Corporate news

In the FT and this morning:

- Investor fury over Xstrata cash call

- Rio Tinto to sell assets to Vale for $1.6bn

- Shell’s fourth-quarter profits tumble

- Centrica looks to US in quest for further acquisitions

- Europe could spark off US energy deals

- Eaga increases interim dividend

Among miners, that is. Rio Tinto says it is now a possibility – just a fortnight after ruling it out unless economic conditions deteriorated.

Xstrata, who confirmed they will raise $5.9bn in  a heavily-discounted two-for-one rights offer.  Two questions:

a) why are they paying underwriters’ fees despite the heavy discount? (see Markets Live)

b) $2bn will be spend buying a Colombian coal business from Glencore, which owns 35% of Xstrata – but because they “failed to reach full agreement on an appropriate valuation”, Glencore has the opportunity to buy it back for $2.25bn “if they are able to marshal the finances” (both quotes from Mick Davis, Xstrata CEO). Does Glencore need more cash? wonders Sam Jones

- Oil companies’ shares rise after Fed lowers rates to near zero (AP/Forbes)

- Russia may cut oil production by 400,000 barrels a day: Kuwait’s oil minister (Bloomberg)

- Tom Vilsack, tipped to be the next US agriculture secretary, need to act quickly on bills related to farm subsidies and lower crop prices, commodities analysts said (Bloomberg)

- Ken Salazar, set to head the US interior department, can expect to face big drilling issues (WSJ)

- Ecuador’s prosecutor general removed himself from a case against two Chevron attorneys (CNN)

- Australian court blocks Xstrata mine expansion (Reuters)

- Saudi Arabia called for the biggest production cut in the history of the Opec oil cartel in an effort to counter collapsing oil prices

- General Electric delivered a sober outlook for 2009, leaving little doubt profits would fall

- Obama’s appointment of Steven Chu as US energy secretary has been welcomed by scientists and climate change campaigners

- Italian police arrested three Total employees in a corruption probe involving an oil concession

- Heat rises in Russia-Ukraine gas talks for the fourth consecutive year

- Buffett could bow out of the battle for Constellation Energy after his utility group said it would not try to outbid EDF

- Iraq signs $3bn power deal with GE to more than double its electricity generation capacity

- Falling oil price threatens bid to diversify Gulf economies

- Aluminium prices sank to a five-year low amid falling demand fear

- UK business ‘woefully served’ by power groups

UK: Hunting on lookout for more acquisitions after disposing of Gibson oilsands project

UK: RWE’s UK renewables arm reviews wind power plans amid rising costs

Germany: Renewable energy companies and bankers to meet

Australia: to reduce carbon emissions to 15% below 2000 levels by 2020; ‘Rudd blinks’ to business demands

UK: Hunting completes sale of Gibson

UK: Coastal Energy chairman resigns

Russia: Lukoil to postpone launch of ‘large international projects’

China: Implied oil demand for November down 3.5% year-on-year