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Thursday Papers: RBS and Barclays face new probe by US regulators

Thursday Papers: RBS and Barclays face new probe by US regulators

Top stories

  • The Independent: Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are among several banks facing fresh woe in the US, amid reports investigators are again looking into whether they mispriced mortgage-backed securities.
  • Financial Times: China has offered to invest in Britain’s railways for the first time by financing and building links to a new Birmingham station on the high-speed HS2 network, highlighting Beijing’s growing interest in investing in UK infrastructure.
  • Financial Times: J Sainsbury raised a red flag over the supermarket sector, reporting its slowest growth in nine years over the crucial Christmas trading period, and downgrading its forecast of sales expansion for the full year; its shares closed at 360 pence on Wednesday, down 2.4%.
  • Financial Times: Guy Hands doubled the amount of wages he paid to staff last year to £35.6 million in an effort to keep his private equity team intact after the loss of his group’s investment in music company EMI.
  • The Independent: The boss of the business that operated the Costa Concordia, the cruise liner that sank off Italy in 2012 killing 32 people, was given a payoff of €1.3 million even though he was retiring anyway.
  • Daily Mail: The Labour Party has come under pressure to reveal whether it knew about the sordid personal life of former Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers, who is currently on bail after being filmed allegedly buying drugs.
  • The Guardian: The credit rating of Qantas has been downgraded to junk status by Moody's – the second ratings agency to do so in a month.
  • Financial Times: Yannick Bolloré, son of French billionaire industrialist Vincent, is to become global chief executive of the Paris-based Havas advertising group, signalling the family’s growing role on France’s corporate stage.
  • Financial Times: L’Oréal, the French cosmetics and skincare group, on Tuesday said it would halt sales of its Garnier beauty and hair products in China.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Premier League aims to pit BSkyB against BT in early TV rights sale.

Business and economics

  • The Independent: The UK economy is creating jobs at its fastest pace in almost four years, according to a new survey by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, with the strongest growth seen in the Midlands and the North.
  • Financial Times: The US Federal Reserve plans to “proceed cautiously” in slowing down asset purchases in an effort to calm market fears over the decision to taper its third round of quantitative easing; the Fed’s intentions were revealed in the minutes of its December meeting, published on Wednesday.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Plunge in temperatures could cost US economy $5 billion in lost revenue and shave the equivalent of 0.2% off first quarter GDP.
  • Financial Times: Credit rating agency Moody’s is to use a lower assumed gold price when assessing the mining industry, dealing a fresh blow to a precious metals sector already reeling from high costs and low investor confidence.
  • The Independent: Stewart Wingate, the chief of Gatwick Airport, where thousands of passengers were left stranded over Christmas, earned pay and pensions of more than £1 million last year while the company paid no tax at all.
  • Financial Times: Shares in Mothercare were down 30.6% at 291.5 pence on Wednesday, as a profit warning cast doubts on the viability of the babywear and buggy retailer’s turnround plan.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Ocado climbed a further 53.9 pence, or 11.7%, to a record 513½ pence on Wednesday, closing above the 500pence level for the first time; with J Sainsbury disappointing with its update, traders piled into Ocado as an alternative to the traditional food retailers.
  • Financial Times: Chinese ecommerce group Alibaba is banning Bitcoin from its shopping websites, a move that further consigns the virtual currency to the margins of the world’s second-biggest economy.
  • Financial Times: Bentley’s sales in China fell 3% last year, compared with a 23% increase in 2012, as the luxury carmaker felt the pain of a recent crackdown on exuberant spending and ostentatious purchases that has taken the shine off the world’s largest luxury goods market.
  • Financial Times: Nissan’s Sunderland plant, the UK’s largest car-assembly facility, produced more than 500,000 cars in 2013, exceeding the half a million mark for the second year running.
  • Financial Times: Like-for-like sales in Domino’s main UK business jumped 10.9% in the 13 weeks to 29 December as the group pumped more cash into marketing activities.
  • The Independent: Drugs giant AstraZeneca has unveiled a deal with British biotech company Immunocore to develop new cancer treatments that use the body’s immune system.
  • Financial Times: US senators Bob Corker and Mark Warner on Wednesday made another push for their legislation to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying the opportunity to resolve the ownership of the mortgage finance agencies bailed out during the financial crisis should not be squandered.
  • Financial Times: Strong growth in the UK, particularly in regions outside London, provided a boost to gross profits at recruitment group Robert Walters, although the company says that confidence is yet to fully return to the UK jobs market.
  • Financial Times: British Eurotunnel passengers will finally be able to use mobile phones under the sea following an agreement between the Channel tunnel operator and UK telecoms groups EE and Vodafone to provide the same sort of voice and data services that have been available to the French since 2012.
  • The Independent: Lord Burns, the former civil servant turned serial company director, is step down from the board of Banco Santander after more than a decade.
  • Financial Times: The Huffington Post is launching a new global digital media publication that aims to “connect the world and connect the dots” through publishing a mix of first-person contributions from world leaders, original reportage and reader contributions.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Daily Telegraph (Questor share tips): Robert Walters lifted by UK jobs; recruitment firm sees fastest jobs growth in the UK, but pain down under makes shares look expensive.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Questor share tips): Galliford Try breaks profit records again; the FTSE 250-listed housebuilder and infrastructure construction group expects record interim profits.
  • Financial Times: Diageo, the world’s largest drinks producer, said on Wednesday it had bought a 50% stake in DeLeón tequila at an undisclosed price from California-based Quench Enterprises.
  • Financial Times: Facebook has bought Bangalore-based mobile technology company Little Eye Labs – the US company’s first acquisition in India – in a deal that highlights the growing interest among global technology groups in the country’s start-up scene.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Rolls-Royce is in talks to buy marine propulsion unit of Wartsila.
  • Financial Times: Forest Laboratories is planning more acquisitions after the US pharmaceuticals maker agreed the $2.9 billion takeover of Aptalis from TPG, the private equity company.
  • The Guardian (Comment – Joseph Stiglitz): Unemployment levels in the US and the eurozone point to a tough 2014 despite some small signs of optimism.
  • The Guardian (Comment): The UK needs growth from rising business investments and exports, not consumers running down savings to fund spending.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Liberation Theology is back as Pope Francis holds capitalism to account.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Barnes & Noble: New CEO is a bean-counter, exactly what the bookseller needs.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Forest Labs: The Aptalis deal caps a turnround based on timing.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Eurozone banks: Blame deleveraging for some banks in step with their sovereigns.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Chinese investment: Increased selectivity about the world’s second-biggest economy is good news.

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