Date: Sunday 10 Jun 2012
Britain's banking regulator is to be handed major powers to influence the way the country’s largest lenders are run as part of a reform package to be announced this week by George Osborne. The Chancellor will effectively drop the case for major reform of the UK’s largest banks and say that much of the detail on how to implement the recommendations of the government-appointed Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) will be left in the hands of the Bank of England. In a speech on Thursday at Mansion House outlining the Government’s White Paper on banking reform, Mr Osborne is expected to say that prescriptive regulation is not the best way to improve the safety of Britain’s banks, The Telegraph says.
Diageo, the world’s biggest drinks company, has admitted for the first time that it has studied a potential listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange as it continues to cement its Asian expansion. Paul Walsh, the chief executive, said listing on a stock market in one of the developing regions was something Diageo’s board “do and will continue to consider” as it extends its global footprint. The drinks giant, which last week unveiled a £1bn investment in Scotch production, is already listed on both the London and New York stock exchanges. But it is looking at Asia as it nears its goal of generating 50pc of revenues from emerging markets by 2015. When asked if the company had done some work on a potential listing in Hong Kong, Mr Walsh said: “Yes, there will have been some discussion documents provided,” according to The Telegraph.
Markets are braced for more turmoil after Spain formally requested a rescue package for its struggling banks of up to €100bn (£80bn). The move was announced by the Spanish economy minister Luis de Guindos at a hastily convened press conference in Madrid. Mr de Guindos did not put a price on the bailout but said it would be ‘significantly’ more than the £32bn suggested earlier by the International Monetary Fund. Sources close to the talks suggested up to £80bn or $125bn is likely to be offered. Spain had previously been hoping to hang on until at least the end of the month, by which time an independent audit would have been completed. The further crisis comes as George Osborne prepares to use a keynote speech on Thursday to tell Brussels to keep its hands off Britain’s banks. In his Mansion House address to the City, the Chancellor will urge the troubled single currency bloc to push on with fiscal integration rather than waste time thinking up ways to regulate Britain’s financial services, The Financial Mail on Sunday writes.
Mobile phone giant Vodafone faced a fresh tax row today after it emerged that it paid no corporation tax in Britain last year. The firm earns several hundred million pounds from its 19million UK customers but shared none of these profits with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), according to an investigation by the Sunday Times. The company said its corporation tax liabilities in its home country were offset through investment in improving its network and by interest costs.
Bids for the London Metal Exchange have reached £1.3bn as its two remaining suitors vie to seize control of the 135-year-old commodities bourse. The Sunday Telegraph understands that Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) has tabled a £1.3bn bid in the final round, before a board meeting expected on Monday at which it is thought that a victor will be chosen. ICE’s rival, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx), is believed to have submitted a final bid just shy of £1.3bn, but remains confident it has the upper hand. Banking sources indicated that the final outcome remained too close to call.
Tesco’s troubles appear to be spreading to its overseas operations, adding pressure on chief executive Phil Clarke’s turnaround plan. The supermarket giant unveils first quarter trading figures tomorrow, and Eurozone financial turmoil and recession will see the City spotlight swing to difficult overseas markets following problems in its core UK patch. Caroline Gulliver at broker Espirito said: “A fundamental issue for Tesco is that it has reached maturity in eastern Europe for hypermarkets. Now it is just adding smaller stores. This is disappointing [for the market] because Tesco has been seen as an emerging market growth story over the past decade. “But the group obviously now feels there is less potential in the region for more big box hypermarkets.” Darren Shirley, food retailing specialist at Shore Capital, said Tesco is also likely to have been hit by recent changes in key markets such as the Czech Republic and South Korea, writes Scotland on Sunday.
Britain´s banks need to start taking risks again to help kickstart the economic recovery, according to a senior figure at the Bank of England. Andy Haldane, whose role is to help prevent the financial system from suffering another meltdown, said British banks could take advantage of their relative strength after sorting out their finances earlier than their European counterparts. Haldane, who was in Edinburgh to take part in a conference examining the fallout of the credit crisis, said: “When you’re in a bust, everyone’s pessimistic. The banks are ducking for cover and don’t want to put risk on the table. But if no-one puts risk on the table, then there’s too little risk taking, which is exactly where we are at the moment," according to The Scotsman.
Power stations that supply electricity to more than 1m homes in Britain could soon fall into the hands of the Kremlin or the Chinese state. Gazprom, the gas giant controlled by the Kremlin, plans to launch a bid for a plant that has been put up for sale by EDF Energy. The site at Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire provides power to nearly 800,000 homes. The French utility has hired Rothschild, the investment bank, to run the auction. Meanwhile, China Guodian Corporation, one of Beijing’s biggest state-owned utilities, has hired Goldman Sachs to bid for General Electric’s Baglan Bay plant in south Wales. It generates electricity for more than half a million households. Gazprom is the biggest gas supplier to Europe, though it delivers none to Britain. The company is used as a political tool by President Vladimir Putin. He has cut gas supplies to Ukraine in the middle of winter and deepened ties with Germany through pipeline deals and supply contracts, says The Sunday Times.
BP is in talks with the American authorities about a potential $15bn (£9.6bn) deal to settle all charges related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago. The Department of Justice is understood to have been pushing for a $25bn payout for damages, clean-up fees and fines, but the British oil giant is hoping to pay substantially less. It is thought an agreement could be reached by September — in time for the Democratic party convention in America, The Sunday Times reports.
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