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WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES
VANTIS FALLS £10.7M INTO THE RED
Vantis, the AIM-quoted company acting as a liquidator to Stanford International Bank, fell £10.7m into the red in its first half to 31 October. The accountancy and professional services group incurred £11.7m of exceptional charges, mostly an impairment of current and intangible assets after a review following board changes announced in November.

MOUCHEL RENEGOTIATES BANKING COVENANT TO COMBAT VT APPROACH
Mouchel, the maintenance company being pursued by VT Group, has renegotiated one of its banking covenants in order to cope with the potential cost of fending off any hostile bid. Lenders to Mouchel have agreed to temporarily ease the fixed charge cover covenant for the next year to give it freedom to fund its defence.

CME IN TALKS TO BUY DOW JONES INDEX ARM
The CME Group, the world’s biggest futures exchange, is in talks to buy Down Jones’s index business from News Corp for as much as $700m, say people familiar with the matter. The move is a further sign that international financial exchanges are looking to diversify their sources of revenue.

NIGERIA TO SELL 2BN-BARREL OIL RESERVES
Nigeria plans to auction some 2bn barrels of oil reserves by the end of the year, according to a senior official. The bidding round could see Asian groups and home-grown companies carve out a greater share of Africa’s biggest energy industry, the fifth-largest crude supplier to the US. “There will be a bid round this year that will include small or marginal fields. But there will be big ones as well,” said Emmanuel Egbogah, special adviser to the president.

THE TIMES
MPS FLY OUT TO MEET AMERICAN FINANCIAL LEADERS
Members of the Commons Treasury Select Committee, which is in the middle of an inquiry into whether big banks should be forced to carve themselves up, flew to America yesterday to meet Wall Street financiers, central bankers and the US Treasury. The MPs, from all three of the big political parties, will visit New York and Washington, where they are scheduled to meet Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

PAYMENT FOR HOMEMADE POWER IS ‘TOO LOW TO HELP’
New subsidies to encourage millions of British families to install roof-top wind turbines and solar panels were unveiled by the government yesterday, but were criticised as too low to help to meet its ambitious targets for low-energy carbon production.

The Daily Telegraph
RBS TO PAY TOP STAFF ‘CASH’ BONUSES
Bosses at the Royal Bank of Scotland have decided to press ahead with plans that allow top performers to effectively collect large cash bonuses despite a political and public backlash about bank pay. RBS wrote to investors yesterday detailing the bank’s complicated pay deal under which bankers will receive their bonuses entirely in shares -- but are able to convert a large portion into cash within just 12 weeks.

VOLCKER RULES FORCE CITI DISPOSAL
Citigroup is sounding out potential buyers for its alternative investment divisions in what could amount to the first sell-off by a Wall Street bank of businesses that will not be permitted by the Obama administration as a result of its pending Volcker rules. The US banking conglomerate is inviting valuations of its alternative arms.

WALL STREET JOURNAL
BOSTON SCIENTIFIC TO PAY J&J $1.7BN TO SETTLE PATENT DISPUTES
Boston Scientific said yesterday it would pay Johnson & Johnson a hefty $1.7bn to end more disputes in long-running legal battles over patents for heart stents. The deal clears away some major legal exposure for Boston Scientific, but it carries a surprisingly large price tag that could reduce the company’s ability to make deals to bolster its product pipeline and spur sales growth.

GLOBAL CHIP SALES FELL IN 2009
Global semiconductor sales fell 1.2 per cent in December from the previous month -- breaking a streak of nine sequential gains -- though results were up 29 per cent from the prior year’s moribund levels, putting 2009 sales down 9 per cent. But the year’s sales of $226.3bn were better than the industry association’s forecast.