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BP, BHP, Marks & Spencer, ICAP: U.K., Irish Equity Preview

The following is a list of companies whose shares may have unusual price changes 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 44.8, or 0.9 percent, to 5,307.34. The FTSE All-Share Index climbed 0.8 percent and Ireland’s ISEQ Index advanced 1.8 percent.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BLT LN): The world’s largest mining company will begin talks with Australian Treasury officials this week on the planned 40 percent tax on resources companies’ “super profits,” Treasurer Wayne Swan said today.

Separately, BHP Chief Executive Officer Marius Kloppers won’t rule out a cut in the company’s dividend because of the government’s tax plan, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing an interview.

The company’s “progressive dividend” was very important and any change would be carefully considered, the newspaper reported, citing the interview. BHP shares rose 37 pence, or 2 percent, to 1932.5

BP Plc (BP/ LN): BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research added the energy company to its “Europe 1” list of favorite stocks, saying the loss in the company’s market value since news of an oil spill last month already priced in the “worst case scenario.” The shares rose 4.10 pence, or 0.8 percent, to 534.

Experian Plc (EXPN LN): The world’s largest credit-checking company today reported a 23 percent jump in full-year net profit to $600 million. The shares rose 18 pence, or 3.1 percent, to 609 pence.

ICAP Plc (IAP LN): The world’s largest broker of transactions between banks said net income fell to 116 million pounds from 175 pounds a year earlier. The company said it took a charge of 46 million pounds for its cash equities business and a 21 million pound charge for settlement of a SEC probe. Excluding charges and impairments, ICAP’s pretax profit fell 5 percent to 333 million pounds. The stock advanced 18.4 pence, or 5 percent, to 389.6 pence.

Land Securities Group Plc (LAND LN): The U.K.’s largest real estate investment trust swung to a full-year profit of 1.09 billion pounds, as net asset value of its properties rose 17 percent to 691 pence a share. That compares to a loss of 5.19 billion pounds a year earlier. The shares rose 15 pence, or 2.4 percent, to 635.

Marks & Spencer Plc (MKS LN): Sanford C. Bernstein raised its recommendation for the British retailer to “outperform” from “market perform.” The shares rallied 5.3 pence, or 1.6 percent, to 341.5.

Mitchells & Butlers Plc (MAB LN): The pub owner that had a board shakeup in January reported a 55 percent rise in first-half pretax profit to 73 million pounds. The stock rose 3.6 pence, or 1.2 percent, to 303.4 pence.

Rolls-Royce Group Plc (RR/ LN): Chief Executive Officer John Rose sold 400,000 ordinary shares at 597.38 pence each on May 17, the company said in a statement. The stock rose 9.5 pence, or 1.6 percent, to 603 pence.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA LN): China National Petroleum Corp., the country’s biggest energy company, agreed to acquire a 35 percent stake in Shell’s oil and gas unit in Syria in a deal an analyst said may be worth $1.5 billion. The shares rose 19.5 pence, or 1.1 percent, to 1,876.

Scottish & Southern Energy Plc (SSE LN): The U.K.’s second-biggest electricity producer said it aims to raise its dividend by at least 2 percent more than the retail price index inflation through March 2013. The company recommended a full-year dividend of 70 pence for the year to March 2010. The shares advanced 18 pence, or 1.7 percent, to 1,101 pence.

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