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Wednesday Papers: Saudi and Russia agree oil freeze

And 'too big to fail' banks are as big a threat as nuclear power plants, warned US Fed's policymaker.

Wednesday Papers: Saudi and Russia agree oil freeze

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Saudi Arabia has agreed with Russia to freeze oil output if they are joined by other large producers, in the first co-ordinated move to try to reduce a near record supply glut and halt the collapse in prices.
  • The Daily Telegraph: US banks are still "too big to fail" and may need to be broken up to defuse the "nuclear" threat they pose to the economy, according to a top Federal Reserve policymaker.
  • Financial Times: Apple, the most valuable company in the world, completed the second largest bond sale of the year on Tuesday to fund its share buyback programme, as international debt markets began to reopen after a challenging start to the year.
  • Financial Times: China’s banks granted loans at the fastest pace on record in January, a sign that the government is loosening monetary policy more aggressively in an attempt to bolster the slowing economy.
  • Financial Times: Anglo American is targeting an extra $3 billion to $4 billion of asset sales this year as it plots a course to recover from the commodities rout by disposing of some of its largest and oldest business units.
  • The Guardian: Royal Bank of Scotland enjoyed tax breaks and deferrals amounting to an estimated £1 billion after financing the film distribution rights to a string of blockbusters including Troy, Batman Begins and two of the Harry Potter series.
  • Financial Times: Spotify is closing in on 30 million paying subscribers, having hit 28 million at the end of 2015, say people familiar with the matter.
  • The Guardian: The prospects of a rise in interest rates from the Bank of England has receded after the latest official figures showed only weak upward pressure on the cost of living.

Business and economics

  • Daily Mail: Shares of UK Oil & Gas Investments soared nearly 50% after it announced that early testing has revealed 'significant quantities' of oil at the site dubbed the 'Gatwick Gusher'.
  • The Guardian: ANZ has said that the cost of bad debts will reach $800 million this year as the economic slowdown in Asia continues to bite.
  • Financial Times: India’s revenue office has threatened to seize Vodafone assets in the country if the UK telecoms group does not pay its disputed $2 billion-plus tax bill, in a controversy dating from 2007.
  • The Daily Telegraph: French nuclear giant EDF said that it has yet to finalise investment contracts with Chinese partners and it has been working on its own "financial equation" for the £18 billion plant.
  • Financial Times: Volkswagen’s main passenger car brand was the only marque in Europe’s top 10 to post a fall in sales in January, as regional vehicle registrations staged a strong start to the year.
  • The Guardian: Apple’s Apple Pay mobile payment system will be available in China from 18 February for Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) customers, bank representatives said in social media posts on Tuesday.
  • Financial Times: Michelin has revealed an increase in net profits fuelled by a weak euro and higher sales in Europe as the tyre manufacturer confirmed that it was pressing ahead with its restructuring efforts.
  • Financial Times: Faltering industrial activity in North America contributed to a drop in profits at precision instrument maker Spectris, highlighting the tough market conditions faced by many UK manufacturers.
  • Financial Times: Hargreaves Services, the UK’s largest remaining producer and supplier of coal, has issued a profit warning for this year and next — in a sign of the severity of cost pressures on domestic power and steel markets.
  • The Guardian: Virgin Media has revealed a 38% surge in annual profits thanks to record customer growth, just weeks after announcing around 900 jobs were under threat.
  • The Independent: Ikea has been accused of avoiding up to €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in corporate taxes between 2009 and 2014, according to a report by Green Party ministers in the European Parliament.
  • The Guardian: ITV has confirmed that Sir Peter Bazalgette, the man responsible for bringing Big Brother to the UK, as it new non-executive chairman.
  • The Independent: CityJet and Flybe have joined British Airways in threatening to pull out of City airport, if new owners raise airport charges.
  • Financial Times: Telecom Italia shares fell close to 5% by early afternoon, as Italy’s largest telecoms group missed expectations and unveiled a turnround plan that it hopes will lead to an improvement in earnings in 2017-18.
  • Financial Times: A jump in sales at Furla, the Italian maker of mid-priced handbags, has underlined the growing demand for so-called accessible luxury, even as global consumers pull back from spending on costlier brands.
  • Financial Times: Powa Technologies, one of the UK’s most highly valued technology start-ups, held back staff salaries and payments to suppliers as the company struggled to secure new investment.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Daily Telegraph (Questor share tip): Steel woes and coal power blackout lead to profits collapse at largest UK coal miner.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Questor share tip): Approach 'Gatwick gusher' with caution.
  • Financial Times: Metro Bank is slashing the size of its initial public offering by almost a fifth following the recent sell-off across the banking sector, investors in the UK challenger bank were told.
  • Financial Times: US private equity firm Apollo has braved volatile merger markets to buy out home security maker ADT and merge it with another company in a deal valued at $15 billion, including debt.
  • Financial Times: Property portal Zoopla has agreed exclusive partnerships with four UK property technology start-ups accompanied by £1 million of investment as it seeks to diversify its offering in the face of increasing competition.
  • Financial Times: Orange has said talks with Bouygues Telecom over a proposed tie-up will last several more weeks, raising the prospect of a deal next month.
  • Financial Times: Dividend cuts put strain on income funds.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Apollo/ADT: calling bluffs.
  • Financial Times (Lex): EDF: l’état, c’est moi.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Anglo-American: rocky road.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Credit default swaps: not a Lehman moment.

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