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Thursday Papers: Facebook snaps up WhatsApp in $19bn deal

Thursday Papers: Facebook snaps up WhatsApp in $19bn deal

Top stories

  • The Guardian: Facebook announced the purchase of the mobile messaging service WhatsApp on Wednesday, in a $19 billion deal that represents the social media company’s biggest acquisition yet.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Facebook / WhatsApp: the chat app may one day be written down to zero. But with only a fifth of the payment in cash, the sting to shareholders is mitigated.
  • Financial Times: Repsol and Argentina are poised to sign a $5 billion compensation deal that will draw a line under a bitter legal dispute that has raged since Buenos Aires expropriated the Spanish energy group’s assets in the country two years ago.
  • Daily Mail: Royal Bank of Scotland has agreed to pay £164 million to settle a US lawsuit accusing it of mis-selling toxic bundles of mortgages before the financial crisis.
  • Financial Times: Vodafone has launched an attack on India’s government in the aftermath of its moves last week to cancel reconciliation talks designed to resolve a $2.6 billion tax dispute between the UK mobile operator and local tax authorities.
  • Financial Times: More than £10 billion will be invested into the British stock market following the sale of Vodafone’s stake in Verizon Wireless next month.

Business and economics

  • Daily Mail: Bakrie family of Indonesia that co-founded Asia Resource Minerals with Nat Rothschild has failed to scrape together the money for a deal to divorce them from the company; ARM, formerly known as Bumi, said the heavily indebted family could come up with only £98 million, £39 million short of the £137 million needed for their separation agreement with the company.
  • Financial Times: Deutsche Bank is close to resolving a decade-long legal battle with the heirs of German media magnate Leo Kirch, with plans for an out-of-court settlement that could see the lender pay out almost €1 billion.
  • The Guardian: Shares in Sports Direct soared 7.1% to 767p on Wednesday, just shy of an all-time high, as it revealed it had enjoyed strong trading over the important Christmas period; sales rose 11.2% year on year to £655.4 million in the 13 weeks to 26 January, with gross profit up 14.6% to £280.7 million.
  • Financial Times: Britain’s biggest property websites Rightmove and Zoopla are facing the threat of losing advertising fees to a rival online portal, Agents Mutual, set up by some of the UK’s best-known estate agents.
  • The Guardian: The British economy is "still too unbalanced" and the recovery has yet to be fully secured, George Osborne will warn in a speech in Hong Kong on Thursday.
  • Daily Mail: HSBC has launched a new range of loyalty cash Isas which it says will give current account customers its best available rate each year - at present, between 1.4-1.6%.
  • The Independent: Scottish Power owner Iberdrola has unveiled plans to invest almost €4 billion in the UK as it looks to offset headwinds both here and in its domestic business in Spain.
  • The Guardian: Another currency trader at Royal Bank of Scotland has been suspended as regulators around the world continue their investigation into potential rigging of the £3 trillion a day foreign exchange market.
  • The Guardian: Google is planning to offer high-speed internet service in 34 more cities scattered across eight states in the company’s boldest challenge yet to cable and telecommunications providers.
  • The Guardian: Walmart, America’s largest private employer, denied reports Wednesday that it is looking at supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage.
  • The Guardian: The International Monetary Fund has urged the European Central Bank to consider cutting interest rates to below zero as it warned that deflation in the eurozone was a key new risk facing the world economy.
  • The Guardian: The British defence firm BAE Systems has finally agreed to a deal on the price of 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets it is selling to Saudi Arabia following years of fraught negotiations.
  • The Guardian: Communications group EE is to create 1,000 jobs over the next two years and triple the size of its apprenticeship scheme.
  • Financial Times: Man Group is stepping up its search to acquire another asset management business in a bid to diversify revenues away from its $12.5 billion flagship managed futures fund AHL.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Japan trade deficit expands to record £16.4 billion; the country suffers record monthly trade deficit as a weak yen pushes up post-Fukushima energy costs.
  • The Daily Telegraph: A few Federal Open Market Committee members have said it might be appropriate to increase short-term interest rates "relatively soon".
  • Financial Times: Galliford Try became the latest construction company to benefit from the buoyant housing market, with revenues in its housebuilding division up 20% in the past six months.
  • Financial Times: Lafarge said that demand in the emerging markets would pick up sharply this year and make progress in Europe, as the cement group reported nearly a doubling in fourth-quarter net profit.
  • Financial Times: China’s oil refining giant Sinopec plans to open its distribution networks to outside capital, in a move that could loosen the large oil companies’ grip over the country’s fuel markets.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Carlsberg posts a 3% fall in pre-tax profit for 2013 as Western European and Russian markets decline.
  • The Daily Telegraph: America launches capital crackdown on foreign banks; banks with more than $50 billion of assets in the US will have to shore up their balance sheets by billions of extra dollars in order to pass the Fed's annual "stress tests".
  • The Daily Telegraph: CaixaBank has created an app allowing users to follow stock markets and convert currencies using their Google Glass devices and smartwatches.
  • Financial Times: European banks are looking to swell their US capital ratios by converting intercompany loans and by booking more business outside the US, according to the lenders and their advisers.
  • Financial Times: Deutsche Börse, Europe’s largest exchanges operator, is planning to increase spending projects aimed at delivering long-term growth by about €30 million in the coming year, seeking to lessen its dependence on its depressed core markets.
  • Financial Times: Comcast’s top lobbyist for shepherding the $45.2 billion Time Warner Cable bid through the regulatory process has dismissed concerns that the deal would face significant antitrust challenges and predicted that officials will clear the transaction.
  • Financial Times: A trade body for video games developers has hit out at a “predatory” move by King to trademark terms including “candy” and “saga” ahead of its initial public offering.
  • Financial Times: UK unemployment rate rose slightly to 7.2% of the workforce in the three months to December, up from 7.1% in the September to November period, the first rise for 10 months.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Daily Mail: Pets at Home yesterday became the latest business to outline plans to join the London stock market as float fever gripped the City; the private equity-owned company looks set to be valued at up to £1.5 billion in a move that will see staff share a £120 million windfall.
  • Financial Times: Ardagh Glass is expecting to receive bids for its Budweiser beer bottle-making unit this week in a deal that would allay antitrust concerns about the Irish industrial group’s proposed expansion in the US, sources said.
  • Financial Times: Carlyle joined listed private equity rivals Apollo, Blackstone and KKR by reporting strong fourth-quarter profits with economic net income more than tripling to $576 million compared with the same period a year before.
  • Financial Times: Noble Energy, the biggest foreign investor in Israel’s offshore Mediterranean natural gasfields, on Wednesday announced a $500 million contract that will see gas exported to customers in neighbouring Jordan.
  • Financial Times: Ocwen Financial, the biggest non-bank mortgage servicer in the US, is pitching to investors a $136 million bond deal backed by a pool of mortgage servicing rights to help propel its future growth and diversify its business away from collecting payments on thousands of subprime home loans.
  • Financial Times: South Africa’s Standard Bank, which is selling its UK-based markets division to Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has emerged as a potential buyer of Deutsche Bank’s seat in the global gold price-setting process, sources said.
  • Financial Times: US money market funds’ investments in European banks have dropped to their lowest level in a year following a decision by the European Central Bank to cut a key interest rate.
  • Daily Mail (Comment): Beware of private equity dogs, which allow management to make the tough decisions behind closed doors without the pesky interference of shareholders.

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