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WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES
AXA PUTS SPOTLESS UP FOR SALE
Spotless, the French maker of laundry and cleaning products, could become the latest “pass-the-parcel” deal between private equity groups, after Axa Private Equity put it up for sale with a €600m-€700m price tag. A recent recovery in debt markets has encouraged private equity groups to become more ambitious about buying companies again, after sitting on the sidelines during two years of financial turmoil. Spotless is a collection of laundry and cleaner brands.

OSBORNE HITS OUT AT THE TUBE’S PPP CONTRACT
The shadow chancellor has stepped into the growing controversy over the future of the private contractor working to maintain and upgrade some of the busiest London Underground lines. George Osborne said the public-private partnership (PPP) contract combined the worst of the public and private sectors.

LIBERTY OFFLOADS PENSION FUND
Liberty International, the FTSE 100 property group, has become one of a handful of UK companies to end their exposure to defined benefit pension schemes after it signed a £61m ($97m) buy-out deal with Pension Corp. Under the buy-out Liberty will offload all the risks associated with its small scheme and transfer all its assets to Pension Corp, the specialist insurer set up by Edmund Truell, the private equity investor.

PORSCHE BOARD CRITICISED
Porche’s supervisory board has been criticised by shareholders over its alleged failure to control the risks of a derivatives strategy that brought the sports car maker to the verge of bankruptcy in 2009. Shareholders at the annual meeting last week alleged the firm, failed to act properly during its attempt to take over VW last year.

THE TIMES
THREAT TO VALUERS AS LENDERS BLAME THEM FOR LOSSES
Bradford & Bingley, the taxpayer-owned mortgage lender, is threatening surveyors with legal action for over-valuing properties during the housing boom. The Times has learnt that the bank, whose mortgage book is now run by UKFI, the company that manages the Government’s stakes in banks, is one of a number of buy-to-let and sub-prime lenders behind a mass mail-out of letters to surveyors.

BRITISH GAS TO CUT BILLS BY 9 PER CENT FOR 7.5M HOMES
Millions of British families are set for lower energy bills this year after British Gas moved to cut its prices.
Britain’s largest domestic energy supplier, owned by Centrica, is expected to announce plans today to reduce its gas prices by about nine per cent from February 19.

The Daily Telegraph
BANKERS TO COLLECT £22M WINDFALL FROM CABLE & WIRELESS SPLIT
Bankers will collect £22m from Cable & Wireless's plan to split itself in two while shareholders will not receive a dividend boost. NM Rothschild and Gleacher Shacklock, the joint sponsors and lead advisers of the demerger, will receive the bulk of payment. Bankers at Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Cazenove, Lloyds TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland will also share in the fees.

US COMMODITIES MARKET UNDER ATTACK
The US commodities market should be freed from “reckless speculation” and abusive trading practices, a leading American senator, Maria Cantwell, has urged, as she attempts to stop the price of everyday items like petrol and food from being impacted by financial traders.

WALL STREET JOURNAL
PFIZER PLANS TO CUT RESEARCH SPENDING
Pfizer said yesterday that it plans to cut research-and-development spending by as much as $3bn by 2012, in an attempt to wring efficiencies following its take-over of Wyeth without sacrificing future product development. The New York pharmaceutical giant outlined the aggressive cuts as it reported fourth-quarter earnings of $767m, or 10 cents a share, up from $266m, or four cents a share, a year earlier.

FRANCE TÉLÉCOM'S CHIEF SETS GOALS
France Télécom's chief executive in-waiting, Stéphane Richard, plans to focus on rebuilding employee morale after several suicides when he takes the helm next month. Richard also said he saw opportunities for the former French state monopoly to deepen its presence in Europe.