Luxury brands group LVMH eyes London-listed Burberry

French luxury goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (EPA:MC) may pursue an acquisition of Burberry Group plc (LON:BRBY), according to traders, quoting market speculations.

A big takeover in the fashion and leather goods segment would be a good fit for LVMH, with LVMH being manufacturer, while Burberry having to outsource its leather goods, Berenberg Bank analyst John Guy said, as cited by Reuters.

According to the analyst, there will be also an opportunity for LVMH to distribute Burberry’s beauty and perfumes lines and, besides, the French company’s centralised real estate management may help trim Burberry’s operational expenses as a percentage of sales.

A deal for Burberry could also help LVMH boost revenues, Bloomberg reported separately, citing Berenberg Bank. Burberry generates annual sales of some USD3bn (EUR2.3bn).

Competition concerns arising from a potential combination would be alleviated by the parties’ different business focuses, Guy told Reuters.

LVMH did not wish to comment, when reached by Reuters, while a source in the know told the agency the idea was totally far-fetched.

HSBC increases stake in Irish oil and gas explorer Providence

UK financial services major HSBC Holdings Plc (LON:HSBA) has increased its interest in Irish oil and gas exploration and appraisal firm Providence Resources Plc (LON:PVR) to 6.65% as of 15 February, the latter announced today.

Late last month, Providence Resources reported that HSBC’s holding amounted to 5.12%. Its current stake, comprising 4.29 million units, is worth GBP26.7m (USD40.7m/EUR30.9m) based on a share price of GBP6.215 earlier today.

The oil and gas firm’s other shareholders as of 22 February are the current CEO Anthony O’Reilly with a 15.45% stake, BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited with 10.8%, JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) with 5.94%, Henderson Global Investment Limited with 3.88% and F&C Asset Management Plc (LON:FCAM) with 3.87%, according to its website.

French government mulls investment in Alcatel-Lucent — report

The French government may buy a minority stake in Alcatel-Lucent SA (EPA:ALU) as part of efforts to protect the telecommunications equipment company’s patents, Bloomberg reported today citing insiders.

An anonymous government official said that the investment was one of the options being contemplated, after in December the company agreed a EUR2bn (USD2.6bn) financing deal with Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS), partially secured with its intellectual property. The purchase is reportedly likely to be carried out via state vehicle Fonds Strategique d’Investissement SA (FSI).

Other options being considered by the government include a combination between Alcatel-Lucent and rival Nokia Siemens Networks BV, as well as an investment in the French firm’s undersea cable business. According to the sources, the government will take a decision concerning its involvement in Alcatel-Lucent after the company names a successor to CEO Ben Verwaayen.

A spokesman for the French finance ministry, as well as representatives of Alcatel-Lucent, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs declined to comment. Bloomberg could not immediately contact a representative of the FSI for comment.