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Oil giants meet

Saudi Arabia met fellow OPEC member Venezuela and oil powers Russia and Mexico in Vienna yesterday, as some of the world's largest crude producers engaged in last-minute shuttle diplomacy in a bid to convince OPEC kingpin Riyadh to support prices.

Saudi Arabia has kept the market guessing about its response to crude's near 30pc drop since June, but ahead of OPEC's meeting tomorrow has shown willingness to talk with rival producers, including non-members Russia and Mexico.

'Put up or shut up'

The Irish Takeover Panel has issued a so-called 'put up or shut up' notice to Dragon Oil to state whether or not it wants to make an offer for Petroceltic.

Last month Irish and London listed Dragon said it was planning a near £500 million (€629m) bid for Petroceltic.

Yesterday the Takeover Panel said it had set a deadline of 5pm on December 19 for Dragon to either announce an offer or state that it will not proceed with its bid.

Dragon is on track to produce between 5pc and 10pc more oil this year than last.

BT closer to 02 deal

Britain's BT Group could offer at least €6bn to Spanish peer Telefonica on top of a 20pc stake in its share capital for the O2 mobile network, El Confidencial reported yesterday without citing sources.

Both Telefonica and BT confirmed on Monday they were in early stage talks after El Confidencial reported O2 could be sold in return for a 20pc stake in BT as part of a strategic alliance to strengthen the two groups.

Including the €6bn, the total value of the deal would be around €14bn, less than Telefonica paid to buy O2 in 2006. BT and Telefonica declined to comment.

UK mortgage slowdown

British banks approved 37,076 mortgages for house purchase in October, the lowest number since May 2013, as the housing market continued to slow, the British Bankers' Association said yesterday.

Mortgage approvals for house purchases fell from 39,127 in September, 16pc down from the same time a year ago and almost a quarter below the peak reached in January, the BBA said.

"The figures suggest that the cooling of the property market has continued in recent weeks," said BBA chief economist Richard Woolhouse. However, unsecured consumer credit lending is picking up strongly, growing at an annual rate of nearly 3pc.

Irish Independent