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WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES
BOCOM EYES $500M PRIVATE EQUITY FUND
Bank of Communications is to launch a US dollar private equity fund in the latest sign of mounting Chinese interest in the asset class. BoCom International, the bank’s overseas arm, said on Wednesday it was targeting a $500m fund that would invest in mainland groups. The fund expects to list its portfolio companies on overseas stock markets, most likely Hong Kong, though mainland bourses would be considered.

REVENUES DROP AT SPRINT NEXTEL
Sprint Nextel shares fell eight per cent early trading yesterday after the third-larges US mobile network operator said it lost 504,000 customers who pay monthly bills in the fourth quarter, and reported results that highlighted competition in the US wireless market.

LONE STAR EXPECTS TO OFFLOAD STAKE IN KEB
Lone Star expected to sell its stake in Korea Exchange Bank in the next six months, ending one of Asia’s most controversial corporate sagas, the managing partner of the Dallas-based private equity group said yesterday. John Grayken, who founded Lone Star in the 1990s, said the backlash in Korea against the profits the US group would make from selling its 51 per cent stake in the country’s sixth-largest lender had abated and he expected a deal soon.

ENDEMOL BOWS TO PRESSURE ON
BUY-BACKS
The controversy over debt buy-backs moved back into the spotlight following a decision yesterday by Endemol, the television company behind Big Brother, to back down in a fight with its lenders. The decision follows calls by its lenders for it to stop using gains from debt buy-backs to lift earnings and keep within loan covenants.

THE TIMES
NEW RAIL LINK COULD BE JUST THE TICKET AT £27.5BN
A high-speed rail line from London to Manchester could be delivered at a net cost to the public purse of £27.5 billion, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) today.
The report, seen by The Times, makes clear that the Government would have to find the money to construct the infrastructure but estimates that the annual bill for the new high-speed route would not exceed £1.7bn during the two years of peak capital spend.

MANDELSON ATTACKS KRAFT OVER CLOSING CADBURY PLANT
Lord Mandelson has accused the chief executive of Kraft of being less than straightforward in her dealings with him and with Cadbury workers after Kraft closed a British factory with the loss of 400 jobs.

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
BARACK OBAMA “DOESN'T BEGRUDGE” BANKERS THEIR MILLION-DOLLAR BONUSES
President Barack Obama does not “begrudge” the multi-million dollar bonuses awarded to the heads of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, and argues that they don't make as much as some baseball players. The US President, in an apparent reversal given his earlier comments attacking “obscene bonuses”, likened Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan’s chairman, and Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s chairman, to successful athletes.

OIL SHORTAGES BY 2020 DUE TO WESTERN “PROFLIGACY”, SAYS ENERGY BOSS
Ian Marchant, who heads the £10bn FTSE-100 company, is warning the world’s demand for oil is on the brink of outstripping industry’s ability to produce.

WALL STREET JOURNAL
MOTOROLA WEIGHS NEW PLAN TO
Motorola is close to rolling out a new plan that it hopes will revive a long-suffering effort to separate the company’s main business units, according to people familiar with the matter. In recent days the company has moved toward reversing a months-old strategy of selling off the largest of its three divisions, which makes set-top boxes and wireless-networking gear, these people said.

NEW IPAD PUTS FOCUS ON APPLE’S FLASH FEUD
Apple and Adobe Systems used to be cozy partners, but they have become increasingly estranged since the computer maker unveiled its iPad tablet late last month. While Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs announced that the iPad will revolutionize Web surfing, the device won’t support Adobe’s ubiquitous Flash video technology.