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Friday Papers: Barclays in Qatar loan probe

Friday Papers: Barclays in Qatar loan probe

Top stories

  • Financial Times: UK authorities are probing an allegation that Barclays loaned Qatar money to invest in the bank as part of its cash call at the height of the financial crisis in 2008, which enabled the bank to avoid a UK government bailout.
  • Financial Times: Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds have set aside about £700 million for compensation for mis-selling complex derivative products to small businesses.
  • Financial Times: A US federal court has sentenced Russell Wasendorf Sr, the former head of collapsed futures broker Peregrine Financial Group, to 50 years in prison for fraud.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has called for the Big Four accountancy firms to be barred from working for the Government while they continue to help companies "avoid paying their fair share" of UK tax.
  • Financial Times: The US moved on Thursday to block Anheuser-Busch InBev’s $20 billion acquisition of Grupo Modelo, the Mexican brewer, arguing that the deal would lead to price increases, harm consumers and deter competition.
  • The Guardian: Bertelsmann is looking to sell a €2 billion stake in Europe's biggest advertiser-funded broadcaster RTL, which makes UK shows including The X Factor, to finance digital growth and international expansion.
  • Financial Times: James Gorman, Morgan Stanley chief executive, has been handed a 7.1% pay cut despite a near-doubling of his performance-related bonus.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Shell's profits fell 6% in 2012, to $27 billion as fourth-quarter earnings significantly undershot expectations due to a surprise slump in exploration and production profits.
  • The Guardian: Shell and other major companies are spilling crude, diesel or other contaminants into the North Sea on a daily basis despite the oil industry's efforts to improve its safety record.
  • The Independent: Deutsche Bank has reported an unexpected €2.15 billion loss as it slashed the value of some of its more risky assets and absorbed high legal fees.
  • Financial Times: US banks are suffering a squeeze on mortgage profits after a two-year bonanza, raising doubts about the earnings of Wells Fargo, Bank of America and the other large lenders.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Spanish bank Santander, the biggest in the eurozone by market value, said on Thursday its net profit plunged in 2012 as it wrote off nearly €19 billion for dodgy loans and property assets in Spain.
  • The Guardian: Dozens of Yorkshire farmers are on the verge of becoming millionaires as exploratory boreholes showed the North York Moors national park held "the world's largest and highest-quality resource of polyhalite", a mineral-rich form of potash.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: The International Monetary Fund has failed to agree on a new formula that would reduce European voting power, setting the stage for a high stakes negotiation in 2014.
  • Financial Times: Standard & Poor’s has upgraded the credit rating of California from A- to A, reflecting an improvement in the Golden State’s financial health after a tax hike on the wealthy.
  • The Independent: The Bank of England's pump-priming of the mortgage market fuelled some cheer for homeowners as Nationwide said average prices rose 0.5% in January.
  • Financial Times: Shares in Crédit Agricole fell 1.5% to close at €7.28 on Thursday as it was poised to issue a profits warning.
  • The Daily Telegraph: AstraZeneca’s profits before tax were down 35% to $7.7 billion in the year to December on a 15% decline in sales to $28 billion, while earnings per share fell 29% to $4.99 over the period.
  • The Guardian: Disgruntled HMV employees briefly took over the company's official Twitter account on Thursday to express their extreme dissatisfaction at being sacked by the ailing retailer.
  • The Independent: Diageo sales rose 5% to £6.04 billion in the half year to December.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Drinks giant Diageo will hit its target of generating half of its revenue from fast-growing emerging markets in 2013, two years early, amid booming sales in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  • Financial Times: Blackstone’s full-year economic net income rose 30% to nearly $2 billion, the highest since the world’s largest alternative asset manager floated in 2007 and ahead of Wall Street expectations.
  • The Independent: LVMH, the world's largest luxury goods group, posted profits close to €6 billion for 2012, and said like-for-like sales were up 9%.
  • Financial Times: Nomura’s overall net income rose 13% to $221 million in the third quarter after being boosted by a large one-off gain from a private equity sale and from stronger revenues in asset management, retail brokerage and fixed-income trading.
  • Financial Times: Anshu Jain, co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank, said the group’s core tier one capital ratio under the tougher incoming Basel III metric, was 8% – still well behind most rivals – but better than numbers of barely 7% that many analysts had forecast.
  • The Guardian: John Dixon, the UK head of tax at Ernst & Young, has admitted that international guidelines that allow online firms to pay much lower corporation tax than their rivals are outdated and in need of urgent reform.
  • The Daily Telegraph: National Express has accused the Government of "gross negligence" and wasting £10 million of its shareholders' money after the bidding competition for the prestigious Great Western rail franchise was scrapped.
  • Financial Times: Roomy Khan, a trader-turned-government informant who helped authorities build insider trading cases against Raj Rajaratnam and more than a dozen other Wall Street figures, was sentenced to one year in prison.
  • Daily Mail: Budget airline Ryanair was on Thursday ordered to pay compensation to passengers stranded after the 2010 volcano eruption in Iceland, leaving the door open for a raft of claims, but also a potential increase in ticket prices.
  • Financial Times: Trade unions at Iberia on Thursday rejected a package of cuts to restore the Spanish airline to profit, and some warned of strike action.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The board of Seymour Pierce held crisis talks on Thursday to try to prevent the 130-year-old broker from falling into administration.
  • Financial Times: Bob McDonald, chief executive of Procter & Gamble, says the group’s efforts to revive its sluggish performance are about to become bolder, but insists he has not been shaken by attacks from an activist investor.
  • The Independent: BSkyB’s pre-tax profit leapt to £642 million for the six months to 31 December against £597 million a year earlier.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Half of BSkyB's new television customers in the last three months of 2012 went for its Now TV pay as you go service - boosting sales but fuelling concerns that it could cannibalise subscription revenues.
  • The Guardian: Burger King has revealed that some of its burgers were contaminated in the horsemeat scare, as the tainted food crisis threatened to undermine the confidence of consumers, and major retailers tried to protect their reputations.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: Zoetis, the animal-health business that Pfizer is spinning off, became the largest US initial public offering since Facebook after the company raised $2.24 billion from investors on Thursday.
  • Financial Times: Westfield, the Australian shopping centre operator, and Qatari Sports Investment are among those expected to submit bids worth about $5 billion to $8 billion for Anschutz Entertainment Group, owner of London’s O2 arena, as early as next week.
  • Financial Times: Real estate group LEG Immobilien has raised more than €1.3 billion in the second-largest German initial public offering in five years, after its shares were priced in the middle of the expected range at €44.
  • The Guardian: Dragons' Den star Peter Jones has bought the brand of Jessops, the camera retailer that collapsed into administration last month; Jones will run Jessops as a purely online retailer and has not bought its 187 stores.
  • The Guardian (Comment): The issue is not that governments and central banks cannot restore full employment, it is that they will not take expansionary policy steps on a large enough scale.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Agriculture has long been US industry's most profitable sector – at the expense of a virtually indentured immigrant workforce.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): As interesting as the Financial Service Authority’s report on interest rate swap mis-selling is the proof will be in the banks’ provisions, not the regulator’s findings.
  • The Daily Telegraph (: While the FTSE 100 may have surged in January, the mood in the retail industry has been far more subdued.
  • Daily Mail (Comment – Alex Brummer): The North Sea oil and gas bonanza that propped up the Thatcher, Major and Blair-Brown governments is coming to a staggeringly fast end.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Shell: the Anglo-Dutch oil company appears to be running to stand still. Given its capital outlay, it ought to be growing at a faster pace.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Deutsche Bank: full-year results clearly show what the German bank is doing right and where it needs to do better
  • Financial Times (Lex): AstraZeneca: the ailing Anglo-Swedish drugmaker’s results remind investors how tough a task the restoration will be.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Ericsson: the Swedish telecom equipment maker appears to be emerging from the global downturn as carriers start buying equipment again.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Colgate-Palmolive: Procter & Gamble has been playing catch-up with its higher performing rival, and has more room to cut costs.

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