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In the papers: Scots shoppers hit the High Street


The Times 

‘Defunct’ computer threatens Co-operative Bank’s profits: Annual profits at The Co-operative Bank could be wiped out this year because of a write-down of £200 million on an IT system that will become defunct if the mutual completes its acquisition of 632 branches from Lloyds Banking Group.

We won’t let Russia interfere, BP assures Azerbaijan: BP’s new alliance with Rosneft, the Kremlin-controlled oil group, has threatened to undermine its position in Azerbaijan, The Times has learnt. Bob Dudley, BP’s Chief Executive, flew to Baku, the Azeri capital, just before Christmas to reassure the Government that the company remained committed to the oil and gas-rich Central Asian state.

Shake-up at Sony removes the focus from televisions: Television manufacturing is being cut back severely by Sony in favour of making more mobile phones, video games consoles and digital cameras, its Chief Executive has said.

Travelodge ‘retains’ the keys to ten hotels: Up to ten of the forty-nine hotels scheduled to be shed by Travelodge by the middle of March are likely now to be retained, under the terms of a financial restructuring. The Times understands that the budget hotel operator is in advanced negotiations with landlords over a mixture of management contracts, franchise deals and new leases.

China turns the tables on ‘hygienic’ foreign fast-food: Foreign food companies could face a more challenging future in China after scares over tainted chicken at KFC and McDonald’s were seized upon by Beijing as an example of Western “arrogance”.

City of London’s financial services sector facing skills shortage: The financial services sector will have shed 43,000 jobs over six months by the end of March, potentially leading to a skills shortage in the industry.

Supermarket rivals are sitting pretty in fight for the stay-at-home shopper: Those perennial favourites of Middle England Waitrose and J Sainsbury are in pole position to reap the benefits of the burgeoning trend for buying groceries online, according to research.

The Independent 

City workers’ hopes for a bonus take a hiding: Twice as many City workers expect to receive no bonus this year as did in 2012, as job losses continue apace in the U.K.’s financial sector. The recruitment firm Astbury Martin found 22% of workers in the City are not expecting any kind of bonus during 2013, up from 11% last year.

Think-tank calls for new strategy to fire up the economy: The Government should give the Bank of England and its incoming Governor Mark Carney a radical new mandate to get the U.K. economy moving again, a respected think-tank will argue.

Tesco opens fifth dotcom store: Tesco will ratchet up the pressure on the online grocer Ocado by opening its latest ‘dark store’ in West Sussex, creating 700 new jobs. The opening of the high-tech facility in Crawley means the grocery giant now has five dotcom-only stores, which are used to fulfil grocery orders but don’t have any customers.

Rate-appeals backlog ‘sending shops to wall’: Retailers and their advisers have called for urgent action to deal with a huge backlog of business rate appeals, warning that delays in refunding struggling shops could put them out of business.

Goldman bankers get rich betting on food prices as millions starve: Goldman Sachs made more than a quarter of a billion pounds last year by speculating on food staples, reigniting the controversy over banks profiting from the global food crisis

The Daily Telegraph

EU doubts put pound’s ‘safe haven’ status at risk, traders warn: The pound risks losing the ‘safe-haven’ status it has enjoyed among international investors as doubts grow over Britain’s future in the European Union, one of the world’s largest currency traders has warned.

Barclays Wealth division ‘out of control’, says secret report: Barclays has moved swiftly to part company with a senior executive after investigators alleged that he shredded a highly critical analysis of the maverick culture and bullying at the bank’s one-time flagship Barclays Wealth business.

Al Gore could make $30 million from Apple shares: Al Gore, the former U.S. Vice-President, is in line for a $30 million (£19 million) windfall from an Apple share package awarded to him by Steve Jobs, the tech giant’s late founder, a decade ago.

Santander reportedly weighs £2 billion bid for Clydesdale and Yorkshire: Spanish banking giant Santander is reportedly considering a £2 billion takeover bid for Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks to accelerate its expansion in Britain.

Economist investors eye Pearson stake: Minority shareholders in The Economist are weighing up a plan to buy Pearson’s share of the influential weekly magazine.

The Guardian

RBS awaits hefty fines for Libor rigging: A Royal Bank of Scotland trader quips “hahaha” in a series of jovial electronic exchanges as he goes about his work. But it will soon become clear that however much fun the trader felt he was having, the repercussions for the bailed-out bank will be anything but when it is hit with a staggering £500 million or so in fines for manipulating Libor.

Aon defers bonus payments to avoid 50% income tax: The London-based insurance broker Aon is helping 250 of its highly paid staff avoid 50% income tax by deferring bonus payments until the new tax year. Other top brokers, including Willis, are also considering whether to allow their staff to postpone payments until after 6 April when the top rate of income tax falls to 45%.

Dell close to $22 billion leveraged buyout amid decline in PC market: Dell could be taken private in a $22 billion (£14 billion) deal this week as the mounting crisis in the PC market forces one of the world’s largest technology companies to switch from making computers to providing information technology services.

Depressed banking sector raises spectre of triple-dip recession: British banks suffered a loss of business in December, adding to fears that a slowdown in activity across several sectors of the economy at the end of 2012 will push the U.K. into a triple-dip recession.

Daily Mail

BAE Systems eyes job losses at historic Portsmouth dockyard: Up to 1,400 jobs could be at risk at the historic Portsmouth naval dockyard as Defence Company BAE Systems runs down its shipbuilding operations. The company has been considering closures across its three shipyards: the one at Portsmouth, and two in Scotland: at Govan and Scotstoun.

Hilco leads the race to snap up collapsed music chain HMV: Hilco, a firm that specialises in taking over distressed retailers, is leading the race to buy collapsed music chain HMV. The company, led by Chief Executive Paul McGowan, already owns HMV in Canada and salvaged part of Habitat in the U.K. last year.

Marks & Spencer Chairman under fire after doubts raised about his appetite for turnround struggle: Marks & Spencer Chairman Robert Swannell has come under fire this weekend after doubts were raised about his appetite for a turnround struggle following last week’s collapse of HMV.

Shares windfall for Goldman Sachs supremo Michael Sherwood: Michael Sherwood, the London supremo of investment bank Goldman Sachs, has received the biggest share bonus of any executive at the bank. Sherwood has been awarded 109,461 shares worth £9.8 million in a long-term reward scheme, according to official U.S. filings published over the weekend.

The Scottish Herald

Thousands of financial services jobs to be axed: Thousands of posts are expected to be axed from financial services companies in the first three months of this year even though firms are complaining that a dearth of staff in high-demand roles is limiting the business they can do.

Scottish mission to Mongolia: Several Scottish businesses are embarking on a trade mission to Mongolia this week and will take part in celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the country and the U.K.

Teasses records pretax loss but assets rise: Teasses Capital, the private equity vehicle owned by Sir Fraser Morrison, has made a pretax loss of £2869 according to its latest set of accounts.

Clark builds on £7 million contracts: Clark Contracts continues to win business in a tough climate after securing £7 million of new public sector deals.

Shortage of skills in North Sea a drag on growth: Skills shortages in the North Sea are likely to be a major barrier to growth in the next 12 months, according to a new report.

The Scotsman

Retail gloom may be overdone as Scots shoppers hit the high street: Scotland has seen the second largest increase in shopper numbers in the U.K., according to figures which point to signs of life on the nation’s high streets. The number of people visiting stores was 6.2% higher last month than in December 2011, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium/Springboard “footfall monitor”. Scotland was just one of four areas of the U.K. to record an increase in the volume of shoppers, and was second only to the West Midlands, where there was a 10% rise.

Debenhams’ international push gets Scottish support: A Scottish consultancy has played a key role in helping ­department store giant Debenhams expand its overseas ­presence. Retail Management Consultants (RMC), which is based in Stirling with additional offices in India, said it had concluded a deal which will see the launch of the retailer across the Balkan region. RMC brokered an agreement with local operator Canopus ­Investments, which will run stores firstly in Bulgaria, and then in Croatia and Serbia over the next two years.

Optimism rising, but finance firms warn of staff shortages: Profits and optimism across the financial services industry increased in the final quarter of last year, despite a fall in staff numbers and business volumes, a survey out today showed. The number of people employed across the sector fell more sharply than expected, and almost a third of firms warned a lack of staff would hamper their prospects over the coming year.

Central bank should plough cash into infrastructure projects, says BCC chief: The Bank of England could do more to “underwrite” a British recovery by putting money behind key infrastructure projects, the director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has claimed. John Longworth said he is more hopeful of such a “pragmatic” approach being adopted following the appointment of Canadian central banker Mark Carney, who is due to replace Sir Mervyn King as governor of the Bank of England in July.

Managers’ pay packets will fail to keep up with cost of living in 2013: Managers’ pay will struggle to keep pace with inflation this year, especially those in the public sector, who face rises of less than 1%, according to a new report. A forecast by pay specialist Incomes Data Services (IDS) said average rises for managers and professionals will be around 2.2%, falling to 0.7% for those in public sector organisations. Private sector pay awards are expected to be more generous, with average rises of 2.6 %.

City A.M.

Hedge funds disappoint as shares roar on: Costly hedge funds failed to keep pace with run of the mill stock funds last year, as equity markets proved more profitable than the best performing hedge strategies on average, data shows.

Scots house builder Cala Group mulls sell-off to Patron Capital: Upmarket housing developer Cala Group has a new front runner in the race to snap up the 138 year-old firm – private equity shop Patron Capital led by ex-Lehman Brothers banker Keith Breslauer.

Lobby groups threaten revolt over pay at Imperial Tobacco: Calls are growing for shareholders to vote down a generous new pay structure at FTSE 100 giant Imperial Tobacco when investors gather at the firm’s annual meeting at the end of the month.

Apple’s record results to be hit by profit fears: Apple is expected to report record quarterly sales this week, with the iPhone and iPad proving more popular than ever. However, profits have taken a hit, with the company’s margins expected to be lower on the recently-released iPhone 5 and iPad mini than on previous models.


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