What the other papers say this morning - 18 December 2013

FINANCIAL TIMES

French seek EU defence fund
Plunged into its second African military mission in under a year, France is showing increasing frustration at what it sees as a lack of spine among European partners on defence issues.

In an effort to put its allies on the spot, President François Hollande is poised to demand, at a Brussels summit tomorrow, that the EU sets up a permanent fund to finance operations such as France’s intervention in the Central African Republic. Paris sent 1,600 troops to the CAR this month, with UN Security Council backing, to try to stem a descent into violent anarchy in its former colony. That followed French military intervention in Mali, another former colony.

Javid warns on too big to fail risk
The taxpayer is still exposed to “too big to fail” banks despite new laws intended to make Britain one of the world’s safest financial centres, City minister Sajid Javid admits. Javid said yesterday that the new banking reform bill, which receives royal assent on Wednesday, would “dramatically reduce the risk of what we call too big to fail”.

Banks to take control of chat
Banks will be given more control over traders’ instant messages, Bloomberg has announced, as the firm tries to redeem the reputation of tools now associated with manipulation. Faced with regulatory concern and attempts by clients to limit the use of chat functions, Bloomberg is introducing a single screen to allow compliance staff easy real-time monitoring of messages.

THE TIMES

Network Rail bonuses to be vetted
Britain’s national debt is set to rocket by £30bn after the Office for National Statistics declared that Network Rail would be classified as a central government body. The change could mean that all financial decisions, including bonuses, have to be approved by the Department for Transport.

Tesco opts to tiptoe into India
Tesco is set to deepen its presence in India as it struggles to turn around its business after retreating from the US, Japan and China. The supermarket has applied to the Indian government to invest $110m (£68m) in a 50 per cent stake in Trent Hypermarket, owned by the Tata conglomerate.

The Daily Telegraph

Dunkin’ Donuts to launch UK shops
Britain will soon be getting its first drive-through doughnut shops after Dunkin’ Donuts returned to the country for the first time in 20 years. The US-based giant opened a restaurant in Harrow, north west London, and confirmed plans to open 150 over the next five years.

Sir Martin Sorrell buys into Davos
Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP group has bought a 30 per cent stake in Richard Attias & Associates, the conference producer behind the annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos. As well as the World Economic Forum, RAA is responsible for international conferences on emerging markets, energy, food security and education.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

European central banks cut rates
The central banks of Sweden and Hungary became the latest in Europe to cut interest rates Tuesday, seeking to keep deflation risks at bay. Sweden’s Riksbank was first to cut its main repurchase rate to 0.75 per cent from one per cent. The National Bank of Hungary also lowered its main rate to three per cent from 3.2 per cent.

Italian minister challenges Germany
Italy’s finance minister has threatened to hold up a deal on a new system for winding down failing Eurozone banks unless Germany and other rich countries agree to simplify decision-making and commit more financing, according to a letter he wrote to his colleagues earlier this month.