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WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

BUYOUTS AT 25-YEAR LOW DUE TO LACK OF CREDIT
The number of private equity deals in the UK hit a 25-year low last year, as the credit crisis cut off the supply of cheap debt and dissuaded business owners from selling out. There were 117 private equity deals in 2009, fewer than half the 243 deals the previous year, according to research.

US INVESTMENT BANKS SPLIT ABOUT POSSIBLE LAWSUIT OVER LEVY
Divisions are emerging among large investment banks over the Obama administration’s banking levy, with one industry lobby exploring legal action even as some individuals urge caution in the face of the growing political backlash. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association confirmed it had hired Carter Philips, a managing partner at the law firm Sidley Austin.

SINOPEC AND BP JOIN FORCES IN CHINA’S SHALE GAS FIELDS
Sinopec, the Chinese oil and gas group, said yesterday that it was in talks with BP over potential collaboration in the exploration and development of shale gas. The move underlines growing international interest in China’s shale gas fields. In a company newsletter, Sinopec said the talks were going “smoothly” and that any deal would help China use foreign technology to speed up the development of its potentially large shale gas reserves.

HERMES IN BID TO OUST NEXT INFINEON CHAIRMAN
Germany is braced for its first proxy fight at a blue-chip company after an influential UK investor launched an attempt to oust the chairman-designate of Infineon, the chipmaker. Hermes has submitted a proposal to replace Klaus Wucherer, due to become Infineon’s chairman next month, with Willi Berchtold.

THE TIMES

UNION ANGER AT STAYTHORPE POWER STATION WORKERS’ PAY GAP
Italian construction workers building a power station in the East Midlands have been paid on average €1,300 (£1,140) a month less than their British colleagues, an audit of wages at the site has found. Workers building Staythorpe, a gas-fired station for RWE nPower at Newark in Nottinghamshire, received significantly less in wages than British workers from April to December last year, according to an audit conducted at the insistence of the GMB and Unite unions.

POLICE SCOUR ASIA FOR GP NSURANCE SCAM SUSPECT
Specialist fraud police are searching for a Hertfordshire-based insurance broker who was expelled from the financial services industry for defrauding hundreds of doctors.

The Daily Telegraph

ONLINE FOOD SHOPPING EXPECTED TO DOUBLE IN FIVE YEARS
The amount Britons spend buying groceries online is set to double over the next five years, according to new estimates from the Institute of Grocery Distribution. New research from IGD, the food industry’s trade body, forecasts that UK consumers will spend £7.2bn on food and grocery shopping online by 2014 -- nearly double the figure for 2009.

SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS CRISIS OF ETHICS
More than two thirds of people believe the current economic crisis is also a crisis of ethics and values, according to a World Economic Forum opinion poll. The survey, based on 130,000 Facebook members from ten G20 economies, also found that only a quarter of people believe large, multi-national companies have a “value-driven” approach.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

SWISS BANK WILL STOP PROVIDING LIQUIDITY TO EUROPEAN MARKETS
In another sign of improving conditions in European monetary markets, the Swiss National Bank said it would stop its special provisions of Swiss francs to financial institutions in the eurozone, Hungary and Poland because of improving money-market conditions.

AIG TRIES TO DEFUSE BONUS PAY SHOWDOWN
American International Group is seeking to reduce and pay out early a batch of retention payments to employees at its financial products division, as the insurer tries to defuse a potential showdown over the bonuses. AIG is obligated to pay out $195m in retention bonuses in March to AIG Financial Products employees. The company recently discussed a proposal to make the payment early.