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What to Watch: Tullow Oil dives as CEO quits, Just Eat takeover battle, and Tesco mulls sell-off

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Shares in Tullow Oil dived almost 60% on Monday after its chief executive quit. Photo: Jody Amiet/AFP via Getty Images)

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Tullow Oil dives as CEO quits

Shares in Tullow Oil (TLW.L) dived almost 60% on Monday after its chief executive quit, the company cut forecasts, and scrapped its dividend.

Chief executive Paul McDade and exploration director Angus McCoss both quit on Monday “by mutual agreement” following issues at a key oil field in Ghana that forced a production warning last month.

Tullow once again cut production forecasts on Monday as a result of mechanical and operational issues.

The company said it would be taking steps to ensure there is adequate cash flow to support the business but said it was suspending the dividend in light of the issues.

Dorothy Thompson, Tullow’s executive chair, said: “The Board has... been disappointed by the performance of Tullow's business and now needs time to complete its thorough review of operations.

“Despite today's announcement, the Board strongly believes that Tullow has good assets and excellent people capable of delivering value for shareholders. We are taking decisive action to restore performance, reduce our cost base and deliver sustainable free cash flow."

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “The news represents a continuation of the problems which have dogged the company ever since its share price peaked more than seven years ago.

“The company’s skill-set was in exploration – it enjoyed notable discoveries in Ghana and Uganda in the mid-noughties – and it has clearly found the transition to being more of a producer and developer of hydrocarbons more difficult.”

Just Eat takeover battle

Prosus (PRX.AS), the European arm of technology investment firm Naspers, on Monday increased its offer for Just Eat (JE.L) to £5.05bn, escalating the heated battle for the food delivery firm.

At 740p per share, the bid is roughly 4.5% more than that of Takeaway.com (TKWY.AS), which is hoping to merge with Just Eat and create a global food delivery giant.

Prosus, who had been hoping to achieve the backing of 75% of Just Eat shareholders, also said on Monday that it would push ahead with the deal if just 50% of shareholders approved of its bid.

Tesco mulls sell-off

Shares in Tesco (TSCO.L) jumped on Monday after the company said it was considering a sale of its Asian business.

Tesco said in a statement it received “inbound interest” about a potential sale of its chain of supermarkets in Thailand and Malaysia.

As a result, the company said it has “commenced a review of the strategic options for its businesses in Thailand and Malaysia, including an evaluation of a possible sale of these businesses.”

Tesco said the review was in its early stages and no decision about a possible sale has been taken.

Pound hits 31-month high against euro

The pound briefly touched a 31-month high against the euro on Monday, as sterling continued to rally ahead of Thursday’s election.

The pound rose above €1.19 in early trade on Monday, its highest level against the single currency since May 2017. Sterling was up 0.1% against the euro to €1.1891 (GBPEUR=X) by just after 8.50am UK time.

Sterling also extended its rise against the dollar, up 0.2% to $1.316 (GBPUSD=X) at the same time.

The rise comes ahead of Thursday’s general election. Traders and investors are increasingly sure that Boris Johnson’s Conservative party will be able to secure a parliamentary majority, allowing them to advance Johnson’s Brexit deal and remove some of the uncertainty that has clouded British life over the last three years.

European stocks in the red

European markets were lower on Monday, with stocks quiet ahead of a busy week. The US Federal delivers its latest interest rate decision on Wednesday, the UK goes to the polls for the general election on Thursday, and Sunday marks the deadline for tariffs escalations in the US-China trade war.

“After the sugar rush of Friday’s bumper US payrolls report it was perhaps inevitable that we’d see a little bit of a come down as we start a new week, and that is precisely what we have seen in what is set to be a big week for central banks, China, US trade, as well as UK politics,” said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was down 0.2%, Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was down 0.1%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was down 0.4%, and the Euronext 100 (^N100) was down 0.3%.

Overnight in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) closed up 0.3%, while the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index (^HSI) and China’s Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) were both flat.

What to expect in the US

US stocks futures point to a marginally lower open. S&P500 futures (ES=F) were down 0.1%, Dow Jones futures (YM=F) were down 0.1%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were down 0.1%.

19 companies are reporting in the US later today.