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Friday Papers: Political donor held in UK Rolls-Royce probe

Friday Papers: Political donor held in UK Rolls-Royce probe

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Sudhir Choudhrie, a prominent Indian backer of the UK Liberal Democrat party, and his son Bhanu were the two suspects arrested earlier this week in connection with an investigation into allegations of bribery by Rolls-Royce.
  • Financial Times: Comcast and Time Warner Cable threw down a $42.5 billion gauntlet to Washington regulators on Thursday, with a deal that would create a pay television and broadband giant nearly seven times larger than any rival US cable operator.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Google has made more deals than any company in the world over the past three years, according to Bloomberg, overtaking Intel as world's biggest 'dealmaker'.
  • Financial Times: BNP Paribas has set aside $1.1 billion in provisions to cover the cost of likely breaches of US economic sanctions, the latest in a long line of banks to face a big legal bill for falling foul of a recent crackdown by regulators on misbehaviour.
  • The Guardian: Shell is to sell off three oil and gas producing assets in the North Sea as the new chief executive's divestment gathers pace.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Lloyds confirms its chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio will accept £1.7 million in shares as the taxpayer-backed lender reports pre-tax profit of £415 million.
  • Financial Times: American International Group, the US insurance company bailed out during the financial crisis, said it is cutting about 3%, or 1,500, of its global workforce even as it announced earnings that beat estimates.
  • The Guardian: Alex Salmond has renewed his threat that Scotland could refuse to pay its share of the UK's debt as he bitterly attacked George Osborne's decision to veto any currency union after independence.

Business and economics

  • The Guardian: The biggest cull of public sector jobs for at least 50 years will see vulnerable parts of the state endure reductions in headcount of up to 40%, Britain's leading tax and spending thinktank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has said.
  • The Guardian: Large institutional investors have ensured the safe passage of a £6.5 million pay package for EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall.
  • Financial Times: Three of the world’s largest gold miners - Barrick Gold, Kinross Gold and Goldcorp - have unveiled a combined $16 billion in annual losses that underscore the urgent change being forced upon the sector by last year’s steep price fall and cost overruns at complex projects.
  • Financial Times: PepsiCo’s announcement that it would lift shareholder capital returns 35% to $8.7 billion this year and extend its cost-cutting plan failed to shore up confidence, with shares falling 2.21% to close at $79.69 in New York trading on Thursday.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Rolls-Royce accompanied its full-year results with a warning that this year will see no growth in sales or profits – largely due to defence spending cuts.
  • Daily Mail: EDF’s British profits rose from £800 million to £860 million last year as it narrowed losses in its domestic supply arm.
  • The Guardian: Shire said fourth quarter earnings rose 29% to a better than expected $510 million; full year income rose 23% to $1.86 billion.
  • Financial Times: Commerzbank swung back into the black last year, as net income at the Frankfurt-based bank rose to €64 million in the fourth quarter from a hefty loss of €726 million the previous year – taking Commerzbank’s full-year net income to €78 million after a net loss of €47 million in 2012.
  • Daily Mail: Alison Cooper attempted to shore up her position as chief executive of Imperial Tobacco by caving in to calls to spin off her non-core Spanish distribution business called Logista.
  • The Independent: Shares in Tate & Lyle crashed 16% in early trading on Thursday after the sweetener-maker warned on profits, triggering City speculation of a potential Chinese takeover bid.
  • Financial Times: China’s Lenovo Group said it would take between three and five quarters to turn around the lossmaking Motorola handset business that it agreed to purchase from Google for $2.9 billion.
  • Financial Times: Henry Ellenbogen, the best-performing major mutual fund manager in the world last year, has warned that valuations in the small companies that he focuses on have become too lofty, and doubts that they can replicate the sterling returns of 2013.
  • The Guardian: The cosmetics company Avon Products said on Thursday that it faced a bill for up to $132 million to settle a US bribery investigation into the company's drive to expand overseas.
  • Financial Times: Apple is extending its supply chain clean up beyond Chinese factories and into African mines, using name-and-shame tactics to cut the amount of “conflict minerals” that end up in its iPhones and iPads.
  • Financial Times: Regulators have pledged to shake up the £14 billion-a-year annuities market, saying customers who buy one from their existing pension provider instead of shopping around are losing out.
  • Financial Times: Opec will need to sustain production at its current level of almost 30 million barrels a day if badly depleted oil inventories in the developed world are to be rebuilt, according to the International Energy Agency.
  • The Guardian: House prices set to plummet by up to 50% as ‘demographic crisis’ and falling Chinese demand looms, according to Harry Dent, an American investment guru who uses demographics to forecast economic cycles.
  • Financial Times: Jawbone, the San Francisco-based maker of fitness wristbands, portable speakers and Bluetooth headsets, is close to raising at least $250 million at a valuation above $3 billion, positioning it as one of the most richly valued and heavily capitalised companies in the wearable technology market.
  • Financial Times: Pernod Ricard warned that growth in full-year operating profit would be lower than expected, as weak sales in China continued to weigh on the group’s overall performance.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Daily Telegraph: Amec has agreed to a £2 billion takeover of Foster Wheeler.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Rolls-Royce 'defied gravity' last year but now cuts in defence budgets in US and Europe are biting.
  • The Guardian (Comment): America already had little TV and internet competition. Unless the government vetoes Comcast-Time Warner deal, there will be even less.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): The growth of Aldi and Lidl looks to be a permanent change in the way Britain shops, rather than a blip.
  • Daily Mail (Comment – Alex Brummer): There should be no bonus for Lloyds chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio until long suffering investors have been rewarded for their forbearance.
  • Financial Times (Lex): TWC / Comcast valuation: all-stock mergers must be evaluated on ownership split.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Rolls-Royce: one bad year is no surprise, the worry is the long-term trend.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Renault: Peugeot may have lessons to learn from French rival.
  • Financial Times (Lex): French banks: Universal banks need to turn potential into shareholder returns

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