<strong>FINANCIAL TIMES<br /><br />CHIP MAKER MOVES TO QUASH BID SPECULATION</strong><br />Imagination Technologies has reiterated that it expects to remain independent, despite market speculation to the contrary and heavy share buying in the chip designer. Intense buying on the London Stock Exchange saw more than 12m shares change hands and 9.7m sold at 150p a share, amid speculation that troubled Saudi investment group Saad could be selling its 29m share stake to Apple.<br /><br /><strong>TOTAL GETS GO-AHEAD TO EXPAND IN RUSSIA</strong><br />Vladimir Putin, Russian prime minister, yesterday gave the green light to Total to expand in Russia after the French oil major clinched an exploration joint venture deal with Novatek, the country’s largest independent gas producer, to develop the Termokarstovoye gas field.<br /><br /><strong>BIDDERS LINE UP FOR SALE OF REDSTONE’S UK CINEMAS</strong><br />Israel Theaters, Israel’s largest cinema group, and Empire Cinemas, the UK cinema chain, have reached the second round of bidding for the 21 UK cinemas put up for sale by Sumner Redstone, the US media magnate. Israel Theaters, owned by the Greidinger family, is also the largest owner of cinemas in Poland and a franchisee of Disney films and Sony Pictures in Israel.<br /><br /><strong>BUY-OUT GROUPS CIRCLE ALMATIS</strong><br />Private equity companies are circling Almatis, the German aluminium business, as part of negotiations over a $1.1bn debt restructuring, in the latest sign of trouble for its sovereign wealth fund owner Dubai International Capital. The Frankfurt-based producer of speciality alumina products, spun out from Alcoa in 2004, has annual sales of about $500m and was bought for about $1.2bn by DIC in November 2007.<br /><strong><br />THE TIMES<br /><br />FED ACCUSED OF 'COVER-UP' IN BOFA DEAL</strong><br />Lawmakers claim to have uncovered evidence that the Federal Reserve tried to hide from other financial regulators its involvement in Bank of America’s (BoA) takeover of Merrill Lynch. Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, is due to appear at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee tomorrow. <br /><br /><strong>PLANS TO BEAT ONLINE CRIMINALS WITH 'CYBERCRIME' UNITS</strong><br />Regional “cybercrime” units are to be set up across the country to try to crack down on sophisticated gangs of online criminals who make billions of pounds every year. Although the strategy has not yet been formally signed off by ministers and senior officers, officials believe that it will be within a week. <br /><br /><strong>The Daily Telegraph<br /><br />CIA TURNS TO WALL ST FOR NEW BREED OF EXPERTS</strong><br />The US Central Intelligence Agency is on the hunt for disaffected Wall Streeters looking for a career change.<br /><br />Out-of-work investment bankers, analysts and traders are being asked by the American equivalent of Britain’s MI6 to consider a career in espionage over one in finance. <br /><br /><strong>FORTIS POISED TO TAKE OVER TESCO INSURANCE OFFERINGS</strong><br />Fortis Insurance is understood to closing in on a deal to provide motor and household products for Tesco’s financial services arm. The insurer is thought to be in advanced talks with Tesco, which admitted it was reviewing some of its general insurance arrangements. The news would be a further blow to Royal Bank of Scotland, which currently provides the products for Tesco. <br /><br /><strong>WALL STREET JOURNAL<br /><br />GMAC HALTS WHOLESALE FINANCING FOR SOME DEALERS<br /></strong>GMAC is suspending wholesale financing for certain Chrysler Group dealers it considers to be too risky to lend to, both GMAC and Chrysler confirmed on Wednesday. The move could ultimately push some dealers out of business and hurt Chrysler’s ability to sell cars.<br /><br /><strong>BRITISH AIRWAYS NEARS CONTRACT DEAL WITH LARGEST UNION</strong><br />British Airways and its largest labour union Unite are near a contract agreement after months of tense talks, but remain at odds over BA’s demand that crisis measures to cut costs become permanent, a top official at Unite said. BA executives are racing to meet a self-imposed deadline to reach agreement on new contracts for staff by the end of the month.