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Friday Papers: Fresh corporate default tests China’s resolve

Friday Papers: Fresh corporate default tests China’s resolve

Top stories

  • Financial Times: China’s premier has warned that future defaults on bonds and other financial products are “unavoidable” underlining concerns that a wave of bad debts threatens to derail growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
  • Financial Times: Russia’s respected former finance minister has delivered a stark warning that the country could soon face capital outflows as high as $50 billion a quarter and no economic growth, should western countries press forward with proposed sanctions against Moscow.
  • The Guardian: Royal Bank of Scotland has edged closer to junk bond status after a leading credit ratings agency downgraded the state-controlled bank's debt following record losses and fears of regulatory punishment.
  • The Daily Telegraph: US Federal Reserve officials had looked at how key foreign-exchange benchmark could potentially be manipulated in September 2012 but failed to act.
  • The Guardian: Supermarket chain Morrisons announced £1 billion worth of aggressive price cuts and store revamps as it battles Aldi and Lidl after second profit warning in three months.
  • Financial Times: BP has reached an agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency that will allow the energy company to resume bidding for federal government contracts, ending a ban resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
  • Financial Times: UK bankers would be hit by what appear to be the world’s toughest rules for clawing back bonuses under proposals from the Bank of England aimed at preventing a repetition of the mis-selling and rate manipulation scandals that have hit the sector.
  • Daily Mail: Chancellor George Osborne set to claim that his 'economic plan for Britain is working,' but austerity may last until 2020.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: The government is clearly “failing to” manage performance, with tighter controls on public sector contracts needed urgently, the cross-party Publlic Accounts Committee said citing the examples of scandals involving suppliers G4S, Atos, Capita and Serco.
  • Financial Times: Barclays is preparing a radical overhaul of its troubled investment bank in a move which is expected to result in thousands of job cuts, adding to pressure on the division’s two heads.
  • Financial Times: Ministers in Westminster are debating devolving hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of aviation taxes to Edinburgh in next week’s Budget in an attempt to wrongfoot Alex Salmond and undermine his case for Scottish independence.
  • Financial Times: French billionaires Martin Bouygues and Vincent Bolloré are looking to strike a deal that would reshape France’s telecoms market by merging mobile operators.
  • Financial Times: BMW is seeking out new customers in some unusual corners of China as it rides the biggest boom in automotive history.
  • Financial Times: Royal Dutch Shell’s new chief executive Ben van Beurden on Thursday made the clearest admission yet that North American shale investments were proving a drag on performance at the Anglo-Dutch oil major.
  • Financial Times: The high street has become embroiled in the payment protection insurance scandal after it emerged that Argos-owner Home Retail Group and Shop Direct, the group behind Littlewoods, have been forced to make substantial provisions for mis-selling PPI.
  • Financial Times: Lufthansa reinstated its dividend as the restructuring of its European network began to bear fruit; the German airline also pledged to raise operating profit this year.
  • Financial Times: Generali made a lower than expected profit in the fourth quarter after booking a loss a year ago but more than doubled its annual dividend as a turnround under chief executive Mario Greco takes shape.
  • Financial Times: F&C Asset Management, the fund manager set to be acquired by a Canadian rival, admitted it continued to face “significant headwinds”, despite reporting a 33% rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £69.2 million in 2013.
  • Financial Times: The UK taxman has withdrawn the status of a venture capital trust for the first time after a breach of funding rules, potentially exposing investors to large tax liabilities.
  • Financial Times: Amazon is raising the price of its Prime delivery service in the US for the first time in nine years in a move that is intended to offset rising shipping costs, but risks driving away some customers.
  • Financial Times: London’s biggest biotech flotation for decades took place on Thursday when Circassia raised £200 million to develop anti-allergy drugs.
  • Financial Times: Sly Bailey, the controversial former chief executive of Trinity Mirror, has received an additional £300,000 in shares as part of her pay-off from the publishing group.
  • Financial Times: General Electric has filed with US regulators for the planned spin-off of its North American retail finance business, valued at up to $17.5 billion, in a document setting out the challenges facing the business.
  • Financial Times: Lions Gate Entertainment agreed to pay $7.5 million and admit wrongdoing to resolve civil charges that the movie studio misled its shareholders in an attempt to thwart a 2010 takeover bid by activist investor Carl Icahn.
  • Financial Times: Citigroup’s decision to cut the remuneration of Manuel Medina-Mora, chairman of its Mexican operation, by $1.1 million to $14 million hardly looks extreme but it signals more accountable times.
  • The Guardian: UK's Office for National Statistics has removed DVD recorders and added online video streaming in the annual update to the basket of goods used to measure consumer price inflation.
  • The Guardian: Shell paid former chief executive Peter Voser £22 million over two years even though there was a profit warning soon after he left and his successor says the business has failed to perform as strongly as it should have done.
  • The Independent: Eurotunnel reported record revenues of €1.1 billion with 10 million passengers using the undersea tunnel between France and England.
  • The Guardian: The number of mortgages granted to homebuyers with a deposit of less than 15% reached a six-year high in February, according to the UK's largest chartered surveyor, in a further sign of lenders' confidence in the housing market.
  • The Guardian: Major engineering interests in Scotland, including the defence contractor Babcock, which runs Rosyth dockyard, have warned that independence poses serious risks to their business.
  • The Guardian: Ferrari has announced plans to open its first theme park in Europe, bringing the prancing horse to the PortAventura resort near Barcelona.
  • Daily Express: Internet betting and digital entertainment firm bwin.party is aiming to kickstart its fortunes through bumper speculations on this summer’s football World Cup.
  • Daily Mail: Britain invests in direct flights between Beijing and Birmingham to entice 650,000 Chinese visits a year by 2020.
  • Daily Mail: Britons fork out £9 million each day in interest on debts they could pay off with their rainy day funds.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Activist investor Nelson Peltz demands financial data from Pepsi.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Britain's insurance industry is paying out £6.7 million a day to customers hit by flooding during the wettest winter on record.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: Tate & Lyle, the British speciality food group, is to extend its presence in China with the acquisition of a producer of polydextrose, a soluble fibre used for dieting.
  • Financial Times: Danish outsourcing group ISS made a strong market debut on Thursday after two previous aborted attempts, in one of the largest initial public offerings in the Nordic region since the financial crisis.
  • Financial Times: Alibaba is “95% certain” to choose New York over Hong Kong for its initial public offering, expected to be one of the largest in history, according to people close to the process.
  • Financial Times: Ono, the Spanish cable group, will proceed with plans to float after a meeting of its shareholders in spite of continuing talks about an improved offer by Vodafone to buy the group.
  • Financial Times: Private equity group Hellman & Friedman has agreed to buy Renaissance Learning from Permira for $1.1 billion, not even a month after a stake purchase by Google valued the education software maker at $100 million less.
  • Financial Times: John Malone’s Liberty Media has dropped its bid to buy a minority stake in Sirius XM, the satellite radio operator, in favour of a rights issue to raise funds for further acquisitions in the cable industry.
  • Finacial Times: Miller Group has fired the gun on a process that could lead to an initial public offering, with the UK’s biggest privately owned housebuilder appointing bankers to advise on its strategic options.
  • Financial Times: Polypipe, a British maker of piping and plumbing supplies, has become the latest UK company – but only the second manufacturer – to plan a flotation in London this year, in a fundraising that will value the group at more than £400 million.
  • Financial Times: OneSavings Bank, a UK lender backed by JC Flowers, the private equity group, is expected to disclose on Friday that it has launched preparations for a stock market listing as it seeks to take advantage of rising profits and buoyant markets.
  • Financial Times (Lex): New Zealand: could the Australia-NZ dollar rate leave the stock market behind?
  • Financial Times (Lex): GE/Synchrony: card issuer’s economics will change after spin-off from parent.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Wm Morrison: UK supermarket chain will be hoping that fortune favours the bold.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Hochtief / Leighton: minority shareholders in Aussie building group are being treated appallingly.

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