See the top stories and tips in UK and international newspapers.
Friday 06 Dec 2013
Nelson Mandela, who led his country to democracy after serving 27 years in prison, has died aged 95. President Zuma of South Africa said in a televised address: “The founding father of our nation has departed. May his soul rest in peace. God bless Africa.” Mr Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon who became his country’s first black president, died peacefully in his home with his family at his bedside. - The Times
Thursday 05 Dec 2013
Goldman Sachs would “drastically reduce” its activities in London and move large numbers of jobs to Frankfurt and Paris if Britain left the European Union, the bank’s co-chief executive in Europe has said. Michael Sherwood, who has warned in the past that London’s role as a leading financial centre would be damaged if Britain quit the EU, went much further than before in revealing how his bank would probably downgrade its British presence. - The Times
Wednesday 04 Dec 2013
Brussels will unveil hefty fines as soon as Wednesday on global banks that allegedly formed cartels to rig two global interest rate benchmarks, in a settlement that is set to break European antitrust enforcement records. The latest crackdown on benchmark manipulation is expected to target up to 10 financial institutions. Some will admit wrongdoing while others will face formal charges alleging they colluded to fix Euribor, Yen Libor or both. The exact level of fines remains confidential, but the commission has warned some banks it is seeking combined fines of hundreds of millions of euros for those groups involved in both cartels. - Financial Times
Tuesday 03 Dec 2013
BP won a big victory in its battle to limit the cost of compensation for its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after an appeals court called for an injunction to suspend payments to businesses that had not suffered losses as a result of the disaster. A majority on a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit appeals court ruled that a lower district court should draw up an injunction “tailored so that those who experienced actual injury traceable to loss from the Deepwater Horizon accident continue to receive recovery, but those who did not do not receive their payments until this case is fully heard and decided”. - Financial Times
Monday 02 Dec 2013
China’s Premier, Li Keqiang today raised the prospect of China playing a major role in the construction of the HS2 high speed rail project in Britain. At a post-summit briefing in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Mr Li was at pains to highlight the project as he spoke about Britain’s expanding strategic relationship with the world’s second biggest economy. - The Times
Monday 02 Dec 2013
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) will say the economy is growing at twice the rate it forecast in March, the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times reported. The OBR will say 2013 growth has jumped to 1.4% from the 0.6% it predicted eight months ago. Next year the economy will grow by about 2.3%, the OBR is set to say. In his December 5th autumn statement Chancellor George Osborne will announce tax breaks for small firms and a clampdown on tax avoidance. While declaring success for his policies he will resist calls for tax cuts.
Friday 29 Nov 2013
The Netherlands has become the latest Eurozone member to be stripped of its AAA credit rating by Standard & Poor's, citing weakening growth prospects as it cut the country’s rating to AA+. Earlier this month France also suffered a downgrade by S&P, when it was cut from AA+ to AA – two years after losing its AAA rating. Of the 17 members of the single currency bloc, only Germany, Finland and Luxembourg still hold an AAA rating from S&P – Financial Times
Thursday 28 Nov 2013
The European Central Bank has warned that the risks to the global financial system from market turbulence have increased since May. In its bi-annual Financial Stability Review published yesterday the Eurozone’s central bank warned in particular that the widely predicted slowing or tapering of America’s $85bn a month asset purchase scheme could cause market shocks. The ECB noted that cutting back on the bond buying programme “might be a harbinger of further realignment of risk premia with fundamentals in bond markets, or even an overshooting". – The Times
Wednesday 27 Nov 2013
Amec is stalking its American rival Foster Wheeler with a view to potentially pulling off a deal to create a 5bn pound energy services group. Weeks after walking away from a £700m hostile takeover approach for Kentz, Amec is understood to be taking a serious look at a bigger transaction with the acquisition of a competitor that has long had a strong presence in the Scottish oil and gas industry. It is understood that Goldman Sachs investment bankers have been appointed to advise on a potential deal, The Times reports.
Tuesday 26 Nov 2013
According to The Times, RBS is facing fresh break-up calls after an advisor to the Department for Business called yesterday for it and Lloyds to be split into six retail banks. Lawrence Tomlinson, advisor to Vince Cable, suggested that RBS had "pushed healthy small and medium-sized enterprises into administration to strip their assets and then buy them back cheaply to turn a profit", the paper writes.
Monday 25 Nov 2013
The judge hearing the civil case over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has strongly criticised BP, accusing the company’s lawyers of “deeply disappointing” actions. In an order released late on Friday, Judge Carl Barbier said BP had made a “startling” reversal of its previous statements as it pursued its court battle to block what it sees as excessive compensation payments under the settlement for victims of the spill it agreed last year, The Financial Times writes.
Sunday 24 Nov 2013
The interim deal between Iran and six world powers hammered out in the small hours of November 24th to curb the former’s nuclear programme is a long way from perfect, but it meets two key tests. The first is that it will extend Iran’s so-called “critical capability”—the time needed for it to produce one or several nuclear devices following a decision to weaponise—by many months compared with the trajectory it was on before the agreement. Secondly, it forms the basis for a more permanent solution to the decades-long problem of Iran’s nuclear activities to be reached over the next six months, The Economist wrote on Sunday.
Friday 22 Nov 2013
Negotiators are poised to seal the first global trade deal for more than a decade, in a rare victory for the World Trade Organisation, whose struggle to secure an international pact has increasingly threatened its relevance. The US and powerful developing-nation players, including China and India, have overcome differences in agriculture. This leaves negotiators in Geneva to put the final touches to a deal that will impose binding requirements to reduce red tape and ease the path for goods at borders around the world, the Financial Times says.
Thursday 21 Nov 2013
Veteran UK fund manager Anthony Bolton believes that China’s 'momentous' package of economic reforms, revealed last week, will be the catalyst that draws foreign investors back to one of the world’s worst performing equity markets. China’s top leaders last week released a blueprint for change covering various aspects of economic, social, and financial policy. Some economists have described it as the most important political development in China for more than 20 years, the Financial Times reports.
Wednesday 20 Nov 2013
Barack Obama made a personal appeal to leading senators on Tuesday to postpone new sanctions on Iran. The move came on the eve of crucial nuclear talks. However, the US president still faces fierce opposition from many Republicans in Congress. The US administration had initially appeared to win some political breathing space over its nuclear negotiations after a leading Republican senator left a meeting with Obama and said that no new sanctions were likely until at least next month, the Financial Times says.
Tuesday 19 Nov 2013
A crash in house prices is one of the fastest-growing risks for Britain’s lenders, according to a survey by the Bank of England. Banks, hedge funds and insurers told the central bank that the housing market was becoming a “bubble” that posed dangerous threats to financial stability. They also warned, in the Bank’s half-yearly Systemic Risk Survey of finance professionals, that a “snapback” in interest rates from the historic low of 0.5% to more normal levels would hit borrowers and send shares, property and debt markets reeling, The Times reports.
Monday 18 Nov 2013
The British Bankers’ Association (BBA) has warned Chancellor George Osborne that the lack of an end date to his flagship Help to Buy programme could cause serious distortion in the housing market, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
Sunday 17 Nov 2013
Aberdeen Asset Management is about to announce a takeover of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, the Sunday Times reported. An announcement could come as soon as November 18th after talks at the weekend. The all-share deal, valued at £500m, would make Lloyds Banking Group, the current owner of Scottish Widows, the second-biggest shareholder in Aberdeen with a 10% stake. Aberdeen will overtake Schroders to become the UK’s biggest investment house and will sell investment funds through Lloyds’ 1,300 branches.
Friday 15 Nov 2013
Barclays will make 1,700 of its branch staff redundant as it scrambles to boost returns. Five per cent of employees in the 33,600-strong retail network will lose their jobs next year, staff were told last night in a conference call to the 1,577 branches. Barclays said it was making the cuts as fewer customers were visiting branches and more were doing their banking over the internet. The redundancies, which will start as voluntary but will become compulsory if insufficient staff come forward, was criticised by Unite, The Times reports.
Thursday 14 Nov 2013
Energy giant SSE has piled more pressure on UK ministers to rethink their policy on “green taxes” by vowing to scale back its planned price hike if the controversial levies were overhauled. The pledge came as the Perth-based group, which trades as Scottish Hydro north of the Border, said its retail division had fallen into the red during the first half of the year because of higher wholesale gas prices, rising distribution costs and “government-sponsored social and environmental obligations”, The Daily Mail writes.