Northern Ireland gas distribution utility Phoenix is to be put up for sale by its private equity owner in a move that could attract interest from sector players south of the border.
Terra Firma, the UK private equity group founded by Guy Hands, has engaged Wall Street investment bank JP Morgan to handle the sale.
It is expected Phoenix will be put up for sale in the new year. It delivers gas to about 153,000 properties in the Belfast area and also owns and operates a 3,100km distribution pipeline network.
Trader arrested in Apple stock scam
A former trader at Rochdale Securities was arrested by federal agents and charged with fraud after an alleged attempt to profit from a $1bn purchase of Apple stock, which backfired and left the US trading group in distress. David Miller (40) surrendered to the FBI in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and was charged with wire fraud relating to transactions which took place on October 25 – the day Apple reported its fourth-quarter results.
Oil recovers as US budget fears ease
The price of oil rose today as worries receded over whether US leaders would reach a budget deal before a year-end deadline. Benchmark crude for January delivery was up 35c to $88.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract had finished down 59c at $88.50 a barrel in New York last night. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose 25c to $110.09 on London's ICE Futures exchange.
Nokia to partner with China Mobile
Nokia is to partner with China Mobile – the world's biggest operator – to launch a version of its flagship Lumia smartphone tailored for the world's largest market. China Mobile, which has more than 700 million subscribers but no contract to sell iPhones, will start selling the Lumia 920T, the first phone to be based on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 platform. Nokia's Lumia 920 and 820 models are seen as crucial for the Finnish company as it tries to regain market share from Apple and Samsung.
Eurozone reports retail sales slump
Retail sales across the 17 EU countries using the euro slumped far more than anticipated in October, largely due to a huge drop in Germany, in a development that will put more pressure on the ECB to cut borrowing rates soon.
Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said retail sales fell 1.2pc in October from the previous month and double September's decline.