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Wednesday Papers: Ireland to hold euro fiscal pact referendum

Wednesday Papers: Ireland to hold euro fiscal pact referendum

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Dublin will hold a referendum on the eurozone fiscal pact, plunging Europe into uncertainty and potentially placing a question mark over Ireland’s membership of the euro.
  • Financial Times: Ray Dalio has overtaken George Soros as the world’s most successful hedge fund manager after his Bridgewater Pure Alpha fund made $13.8 billion for investors last year.
  • Financial Times: The European Central Bank on Tuesday reacted to Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade Greece to “selective default” by temporarily suspending authorisation for Greek bonds to be used as collateral by banks seeking funds from the central bank.
  • Daily Mail: House prices in the UK have taken the biggest real hit, as a third has been wiped off the real value of the average UK home since the peak of the market in 2007.
  • The Independent: Royal Bank of Scotland paid zero tax in 2009 on trades similar to the one which this week saw Barclays harshly criticised for tax avoidance.
  • Financial Times: Apple has joined an elite group of companies to reach a $500 billion equity valuation amid expectations it is to launch the new version of the iPad next week.
  • The Daily Telegraph: HSBC has admitted for the first time it may face criminal charges that could see it hit with "significant" penalties stemming from a US investigation into alleged money-laundering by Britain's biggest bank.
  • The Independent: BP is selling its interests in the Hugoton natural gas field in Kansas and its associated processing plant to America's Linn Energy for $1.2 billion in cash to fund compensation claims arising from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: Analysts expect banks to borrow €500 billion in the second so-called longer-term refinancing operation - a similar amount to the first scheme in December that saw €489 billion lent out by the ECB.
  • The Guardian: A new law against corporate tax dodging will be announced in George Osborne's budget next month in the chancellor's latest effort to crack down on corporate tax avoidance after the Treasury shut down two schemes this week that Barclays used to avoid at least £500 million of tax.
  • Daily Mail: The Financial Ombudsman Service has named and shamed the most complained about financial providers of the second half of 2011, with banks Lloyds, Barclays and credit card firm MBNA drawing the most.
  • Financial Times: JPMorgan Chase executives told investors the bank would prosper even after implementation of new regulations as they maintained targets and dismissed talk of a historic threat to Wall Street’s business model.
  • The Guardian: Tesco's share of the supermarket trade has slipped to 29.7%, its lowest level for almost seven years.
  • The Independent: An E.ON-RWE joint venture is poised to take a huge step towards building a nuclear power station in north Wales by choosing the reactor technology it will use for the project.
  • Financial Times: Google has found itself on a collision course with European regulators after a provisional finding that its new privacy policy breaches European law.
  • The Independent: Yahoo is threatening to sue Facebook for allegedly infringing more than a dozen patents covering how to personalise websites, serve adverts and run a social network.
  • The Independent: Rowan Companies, an American oil drilling contractor, is ditching the US for its legal headquarters and relocating to the UK, so it can expand its North Sea operations and bring its tax rates into line with international competitors.
  • Financial Times: Taxpayers will have to wait up to 15 years to recoup the money spent on rescuing Northern Rock, says a report by UK Financial Investments.
  • Financial Times: Glencore has signed a contract to buy zinc ore with no charge for the cost of converting it into metal, a highly unusual deal that reveals the commodity trader’s bullish outlook on the zinc market.
  • The Guardian: Ryanair has announced that an unnamed regulator has thwarted its plan to sell standing-only tickets, by refusing an application for test flights.
  • The Independent: Doorstep lender Provident Financial has reported a 12% jump in profits to £162 million.
  • Financial Times: Net income of Priceline.com, the biggest US online travel agency by market value, stood at $226 million, or $4.41 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter which compares with $135.7 million, or $2.66 per diluted share, in the same period a year ago.
  • Daily Mail: Moneysupermarket.com has posted a 21% jump in underlying profits to £49.5 million in 2011, and saw revenues increase by 22% to £181 million.
  • Financial Times: Serco, which runs services as wide-ranging as the Barclays Cycle hire scheme in Britain to detention centres in Australia, said it had secured £17.9 billion of orders at the end of last year compared with £16.6 billion at 31 December 2010.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The "Big Four" auditors – PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young – face being squeezed out of the Chinese market after a spate of high-profile accounting scandals.
  • Financial Times: A drive to encourage defined benefit pension scheme members to transfer their savings pots out of their employer’s scheme could cost companies an extra £20 billion, the Financial Services Authority has suggested.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Mobile phone operator Everything Everywhere is facing more embarrassment over its name after the boss of France Telecom, which owns half of the company, said it should be scrapped.
  • Financial Times: The UK’s largest mobile operators - Everything Everywhere, Vodafone and O2 - are preparing to submit plans for a mobile payment system for European regulatory consideration next week, although they will face continued opposition from rival company Three.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Google has thrown its weight behind telecoms giants like Vodafone and AT&T, in calling for a dramatic loosening of red tape, to prevent them from being “regulated to death”.
  • The Daily Telegraph: GKN, the parts manufacturer for the car and aerospace industries, unveiled a 20% boost to its dividend after pre-tax profits rose 15% to £417 million on growth in China and the US.
  • Financial Times: Sanjiv Ahuja has resigned as chief executive of LightSquared, marking the latest setback for the ambitious wireless broadband start-up backed by Philip Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners group.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Profits at Irish carrier Aer Lingus recovered last year to €84.4 million from €27.2 million in 2010.
  • Financial Times: Low-cost smartphones that can run on a neutral, open platform will be created this year under a partnership between Spain’s Telefónica and Mozilla.
  • The Guardian: Shareholders in Persimmon are in for a tidy windfall, the housebuilder has announced it is returning £1.9 billion in surplus cash to investors following a jump in profits.
  • Financial Times: Calvin Ayre, one of the more controversial characters in North America’s online gambling market, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore on charges including money-laundering.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Dixons Retails ticked up 0.43 to 13.93 pence on Tuesday as Philip Dorgan, retail analyst at Panmure Gordon, described the shares as “cheap” and predicted that the group could increase its profits by £100 million over the next three years.
  • Financial Times: CME Group was subpoenaed by a grand jury in Chicago and regulators in Washington as part of the federal probe into potential wrongdoing in the collapse of MF Global.
  • Financial Times: TomTom's sales sank 31% to €357 million in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, sending the beleaguered Dutch navigation company’s shares down nearly 16%.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: General Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroën are poised to announce an alliance that will see the US carmaker take a 7% stake in its French counterpart.
  • Financial Times: Santander, the eurozone’s biggest bank by market capitalisation, will take control of Poland’s Kredyt Bank from KBC of Belgium through a €700 million share exchange and combine it with its own Polish business to create the country’s third-largest bank.
  • Financial Times: Brazil’s BTG Pactual has mandated Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan to help manage its initial public offering as it tries to build one of the biggest independent emerging market investment banks.
  • Financial Times: Shares in Bowleven fell 24% to 102 pence on Tuesday after Dragon Oil, which is controlled by Dubai’s state-owned Emirates National Oil Company, said it was dropping plans to bid for the Cameroon-focused oil explorer.
  • Financial Times: Oil & Natural Gas Corporation and Gail India, two state-owned Indian energy companies, have created a consortium to acquire Africa-focused gas explorer Cove Energy, following earlier bids from Shell and PTT Exploration.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Closing tax loopholes is more than token banker-bashing. Small gestures can shake up cosy elites.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Portugal is taking the medicine prescribed by the troika and seems on track, but growth and employment remain elusive.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Democracy continues to interfere with the European Union's best laid plans.
  • Financial Times (The Lex Column): Priceline.com: it is a risky momentum stock whose growth will slow. But at least it does not require buyers to imagine what the future business model might look like.
  • Financial Times (The Lex Column): GKN: the UK aerospace and car parts group benefits from diversification.
  • Financial Times (The Lex Column): Santander: the Polish banking sector reminds the Spaniards of Spain two decades ago, so they must smell efficiency gains – but they did not spell them out.

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