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Wednesday Papers: Europe oil groups raided in price probe

Wednesday Papers: Europe oil groups raided in price probe

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Europe’s leading antitrust authority has raided oil majors Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Statoil in an investigation into the setting of oil prices, the latest probe into global benchmark rates.
  • Financial Times: The US budget deficit is declining faster than expected; latest figures show deficit falling to $642 billion, or 4% of GDP.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The European Commission plans to send a formal warning to China that it is ready to levy sanctions against telecoms equipment makers Huawei and ZTE Corp over illegal subsidies, according to reports.
  • Financial Times: Some of JP Morgan Chase’s largest shareholders are sparing Jamie Dimon but voting against other directors in a contentious ballot on the board of the largest US bank, according to people familiar with the matter.
  • Financial Times: Bloomberg has been accused of “reprehensible” behaviour by the Bank of England, in the strongest official response since it emerged that Bloomberg reporters had been using its terminals to track users’ activities.
  • Financial Times: US hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb has taken a $1.1 billion stake in Sony.
  • Daily Mail: Dealers on Tuesday heard gossip that BP, which has a natural gas facility in Algeria next door to Petroceltic’s world-class Ain Tsila gas project, is ready to ‘mop up’ Petroceltic in a deal which would value it at around £600 million - or more than double the current share price.
  • Financial Times: The board of Severn Trent on Tuesday night rejected a preliminary approach from a multinational consortium led by Canadian pension fund Borealis, saying that the offer, which was expected to value the British water company at about £5 billion, fundamentally undervalued it.
  • Daily Mail: Britain's hopes for new nuclear power may at last be cleared by ministers, with a deal set to be struck within two weeks.
  • Financial Times: Amazon, the leading light in the world of ecommerce, has been hit by the distinctly old-world malaise of industrial action, as hundreds of its German warehouse staff walked out on strike.
  • The Guardian: At least eight of the UK's leading fashion retailers -- George at Asda, Next, Matalan, River Island, Sports Direct, Peacocks, Shop Direct and the Arcadia group -- had Tuesday night failed to put their names to a legally binding initiative to offer financial support for fire safety and building improvements in the wake of the Bangladesh garment disaster.
  • Financial Times: Sales of Diageo’s baijiu, a clear grain spirit popular in China, slumped 40% in the first quarter of this year as the world’s biggest distiller became the latest casualty of China’s crackdown on conspicuous consumption.
  • The Independent: Nokia unveiled a new flagship metallic Windows phone on Tuesday, featuring a hi-tech SmartCam which can takes 10 images at once, as it battles to wrestle market share back from Samsung and Apple.
  • Financial Times: Google chief executive Larry Page disclosed on Tuesday that he has suffered nerve damage to both his vocal cords, causing his voice to become hoarser and quieter.
  • The Independent: Mark Lyttleton, a former star fund manager at BlackRock, has been caught up in the City regulator's latest sweep against insider dealing.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: The Church of England has accused Barclays of having “repeatedly let down society” and called for a “fundamental turnround” in the bank’s culture, in its annual investment report published on Wednesday.
  • The Guardian: Job losses and branch closures are looming at the Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir Philip Hampton, the chairman of the bailed-out bank, has warned as shareholders accused the bank of having "cosy" and "unsustainable" pay deals.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The British government faces a £12 billion bill for a "totally useless" bank crisis fund imposed on Britain by the European Union after George Osborne was left isolated at a Brussels meeting of finance ministers on Tuesday.
  • The Guardian: The UK has plunged down an economic wellbeing league, falling from fifth place to 12th over six years, according to a new report that underlines the pressure on Britons' finances amid rising unemployment.
  • Financial Times: Greece’s progress towards eliminating its budget and current account deficits and signs of an economic stabilisation has earned it a one-notch credit rating upgrade from CCC to B minus from Fitch.
  • The Guardian: The government's plans to prevent a second damaging financial crisis were called into question on Tuesday when a group of economists from the International Monetary Fund said the costs of ring-fencing speculative City activities could outweigh the benefits.
  • Financial Times: Across-the-board US government spending cuts are likely to inflate the overall cost of the F35 jet fighter, according to Lockheed Martin, the country’s biggest military supplier and the programme’s main contractor.
  • The Independent: Sir Philip Hampton, the chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, conceded under tough questioning from the bank's shareholders yesterday that he could not guarantee an end to the rash of "skeletons in the cupboard" which have plagued the taxpayer-funded bank over the last few years.
  • Financial Times: China is forecast to surpass the US as the world’s largest corporate debt market for non-financial companies in the next two years, according to a report from Standard & Poor's.
  • Financial Times: Rathbone Brothers has grown its funds under management to a record $30 billion thanks to the recovery in equity markets and a recent acquisition.
  • The Independent: The gas and oil giant BG Group has lowered 2015 oil production target to 750,000 and 825,000 barrels a day from 1 million barrels a day announced in February.
  • Financial Times: A top German court ruled on Tuesday that Google must heed requests to remove automatically generated search suggestions linked to people’s names if these are deemed defamatory.
  • Financial Times: Cracks are appearing in the once unbreakable relationship between Apple and its main manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision, as the Silicon Valley company switches more work to a rival contract manufacturer.
  • The Independent: Icap’s revenues for the year to the end of March fell by 12% to £1.47 billion, while pre-tax profits fell by a fifth to £284 million, which was slightly better than the market expected.
  • Financial Times: BlackBerry will open up its free BlackBerry Messenger service to Apple iPhone and Android-based smartphone owners, marking the latest effort by the Canadian handset maker to further rehabilitate its brand.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Marks & Spencer has unveiled its range of autumn and winter fashion, promising it has improved the quality of its clothing to turn around a decline in sales.
  • The Independent: Revenues at Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker, are up 20% in 2013 so far, driven by 29% growth in online revenues, while the high street arm is also up, 8%, defying predictions that the shops will soon be history.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: JC Flowers is to acquire Britain’s leading debt collector, Cabot Credit Management, at about $1.2 billion including debt, according to people familiar with the asset.
  • The Independent: Betfair management has come under pressure to explain itself to shareholders after throwing out a takeover bid of 950 pence a share.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Poorer nations lose three times more money to havens a year than they get in aid. The G8 has the chance to change this.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Analysts say BT is trying to defend its broadband base and the new TV service will lose up to £300 million in first year.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): If Marks & Spencer really delivers on what it promised at the launch of its autumn and winter clothing in London on Tuesday night then the performance of its general merchandise division should improve.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): The UK is up to its neck in debt, but here's the thing: we just don't care.
  • Daily Mail (Comment – Alex Brummer): The European Commission’s decision to raid several oil majors is the first time there has been a genuine regulatory effort to probe what has been happening over the way that so called ‘reference’ prices are set.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Severn Trent: generating returns that would justify the going rate for UK water assets – about a third of their regulated asset base – will be tough.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Commerzbank: the German bank’s €2.5 billion fundraising is a step on its long road back to health, but it does little to alter the bigger picture.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Verizon/Vodafone: Verizon Wireless’s declaration of a $7 billion dividend to be paid to its owners leads to multiple conspiracy theories on possible Vodafone bid.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Activism in Japan: big-name activist investor makes the latest in a long series of attempts by westerners to make Japanese companies see the sort of investing sense taught to first-year MBAs.

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