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Thursday Papers: EU sets ambitious US trade pact deadline

And Whitehall suppliers face threat of ban in tax avoidance crackdown.

 
Thursday Papers: EU sets ambitious US trade pact deadline

Top stories

  • Financial Times: The EU and the US on Wednesday vowed to complete talks on a new trade agreement within two years.
  • Financial Times: Big companies face being banned from bidding for major government contracts under rules aimed at clamping down on aggressive tax avoidance by some of Whitehall’s most important suppliers.
  • Financial Times: Time Warner is in preliminary talks to sell most of its Time Inc and IPC Media magazine businesses for as much as $2.4 billion to $3 billion.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The boards of bankrupt American Airlines parent AMR and US Airways have approved an $11 billion merger.
  • Financial Times: Thomson Reuters will cut 2,500 jobs, or 4% of its total headcount, this year.
  • The Guardian: More than 3,600 retail jobs are at risk in the UK following another dark day for the high street that saw the collapse into administration of fashion chain Republic.
  • Daily Mail: Barclays has raked in up to £750 million betting on food prices in just three years, the World Development Movement said, after the bank vowed to end the controversial practice.
  • Financial Times: Google on Wednesday sued BT Group, the UK telecoms company, for patent infringement, the first time the internet search group has launched such a case in its own name.
  • The Independent: Apple and Samsung together accounted for more than half of the worldwide market for smartphones at the end of last year, with iPhones and the South Korean maker's Galaxy devices leaving rivals far behind.
  • Financial Times: Apple alleges that activist investor David Einhorn is attempting to hold other shareholders “hostage” to a proposal that does not serve the “public interest”, in its response to a legal challenge by the Greenlight Capital chief executive.
  • Financial Times: Britvic, the soft drinks company, has slammed Britain’s antitrust watchdog after its proposed £1.4 billion tie-up with Scottish peer AG Barr unravelled.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Concerns over the future of India’s Kingfisher Airlines escalated as bank lenders said they could begin calling in £1.02 billion of loans, declaring that the carrier's founder Vijay Mallya had been "given enough time to repay."
  • Daily Mail: Barclays has been forced to sell shares worth more than £1.2 billion for just £750 million, triggering huge profits for Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.
  • Financial Times: Philippe Varin, the chief executive of PSA Peugeot Citroën, insisted he had laid the “foundations for a recovery” at the ailing French carmaker even as he unveiled a record €5 billion net loss for 2012.
  • The Independent: Nirwan Bakrie urged the Takeover Panel to move rapidly with its inquiries into Bumi, saying "shareholder votes at the mining company have been massively distorted to the disadvantage of Indonesian shareholders".
  • Financial Times: BP has put in place safety systems for offshore drilling that are ahead of any other company’s, the UK oil group has said as it prepares for the trial over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
  • The Guardian: Santander is facing a fine by the financial regulator after an investigation into six banks and building societies found that one in four customers were being given "poor" and sometimes misleading investment advice.
  • Financial Times: US authorities are expanding their investigation into potential insider trading involving SAC Capital, the $14 billion hedge fund, to include more stocks than previously identified, people familiar with the matter said.
  • Financial Times: Finmeccanica, Italy’s defence and industrial conglomerate, has appointed Alessandro Pansa as the new chief executive – its third in less than two years – replacing Giuseppe Orsi who was arrested on Tuesday and accused of involvement in corruption in securing a €560 million helicopter deal with India.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Engineering giant Rolls-Royce has struck an £800 million deal with the Ministry of Defence, cementing its place as supplier of nuclear propulsion technology to the military for the next decade.
  • Financial Times: Benchmark Capital and Greylock Partners have this week invested substantial sums in a new generation of social networks – Snapchat and Nextdoor - that lack revenues but emphasise privacy rather than public sharing.
  • The Guardian: Waitrose knew there was a potential problem with pork contamination of frozen meatballs two weeks ago but did not inform the Food Standards Agency or consumers until Tuesday, the Guardian can reveal.

Business and economics

  • The Independent: Jack Lew, President Barack Obama's pick to replace Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary, was grilled on his tenure at Citigroup, with Republican lawmakers pressing him on his past investments in a Cayman Islands fund and on a nearly $1 million bonus he received as Citi was receiving government support during the financial crisis.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken aim at multinational corporations that use tax rules in Europe and the US to avoid payments and said the G8 plans to fight tax havens.
  • Financial Times: Europe must move quickly towards completing its banking union with a credible common backstop or risk undermining its new single bank supervisor, the IMF said on Wednesday.
  • The Guardian: Britain will suffer low growth and a squeeze on average incomes for at least another two years, the Bank of England warned on Wednesday, signalling that the economy will remain weak until the next election.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The Governor of the Bank of England has piled pressure on George Osborne to deliver radical economic reforms in his Budget next month as he warned that monetary policy would not be able to buy the Chancellor much more time.
  • Financial Times: The Securities and Exchange Commission is deploying an innovative computerised tool designed to automatically trigger alerts concerning suspicious accounting at publicly traded companies.
  • Financial Times: The British Supreme Court has upheld the City watchdog’s power to regulate extended warranty programmes that offer services and equipment rather than monetary compensation.
  • Financial Times: Enthusiasm for US inflation-linked bonds is souring as losses increase and investors pull growing sums of money from the sector.
  • Financial Times: Cisco reported 5% growth in revenues for the quarter that ended in late January to $12.09 billion, marginally above the $12.06 billion analysts had expected.
  • The Independent: Sales of Heineken fell 6.8% in Europe but grew 7.9% in the Americas and 9.8% in Africa, leading to an overall rise of 7.4% to €18.4 billion.
  • Financial Times: Telecity, Europe’s largest data centre provider, reported an 18% increase in sales to £283 million, from £240 million in 2011, after opening new centres in London, Manchester, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Stockholm and Dublin.
  • The Guardian: Reckitt Benckiser said sales in the last three months of last year increased by 6% on a like-for-like for basis to take annual sales to £9.6 billion; annual pre-tax profits were up 2%, to £2.4 billion.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Buy-to-let mortgage lender Paragon Group has launched an eight year retail bond paying 6%.
  • Financial Times: Legg Mason, the asset manager under pressure from the activist investor Nelson Peltz to improve profits and halt five years of investor redemptions, has said that Joe Sullivan will become permanent chief executive.
  • The Independent: BT Openreach's chief executive Liv Garfield, arguably the most senior woman in the British telecoms industry, has landed her first FTSE 100 directorship with a non-executive role at Tesco.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Daily Telegraph: Vodafone is looking at a potential takeover approach of Kabel Deutschland, Germany's largest cable provider, with a market value of €6.2 billion.
  • Financial Times: Reckitt Benckiser has acquired Oriental Medicine Company, a manufacturer of traditional Chinese sore-throat remedies, for an undisclosed sum.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Standard Life is in exclusive discussions to buy Newton Investment Management's wealth management division for up to £90 million.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Housebuilder Crest Nicholson's shares were in strong demand as the company launched London's first float of the year, further boosting sentiment around the already buoyant sector.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Forget imposing more regulation. Better supply chains come from dropping the obsession with managing cost downwards.
  • The Guardian (Comment): The private sector in the US has got burned working with government. It'll need guarantees before it joins the president's ambitious plans.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Britain is one of the worst offenders in the race to devalue.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Inflation has eroded a decade of growth, and worse is to come.
  • Daily Mail (Comment): British Chancellor George Osborne needs to produce much more compelling measures to promote growth including targeted tax cuts to support research and innovation.
  • Financial Times (Lex): General Electric: using cash from sale of NBCU stake for a stock buyback has benefits but the company might well ask if it is getting a good deal on its own shares.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Société Générale: of all the big European banks, the French lender has ridden the rally best but it is hard to believe its shares can maintain their outperformance.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Tullow Oil: UK company looks to refocus on its exploration expertise but cannot afford to ignore its production activity which pays for the exciting stuff.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Heineken: Western Europe continues to drag on Dutch brewer’s earnings and despite doing well elsewhere, it is not enough to close the gap with its bigger peers.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Peugeot: carmaker’s route ahead is clear as looks to restructure and halve cash burn but can it stay on course amid dire market conditions in Europe?

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FTSE rises as jobless fall adds to economic cheer

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