ADONIS TRIES TO LOCK IN TRAIN OPERATORS
Train operators who walk away from franchise agreements will face bigger penalties, as part of a package of measures aimed at restoring the system’s credibility following the renationalisation of the east coast main line. Lord Adonis, transport secretary, said in an interview with the Financial Times that the government would stimulate investment in train services by lengthening the next round of rail contracts to 10 years – from the current average of seven – and giving train operators the option of applying for an extension to 22 years.
FBI STING NETS 22 EXECUTIVES IN BRIBERY PROBE
Agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have arrested 22 executives, three of whom are British, in a sting operation, which prosecutors say exposed attempts to bribe an African minister of defence. The arrests of the executives, all but one of whom were attending a conference for sellers of military and law enforcement products in Las Vegas, is the single largest investigation and prosecution by the Department of Justice of charges involving foreign bribery.
MINISTERS BLAMED FOR EQUAL PAY DEAL FAILURE
Business groups last night blamed ministerial interference after efforts to reach agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on how to handle companies’ reporting of gender pay gaps collapsed in acrimony. In the absence of a deal, the commission yesterday put forward its own proposals to encourage businesses with more than 250 employees to adopt voluntary measures to analyse and make public any gap between men’s and women’s pay.
ROW OVER INTERNATIONAL POWER TALKS INTENSIFIES
International Power was at the centre of a deepening dispute last night over its handling of an aborted tie-up with GDF Suez after it emerged that a statement published on Monday, which wiped over half a billion pounds from its market value, followed two months of pressure from City regulators.
BITTER ROW THROWS FRENCH NUCLEAR INDUSTRY INTO TURMOIL
The French nuclear industry is in turmoil as uranium supplies have dried up and the treatment of spent fuel has been blocked amid an increasingly bitter row between the heads of its two main state operators. EDF, the electricity group, said that Areva, the nuclear energy group, had stopped uranium deliveries and was refusing to take away spent fuel.
The Daily Telegraph
CONTACTLESS BANK CARDS “TO FLOOD UK”, SAYS VISA
Contactless debit cards will become commonplace in Britain this year as banks double the number in circulation to about 10m, according to Visa.
Visa hopesthe new technology will replace cash for small purchases. Peter Ayliffe, chief executive of Visa Europe, said 2010 would be “the tipping point” when the British consumer finally adopts the new technology
BRIXTON EX-CHIEF TIM WHEELER “THREATENED GUERILLA WAR AGAINST NON-EXECS”
The former boss of property company Brixton hindered efforts for an emergency rights issue because of a dispute about his retirement pay-off, City grandee Lady Patten has claimed in an unfair dismissal case lodged by Tim Wheeler, ex-chief executive of Brixton.
WALL STREET JOURNAL
ICESAVE REFERENDUM SET FOR 6 MARCH
The people of Iceland will vote March 6 on whether to approve a deal to repay $5.7bn to the UK and Netherlands for depositors’ losses in a collapsed online bank, the government announced yesterday. The Ministry of Justice said in a statement it had agreed the date with the national electoral committee. March 6 is the latest date the vote can be held under Icelandic election rules.
FOREIGN INVESTMENT FALLS 39 PER CENT
Gobal flows of foreign direct investment fell 39 per cent in 2009, but will pick up modestly this year, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said yesterday. The agency said businesses made foreign investments of just over $1 trillion in 2009, down from $1.7 trillion in 2008.