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WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

MAN AND RHEINMETALL MERGE MILITARY VEHICLE UNITS
Man, the truck maker, and Rheinmetall, the automotive and defence company, are to merge their military wheeled vehicle businesses, potentially kicking off a limited but long-awaited consolidation in the overcrowded European land systems sector. Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles will eventually have about 1,300 employees and revenues of more than €1bn after merging in two stages: first sales and development activities and then production at the end of 2011.

GM OUTLINES OPEL SHAKE-UP
General Motors is poised to unveil a management shake-up at Opel/Vauxhall that will make its European executives more accountable for their operations’ performance. The change is in keeping with a drive by Ed Whitacre, GM’s new chief executive, to demand more accountability from the carmaker’s managers in the US and around the world and hold them to more exacting performance targets. Opel’s supervisory board is due to meet on Friday to approve a new line-up at Opel.

BRITISH LAND TO RUN BUY-TO-LET HOMES FUND
British Land will expand rapidly its residential business under plans to manage a £300m buy-to-let fund being launched by a business spun out of law firm Charles Russell. The CR Property fund, to be launched on Thursday, will buy prime London residential real estate. It will begin fundraising among wealthy investors, particularly overseas buyers interested in UK property. British Land, the UK’s second-largest property company, will also take a small stake, in one of its first residential investments since selling most of its portfolio in 2006.

THE TIMES

NATIONAL GRID IN TALKS TO AVERT WALKOUT BY WORKERS
National Grid is meeting union chiefs tomorrow in a last-ditch attempt to stop hundreds of electricity workers walking out during one of the coldest winters on record. If a strike or overtime ban went ahead, the network could be vulnerable to power failures.

SAAB, YOURS FOR $1 – BUT ONLY IF YOU CONVINCE GM ABOUT VIABILITY
Saab, the Swedish carmaker, could be sold for a nominal $1, but only if the buyer can convince General Motors that it has a sustainable long-term business plan for the brand. Nick Reilly, GM Europe president, said that, although the American carmaker had begun the process of winding down Saab, it was still talking to “at least a couple of potential buyers”, including Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One boss.


The Daily Telegraph

NEWS CORP UPGRADED ON BACK OF AVATAR SUCCESS
Avatar, James Cameron’s 3D science fiction epic, has proved such a smash hit at the box office that it has prompted analysts to lift their earnings estimates for News Corp, the owner of movie studio 20th Century Fox. Analysts said the film, which has pulled in more than $1.1bn (£680m) at box offices worldwide, has proved so successful that it could significantly increase the media company’s full-year profits.

CHINA HEIGHTENS BUBBLE FEARS AS IT TIGHTENS MONETARY POLICY
Fears that China could fall victim to a speculative bubble resurfaced yesterday as the country’s authorities ordered its banks to set aside more reserves in a precursor to a full-blown interest rate increase. It raised the reserves requirement for local banks.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

JUDGE REJECTS BID TO REDUCE RAJARATNAM'S BAIL
A federal judge denied hedge-fund firm founder Raj Rajaratnam’s bid to reduce his $100m bail yesterday, but did allow him to remain out of jail pending trial on insider-trading charges despite a renewed request by prosecutors that he be detained. At a hearing Tuesday, US District Judge Richard J. Holwell in Manhattan found there was no reason to alter the bail package for Mr. Rajaratnam, the founder of Galleon Group.

EU TO MONITOR DRUG MAKERS DEALS WITH GENERICS
The European Commission said yesterday it has asked several pharmaceuticals companies to disclose their patent agreements with generic drugs manufacturers. The commission didn’t name the companies it has approached.