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Thursday Papers: Serious Fraud Office admits Tchenguiz case errors

And RBS bonus cuts offset by big salary increases.

 
Thursday Papers: Serious Fraud Office admits Tchenguiz case errors

Top stories

  • Financial Times: The Serious Fraud Office has admitted to “very regrettable errors” and failures in the way it handled its case against property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz.
  • Financial Times: Royal Bank of Scotland will on Thursday reveal that it boosted fixed pay and benefits in its investment banking division by about a third in 2011 to offset cuts in the bonus pool.
  • Daily Mail: Fitch downgraded Greece’s credit rating further into junk on Wednesday as experts predicted private lenders could yet block the country’s restructuring deal, throwing the eurozone back into crisis.
  • The Guardian: Germany threatened to undermine this week's €130 billion deal to bail out Greece by refusing to bolster the firewalls set up to prevent the eurozone debt crisis from spreading.
  • The Independent: Centrica chairman Sam Laidlaw is in line for a seven-figure bonus – he gained £900,000 last year on top of his £941,000 salary; meanwhile, British Gas boss Phil Bentley's bonus will be around £700,000.

Business and economics

  • The Daily Telegraph: Spain has appealed to Brussels for softer deficit-reduction targets, raising fears that Europe's rescue strategies are unworkable in the bigger eurozone economies and not just Greece.
  • Financial Times: The UK and Japan have urged the US to rewrite its so-called “Volcker rule”, claiming that trading restrictions on US banks could hit the international sovereign debt market at a delicate moment in the global recovery.
  • The Independent: Controversial plans to make it easier for companies to "hire and fire" workers may be revived by George Osborne in next month's Budget but have provoked a fresh battle with the Liberal Democrats.
  • Daily Mail: The UK risks importing inflation and sending energy prices back up, one analyst warned today after sterling hit its lowest level against the euro this year, falling from €1.195 to €1.183.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Two rate-setters believed the British economy needed an even bigger stimulus than the £50 billion injection agreed this month despite mounting evidence that the Bank of England reckons the worst is over.
  • Financial Times: Pay-outs on Greek sovereign credit default swaps are likely to be triggered because “collective action clauses” are to be inserted into Athens’ bonds; these clauses will coerce bondholders into accepting the terms of a debt swap that will see the value of their securities plummet.
  • Financial Times: Shell is poised to expand into Mozambique after making a bid for Cove Energy that values the Aim-traded group’s equity at £992 million.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Centrica has bought £246 million of UK North Sea oil and gas assets from France's Total, as British Gas's parent company expands its exploration and production portfolio.
  • Financial Times: US sales of new collateralised loan obligations, structured vehicles that buy low-rated corporate loans, are poised for their strongest month since the financial crisis as issuers take advantage of falling rates.
  • Financial Times: Brent rallied to £78.48 a barrel in London on Wednesday, passing the previous all-time high of £77.71 a barrel set in April last year at the peak of the Libyan civil war supply disruption.
  • Financial Times: Dublin has agreed to sell up to €3 billion in state assets after a deal with a troika of international lenders that allows it to use a third of the proceeds to invest in job creation.
  • Financial Times: Israel’s most influential business tycoons are facing the prospect of a forced break-up of their conglomerates under government plans to shake up the country’s economy.
  • Financial Times: Microsoft has opened a fresh front in its legal battle with Google, lodging a complaint with Europe’s competition watchdog over Motorola Mobility, alleging it is shutting out rivals through aggressive patent enforcement.
  • Financial Times: A $150 million fraud allegedly attempted by a former fund manager at Threadneedle Asset Management is linked to a trade in more than a billion Argentinian warrants by former staff at Otkritie, the Russian financial services group.
  • The Guardian: Months of public antagonism between the easyJet board and its biggest shareholder and founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, will come to a head on Thursday at an annual meeting.
  • Financial Times: BNP Paribas, the largest foreign bank in Bahrain, has opened two offices in neighbouring Dubai as part of a drive to protect itself against the disruption it faced during last year’s pro-democracy revolt in Manama.
  • Financial Times: Barclays registered almost 123,000 insurance and protection complaints in the second half, more than double the same period in 2010; majority of these are related to payment protection insurance.
  • The Independent: Shares in PSA Peugeot Citroen, the second largest car maker in Europe, surged 12% Wednesday on news that it was discussing an alliance with General Motors.
  • Financial Times: Revenues of HP for the three months to the end of January fell by 7% to $30 billion, while pro forma earnings per share – the basis on which Wall Street assesses the company – dropped by 32%, to 92 cents.
  • Financial Times: VTB, the fast-growing Russian bank, is locked in talks with the country’s central bank over the group’s inability to fund the loan growth necessary to sustain the trajectory of Russia’s broader economic expansion.
  • The Guardian: The airport operator BAA has announced a pre-tax loss of £256 million for 2011, despite record traffic at Heathrow and a leap in revenues.
  • Financial Times: Ford has more than doubled its annual contribution to its pension funds, to $3.8 billion, as the carmaker aggressively shifts its investments towards bonds in an attempt to limit its exposure to volatile stock markets.
  • Financial Times: Wolters Kluwer, the Dutch professional information group, said it would buy back €100 million of shares in 2012, as it tries to please shareholders who have seen the company’s market value drop 20% in the past year.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Revenue at Millennium & Copthorne Hotels grew 10.3% to £820.5 million last year and pre-tax profit increased 50.3% to £193.3 million.
  • Financial Times: Galliford Try, the housebuilding and construction company, has doubled its dividend to 9 pence a share.
  • Financial Times: Arion, the bank created from the assets of failed Kaupthing, has established a €1 billion international covered bond programme, the first by an Icelandic lender since the country’s banking crisis.
  • The Guardian: The recruitment squeeze in banking, along with cuts in the public sector, have pushed recruitment company Hays's UK division to a £3 million loss.
  • Financial Times: Sales at Barratt Developments, the UK’s largest housebuilder by volume, have risen 21.8% in the first seven weeks of 2012.
  • The Daily Telegraph: St James’s Place, which is 60% owned by Lloyds, posted net inflows of business of £3.3 billion, taking total funds under management to £28.5 billion, compared with £27 billion a year earlier.
  • Financial Times: Gannett has promised investors market-beating shareholder returns and a return to growth in publishing as Gracia Martore, its new chief executive, tries to reposition the owner of USA Today as a “digital powerhouse”.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Guardian: Edinburgh Woollen Mill has acquired 388 of 612 stores belonging to collapsed fashion chain Peacocks, in an emergency rescue deal.
  • Financial Times: Salini, an Italian mid-sized construction company which has bought a 20% stake in rival Impregilo, does not rule out a takeover bid in its quest to create an Italian market leader worth €5 billion in sales.
  • The Daily Telegraph: BC Partners has raised €6.5 billion for its latest fund, just as the UK private equity firm fights to retain control one of the oldest companies it owns - gym chain Fitness First.
  • Financial Times: Aegis Group has agreed to initially pay $125 million for Roundarch, with investment expected to rise to $250 million by 2017 depending on performance.
  • Financial Times: CVC, the private equity fund, has been working with bankers at Nomura to assess approaches from several brewers for Starbev, which it bought for $3 billion in December 2009.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Just when the economic news was looking promising for President Obama, a barrel of crude oil is back over $100 and, in places, petrol is more than $4 a gallon. Will the price of gas hurt Obama at the polls?
  • The Telegraph (Comment): The European Central Bank's blitz of measures to stave off a credit crunch and shore up EMU states are profoundly distorting debt markets and may ultimately do more harm than good.
  • Financial Times (The Lex Column): BNP Paribas: some investors still fear a rights issue. Deleveraging ticks the capital box for now, but BNP will need capital to support growth.
  • Financial Times (The Lex Column): Accor: investors considering buying in now will have to bet that growth in the old-world will return before the asset-light programme ends.
  • Financial Times (The Lex Column): Cove Energy: Shell’s move to establish a presence in Mozambique lends credibility to the claims being made for the region’s potential gas reserves.
  • Financial Times (The Lex Column): France Telecom: the French telecom operator’s conservative stance on 2012 could leave investors confused.

1 comment so far. Why not have your say?

Tony Peterson

Feb 23, 2012 at 06:46

Himanshu - I think you will find there is a very significant difference between St James PLACE and the royal residence St James PALACE!!!!

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