Updates from RBS and Jardine Lloyd Thompson

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The FTSE 100 surged +1.02% ahead on Thursday thanks in part to more US stimulus noise. The Big Board ended the day at 6,625, up 66 points. The biggest climber was Randgold Resources, up +8.11% to 4841p while Aberdeen Asset Management climbed +6.40% to 390.80p.

Overnight, the Nikkei 225 is down slightly, to 14,724 points.
We start with RBS and news that it hopes to rake in as much as £650m from off-loading another chunk of Direct Line. The taxpayer-supported bank has hired UBS plus a spread of other brokers to sell around 18% of the insurance player.

It's thought RBS will be left with a 28% stake if all shares are taken, given that it has already sold substantial stakes in the insurer previously. Direct Line shares have risen by more than 20% since its IPO last year.

RBS will probably be hoping to sell shares in the 207p to 210p range and a discount of around 5%, given last night's closing price of 218p. The stock originally sold at 175p when it was listed.

Next, insurance employee benefits player Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group is snapping up the reinsurance brokerage business of Towers Watson for US$250m (£156m).

Towers Watson's reinsurance brokerage business will be merged with JLT's reinsurance business, JLT Re, giving it combined revenues of US$266m (£166m) and 700 people in 35 locations in 17 countries.

The combined business will be branded for a transitional period as JLT Towers Re. "We see a significant strategic opportunity, " says JLT chief exec Dominic Burke, "through the merger of the two businesses to create a formidable new force and restore client choice to the reinsurance market."

Lastly, Polymetal. The miner claims it has won the contest for a copper exploration and mining licence for the Tarutin area in Russia. The Tarutin licence plot covers an area of 1.8 km (squared), located 28 km from the town of Chesma (population approximately 7,000) in the Chelyabinsk region.

The venture will be pushed through via Polymetal's LLC Vostochny Basis (VB), in which it owns 25%. VB will pay 15m roubles (approximately US$0.5m) for the licence and undertakes to complete no less than 11,000 metres of exploration drilling during the first 4 years after the licence is issued.

Tarutin, claims Polymetal, "is a conventional copper-gold skarn mineralisation with approximately 260 Kt of copper contained in open-pittable P-1 resources (estimated by the Russian State Central Research and Scientific Geological Exploration Institute)".