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Most followed: Afren, AGA Rangemaster, Barclays, British Gas, Burberry, Centrica, Tower Resources

The clear-out at the top of Barclays continues; Middleby cooks up an agreed bid for AGA; things are looking bleak for Afren.
Not an AGA ... but British Gas is cutting its prices

There is news from areas other than Greece this morning, so let’s start with British Gas, which is cutting its prices.

The utility company, owned by FTSE 100 heavyweight Centrica (LON:CNA), has announced plans to cut household gas prices by 5%, which would save the average household £35 a year on its energy bills.

The new tariffs come into effect on 27 August, and follow a 25% fall in wholesale prices since December of last year; British Gas customers don’t get the full 25% cut, partly because British Gas cut its prices in January and partly because … well, that’s how these things go.  

Reaching into my box of tenuous links, we move on from British Gas to cookers group AGA Rangemaster (LON:AGA), which is the subject of an agreed bid by Middleby, which describes itself as “an experienced acquirer of businesses”.

Middleby is offering 185p in cash for AGA, which values the company at £129mln. A month or so ago AGA’s shares were languishing at 104p before news of bid talks broke.

The board of AGA has given the bid the thumbs up, and Middleby revealed that shareholders representing 19.1% of the issued share capital are on board, so this bid looks far from half-baked.

The clear-out at the top at lender Barclays (LON:BARC) continues, with deputy chairman Sir Mike Rake on his way to payments processing firm Worldpay, where he is set to be the new chairman.

At least he seems to be going voluntarily, which is reportedly more than can be said for Antony Jenkins, the former chief executive officer who was turfed out by chairman John McFarlane last week.

Fashion chain Burberry (LON:BRBY) seems to have lost its golden touch, at least in Hong Kong, where it is seeing subdued demand.

On the plus side, things are going better in Europe, and overall the group reported an 8% year-on-year underlying increase in retail sales.

In small cap news, Afren (LON:AFR) has asked for trading in its shares to be suspended, as it is unable to assess accurately its financial position after realising that near-term production levels would fall significantly below expectations.

There was happier news for sector peer Tower Resources (LON:TRP), which has raised £5.2mln in an oversubscribed placing.

The funds will finance its new project off the coast of Cameroon.


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