Date: Monday 27 Aug 2012
Qatar Holding is poised to raise its stake in Xstrata to 25 per cent should the miner’s planned tie-up with Glencore collapse, giving it a de facto veto over any future merger. Sources close to the bid told The Sunday Telegraph that Qatar Holding has assured Xstrata’s chief executive Mick Davis that he will have their full backing should shareholders block the tie-up with Glencore, a move that would send the miner’s share price plummeting. It is understood Qatar, which already owns 12 per cent of Xstrata, would step in to increase its stake to up to 25 per cent.
Central bank financing can be “addictive like a drug”, the president of the Bundesbank –Jens Weidmann- has warned, in comments that emphasize the dangerous gulf between Germany and the European Central Bank. “In democracies, parliaments rather than central banks should decide on such an encompassing mutualization of risks,” he said at the weekend, adding that it was not the ECB’s job to, “guarantee that states remain in the euro area at all costs. Angela Merkel, German chancellor, said that unlike Mr.Weidmann she believed the ECB was acting within its mandate but she said it was “good” that he warned “politicians again and again” about over-stretching the ECB, The Telegraph reports.
China has announced a total of 8trn Yuan (£800bn) of "stimulus projects" to try to boost confidence in an economy that appears to be cooling faster than expected. Meanwhile, Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, promised over the weekend that the Chinese government would intensify its efforts to boost the economy in the second half of the year. On a visit to Guangdong, the heartland of China's export industry, Mr Wen warned that "there will still be a lot of problems and uncertainties in exports going forward. The third quarter is a crucial period". Analysts said the government could now steer the value of the Yuan lower, after a gain of 4.7% last year against the dollar, according to The Telegraph.
Nick Buckles, the chief executive of G4S, is likely to be granted a "stay of execution" on Tuesday as he unveils impressive growth at the company, despite the fiasco over its Olympic Games contract. The security boss, who was last month lambasted by MPs after G4S failed to recruit enough staff for the Olympics, is expected to announce that the company grew by around 7% in the first six months of the year. MPs on the House of Commons home affairs select committee led calls for Mr Buckle's resignation. But shareholders have signalled that they are willing to reserve final judgment until at the least the conclusion of an official review of the failures being conducted at the moment by PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Telegraph reports.
Persimmon is drawing up a lucrative long-term bonus plan for its managers based on the house builder’s promise to pay shareholders almost £2bn in dividends. The plan has echoes of a remarkable incentive scheme put in place by Berkeley Group, the southeast-focused builder run by Tony Pidgley. Berkeley’s bosses stand to earn shares worth up to £280m if they deliver on a pledge to return £1.7bn to shareholders over nine years. In a show of confidence in the battered housing market, Persimmon, which builds houses under brands such as Charles Church, wowed the City when it announced the series of special dividends in February. Shares have risen 11% since February, closing at 695p on Friday, writes The Sunday Times.
A former high-flyer at Vodafone is joining Jack Wills as the preppy fashion brand burnishes its top management team ahead of a potential stake sale or float. Wendy Becker, a 46-year-old American, will take up the newly created role of chief operating officer at Jack Wills and its sister brand Aubin & Wills next month. The former head of marketing at Vodafone will work closely with Peter Williams, the co-founder and chief executive. The high-profile appointment comes as the chain, which opened its first store in Devon in 1999, ramps up expansion plans in America. It has opened 12 shops there in the past two years, and has 50 in Britain. A sale or public listing would add tens of millions to Williams’s net worth. The 38-year-old’s fortune is already estimated at £200m, according to The Sunday Times Rich List, the same newspaper reports.
Chinese oil companies alleged to have been complicit in genocide are being targeted by the Scottish Government for business deals. A key aim of an official plan to strengthen links between Scotland and China is “building close relations” with two controversial energy firms called PetroChina and Sinopec. PetroChina recently signed a deal to refine oil at Grangemouth while China’s top refiner Sinopec acquired a £0.9bn stake in the North Sea. But both corporations have been accused of bank-rolling the Sudanese government’s reign of terror over its people in Darfur, which resulted in the deaths of at least 300,000 people and the displacement of some 2.7m people. They have also been accused of human rights abuses in Burma, The Scotsman on Sunday reports.
The cost of privately educating children in Scotland has soared by 63 per cent in the past ten years, with the average family expected to fork out almost £10,000 per child per year, a new report shows. Independent schools in Scotland now charge an average of £9,816, up from £6,309 a decade ago, an increase “significantly” above the inflation rate.Experts have warned that it is increasingly difficult for parents in many occupations to afford a private education for their children. Across the UK, fees have increased by an average of 68% between 2002 and 2012, a rate of growth that is more than 1.8 times faster than the increase in the Retail Price Index (37%) over the same period, according to Lloyds TSB Private Banking, which produced the report, says The Scotsman on Sunday.
Shell paid warlords and militants not to attack its pipelines in the Niger Delta, contributing to armed violence in the troubled region, according to a new report. According to evidence obtained from leaked US Embassy cables and interviews with local people, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant paid ‘protection’ money to dangerous militant groups. Shell fights a daily battle against oil theft and the threat to its staff from kidnappers, forcing it to go to great lengths to resolve the security situation, The Financial Mail on Sunday says.
What does it take to shake investors’ faith in European leaders? Stock markets have repeatedly had hopes raised, only to be quickly disappointed by a lack of initiative and resolve. Yet despite the failure of politicians to act decisively, confidence bounces back and share prices have held up. The message is, if politicians have such confidence in banks across Europe, why are state guarantees not much, much higher? Voters in Europe would be more impressed if they saw Eurocrats and politicians putting their own pensions into Spanish bonds. Stock markets might pin their hopes on politicians, but depositors pick their banks very carefully. Over the next few weeks, money flows around Europe might prove the best indicator of true confidence, The Financial Mail on Sunday explains.
Apple's chief executive Tim Cook used Friday's sweeping legal victory against arch-rival Samsung to rally his employees, as he steels the company for a crucial set of new product launches in the coming weeks. After Apple’s latest quarterly results showed signs of weakening sales of the iPhone, as customers were tempted by Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S3, Mr Cook and his team are under pressure to raise the bar again with their next iPhone and iPad launches, expected in September and October. "I am very proud of the work that each of you do," Mr Cook said in an email to the entire company, according to The Financial Times.
It could be the $13m illegal profit that torpedoes a $15bn deal. It involves a reticent Chinese billionaire and one of China’s huge state oil firms, CNOOC, which wants to buy a Canadian energy giant, Nexen, thus acquiring interests from Alberta to the North Sea. Unfolding like a financial thriller on two continents, the case has stunned Chinese officials and led to mutterings in the Hong Kong market of an American plot to derail a strategic Chinese investment. It is shaping up to be a test for China’s investments abroad and a challenge to its standards of corporate behaviour. It is also a test for Canada’s Conservative government, which wants to retain control over the country’s big shale oil resources while improving commerce with China — its second largest trade partner, The Sunday Times reports.
Platinum giant Lonmin said nearly 60% of workers reported for duty on Saturday at one of its two sets of shafts as it sought an accord to end a labour dispute that has claimed 44 lives. "Eastern Shafts are working this weekend and we have 57% attendance across these shafts. The rest of the mine is closed as this is their off-weekend," Lonmin said in a statement. Lonmin, the world's third largest platinum firm, said it would spend the weekend persuading the workers to return to the job following the nation's deadliest police action since apartheid, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
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