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Thursday Papers: UK edges nearer to EU budget deal

And Autonomy founder has denied that the accounting methods used by his former company were illegal.

 
Thursday Papers: UK edges nearer to EU budget deal

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Hopes were rising in Brussels that an unlikely deal with the UK over the EU’s long-term budget was taking shape, although the chief negotiator was trying to resolve a deluge of last-minute complaints from other countries on the eve of what could be a gruelling summit.
  • Financial Times: Mike Lynch, the British software entrepreneur at the centre of the accounting scandal that has rocked Hewlett-Packard, has denied that the methods used by his former company, Autonomy, were illegal.
  • The Independent: Deloitte scrambled to distance itself from the Autonomy debacle on Wednesday, as the auditor strongly denied any knowledge of "accounting improprieties" in the wake of Hewlett Packard's accusations against the UK software firm it bought last year.
  • Financial Times: General Motors has agreed to acquire the European and Latin American lending business of Ally Financial for about $4.2 billion.
  • Financial Times: The merger of Glencore and miner Xstrata is set to win the blessing of Europe’s top antitrust watchdog this week after the commodities trading house improved its offer to address Brussels’ outstanding competition concerns.
  • Daily Mail: Glencore is set to draw up new loyalty bonuses for top Xstrata staff, after investors voted to remove £140 million in payments from the £45 billion merger.
  • Financial Times: Olam has launched a libel suit against Muddy Waters and its founder, Carson Block; the dispute erupted on Monday when Block gave a presentation to hedge funds in London accusing the Singapore-listed company of being a “black hole” of excessive debt and accounting “shenanigans”.
  • The Independent: Sarah Brown, wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has joined Harrods, the Qatari-owned retailer on 1 September, in a move that is likely to raise eyebrows across the political and business worlds.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Indonesia’s Bakrie family is being investigated over the sale of key assets by Bumi Resources shortly before Nat Rothschild brought the miner to the London market.
  • Financial Times: Nat Rothschild, the financier behind coal miner Bumi Plc, has secured the backing of mining entrepreneur Robert Friedland for his proposal to unwind the London-listed company’s relationship with Indonesia’s influential Bakrie family.
  • The Independent: Edi Truell's Tungsten is favourite in race to buy motor insurer Equity Red Star, the distressed motor insurer that operates in the Lloyd's of London insurance market.
  • The Guardian: Britain’s public sector net borrowing excluding the effects of banking bailouts came in at £8.6 billion in October, compared with £5.9 billion a year ago hitting George Osborne's chances of meeting his deficit reduction targets for this year.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The directors of Dexia have warned that shutting down the Franco-Belgian lender too quickly could endanger the European financial system.
  • The Independent: Supermarket giant Sainsbury's is to create 10,000 jobs over the next three years as it continues to open new stores.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: German objections to suffering losses on official loans to Greece have forced the eurozone to explore more complex means of helping Athens cope with its debt mountain.
  • The Guardian: The energy regulator, Ofgem, failed to implement its own consultants' recommendation a year ago to tighten up the way energy companies report trading activities – and admits it may now have to revisit the issue.
  • The Daily Telegraph: George Osborne has defended Britain's embattled big banks and said their survival was good for society and the country needed more, risking inflaming deep public anger over lenders following a string of mis-selling scandals.
  • Financial Times: Man Group, the world’s second largest hedge fund manager, has shifted $1.5 billion of its flagship computerised fund AHL into an experimental new portfolio to boost ailing returns.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Compass Group, which provides catering at offices, schools and sports venues, will return an extra £400 million to shareholders despite a near 18% drop in profits, triggered by the recession in southern Europe.
  • Financial Times: Cantor Fitzgerald has agreed to pay a $700,000 penalty and improve its internal controls to settle charges it breached a cardinal rule of futures markets by allowing a shortfall in customer accounts.
  • The Independent: The retail giant Wal-Mart is facing the threat of strikes at its discount stores this week, with workers seeking better wages and benefits planning to protest on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year.
  • The Guardian: A former colleague of Kweku Adoboli, the City trader jailed for seven years for gambling away £1.5 billion of Swiss bank UBS's money, has set up an online betting company, Bets of Mates.
  • Financial Times: Jacob Wallenberg, Sweden’s leading industrialist, has defended SAS from fierce criticism from trade unionists that the Scandinavian airline broke with the Nordic tradition of collective bargaining during its restructuring.
  • Financial Times: Baidu, often described as China’s Google, has sold $1.5 billion worth of 5- and 10-year bonds mainly to US investors in a deal that highlights the success some Chinese internet groups have enjoyed in raising money in the US.
  • The Guardian: Arcadia posted a 25% rise in profits before tax and one-off items to £166.9 million for the year to 25 August as a drive to raise efficiency in stock management boosted margins; however, total sales were flat at £2.68 billion.
  • Financial Times: Pre-tax profit at Intermediate Capital Group fell to £39.6 million in the six months ending September 30 compared with £108.8 million in the previous year, as gross provisions during the period topped £86 million.
  • Financial Times: Johnson Matthey has blamed the impact of lower platinum and palladium prices for a £1 billion year-on-year fall in first-half revenues to £4.9 billion.
  • The Independent: JD Sports again showed it is possible to keep growing even in the face of a prolonged economic downturn, as its sales in the three months to 20 November rose 1.5%.
  • Financial Times: Gruner + Jahr is poised to announce the imminent closure of Financial Times Deutschland, the German business newspaper.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: Leeds United has become the latest football club to fall into the hands of a Gulf financial institution, as GFH Capital, a Dubai-based private equity group, said it was buying the Championship club for an estimated £44 million.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Gemstone company Gemfields is to buy Fabergé, famed for making intricate Easter eggs for Russia's last tsar, in an all-share deal valuing the historic brand at approximately $142 million.
  • Financial Times: Standard Life is back on the trail to list its Indian joint venture as the life assurance market recovers from a regulatory overhaul, with a flotation possibly coming as soon as the second half of next year, according to bankers.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Daily Mail and General Trust, owner of the Daily Mail, is to sell its regional newspaper arm to a new company led by tabloid veteran David Montgomery in a major shake-up of the newspaper market.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Bloggers, analysts and professors raised questions about how HP was doing. Maybe other companies can learn something.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): After France, Britain's AAA credit rating returns to the spotlight.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Lack of any strong political will has turned banking reform into a farce.
  • Daily Mail (Comment – Alex Brummer): With seven months of the financial year gone British Chancellor George Osborne looks to be set for a whopping £13 billion miss on this year’s deficit target.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Hewlett-Packard: shares may appear cheap at present but few declining businesses are successfully ‘run for cash’, which means investors should beware.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Compass / Sodexo: shares in both contract caterers have performed well in recent years driven by growth in outsourcing but Sodexo looks the tastier option.
  • Financial Times (Lex): ACS / Hochtief: Spanish construction group pledges to unveil new strategy for German builder whose shares have fallen by a third in the past two years.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Sky Deutschland: with $12 billion burning a hole in his pocket, Murdoch could next set his sights on Germany in a bid to reshape his European broadcasting business.

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