views

WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

BASF CHIEF DAMPS HOPES OF RAPID ECONOMIC RECOVERY
One of Europe’s leading industrialists damped hopes of a quick economic recovery yesterday when he warned of persistent overcapacity and at least two years of flagging growth in developed countries. JЯrgen Hambrecht, chief executive of BASF, the world’s largest chemicals group by revenues, said economic growth in?Europe this year was likely to be slow.

BIDDERS MULTIPLY FOR HOBBYCRAFT
Up to 20 first-round bids are expected to be submitted today in what is shaping up to be a competitive auction for HobbyCraft, the arts and crafts retailer, valued at about £70m. Among those expected to submit first-round bids are private equity groups Bridgepoint Development Capital, Graphite Capital and?Lloyds Capital Development.

US RECEIVER LOSES CASE OVER
STANFORD’S UK ASSETS
The US receiver in charge of the collapsed empire of Sir Allen?Stanford, the Texan financier, has failed to overturn a decision giving control of an estimated $100m of British assets to Antiguan liquidators. The two sets of liquidators have been embroiled in a dispute about who should be awarded control over the UK assets belonging to Sir Allen, who is accused of operating a $7bn Ponzi scheme.

GOOGLE HITS BACK OVER ALGORITHM DISPUTE
Google yesterday set out a further defence of its system for ranking search results, as the internet company attempted to defuse questions from Europe’s top antitrust regulator. In a new blog posting, Amit Singhal, a Google employee responsible for the ranking system, claimed that the company’s algorithms produced better quality and more relevant results than a human intervention system.

THE TIMES

BBC SIGNALS AN END TO ERA OF EXPANSION
The BBC will close two radio stations, shut half its website and cut spending heavily on imported American programmes in an overhaul of services to be announced next month. Mark Thompson, the director-general, will admit that the corporation, which is funded by the £3.6bn annual licence fee, has become too large and must shrink to give its commercial rivals room to operate.

CHAINED TO THE DESK: MILLIONS PUT IN HOURS OF UNPAID OVERTIME
The TUC has found that almost a million workers are spending hours every week on an activity that may give them no pleasure and certainly no reward -- extreme overtime. More than five million professionals and managers are working an average of seven hours a week without extra pay.

The Daily Telegraph

UK WIND SCHEME GETS £30M GRANT
Grants of up to £30m are being offered by the government to encourage Mitsubishi to invest £100m in the first phase of a wind power research programme that could lead to the creation of 1,500 jobs. Around 200 skilled jobs will result from an initial investment geared to producing the huge turbines needed for the next generation of offshore wind farms.

STHEEMAN SEES NO RISK OF UK DEBT CRISIS AS STERLING SLIDES
Global investors still have sufficient faith in UK leadership to keep buying gilts even if there is a hung parliament or when the Bank of England starts to unload its £200bn holdings of bonds, according to the curator of Britain’s public debt. Robert Stheeman, head of the UK Debt Management Office, said the political elites are rising to the challenge.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

HEDGE FUNDS TRY CAREER TRADE AGAINST EURO
Some heavyweight hedge funds have launched large bearish bets against the euro in moves that are reminiscent of the trading action at the height of the US financial crisis. The big bets are emerging amid gatherings such as an exclusive “idea dinner” earlier this month that included hedge fund titans SAC Capital and Soros Fund Management.

PROSECUTORS TARGET HEDGE FUND FIRM
Federal authorities investigating a Long Island New York hedge fund firm are questioning individuals close to the firm about whether it paid kickbacks to outsiders as part of a scheme to inflate the value of its holdings. NIR Group reported eight years of positive returns in its biggest fund with no negative months.