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Wednesday Papers: Rise of quasi-sovereign debt a concern

And Sainsbury’s has made a £1 billion move to buy Home Retail Group, the owner of Argos and Homebase.

Wednesday Papers: Rise of quasi-sovereign debt a concern

Top stories

  • Financial Times: More than $800 billion of emerging market sovereign debt is being camouflaged by the growing use of bonds that offer implicit state backing without always appearing on government balance sheets, according to new research.
  • The Guardian: Sainsbury’s has made a £1 billion move to buy Home Retail Group, the owner of Argos and Homebase, as it seeks to strengthen its business against the rise of the discounters and Amazon.
  • Financial Times: David Cameron has confirmed he will let Eurosceptic ministers campaign for Britain to leave the EU in this year’s referendum, amid growing pressure from cabinet rightwingers to let them speak out.
  • Financial Times: Partners at Brevan Howard who go to work with the standard hedge fund promise of a 20% cut of any profits they make for clients and a 2% fixed fee shared a $120 million pot of salaries and bonuses last year - even as its main fund lost money for investors.
  • Financial Times: US carmakers set the seal on a remarkable six-year recovery in December, with bumper sales that pushed a rejuvenated motor industry past the annual sales record it set in 2000.

Business and economics

  • The Independent: HSBC customers have endured another day without online banking after the troubled bank failed to solve the technical glitches which had plagued customers trying to transfer money or do other online transaction.
  • The Guardian: UK revenue from music, TV shows, films and video games hit an all-time high of £6.1 billion in 2015 thanks to the booming popularity of digital services offered by players including Netflix, Amazon, Spotify and Apple.
  • The Guardian: Chinese authorities have intervened to shore up troubled domestic stock markets but failed to prevent a dash to safer havens by investors fearful that Beijing’s actions have only delayed a bigger share crash.
  • The Guardian: Smith & Wesson shares have soared to their highest level in more than a decade as Barack Obama tearfully announced new restrictions on gun sales designed to reduce the nation’s epidemic of mass shootings.
  • The Guardian: Harvey Nichols is undergoing an “aggressive refurbishment” after profits fell 30% last year amid an increasingly challenging luxury market.
  • The Guardian: Twitter is rumored to be considering increasing its per-tweet character count from 140 to 10,000 – a potential move that instantly sent the troubled tech company’s share price into a tailspin.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Global stock markets could suffer further turmoil if China's slowdown continues, the International Monetary Fund's chief economist has warned.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Shares in Britain’s biggest supermarket Tesco rallied after Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock’s rating two months after downgrading it.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Electra Partners is facing a change of leadership amid an ongoing campaign by an activist shareholder to "turn up the temperature" at the firm's major client, Electra Private Equity.
  • Financial Times: Inflation in the euro area missed expectations in December and failed to rise, highlighting the scale of the task facing the European Central Bank as it tries to restore an important measure of economic health.
  • Financial Times: Libya’s National Oil Company made a desperate appeal for help on Tuesday after Isis fighters clashed with forces guarding key oil terminals, shelling storage facilities and setting oil tanks on fire.
  • Financial Times: British technology companies raised $3.6 billion from venture capitalists in 2015, as strong investor appetite for London-based start-ups and fintech groups resulted in record levels of tech investment flowing into the country.
  • Financial Times: Toyota has hired Google’s former head of robotics and a key executive in the search company’s driverless car efforts, as it predicted that robots could become as important to its future as cars have been to it since the 1930s.
  • Financial Times: George Soros’s former chief investment officer Scott Bessent has raised $4.5 billion for what will be one of the biggest hedge fund launches ever, signalling that investment stars can still attract large sums despite weak performance from the industry as a whole.
  • Financial Times: Shoppers’ preference for ordering online has helped boost the size of the UK parcel market to almost £9 billion, but fierce competition means carriers are receiving less for deliveries.
  • Financial Times: Fitbit launched a new fitness-focused smartwatch at the Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday.
  • Financial Times: Ning Gaoning, the man who turned China’s state-owned grain trader Cofco into an integrated agribusiness and led its overseas acquisition spree, has been appointed chairman of Sinochem, the Chinese government announced on Tuesday.
  • Financial Times: Next, the high street clothing chain, lamented a “disappointing” pre-Christmas performance on Tuesday in a dismal start to the year for UK retailers.
  • Financial Times: Attempts to contain a financial scandal at Malaysia’s state development fund suffered a blow on Tuesday when it emerged that a major asset sale may be worth less than announced.
  • Financial Times: Ford’s chief executive has said he is determined that the carmaker will be a leader in autonomous vehicles - which he predicts could be in public use in four years - as the company prepares for a big step-up in its testing programme.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: Dalian Wanda, the property and media group controlled by Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, is in talks to buy the Hollywood company Legendary Entertainment behind films such as Godzilla and Pacific Rim.
  • Financial Times: Swedish buyout firm EQT and European private equity group Cinven are among those bidding for Kuoni which caught the eye of potential buyers only a few months after the loss-making travel company appointed a new chief executive and unveiled an extensive restructuring plan.
  • Financial Times: Bernard Arnault’s family holding company and his listed luxury group LVMH are joining forces with US private equity firm Catterton to create a consumer-focused investment firm seeking assets under management of $12 billion.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Orange / Bouygues: French telecoms groups will not easily form a partnership.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Shire / Baxalta: a denounced deal may be done.
  • Financial Times (Lex): BAT: tobacco companies are lukewarm about ecigarettes, with good reason.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Internet stocks: if value comes into fashion, big internet groups will be bitten.
  • Financial Times (Lex): China stocks: festive season cheer evaporates, but sell-off could have been worse.

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