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Wednesday Papers: KPMG quits as Skechers and Herbalife auditor

And Sir James Crosby, the former HBOS chief executive, is dramatically giving up his knighthood and almost a third of his £580,000-a-year pension.

 
Wednesday Papers: KPMG quits as Skechers and Herbalife auditor

Top stories

  • The Guardian: KPMG has been rocked by damaging allegations that one of its senior US partners was involved in insider trading; the footwear company Skechers and the controversial nutritional company Herbalife suspended trading in their shares and said the global accountancy firm had resigned as their auditors because of the allegations.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Sir James Crosby, the former HBOS chief executive, is dramatically giving up his knighthood and almost a third of his £580,000-a-year pension after being severely criticised by a report into the downfall of the bank.
  • Financial Times (Editorial): Sir James Crosby, former chief executive of the failed bank HBOS, has done the honourable thing in surrendering his knighthood and part of his generous £580,000 annual pension.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Royal Bank of Scotland could face a fine for the computer glitch that left millions of customers unable to access their accounts last summer.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Britain will escape a triple dip recession by the skin of its teeth, acccording to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
  • The Guardian: Nearly 700 back office staff are to lose their jobs at Morrisons as the UK's fourth largest supermarket chain cuts costs after last year's fall in profits.
  • Financial Times: Fitch downgraded China’s long-term local currency rating from AA- to A+, citing a number of “underlying structural weaknesses” in the Chinese economy.

Business and economics

  • The Daily Telegraph: One of Marks and Spencer's largest shareholders has said Marc Bolland's job is safe for at least a year despite the retailer's expected poor performance in the fourth quarter.
  • Financial Times: Vince Cable will on Wednesday pledge £300 million for small and medium-sized enterprises struggling to access finance in the first phase of the government’s new business bank.
  • Financial Times: Google faces having to offer users in Europe more choice of other specialised search engines after Brussels investigators found its results were favouring its in-house services to the detriment of consumers.
  • Financial Times: North Korea has urged foreigners in South Korea to leave the country to ensure their safety in the case of war, as tensions escalate on the Korean peninsula.
  • The Daily Telegraph: George Soros, the billionaire investor, has urged Germany to reverse its position on eurobonds or consider leaving the single currency, as he suggested that the euro's prospects would be improved if its most powerful member were to quit.
  • Financial Times: Declining production and impairment charges have led to sharply reduced pre-tax profits JKX Oil & Gas.
  • Financial Times: Jana, the $4.5 billion activist hedge fund run by Barry Rosenstein, has suffered a rare defeat in its attempt to win board representation at Agrium, the Canadian agricultural supplies company.
  • The Daily Telegraph: London-listed Vedanta Resources announced a new find in oil fields sold for a song in India.
  • The Guardian: Supermarket chain Asda said on Tuesday that it was recalling its range of budget corned beef after low levels of the veterinary pain killer phenylbutazone – known as bute – were detected.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Nationwide has reduced the rates on its fixed rate mortgages by 0.1%.
  • Financial Times: AT&T and Google both have announced plans to build fibre optic broadband networks in Austin capable of delivering 1 gigabit per second download speeds.
  • Financial Times: Oshkosh Corporation, one of the biggest suppliers of US military vehicles, has said it will cut around 900 jobs, as the winding down of the Afghanistan war and spending cuts hit budgets.
  • The Daily Telegraph: George Osborne has a signed an information exchange agreement with the finance ministers of France, Germany, Italy and Spain in the latest effort to crack down on tax evasion.
  • The Independent: The sandwich and coffee chain Eat saw its profits more than halve last year.
  • Financial Times: Cargill, the world’s biggest agricultural trader by volume, reported a sharp decline in profit because of the continuing effects of a US drought on its meat and farm service businesses.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Herbert Stepic, the head of one of Austria's biggest banks, has returned €2 million of his compensation because he believes executives can sometimes be paid too much.
  • The Independent: Britain's top companies will be warned today that the Government may force them by law to appoint more women to their boardrooms after the number of new female directors being appointed stalled in the past six months.
  • Financial Times: A pick-up in hiring across all regions in the first quarter of this year boosted net fees by 4% at Robert Walters, the white-collar recruiter.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Christie's has said it is to become the first international auction house to operate independently in China as it seeks to tap into the country's fast-growing art market.
  • The Daily Telegraph: ICAP, the interdealer broker, has said it is "co-operating" with an investigation by US regulators into allegations that a key benchmark for derivatives has been fixed.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Despite millions of pounds spent by British companies to meet spiralling retirement costs, the total deficit of final salary-linked company pension schemes has increased by £35 billion over one month, a report has said.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Britain's biggest mobile operator, EE, is to double the speed of mobile downloads over its 4G network, as it battles to stave off competition from rival operators.
  • Daily Mail: Average annuity rates rose for the first time in two years in the first three months of this year rising by three per cent new research has revealed.
  • The Independent: Creditors, such as suppliers and landlords, are likely to have lost more than £1 billion from the retail sector's 20 biggest insolvencies since the start of last year, according to the credit information specialist Company Watch.
  • Financial Times: Jeremy Bennett, a former adviser to the UK’s banking watchdog, is to become Nomura’s European head, demonstrating the rising power of bankers with regulatory pedigree.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Central banks can unleash billions of pounds more quantitative easing with little threat of stoking inflation, says IMF.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Greek consumer prices fell year-on-year in March, taking the battered economy into deflationary territory for the first time since 1968.
  • Daily Mail: The number of properties sold in England and Wales reached its highest level for three years at the end of last month, a report said.
  • Financial Times: Ten Network Holdings, the Australian TV company chaired by Lachlan Murdoch, will abandon its extreme focus on youth and pursue an older audience in an attempt to address its recent “unsatisfactory performance”.
  • The Independent: Persuading late-night viewers of ITV and Channel 5 to call in and gamble on casino-style games is paying off for Netplay TV, the Aim-listed group whose annual profits have soar more than fivefold to £3 million.
  • Financial Times: Man Group showed its biggest gain in 10 months on Tuesday amid hopes that the hedge fund manager would benefit from Japan’s new war on deflation.
  • Financial Times: Brussels opened a new front in its battle over card fees as it launched an antitrust probe into MasterCard over concerns that it was distorting competition and overcharging retailers.
  • Financial Times: Volkswagen’s financial services division is gaining new business in crisis-hit Spain and Italy as local banks withdraw from vehicle loans.
  • Financial Times: A leading research group has increased its estimate of the US’s potential gas resource by 26%, in the latest sign of how the shale revolution has boosted the country’s energy supplies.
  • Financial Times: Turkish Airlines has followed its March order for 82 Airbus jets with a deal to buy 70 single-aisle aircraft from Boeing, the bulk of which will be the US manufacturer’s new, more fuel-efficient Max model.
  • Financial Times: Michael Lynton has signed a new deal to stay as chief executive of Sony Entertainment, a move that should quell speculation about Sony selling its film studio and music division.
  • Financial Times: Blur Group, an online market for business services that has enjoyed a doubling of its share price since an initial public offering in October, has reported an almost tripling of usage in the first three months of the year.
  • Financial Times: Wider use of its high-strength plastics in aircraft and car designs has helped Victrex to overcome weaker sales of its medical implants – giving a lift to first-half performance at the FTSE 250 polymer maker.
  • Financial Times: Shares in AZ Electronic Materials fell 35% after the provider of speciality chemicals, which go into products such as Apple’s iPad, issued a profit warning.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Independent: The French media group Lagardère has sold its 7.4% stake in Airbus's owner EADS for €2.3 billion, sparking an overhaul in ownership of Europe's biggest aircraft maker.
  • Financial Times: John Malone’s Liberty Global is to win EU approval for its $23.3 billion takeover of Virgin Media, paving the way for the creation of the biggest broadband communications group in Europe.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Billabong is to enter exclusive takeover talks with a consortium led by its former US boss, as the group proposed a sharply reduced offer for the surfwear company.
  • The Independent: The Australian surfwear brand Billabong has entered exclusive talks with a consortium led by its former US boss and a private-equity firm for them to buy it at a knock-down price of A$300 million (£210m).
  • The Daily Telegraph: FirstGroup, the transport group, has sold eight London bus depots in deals worth £80 million as part of a drive to bolster its struggling UK bus operations .
  • Financial Times: A Qatari-backed investment fund has entered final discussions to purchase 100% of Printemps, a landmark Paris department store, and its nationwide chain of outlets.
  • Financial Times: FXCM, the spread betting provider and foreign exchange broker, has made a $210 million all-share offer for Gain Capital Holdings.
  • Financial Times: Southeastern Asset Management, the largest outside shareholder in Dell, said on Tuesday that Dell’s board had not made a compelling case for accepting the $13.65-a-share buyout offer made by Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners.
  • The Guardian: Pets at Home, the UK's largest pet store business, has bought Vets4Pets for around £40 million, and will integrate the latter's 93 veterinary practices into its 166 in-store vet business.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Europe is falling dangerously far behind the US in productivity growth and is blighted by crippling energy costs, the pan-EU industry federation has warned.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): The Greek government is in disarray after the leak of an explosive report drawing up vast reparations claims against Germany, covering both the First and Second World Wars.
  • The Independent (Comment): One notable difference between HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland is that the former was far more savvy in matters of PR.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Disney: the movie business is a cog in a bigger wheel where a movie franchise can turn into a video game, a ride at Disney World, be broadcast on ABC television or printed on T-shirts.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Repsol-YPF: Argentina’s decision to expropriate YPF from Repsol is a cautionary tale about the perils of modern-day industrial nationalism.
  • Financial Times (Lex): ICAP is expected to have produced free cash flow of £200 million in the year just ended, so a fine of less than half of that would not be crippling.

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