Friday 18 September 2015

Coincidence? - part 5

Apologies dear readers for banging on about this ad nauseam but I see Bloomberg revealed this evening that Anheuser-Busch Inbev "reached out" to Altria, SAB Miller's largest shareholder, before the Brazlian brewer's approach to the FTSE 100 company was announced on Wednesday.

So, it would appear the latest Bloomberg tale reinforces my argument from last night that it was crucial for little old Betaville to be the first news outlet on Tuesday afternoon to report the rumours about Altria cancelling its attendance at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference and the renewed speculation about a takeover bid for SAB Miller.

However, there appears to be a view that I can't claim that report as a clean "scoop". Indeed, last night a reader tweeted to me:

 21 hours ago
The answer is that market reports noting traders speculation isnt the same as a sourced article breaking a deal

Now, as much as I like and respect my readers, I have to beg to differ with the Giant Gooner's view on stock market reporting - and not just because he is an Arsenal fan. He/she really misses the point about sourcing, what goes into a market report and how some of the best stock market reporters - such as Bryce Elder, Geoff Foster, Paul Murphy, Gary Parkinson, Neil Hume and Mickey Clarke - broke some of Britain's biggest M&A scoops over the last twenty years.

Take, for example, Bryce Elder's Financial Times market report published on July 27, 2015, which revealed Switzerland's Zurich Insurance was preparing a £5 billion takeover offer for UK-listed RSA. Here is the link:

Bryce was the first and only reporter in the global financial media to report the rumours on that day about Zurich (and I don't mean vague bid rumours but detailed rumours involving Zurich) assessing a takeover offer for RSA despite getting a bum steer from people familiar with RSA, claiming it hadn't received an offer.

And 24 hours later Zurich said:

"Zurich Insurance Group Ltd ("Zurich") notes the recent market speculation in relation to RSA Insurance Group plc ("RSA") and confirms that it is evaluating a possible offer for RSA.  This announcement does not amount to a firm intention to make an offer under Rule 2.7 of the Code and there can be no assurance that any offer will be made."

So how can Giant Gooner argue that just because Bryce's Zurich/RSA story was in the Financial Times "market report" it cannot be responsible for "breaking a deal"? What, then, was Zurich referring to in its statement to the UK's regulatory news service given Bryce was the only reporter to report the previous evening the rumour Zurich was weighing a bid for RSA?

Anyway, as I said before I'm going to shut up on this topic for fear of coming across as extremely self-indulgent but before I do I would just like to point out that Dominic Walsh, another excellent scoop getting hack over at The Times, revealed this evening on Twitter that:

Rumours Down Under that SABMiller could be pondering a possible bid for Aussie-listed Coke bottler Coca-Cola Amatil as defence against ABI

Now, if that ends up getting confirmed I would be happy to credit Dom with the scoop - although there was a suggestion of something similar in the Australian Financial Review's Street Talk column on Monday.

Perhaps, then, hacks at the Aussie paper - Sarah Thompson, Anthony MacDonald and Jake Mitchell - should be credited with breaking Anheuser-Busch Inbev's bid for SAB Miller wide open...

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