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Bloomberg: Vodafone, Carphone Warehouse, BG: U.K., Irish Equity Preview

EXTRACT: Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA LN): Shell’s refinery in Martinez, California, had an unplanned flaring which released about 500 pounds of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, according to Steve Lesher, a company spokesman.

By Trista Kelley and Sarah Thompson

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) — The following stocks may rise or fall in U.K. and Irish markets today. Stock symbols are in parentheses and prices are from the last market close.

The benchmark FTSE 100 Index rose 47.90, or 0.7 percent, to close at 6,595.80. The FTSE All-Share Index advanced 21.26, or 0.6 percent, to 3,387.06.

Ireland’s ISEQ Index increased 67.01, or 0.8 percent, to close at 8,478.48.

U.K. Companies:

Barclays Plc (BARC LN): Britain’s third-largest bank may be active after Merrill Lynch & Co. resumed coverage with a “buy” recommendation, citing “the positive tone of presentation at our recent banking conference.”

Separately, UBS AG lowered its share-price estimate on Barclays to 735 pence from 900 pence and reiterated its “buy” rating. Barclays stock gained 5 pence, or 0.8 percent, to 660 pence.

BG Group Plc (BG/ LN): The U.K.’s third-biggest natural-gas producer and its partners have boosted gas output from fields off western India by 48 percent to feed the nation’s growing demand for energy.

Gas output from the Panna, Mukta and Tapti fields has risen to 17 million cubic meters a day, Oil Minister Murli Deora told reporters Oct. 6 in Mumbai. The stock advanced 7 pence, or 0.9 percent, to 822.

Cadbury Schweppes Plc (CBRY LN): The world’s biggest candymaker by sales is being pressured by investors to explain at a trading update next week how it plans to increase profit margins, the Financial Times reported, citing no one.

Deputy Chairman Roger Carr has met with several institutional investors to outline the company’s efforts to improve profitability, the newspaper said. Cadbury shares rose 15 pence, or 2.6 percent, to 600.

Carphone Warehouse Group Plc (CPW LN): Carphone Warehouse broadband service subscribers dropped to as few as 95,000 in the second quarter from 126,000 last quarter on increased competition, the London-based Times reported, without citing anyone. The company will disclose the figures in a statement on Oct. 10, when it will also say its mobile handset distribution business suffered, the newspaper said. The stock increased 3.75 pence, or 1.1 percent, to 350.

Friends Provident Plc (FP/ LN): The U.K. insurer that agreed to be bought by Resolution Plc forecast nine-month new business sales will rise 17 percent. The shares added 1.3 pence, or 0.8 percent, to 173.9.

GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK LN): Europe’s largest drugmaker appointed Andrew Witty to replace Chief Executive Officer Jean- Pierre Garnier when he retires in May.

Witty heads the European pharmaceuticals unit of the London- based company, Glaxo said in a Regulatory News Service statement today. The shares gained 7.5 pence, or 1.6 percent, to 480.

HBOS Plc (HBOS LN): Britain’s biggest mortgage bank was added to Merrill Lynch’s “least preferred list.” Standard Chartered Plc, the London-based bank that earns most of its profit in Asia, was added to Merrill’s “Europe 1′ list.

Separately, HBOS was upgraded to “outperform” from “underperform” at Bear Stearns Cos., which said: “We believe the prospects for HBOS have improved.”

HBOS shares lost 11 pence, or 1.2 percent, to 948 pence, while Standard Chartered stock increased 17 pence, or 1.1 percent, to 1,617.

Kazakhmys Plc (KAZ LN): Kazakhstan’s biggest copper producer said the South Mine at its Zhezkazgan complex flooded Sept. 9. The shares gained 70 pence, or 4.6 percent, to 1,596.

Northern Rock Plc (NRK LN): The size of Northern Rock’s liabilities will likely slow any bid for the mortgage lender, the Sunday Express reported, citing unidentified people.

Northern Rock may have as much as 30 billion pounds ($61 billion) of current liabilities, the newspaper reported. Private equity firms JC Flowers & Co. and Cerberus Capital Management LP have both been given access to Northern Rock data and were stunned by the scale of the bank’s debts, the Express reported.

Separately, Citigroup Inc. plans to lend Northern Rock as much as 10 billion pounds to help cut the mortgage lender’s cost of borrowing, the London-based Times reported, without saying where it got the information. Northern Rock shares lost 3.2 pence, or 2 percent, to 158.5.

Regus Group Plc (RGU LN): Citigroup Inc. lowered its recommendation on the world’s largest provider of serviced offices to “sell” from “hold.”

“Regus’s key lead indicator is U.S. downtown office occupancy growth, we believe, and this is decelerating,” the bank wrote in a research note. The shares gained 2 pence, or 1.6 percent, to 126 pence.

Resolution Plc (RSL LN): The U.K. insurer may receive an offer worth about 4.5 billion pounds from Hugh Osmond’s Pearl Group Ltd. as early as next week, the Financial Times reported, citing no one. The shares were unchanged at 694.5 pence.

Rexam Plc (REX LN): Merrill Lynch resumed coverage on the world’s biggest maker of cans for the beverage industry with a “buy” recommendation.

“Rexam is investing more in growth can markets, has divested its mature glass operations and acquired O-I Plastics to add scale,” Merrill wrote in a research note. “We believe that these actions should enhance the group’s growth profile and returns to shareholders.” The stock slid 5 pence, or 0.9 percent, to 542.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS LN): The Royal Bank of Scotland Group-led group bidding for ABN Amro Holding NV may announce that its offer is unconditional as soon as today, the London-based Times reported, citing unidentified people close to the matter.

Royal Bank planned to make the statement on Oct. 10, saying that 86 percent of ABN shareholders voted in favor of the deal. The Dutch takeover authority may require the statement earlier, the newspaper said. Royal Bank shares advanced 6.5 pence, or 1.2 percent, to 569.5.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA LN): Shell’s refinery in Martinez, California, had an unplanned flaring which released about 500 pounds of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, according to Steve Lesher, a company spokesman.

The release, reported on a state-administered Web site, occurred when a compressor malfunctioned, he said. The stock added 10 pence, or 0.5 percent, to 1,955.

Vodafone Group Plc (VOD LN): The world’s biggest mobile- phone company agreed to buy Tele2 AB’s Italian and Spanish units for 775 million euros ($1.1 billion) to add broadband to its wireless services in the countries.

The acquisition will be made in cash and will be “broadly neutral” to earnings in the next year, Newbury, England-based Vodafone said in an e-mailed statement. The stock gained 0.8 pence, or 0.5 percent, to 169.9.

Irish Companies:

C&C Group Plc (GCC ID): The Irish maker of Magners cider plans to maintain its trials of the drink in Munich and Barcelona, the Sunday Business Post reported. The stock gained 16 cents, or 2.8 percent, to 5.96 euros.

Aer Lingus Group Plc (AERL ID): Ireland’s government plans to appoint two more directors to the board of the airline to ensure it retains slots at London’s Heathrow for Dublin and Cork airports, the Sunday Tribune reported. The government owns 25.4 percent of the carrier. The stock rose 2 cents, or 0.9 percent, to 2.37 euros.

Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA ID): Europe’s biggest discount carrier earned about 60 million euros last year by not refunding taxes and airport levies to customers who booked but did not fly, the Sunday Times reported, citing filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Almost 3.2 million people booked flights with Dublin-based Ryanair that weren’t subsequently taken, the Times said. Ryan shares rose 8 cents, or 1.5 percent, to 5.50 euros.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Thompson in London at [email protected] .

Last Updated: October 8, 2007 02:45 EDT

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