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Thursday Papers: Rating threat after Autumn Statement

Thursday Papers: Rating threat after Autumn Statement

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Britain’s triple-A credit rating was under threat on Wednesday night after George Osborne conceded one of his key public finance targets would be missed and official forecasts dashed his hopes of fighting the election on the back of a revived economy; the effect of weaker official growth forecasts increases debt by £105 billion by 2016-17, making it impossible to hit Osborne’s target to reduce the share of public debt.
  • Financial Times: George Osborne snapped shut four tax loopholes that is expected to increase revenues by £2 billion to £22 billion a year; the centrepiece of the chancellor’s crackdown was a deal to levy UK tax on an estimated £40 billion of secret Swiss bank accounts.
  • The Daily Telegraph: An extra £5 billion of infrastructure spending and a revamp of the Private Finance Initiative by George Osborne were dismissed as a "drop in the ocean" as business groups demanded more radical measures to kickstart growth.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Millions of families receiving child benefit will see the value of the handout fall after George Osborne imposed an extra two years of real-terms cuts to the payments.
  • The Guardian: Cuts in pension relief could hurt teachers and civil servants, while rise in income thresholds will also hit better off.
  • The Guardian: British chancellor swatted aside national uproar over the tax arrangements of multinationals such as Starbucks and Amazon on Wednesday when he knocked a further percentage point off UK corporation tax in his autumn statement.
  • The Guardian (Comment): The chancellor's bright-eyed optimism that served as the coalition's defining mission turns to dust in the Commons.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Austerity supporters argue that reducing the state will set business free, which they call 'expansionary fiscal contraction'.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Autumn Statement 2012: No major surprises; just more of the same - tinkering, gestures, excuses and hope.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Osborne’s tinkering is having no effect on our mountain of debt.
  • Daily Mail (Comment – Alex Brummer): Chancellors can never resist the opportunity to fiddle with pension rules. George Osborne has joined the club, pushed by the determination of the LibDems to be nasty to rich people.
  • The Guardian (Editorial): In narrow party political terms, at least Mr Osborne produced a plan. The same cannot be said of the Liberal Democrats.
  • The Guardian (Comment): From the bare, Cratchitesque branches of the chancellor's autumn statement a few baubles hung limply down.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: Deutsche Bank failed to recognise up to $12 billion of paper losses during the financial crisis, helping the bank avoid a government bail-out, three former bank employees have alleged in complaints to US regulators.
  • Financial Times: Citigroup’s new chief executive has wasted little time putting his stamp on the U.S. bank by axing 11,000 jobs, adding to a wave of staff reductions across the financial services industry.
  • Daily Mail: Britain's scandal-hit banks are expected to pay just £1.8 billion to atone for past sins this year – roughly half the tax paid by wine drinkers every year.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Britain is to drive a co-ordinated international crackdown of tax avoidance by global firms - to ensure that companies like Amazon, Google and Starbucks “pay their proper share”.
  • Financial Times: Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold has engineered a dramatic re-entry to the oil business with two deals worth a total of about $20 billion, buying Plains Exploration and Production and McMoRan Exploration.
  • Financial Times: US securities regulators have charged a Wells Fargo investment banker and nine others with insider trading, accusing the group of making more than $11 million in profits by trading on confidential deal tips.
  • The Guardian: Tesco's crown as the UK's most successful retailer has slipped further as the company called time on its loss-making U.S. business, unveiled 0.6% drop in UK sales in the last three months and reported dismal sales in other countries; the failure of the U.S. operation also cost the retailer's deputy chief executive, Tim Mason.
  • Daily Mail: Shares in Tesco jumped 3%, or 10.8 pence, to 337.5 pence on Wednesday as investors breathed a sigh of relief after chief executive Philip Clarke signalled an end to the grocer's disastrous US venture.
  • Financial Times: Samsung Electronics has promoted the only son of chairman Lee Kun-hee to vice-chairman, taking him a step closer to the leadership of the world’s top technology company by sales.
  • Financial Times: Philips, LG Electronics and Samsung SDI were hit with a record €1.47 billion fine from Europe’s top competition enforcer on Wednesday after participating in “textbook cartels” for almost a decade.
  • The Guardian: Richard Branson's Virgin Rail will be given the rights to run trains on west coast main line until the end of 2014.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Starbucks is reported to be close to a deal with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs that could see it pay between £5 million and £10 million in corporation tax for the current financial year.
  • Financial Times: Apple lost 6.4% to $538.81 on Wednesday as the iPhone and iPad maker suffered its steepest decline since December 2008.
  • Financial Times: Nasdaq OMX, the exchange operator that botched the Facebook public float, was forced on Wednesday to postpone a planned $100 million listing of WhiteHorse Finance after what it described as a human error.
  • Financial Times: A consortium led by Alstom, the French group, has beaten off competition from China, Spain and Canada to win a $5.8 billion contract to supply passenger trains to South Africa.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Standard & Poor's has cut its credit rating for troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena - the world's oldest surviving lender - to speculative-grade status of BB+ from BBB-.
  • Financial Times: India’s ruling Congress party won an important political victory on Wednesday, when the lower house of parliament voted in favour of allowing foreign supermarket chains such as Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour to set up shop in the country.
  • The Guardian: Ireland – the "poster child" for the IMF and EU's bailout programmes – endured its sixth hairshirt budget on Wednesday with the imposition of €2.5 billion of cuts as its finance minister insisted the country is emerging from the fiscal crisis.
  • Financial Times: EADS on Wednesday outlined the biggest shake-up to its corporate governance since the company’s creation in 2000, in changes aimed at providing Berlin with equivalent influence to Paris at the aerospace and defence group.
  • Financial Times: GDF Suez said it would undertake a cost-cutting drive to save €3.5 billion a year from 2015 and reduce capital expenditure in 2013 and 2014 by 20% to €7-€8 billion a year; it confirmed its profit outlook for 2012 of net income of €3.7-€4.1 billion.
  • The Daily Telegraph: EasyJet boss Carolyn McCall banked almost £2 million in pay and bonuses for 2012 after profits at the low-cost carrier soared by almost a third.
  • Financial Times: Piero Novelli has stepped down as global head of mergers and acquisitions at Nomura and will leave less than two years after joining the bank, in a move that highlighted the Japanese bank’s retreat from international investment banking.
  • Daily Mail: Pre-tax profit of Stagecoach, which owns 49% of Virgin Rail, rose 29% to reach £116 million; the group raised its interim dividend from 2.4 pence to 2.6 pence.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Britain's biggest mobile operator, EE, has called on the European Investment Bank for a £350 million loan.
  • Financial Times: Anders Narvinger, chairman of TeliaSonera, the Swedish telecoms operator, on Wednesday announced his decision to resign, succumbing to pressure from the Swedish state.
  • Financial Times: Brewin Dolphin, the wealth manager, posted 36.5% jump in pre-tax profit to £29.9 million in the year ending 30 September.
  • The Independent: Smiths News, Britain's biggest distributor of magazines and newspapers, has signed a five-year deal with media giant IPC, worth £154 million a year in revenues until 2019.
  • Financial Times: Organic growth rate at software company Sage slowed to 2%, from 4% last year, with poor performance in France and Spain weighing on the accounting software group.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: HSBC has struck a $9.4 billion deal to sell its entire 15.6% stake in Ping An Insurance to companies controlled by Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group.
  • Daily Mail: BHP Billiton eyes bid for Alabama-based metallurgical coal producer Walter Energy.
  • Financial Times: General Atlantic, the private equity firm, has paid $201 million for a “minority” stake in XP Investimentos, an independent Brazilian brokerage targeting the country’s new class of retail investors.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers are to merge their online production teams, raising expectations that the two publications could pool their editorial teams in a single, seven-day news operation.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Deutsche Bank: whistleblowers’ allegations will also reawaken doubts about how best to account for such derivatives, even if the bank has traded out of the positions.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Citigroup: some of Citi’s cuts look like the easy ones. Mr Corbat will probably have to make tougher moves if he wants to keep shareholders happy.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Tesco: the UK supermarket’s decision to withdraw from the US market is long overdue, Tesco has little to show for the £1billion it has spent there.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Samsung: Jay Lee has been elevated to the vice-chairmanship in preparation for taking the helm one day. In what direction will he take the company?

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