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Friday Papers: Osborne heads in ‘right direction’ for poll

Friday Papers: Osborne heads in ‘right direction’ for poll

Top stories

  • Financial Times: George Osborne on Thursday said Britain would be running a budget surplus in five years as he claimed the country was “heading in the right direction” in an Autumn Statement which lays out his strategy for the next election in 2015.
  • Daily Mail: Banks which engage in aggressive tax avoidance could be named and shamed by HM Revenue & Customs; Osborne announced the new powers alongside plans to raise an extra £9 billion over five years from firms and individuals that have wriggled out of paying tax.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The Government will abolish stamp duty on share trading by exchange traded funds in a boost for London's move to become a major centre for future listings.
  • Daily Mail (Comment): Autumn Statement: George Osborne did not address problems such as low levels of investment, lack of access to finance, and high energy costs.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): The Channel is getting ever wider. While George Osborne plans to push Britain's retirement age to 70, Europe's big two are going the other way.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Britain desperately needs reforms to boost business and trade, not increase consumption.
  • Financial Times: Facebook Ireland Limited, a Dublin-based company at the heart of Facebook’s international tax structure, used a complex tax avoidance scheme to limit its Irish corporation tax bill to €1.9 million last year, despite generating turnover of €1.79 billion.
  • Financial Times: Invoke Capital, Mike Lynch’s billion-dollar technology fund, has announced its latest investment – an undisclosed sum between $5 and $9 million in Cambridge-based Neurence, a cloud-based software platform that recognises real-world objects and links them to digital content.
  • Financial Times: Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet, is set to take home a pay packet of £6.4 million, up 74% on last year, after a year in which the low-cost airline made record profits.
  • Daily Mail: EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has launched a blistering attack on the bosses of the budget airline for pocketing huge pay rises.
  • The Guardian: Blockbuster is likely to disappear from the British high street with the loss of more than 1,200 jobs, after administrators failed to find a buyer for the DVD and games rental chain.

Business and economics

  • Daily Mail: Retail investors will be given the chance to participate in future sales of Lloyds’ shares, the Government said on Thursday.
  • Financial Times: Deutsche Bank is pulling out of the bulk of its commodities business in a cost-cutting drive that will shrink the lender’s balance sheet further.
  • Financial Times: Japan’s financial regulator is expected to penalise a local unit of Deutsche Bank as early as Thursday over allegations that employees broke anti-bribery rules by spending too much on entertaining pension fund officials.
  • Financial Times: Palantir Technologies, a big data company which works for the US intelligence services, has been valued at about $9 billion, after keen investor interest in the software maker that was first funded by the CIA.
  • Financial Times: Standard Chartered has suffered a breach of data security in Asia with a hacker accessing the bank statements of hundreds of its wealthy clients.
  • Financial Times: US growth in the third quarter was revised up from an annualised rate of 2.8% to 3.6% in another bit of good economic news that increases the chances of an early slowing in Federal Reserve asset purchases.
  • Financial Times: The US “Volcker rule”, which bans banks from proprietary trading, will leave a grey area for regulators to police as they see fit, according to a senior Treasury official.
  • Financial Times: China has banned its banks from handling Bitcoin transactions, after surging demand from Chinese investors helped drive a 5,000% appreciation in the much-hyped virtual currency this year.
  • Financial Times: Gazprom, the Russian energy group, has denied that Russia would cut the price it charges Ukraine for its gas if Kiev joined a Moscow-led economic bloc, dismissing such an idea as “naive and primitive”.
  • Financial Times: Shell has dropped plans for a multibillion-dollar flagship plant in the US that would have converted natural gas into diesel and jet fuel, amid concerns over the costs of the $20 billion-plus project.
  • Financial Times: The Royal Bank of Scotland’s property “bad bank” has sold its first portfolio of distressed UK commercial property assets, in a sign that the bank is managing to unwind its troubled investments.
  • The Guardian: Twitter has hired the former Pearson chief executive Dame Marjorie Scardino to be the first woman on its board, after critics rounded on its all-male lineup.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Aviva chairman John McFarlane is to join train operator FirstGroup in the same role, according to reports.
  • Financial Times: The International Finance Corporation plans to launch a $5billion domestic Indian rupee-denominated bond programme, in a further step to deepen and internationalise capital markets in Asia’s third-largest economy.
  • Financial Times: Deep divisions over European banking union should be overcome by “splitting up” a proposal on handling ailing lenders, the president of the eurogroup of finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Thursday.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Efforts to encourage more employee-owned businesses such as The John Lewis Partnership have been boosted by a further £25 million a year of tax incentives announced in the Autumn Statement.
  • Financial Times: Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s biggest bank by market capitalisation, said its chief executive and president Gordon Nixon would resign next year after more than a decade in the role, as it reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates.
  • Financial Times: Bruno Guillon, chief executive of Mulberry, hit out at the level of discounting on the British high street as the luxury goods group announced a 28% fall in first half pre-tax profit to £7.22 million.
  • Financial Times: Unilever is to prune its portfolio of individual products by up to 40% by the end of 2014 in an effort to boost earnings.
  • Financial Times: Prudential is to begin selling insurance in Africa for the first time after agreeing to purchase a Ghanaian group that provides protection to individuals who live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • The Independent: IRN-Bru maker AG Barr has announced an 8% increase in third quarter sales after the company bounced from its failed merger with Britvic.
  • Financial Times: Renault has secured Chinese government approval for a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor, giving the French group its first manufacturing foothold in the world’s largest car market by units sold.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Daily Telegraph (Questor share tip): AG Barr sales remain strong; the drinks maker has carried the sales momentum from a warm UK summer into the autumn.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Questor share tip): DS Smith reports soaring profits; the FTSE 250 listed packaging group is delivering strong profit and dividend growth for investors.
  • Financial Times: German drugs and chemicals group Merck has moved to increase its presence in high-tech electronic devices by agreeing to acquire Apple supplier AZ Electronic Materials in an all-cash deal worth £1.6 billion.
  • Financial Times: ABN Amro has agreed to buy the German private banking unit of Credit Suisse as the Dutch lender continues to expand its pan-European wealth management business.
  • Financial Times: BNP Paribas has strengthened its presence further in eastern Europe by buying Rabobank’s Polish bank as the French lender turns its attention towards growth after years of consolidating its balance sheet.
  • Financial Times: Newly-listed companies are breaking lock-up restrictions on early share sales at the fastest pace since the dotcom boom, as large shareholders rush to offload their stakes in a booming market for US initial public offerings.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Pick-up in the economy is not the result of sticking to austerity as chancellor claims – it's what you get when you keep interest rates low.
  • The Guardian (Comment): A Westminster discussion worth hearing would have acknowledged that Britain is recovering – then asked why that recovery is serving so few people.
  • Daily Mail (Comment – Alex Brummer): One of the great bugbears for the City and private investors in particular is the stamp duty paid on share purchases.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Apple / Icahn: Activist investor Carl Icahn’s elaborate proposals at Apple and Dell, while unsuccessful, still won modest results for shareholders
  • Financial Times (Lex): Renault-Dongfeng: With Renault’s $1.3billion, 50-50 tie-up with Dongfeng now formally approved the spotlight should fall on Peugeot’s plans for China
  • Financial Times (Lex): Merck KGaA: Buying AZ Electronic Materials exposes the weakness of the German chemical and pharmaceutical group’s drugs division
  • Financial Times (Lex): China Mobile: The world’s largest mobile network operator saw its shares jump following its awarding of a 4G licence but shareholders should not get too excited

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