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Friday Papers: Saudi considers Aramco share sale

And the chief executive of Marks & Spencer Marc Bolland steps down as the retailer unveiled another big dip in clothing sales.

 
Friday Papers: Saudi considers Aramco share sale

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Saudi Arabia is considering listing shares in state-owned Saudi Aramco, the largest oil producer, in a move that would be likely to create the most valuable listed company in the world.
  • The Guardian: The chief executive of Marks & Spencer Marc Bolland on Thursday announced he was stepping down as the retailer unveiled another big dip in clothing sales.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Beijing calls time on its stock market brake after suffering its shortest ever day of trading while stocks suffered another tumultuous day of trading gripped by renewed fears that the world's second largest economy was engineering a devaluation of its currency.
  • The Guardian: Billionaire speculator George Soros has added to the gloom in global markets by claiming the world risks a return to the turmoil of the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Financial Times: Market sentiment on the UK economy turned sour on Thursday as the pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar for more than five years and traders expectations of a Bank of England interest rate rise during 2016 receded.
  • Financial Times: Europe’s new regime for winding up failing banks has made an inauspicious start, as investors lashed out at the European Central Bank for allowing Portugal to impose losses on almost €2 billion of senior bondholders in Novo Banco.
  • Financial Times: Financing for US independent oil companies slowed sharply last year, in a sign of growing financial pressure following the plunge in crude and natural gas prices.

Business and economics

  • The Guardian: Sainsbury’s has tried to allay fears that its largest shareholder could be prepared to block a £1 billion bid for Home Retail Group.
  • The Guardian: The largest taxi company in San Francisco Yellow Cab Co is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the latest sign of turmoil in a global industry beset by competition from app-based ride-hail services.
  • The Guardian: Hundreds of jobs are at risk at Blue Inc, a fashion retailer previously chaired by Lord Rose, after it lined up administrators for one of its subsidiaries.
  • The Independent: Rumours of slowing iPhone production have hit Apple shares, sending them tumbling below $100 for the first time in nearly five months as investors worried that Apple might cut production for the first time.
  • The Independent: Budget airlines Easyjet and Ryanair have seen their passenger numbers grow despite the terrorist attack in Paris.
  • Daily Mail: Walgreens Boots Alliance reported a 30.6% boost in net earnings to £756 million, and earnings per share rose from 61p to 69p.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Boeing looks almost certain to have beaten Airbus in this year’s battle for the title of the world’s biggest plane maker.
  • Financial Times: Britain registered a record number of cars last year as rising consumer confidence, low fuel prices and easy credit helped crown the market’s recovery from the financial crisis.
  • Financial Times: GlaxoSmithKline has become the first big drugmaker to stop paying doctors to promote its products in response to mounting pressure on the pharmaceuticals industry over conflicts of interest with medical professionals.
  • Financial Times: Cargill suffered a decline in operating profit across all of its main reporting divisions as results flagged in businesses ranging from sugar to red meat.
  • Financial Times: Manchester United will become the first football club to launch a dedicated 24-hour television channel in China next week, as it looks to keep up with growing Chinese interest in the sport.
  • Financial Times: Ford expects to report a $1.5 billion boost to its underlying pre-tax profits for 2015 after it changed how it accounted for the performance of the pension plans catering to its hundreds of thousands of current and retired employees.
  • Financial Times: Noble Group risks losing the cheap credit that is important in running Asia’s largest commodity trading business, after attacks on its accounting and a plunge in raw material prices led another agency to cut the company’s credit rating to junk.
  • Financial Times: Twitter has filed a lawsuit in a Turkish court to try to annul a fine levied by the communications watchdog over messages that officials consider “terrorist propaganda”.
  • Financial Times: The billionaire founder of Metersbonwe, one of China’s best-known fashion brands, has gone missing, the latest in a series of Chinese business people and financiers apparently embroiled in the country’s anti-corruption campaign.
  • Financial Times: Majestic Wine, the UK wine retailer, cheered a 7.3% like-for-like sales growth over the Christmas period, but said its standout products had been beers and spirits.
  • Financial Times: FTSE 100 housebuilder Persimmon increased revenues 13% in 2015 as it built more homes, boosted by house price rises and a government drive to get more people on the housing ladder.
  • Financial Times: Shares in Poundland fell sharply on Thursday after the discount retailer reported worse than expected third quarter sales in the critical pre-Christmas trading period.
  • Financial Times: Silicon Valley’s biggest companies have urged the UK government to reconsider swaths of its proposed surveillance law, saying it will have far-reaching implications for how other countries upgrade their spying regimes.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: The battle for Media General, the US television station owner, heated up on Thursday as suitors Nexstar Broadcasting Group and Meredith, the magazine publisher, both offered new terms.
  • Financial Times: Royal Dutch Shell’s £36 billion bid for rival BG Group is poised to win the support of most of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant’s shareholders, paving the way for its completion despite a collapse in crude that has stoked fears the company is paying too much.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Energy giant RWE has sold Lynemouth power plant to Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH), the Czech-based company that owns Eggborough power station, for an undisclosed sum.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): The markets are in turmoil but it’s no time to panic.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Irish stocks: Ireland’s stock market is in a sweet spot.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Pandora: Others might be rethinking their Asia strategy, Pandora is doubling down.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Marks and Spencer: Retailer’s problem is not operational — it is structural.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Netflix: More countries mean thinner margins and delayed gratification for enthusiastic investors.

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