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Thursday Papers: Scottish deficit raises fiscal concerns

Thursday Papers: Scottish deficit raises fiscal concerns

Top stories

  • Financial Times: One in 10 adults will pay two-thirds of all income tax this year as George Osborne leans heavily on Britain’s highest earners, fuelling a growing debate over whether the Budget should extend some help to higher-rate taxpayers.
  • The Guardian: Billionaire speculator George Soros on Wednesday waded into the political row about Britain's membership of the EU with a warning that a decision to quit would lead to an exodus of foreign-owned companies.
  • Financial Times: Plunging North Sea oil and gas revenues gave Scotland a larger government deficit relative to the size of its economy than the UK last year, according to official data that raise questions about how Edinburgh could fund spending after independence.
  • The Guardian: The Bank of England has called in one of the most respected figures in the legal world, Anthony Grabiner QC, to investigate allegations that some of its staff may have been involved in manipulating the £3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange markets for almost 10 years.
  • The Independent: The national minimum wage is set to increase by 19p an hour to £6.50, the Government has announced.
  • Financial Times: G4S, the security and outsourcing group, has agreed to repay the British government £108.9 million plus VAT for overcharging on electronic tagging but remains barred from winning fresh public sector work.
  • The Guardian: Fears grew of an increase in petrol prices after Opec raised its forecasts for world oil demand and the US revealed plans to release emergency supplies.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: The new head of HS2, the high speed train project, has identified at least £1.5 billion in potential cost savings in London alone from the project’s £50 billion budget but will warn MPs that the best way to save money on the line is to build it faster than planned.
  • Financial Times: The US Federal Trade Commission has opened a formal investigation into Herbalife, the multi-level marketing company that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has called a pyramid scheme.
  • Financial Times: Energy Future Holdings, the largest leveraged buyout ever, looks increasingly likely to file for bankruptcy protection by early April after violating the terms of agreements with creditors on part of its more than $40 billion debt load.
  • Financial Times: Google has given British security officials special access to its YouTube video site, allowing them to have content instantly screened if they think it threatens national security.
  • Financial Times: There are an 236 towers in the pipeline or under construction in London, according to a report released by London architecture think-tank the NLA.
  • Financial Times: Manuel Medina-Mora, a top Citigroup executive who oversees the Mexican business that was hit by an alleged fraud last month, had his bonus docked over previous anti-money laundering failures, the bank revealed in a regulatory filing.
  • Financial Times: Farmers are abandoning the organic market because of unpalatable profit levels, despite signs that shoppers are regaining their appetite for such produce.
  • Financial Times: London mayor is to use publicly owned land and institutional investors’ cash to build new rented homes, as figures show he is unlikely to meet his targets for building affordable housing.
  • Financial Times: Venezuela’s Socialist government is expected to relax foreign currency market rules, aiming to easing shortages of basic goods that fuelled month-long protests which left at least 22 dead.
  • Financial Times: Cyber security start-ups have become the latest fascination for Silicon Valley investors, who have flooded the sector with venture capital investment as they seek to back the latest technology to combat criminals online.
  • Financial Times: The chief executive of Prudential, Tidjane Thiam, has criticised what he called “very alarmist discourse” in the west about the prospects of developing countries as the life insurer gears up for a renewed push into Asia and Africa.
  • Financial Times: Fabrice Tourre, the former Goldman Sachs banker found liable for misleading investors in a mortgage-related security, was on Wednesday ordered to repay his $175,000 bonus and fined $650,000.
  • Financial Times: Book and magazine producer St Ives which reported its first-half results on Tuesday, has returned to growth.
  • Financial Times: Signs of a recovery in almost all UK industry sectors are beginning to show positive momentum as output rose in nine out of 13 sectors in January, according to figures published on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics.
  • Financial Times: The multibillion-dollar market in migrant remittances is poised for greater competition, with two London tech start-ups securing big investments from leading US venture capitalists.
  • Financial Times: Adecco, world's largest temporary staffing agency, struck an upbeat note on the prospects for the European economy as it reported its first quarterly rise in revenues for two years, and a big jump in fourth-quarter profits.
  • Financial Times: Brazil will send a special commission to the Netherlands to look into allegations that state-run oil company Petrobras accepted bribes from Dutch ship leaser SBM Offshore in return for oil platform contracts.
  • Financial Times: HypoVereinsbank provided some comfort to its Italian parent UniCredit on Wednesday as it announced net profits of more than €1 billion but warned that 2014 would be an uncertain year.
  • Financial Times: Hochschild Mining has suspended its dividend amid lower prices for silver as it completes a big project in Peru.
  • Financial Times: Kenmare Resources predicted it would move back into profit this year, as an end to a slump in the price of titanium oxide and completion of spending at its mine extension in Mozambique fed into improved cash flows.
  • Financial Times: Nokia, the Finnish technology group, will invest further in developing its ‘Here’ mapping software as a standalone operation in the consumer and business markets following the sale of its handset division to Microsoft this month.
  • Financial Times: Ferrexpo will pay a further special dividend to investors after the Ukrainian iron ore group increased earnings by 25% last year on the back of record production.
  • The Guardian: David Cameron brushed off pressure from Tory MPs to target tax cuts at the growing number of middle income earners being dragged into the 40p tax bracket.
  • The Guardian: AstraZeneca has agreed to sell its Alderley Park research site in Cheshire as it moves drug discovery to a new global centre in Cambridge.
  • The Guardian: Britain's property market "furore" is showing the first signs of dying down, according to figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) which suggest that buyer numbers are levelling off.
  • The Guardian: Concern over the cost of energy was renewed yesterday when E.ON, one of the six biggest power companies, reported a 26% increase in profits from its UK retail business, after pushing through a 9% increase in bills at the start of last year.
  • The Independent: French Connection has managed to cut its losses as the fashion retailer scrapped its previous approach of selling plenty of garments at a discount and made more sales at full price.
  • The Independent: The popular Waitrose scheme that gives complimentary hot drinks to loyalty card holders has been accused of putting independent coffee shops on the brink of closure.
  • Daily Mail: Online grocer Ocado is on course to deliver its first annual pre-tax profit this year, after cheering investors with an 18% rise in first-quarter sales.
  • Daily Mail: George Osborne has been urged to deliver a £5.4 billion National Insurance break for businesses by a leading think-tank today a week ahead of this year’s Budget.
  • Daily Mail: Payday lenders will face a cap on the interest they charge for their loans from the start of next year, the City Watchdog confirmed yesterday.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Transport for London has signed a deal with short-term lettings firm Appear Here to rent vacant retail units across London Underground stations to brands and designer.
  • The Daily Telegraph: New Heathrow terminal to promote UK retailers with John Lewis opening its first ever airport store.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: King, the London-based games developer behind the addictive app Candy Crush Saga , plans to float in New York with a market valuation of almost $7.6 billion – four times the size of the company behind the hit game Grand Theft Auto, and within reach of Electronic Arts’ $9.2 billion.
  • Financial Times: Energy XXI has agreed to pay $1.5 billion for fellow US producer EPL Oil & Gas in a deal it says will create the largest independent player in the Gulf of Mexico basin.
  • Financial Times: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has struck a deal to swap most of his 28% stake in Graham Holdings, the former owner of the Washington Post, for the company’s Miami-based television station, cash and Berkshire shares held by Graham.
  • The Guardian: Poundland and Pets at Home have set the prices for their flotations, making them the latest UK retailers to tap demand for new share offerings.
  • The Guardian (Comments): Our economic yardsticks are broken – they offer no warning of catastrophe.
  • Financial Times (Comments): Investors have reasons to worry and must examine their portfolios as copper prices slide.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Oil tankers: after a horrendous period of oversupply, demand has turned buoyant.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Ecobank: worst may finally be over for the pan-African banking group.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Noodles and milk: Asian companies could use high valuations to do small deals.
  • Financial Times (Lex): VeriFone: company must not forget hardware as it eyes glamour of services.

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