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Thursday Papers: RBS pays £390m to settle Libor probe

And buyout firms have accelerated talks with lenders to secure funding for possible $15.7 billion bids for EE.

 
Thursday Papers: RBS pays £390m to settle Libor probe

Top stories

  • Financial Times: The Royal Bank of Scotland will pay $612 million to settle US and UK investigations that it manipulated Libor, with the bank’s Asian subsidiaries pleading guilty to a US criminal charge.
  • Financial Times: Buyout firms have accelerated talks with lenders to secure funding for possible $15.7 billion bids for EE, the UK’s largest mobile phone operator, in what would be the biggest private equity-backed acquisition in Europe since the financial crisis.
  • Financial Times: Virgin Media is planning to issue one of the world’s largest junk bonds since the end of the financial crisis to help fund its $23.3 billion acquisition by John Malone’s Liberty Global.
  • Daily Mail: Liberty Global is paying for Virgin Media one third in cash and two thirds in shares, meaning Sir Richard Branson will scoop £67 million in cash and take shares in the merged company worth nearly £135 million.
  • Financial Times: Hideto “Eddy” Takata, a former star trader in Tokyo, has accused Japanese banks of operating a “cartel” in loan pricing, forcing higher rates on millions of borrowers and hampering central bank efforts to spark lending in the world’s third-largest economy.
  • Financial Times: Deutsche Bank has suspended five traders as part of its internal inquiry into whether staff were involved in manipulating Euro Interbank Offered Rate, or Euribor.
  • Financial Times: The biggest deal to take a company private since the global financial crisis was almost derailed by a debate over whether Dell would continue paying its quarterly dividend over the next few months, according to several people involved in the transaction.
  • The Daily Telegraph: More than 4,000 staff at Virgin Media will share in a major windfall after the company's sale to US cable television giant Liberty Global, including boss Neil Berkett who will take more than $65 million off the table.
  • The Guardian: John Malone's takeover of Virgin Media will create a $28 billion company headquartered in Britain, but the world's largest cable group by customers will pay no UK tax for the foreseeable future.
  • Financial Times: News Corp will “stay the course” with its 39.1% stake in BSkyB for now, executives said on Wednesday as they predicted that John Malone’s $23.3 billion entry into the UK pay-television and broadband market would do little to change the competitive landscape.
  • The Guardian: Growing concerns about the accuracy of prices reported in the natural gas market have been underlined after three major brokers launched their own set of indices called the "Tankard" covering the UK and Europe based on confirmed transactions.
  • Financial Times: Australia’s highest court has found that Google is not responsible for the content of third-party advertisements displayed in web searches, concluding a landmark case that had drawn international attention.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Sir Andrew Witty, chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, announced a "strategic review" of iconic brands Lucozade and Ribena as group sales slipped 1% over the year.
  • The Independent: Turbulence has hit Fastjet, the African budget airline backed by easyJet's founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, as a legal dispute saw the owner of its Kenyan business threaten to take away its licence.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: Senior executives should be required to hold on to grants of shares for at least 10 years, if not longer, even if they are no longer running the company, according to new guidelines proposed by shareholder groups.
  • The Guardian: Britain will have borrowed £64 billion more than expected by the time of the next general election after weak growth played havoc with George Osborne's deficit reduction plan, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned.
  • Financial Times: Tensions between the White House and business community have risen after President Barack Obama proposed tax hikes on oil and gas companies, as well as on hedge fund executives, in a short-term fix to avoid $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts.
  • The Guardian: The government is buying equity stakes worth £50 million in a series of onshore windfarms in an unusual move that is likely to anger Tory backbench MPs campaigning against public subsidies for one of the most controversial forms of renewable energy.
  • Financial Times: Foreign banks could enter Myanmar with majority-owned joint ventures with local banks as early as April after President Thein Sein launched a phased cabinet reshuffle to support what he calls his “third wave” of reforms.
  • Financial Times: China has pledged to increase minimum wages and force state-owned companies to hand over more of their revenues to the public as part of a push to tackle growing inequality.
  • Financial Times: The US has launched a trade complaint against India over its national solar programme that requires developers of solar projects to use modules and cells manufactured in India, highlighting renewable energy’s place as the new battleground in global trade.
  • Daily Mail: Senior bank bosses have clashed with industry mouthpiece the British Bankers’ Association over plans to ‘electrify’ the ringfence.
  • The Independent: Peter Hargreaves, founder of Hargreaves Lansdown - which he describes as the “largest investment supermarket” in the country - said his firm was seeing record numbers of new clients partly because people no longer trust banks.
  • Financial Times: IntercontinentalExchange hopes to use its planned $8.2 billion purchase of NYSE Euronext to reform some of the “patently absurd” practices on US equity markets, chief executive Jeff Sprecher said on Wednesday.
  • Financial Times: Commodities hedge funds surrendered at least 20% of their assets last year after investors pulled out large sums following the sector’s worst annual performance in more than a decade, according to fund managers and investors.
  • Financial Times: Investors and bankers are urging private equity firms to launch a new leveraged buyout wave, to feed soaring demand for higher returns in the credit markets.
  • The Daily Telegraph: HSBC's biggest ever restructuring had been necessary to simplify the bank's complex structure which had made it attractive to money-laundering criminals, its chief executive Stuart Gulliver said.
  • Financial Times: Wolfson Microelectronics dashed hopes of a return to full-year profit on Wednesday, reporting a pre-tax loss of $9.4 million that sent its shares down 6%.
  • The Guardian: Administrators for HMV will consider offers of between £6-£9 million this Friday to take on the lease of the building at 130 Oxford Street, London, said to be Europe's largest music shop.
  • The Independent: David Page, the restaurants entrepreneur who has backed and made fortunes from PizzaExpress and Gourmet Burger Kitchen among many other chains, is back with a new venture called Fulham Shore.
  • Financial Times: Imtech, the Dutch infrastructure company whose stock plunged this week on suspected irregularities at its Polish branch, announced the executives responsible for its German and Polish operations have left the company.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The days of "cold calls" from salesmen could be numbered, as BT has launched a new handset which automatically blocks nuisance calls.
  • The Independent: Marks & Spencer is to open its first Moroccan store on Thursday in Casablanca, in the latest leg of its international expansion.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Daily Telegraph: News Corp executive James Murdoch has shrugged off the threat to BSkyB from this week's multi-billion pound acquisition of Virgin Media by US behemoth Liberty Global.
  • Financial Times: Cantor Fitzgerald is in late-stage talks to buy Seymour Pierce, in a deal that would secure the future of one of the City’s oldest stockbrokers.
  • The Independent: Greencoat UK Wind has unveiled ambitious plans to raise £250 million by listing its shares on the London Stock Exchange.
  • The Guardian (Comment): The strength of Germany lies in its medium-sized manufacturing firms, whose ethos includes being socially useful.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Where’s the fiscal austerity?’ many have asked, with data on the public finances showing an apparently very different story from the one the Government likes to project.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): The banking sector needs RBS to fire anyone with a link to Libor-rigging.
  • Daily Mail (Comment – Alex Brummer): Many citizens will think that the financial penalties are inadequate. They may also wonder why the long arm of the law has been so feeble in bringing the Libor cheats to the courts.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Time Warner: balance sheet is solid and strong franchises, from HBO to Batman movies, should protect strong returns for years to come but there problems.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Virgin Media: if adding a British asset to LG and overtaking US rival Comcast gives executives a warm glow, it is less clear that investors should be jumping for joy.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Royal Bank of Scotland: the UK business secretary says there is a range of options on the table for the state-controlled bank. He is wrong to be so open-minded.
  • Financial Times (Lex): ArcelorMittal: the world’s biggest steelmaker is a shadow of its former self. It is time for restructuring efforts to start delivering results.

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