Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto topped the financial headlines on Monday as the trial of its chief executive in China, Stern Hu, began. Hu, an Australian national, is accused, along with another three Chinese colleagues, of industrial espionage and accepting bribes in relation to negotiations over iron ore prices, reports shareprices.com, a free Online Share Dealing resource that provides share information on all ftse100, 250 and 350 London Stock Exchange listed companies.
Mr. Hu has reportedly already pleaded guilty to the charges, which include taking 6.4 million or £627,000 in bribes, meaning that, if found guilty, could face up to 15 years in prison. The trial itself is expected to last just three days, but it may take weeks or indeed months, before a verdict is finally delivered. Rio Tinto’s Bank Shares fell 33p or 0.9% to 3,637p during morning trading.
Oil heavyweight Royal Dutch Shell, too, was on the slide, losing 21p or 1.13% to 1,834p despite making a successful bid for Australian coal seam gas producer Arrow Energy. Together with its partner PetroChina, Shell offered AU$4.70 a share in cash for Arrow’s assets in eastern Australia, plus one share in Dart Energy, a new company that will hold Arrow’s assets in Asia. The revised bid was worth AU$3.4 billion or just over £2 billion in total.
Elsewhere, London equities retreated from last week’s 21-month high on Monday morning, reflecting losses on Wall Street on Friday and in Asia overnight. The Reserve Bank of India raised its key borrowing and lending rates by 25 basis points on Friday, sparking fears that other central banks may follow suit. Commodity and banking stocks were the worst performers and at 11.38 GMT the FTSE 100 index was down 51.07 points or 0.9% at 5,599.05, having closed 5,650.10 on Friday.
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