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Wednesday Papers: Osborne in tax grab on top-end property

And Saudis say oil price is too high and make pledge on boost in output.

Wednesday Papers: Osborne in tax grab on top-end property

Top stories

  • Financial Times: George Osborne will on Wednesday stage a tax grab on London’s booming top-end property market, in a Budget that will offer significant cuts in the taxes paid by business and low and middle income families.
  • Financial Times: Saudi Arabia’s powerful oil minister, Ali Naimi, made a rare intervention into overheating oil markets on Tuesday, declaring that high oil prices were “unjustified” and vowing that the kingdom would boost its output by as much as 25% if necessary.
  • The Guardian: Europe is only at the beginning of a "very tough, very long, hard road" to recovery and its future is still a threat to the US economy, Timothy Geithner, the treasury secretary, warned on Tuesday.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The Netherlands’s budget deficit could increase to 4.6% of GDP during this year and next year - a level that far exceeds the 3% ratio that 25 European Union countries pledged to meet by next year.
  • The Independent: Switzerland and the UK have signed an agreement to begin taxing funds held by wealthy British clients of Swiss banks from January, after altering the terms of a deal to appease the European Commission.
  • Financial Times: Deutsche Bank has admitted for the first time that US and European regulators have asked it for information in connection with an investigation into alleged manipulation of interbank lending rates by numerous international banks.
  • Daily Mail: Barclays is quietly ditching the ‘Wealth’ tag from its controversial financial advice arm – just over a year after it was fined £7.7 million for mis-selling risky investments to thousands of elderly customers.
  • Financial Times: Royal Bank of Scotland has taken another step towards a multibillion pound flotation of its Direct Line insurance arm by offering the chairmanship to Mike Biggs, a former finance director of Aviva.
  • Daily Mail: Under fire investment bank Goldman Sachs is slashing around 1,700 jobs – approximately 5% of its global workforce.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: A battle has broken out between Apple and its rival smartphone makers over the standard industry template for miniature Sim cards for the next generation of slimmer handsets.
  • Financial Times: JPMorgan Chase expects to secure final approval for its new trust company joint venture in China in the second quarter of this year.
  • The Independent: AstraZeneca's already thin drugs pipeline was battered again Tuesday when the pharmaceuticals firm admitted that an experimental antidepressant, once hailed as a potential worldwide multibillion dollar-a-year blockbuster, had failed its latest clinical trials and would be dumped.
  • The Daily Telegraph: More than two-thirds of London fund managers say they would not buy the state's shares in Royal Bank of Scotland if they were sold at the Government's breakeven price of 50 pence.
  • Financial Times: India’s Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by New Delhi seeking to overturn its final ruling in Vodafone’s $2.9 billion tax dispute with the Indian government.
  • Financial Times: Hewlett-Packard is set to merge its huge PC and printer divisions, marking the first move by new chief executive Meg Whitman to cut costs and rationalise operations at the struggling computer maker.
  • The Independent: Cairn Energy is to spend some of its $1.2 billion cash pile finding new projects to balance its exposure to oil exploration in Greenland.
  • Financial Times: The Obama administration has imposed tariffs of up to 4.73% on Chinese manufacturers of solar panel cells, judging that they benefited from unfair export subsidies after a review that split the US solar industry.
  • Financial Times: Generali, Italy’s largest insurer by premiums, reported a fall in full-year operating profit to $5.2 billion, after impairments on Greek sovereign bonds and its stake in Telecom Italia.
  • Financial Times: Gem Diamonds, producer of some of the biggest diamonds found in recent years, trebled annual profits from $36 million to $106 million in the year to December.
  • Financial Times: Tiffany & Co, the luxury jewellery retailer, has predicted sales growth of 10% to $4 billion from February to the end of January 2013.
  • The Daily Telegraph: More than 80% of staff working at failed spreadbetting group WorldSpreads have been made redundant and told they will not receive salary payments owed to them this month.
  • The Independent: Pre-tax profits of Severfield-Rowen dived 39% to £6.8 million last year while Severfield cut its full-year dividend by a third to 5 pence.
  • Financial Times: Genel Energy, the investment vehicle launched by financier Nat Rothschild and former BP chief executive Tony Hayward, raised $1.9 billion last year.
  • Financial Times: Moody’s has slashed the credit ratings of more than $2.5 billion of debt issued by Detroit in a move that could trigger payments related to its swap agreements.
  • The Guardian: Four out of 10 shops in the UK will have to shut in the next five years as consumers turn their backs on traditional stores in favour of online shopping, according to a Deloitte report.
  • Financial Times: Funds raised for private equity and venture capital investment in Latin America last year hit a record of $10.3 billion, up 27% on 2010, as investors sought to tap into fast economic growth in the region.
  • The Daily Telegraph: National Grid and Petrofac have joined with US developer Summit Power to enter a £1 billion government competition to build a carbon capture and storage project.
  • Financial Times: Caterpillar said retail machine sales by dealers rose 21% in the three months to the end of February compared with the same period last year but down from a pace of 30% year-on-year growth in the last quarter of 2011.
  • The Guardian: Local authorities in the Canary Islands have reacted angrily to a Spanish government decision that allows the giant Repsol company to look for oil 60km off the coasts of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, warning that a spill would wreck beaches and drive tourists away.
  • Financial Times: The European Commission will give the green light on Wednesday to the government’s plan to take over Royal Mail’s pension fund, removing one of the main obstacles to privatising the state-owned postal operator.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The British government has the headroom to ease up on austerity measures for the first time since coming to power, official economic forecasts released alongside Wednesday’s Budget are expected to show.
  • Financial Times: Roche has filed its definitive proxy statement and proposed an alternative board of directors, arguing that its $44.50 a share cash offer for Illumina represented “full and fair value”.
  • Financial Times: Apax Partners has raised €4.3 billion from investors within 10 months in the largest first close of a private equity fund since the height of the financial crisis more than three years ago.
  • Financial Times: Nearly 100 staff will be made redundant on Thursday when Canaccord Financial completes its acquisition of Collins Stewart Hawkpoint, as London’s stockbroking industry continues to shed capacity.
  • Financial Times: Game Group is expected to face the closure of as many as half its 600 stores under plans being drawn up by its banks, as the troubled video games retailer battles for survival and races to raise a £180 million lifeline by this weekend.
  • The Guardian: Debenhams said a strong January sale and a positive start to the spring helped lift like-for-like sales by 0.3% in the first half, despite the economic climate.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Daily Telegraph: Glencore will pay C$16.25 a share for Viterra in a deal which values the Canadian company at around C$6.1 billion.
  • Financial Times: Ziggo, the Dutch cable provider, has set the share price of its initial public offering on Wednesday at €18.50 a share.
  • The Independent: UTV Media, the owner of Talksport radio, has hinted it could be interested in selling its television business in Northern Ireland.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Economic recovery demands we ditch the myth that private rather than state investment drives industrial innovation.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Despite the soothing words from Mid-East suppliers, the global oil market remains stretched with OECD inventories lower than during the Arab Spring last year.
  • Daily Mail (Comment – Alex Brummer): Cometh the hour, cometh the man: we will be able to make that judgement after the Chancellor reveals his latest plans to boost economic growth.
  • Financial Times (The Lex Column): Tiffany: it is ironic Americans benefiting from low mortgage rates are ploughing that cash into luxury goods, but at least loose policy helps some
  • Financial Times (The Lex Column): Deutsche Börse: appealing antitrust decisions by European Union regulators makes sense, especially when there an important principle at stake.
  • Financial Times (The Lex Column): Viterra: commodity trader Glencore wins the battle for Canadian grain trader as the world’s four dominant agricultural dealers look on

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