said in an interim statement. Whitbread says it's also in line to deliver strong full year numbers.
Premier Inn increased total room nights sold by 9.6% to 10.5 million, Whitbread says. Year to date, Premier Inn like for like revpar grew 1.8%. Occupancy was up 0.2ppts to 80.4% and rate was up by 1.5%.
Costa Asia system sales, says Whitbread, grew by 80.2% to £33.8 million, with like-for-like sales growth in China softer over the third quarter.