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Saturday Papers: Sovereign wealth suitors woo Sarkozy

Saturday Papers: Sovereign wealth suitors woo Sarkozy

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Nicolas Sarkozy is being wooed by sovereign wealth funds including Qatar’s, who are ready to back him to start a private equity fund.
  • Financial Times: JP Morgan Chase has requested a share buyback of about half last year’s $15 billion programme, according to people familiar with the matter, as the bank aims to ride out the Federal Reserve’s stress tests and strengthen its “fortress” balance sheet.
  • Financial Times: The US securities regulator has rejected Goldman Sachs’ attempt to block a shareholder proposal that calls for a vote on the appointment of an independent chairman for the bank.
  • The Independent: Barclays' former chief executive Bob Diamond is set to pick up a £2 million lump sum this summer, a year after he left the bank in disgrace amid the Libor scandal.
  • Daily Mail: Marcus Agius, the former chairman of Barclays who resigned over the Libor rate-rigging scandal, is earning £175,000 a year from the bank in a lucrative consultancy deal.
  • Financial Times: News Corp’s publishing arm will start its new life as a separate, public company in June with nearly $2.6 billion in net cash, thanks to a $1.8 billion contribution from Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate.
  • The Guardian: A fresh row over City pay erupted on Friday when two of Britain's biggest banks, Barclays and bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland, revealed that 523 of their staff took home more than £1 million in 2012.
  • Financial Times: Google has announced a further 1,200 job cuts at its Motorola division as it tries to restore its 2012 acquisition to profitability.
  • Financial Times: JC Penney is slashing 2,200 jobs to reduce costs as the department store chain grapples with a dramatic fall in sales triggered by its reform plan.
  • The Daily Telegraph: More than 11,000 Sainsbury staff from shelf stackers to management will share in a £4.33 million windfall after two of its saving schemes matured.
  • Daily Mail: Unilever chief executive Paul Polman has seen his pay package increase a hefty 14% to £6.6million after shares hit an all-time high following a bumper year.
  • Financial Times: German financier Florian Homm was arrested in Italy on charges he operated a stock manipulation scheme that defrauded investors in his Absolute Capital Management hedge fund out of $200 million.
  • Financial Times: BP only replaced 6% of its 2012 oil production, excluding its Russian joint venture TNK-BP, an unusually low figure that reflects the UK company’s slow recovery since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: The return of the construction worker is revitalising the US labour market with February figures showing a stronger-than-expected 236,000 new jobs.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The international ratings agency Fitch said on Friday it had downgraded Italy's sovereign debt rating by one notch to "BBB+" from "A-" and added that the outlook was negative.
  • The Guardian: David Cameron was under pressure on Friday to withdraw claims that public spending cuts are not to blame for the UK's economic stagnation after the Treasury's independent economic forecaster said austerity had played a major role in putting the brakes on growth.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, has reportedly written to the Financial Services Authority demanding answers over Bank of Ireland UK's mortgage rate rises.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The Japanese economy grew in the last quarter of 2012, in a tentative sign stimulus measures by new premier Shinzo Abe took some effect, while China also surprised with 21.8% export growth in February.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Ireland should be given more help to exit its bail-out programme in recognition of the “huge” efforts made by Dublin, the International Monetary Fund’s boss Christine Lagard has said.
  • The Independent: UK authorities have approved a voluntary share exchange that will allow the Greek Coke bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic to move from Greece to Switzerland and list in London.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Four train companies which lost £40 million when the Government scrapped a bid for the Great Western rail franchise have started legal proceedings to recover their costs.
  • The Independent: New Zealand’s police force has signed a 10-year deal with British phone giant Vodafone to supply all its mobile communications.
  • Financial Times: Norges Bank Investment Management--Norway’s oil fund, which is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund--almost halved its exposure to UK and French government bonds last year while increasing it to debt from the US, Japan and Germany.
  • The Independent: Jobs group Sthree said that its total profit from permanent jobs in the UK business dropped by 3% to £45.5 million in the first three months of the year.
  • Financial Times: The Hong Kong government has dropped bribery charges against Raymond Kwok, the younger of the billionaire Kwok brothers, in a corruption case centred on their huge property company and a senior official.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Sheryl Sandberg, one of Facebook's most high-ranking executives, has defended Yahoo! chief executive Marissa Mayer, who recently drew opprobrium for putting a stop to home working.
  • The Independent: The boss of TiVo, the American company behind Virgin Media’s search-and-recommend TV set-top box, today claimed that BSkyB is struggling to match his technology.
  • Financial Times: Sir Howard Stringer, who became chief executive of Sony in 2005 and stepped back to the chairman’s position last April, will retire from the company at its shareholder meeting in June, he said on Friday.
  • Daily Mail: Morrisons is finally expected to bite the bullet and announce plans to sell food online when it delivers annual results next week.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: Esure has set senior managers targets to raise annual profits by two-fifths within three years as the insurer seeks to convince investors to value its equity at as much as £1.3 billion in a planned stock market launch.
  • The Independent: Go Compare, the insurance price comparison site fronted by fictitious opera singer Gio Compario, is up for sale for at least £275 million.
  • The Independent: Private equity firms will this week submit second-round bids to acquire Côte Brasserie, the French restaurants chain backed by the business tycoon Richard Caring, for at least £120 million.
  • The Guardian (Editorial): A week in which financial institutions have dominated the news highlights the mother of all missed opportunities.
  • The Guardian (Comment): The UK's problems go far deeper than the cuts agenda. It simply can't produce enough to revive its ailing economy.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): The latest Chinese data does not tell us that a global recovery is fully and safely underway, as some seem to think.
  • Daily Mail (Comment – Alex Brummer): They think it is still fine to distribute largesse to staff as if the financial crisis had not happened, and the subsequent sins of Libor rigging and swindling consumers into buying PPI were aberrations.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Esure: the UK insurer is confident of growth but might be wise to follow the example of Direct Line and float towards the bottom of the price range.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Chrysler: US carmaker may be moving closer to an IPO but allowing the market to referee the valuation dispute between Fiat and VEBA seems an unattractive option.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Martha Stewart Living: Two huge department stores fighting over the domestic doyenne is testament to the value of her brand and products despite growth concerns.
  • Financial Times (Lex): US bank stress tests: Several years on from the crisis and with the economy on the upswing, investors are more interested in the check-ups as a gateway for potential payouts.

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