RBS eyes £10bn debt buy-back as it plans balance sheet shake-up
Royal Bank of Scotland is planning a vast balance sheet restructuring in an attempt to boost its capital strength and its standing with bond investors.
The move could involve at least £10bn (€11bn) of the bank’s £28bn of debt being bought back at a premium to current prices. This would echo similar moves at other banks, most obviously Lloyds TSB, which in December unveiled a £10bn deal as part of a £23.5bn capital restructuring.

Capital gains tax fear sparks panic sales
Investors are rushing to sell shares and property ahead of the Budget on March 24, in the apparently misguided belief that Alistair Darling is about to raise capital gains tax rates. By realising large gains before next Wednesday’s Budget, taxpayers are hoping to lock in the current 18 per cent capital gains tax rate and ensure they will not be hit by any rise.

Co-op backs oil sands awareness campaign
Oil companies’ investments in Canada’s tar sands will be the principal target of environmental campaign groups this year, according to the Co-operative group. The Co-op is backing Dirty Oil, a new documentary that had its premiere in London on Monday night.

Motorola demerger plan paves way for unit sale
Motorola is paving the way for a possible sale of its mobile network infrastructure business, but is also interested in forming a joint venture with a rival. The US mobile phone maker is planning a group demerger that will result in separate stock market listings for its handset and infrastructure businesses early next year.

BAE factory may close if US gets £4bn deal
BAE warned the Government last night that it could be forced to close its tank factory in Newcastle if a £4 billion armoured vehicle contract goes to America. The Defence Ministry is hoping to order at least 750 Future Rapid Effect System vehicles from General Dynamics.

Law firms turn to banks not partners for cash
Leading law firms increased borrowing by 40 per cent in response to the financial crisis, despite the sector’s traditional aversion to taking on bank debt. Debts among the 40 biggest legal practices whose accounts are publicly available rose to £591 million in 2008-09, according to data compiled by Grant Thornton, the accountancy firm. The previous year the debts were £425 million.

The Daily Telegraph
NS&I launches new Index-linked Savings Certificates
National Savings & Investments has launched two new issues of its inflation-beating Index-linked Savings Certificates. The new issues, one with a three-year term and the other with a five-year term, will be available to savers from April 7 and will pay an interest rate of 1pc plus inflation as measured by the Retail Prices Index.

Money can't buy you happiness, economists find
Inhabitants of wealthy countries tend to grow more miserable as their economy grows richer, according to research. Economists Curtis Eaton and Mukesh Eswaran found that while the richest people, such as footballers and bankers, could perk themselves up with a new pair of designer shoes or a sophisticated mobile phone.

Google Exit Would Open a Door for Microsoft
If Google decides to close the door on its search engine in China, it might open a door for Microsoft. The software giant's Bing search engine is among the potential beneficiaries if Google goes ahead with its threat to close its Google.cn site amid a dispute with the Chinese government over censorship.

Consol to Buy Dominion's Gas Assets for $3.48bn
Consol Energy on Monday said it would acquire Dominion Resources Inc.’s natural-gas business for $3.48bn, in an effort to diversify and mitigate the impact of potential carbon regulation. Consol, the fourth largest US coal producer would add to existing gas operations and become one of the largest participants in the Marcellus Shale formation.