<strong>FINANCIAL TIMES<br /><br />Banks face hike in funding costs<br /></strong>Banks around the world face increases in funding costs that could cut profits and hit their customers as they look to refinance $7,000bn-plus in short-term debt expiring in the next three years with longer-dated bonds, according to research released today. Institutions seeking to reduce their reliance on short-term paper will have to pay up because interest rates are likely to rise and governments will stop supporting the financial system, the study by the credit rating agency Moody’s concludes.<br /><br /><strong>Commercial property surges<br /></strong>A rapid recovery in commercial property values from the deepest slump on record could see the sector turn positive this year, a leading property consultant has forecast. Real estate values are set to overturn most of the losses suffered in the first half.<br /><br /><strong>Brown considers Chinook fast-traAck</strong><br />Gordon Brown is examining plans to fast-track a big order of Chinook transport helicopters for Afghanistan, abandoning the government’s longer term procurement strategy. The Prime Minister is weighing up a proposal, backed by the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury, to cut low-priority defence projects to fund the purchase of up to 30 heavy-lift helicopters over the next five to 10 years.<br /><br /><strong>FSA sees fall in applicants for authorisation</strong><br />The number of new financial firms and individuals seeking regulatory authorisation fell in the third quarter to the lowest levels in at least three years, suggesting that the worst is not yet over for the City. <br /><br /><strong>THE TIMES<br /><br />Accenture loses ruling in battle with British Gas<br /></strong>Accenture, the management consultancy locked in a £220m High Court battle with British Gas, has lost an initial ruling for its role in a faulty IT system that the utility company claimed had reduced its customer billing service to a shambles. British Gas, the UK’s biggest supplier of gas and electricity, with 12.5m customers, welcomed the judgment and will pave the way for a full trial next year.<br /><br /><strong>Reliance may add assets of LyondellBasell to the mix</strong><br />Reliance Industries, India’s largest company, is planning a multibillion-dollar purchase of the American assets of LyondellBasell, the stricken chemicals group founded by Len Blavatnik, the Russian-born tycoon. The Indian industrial group is weighing up acquisitions.<br /><br />Only 247 new banks, brokers and insurance firms sought authorisation from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the three months to 30 September.<br /><br /><strong>The Daily Telegraph<br /><br />Karen Boswell joins Government Rail<br /></strong>The Government-controlled rail company that will on Friday take over National Express's East Coast franchise is today expected to appoint a second senior female manager with a track record from rival FirstGroup. Karen Boswell, a former customer services director at First Capital Connect, is joining Directly Operated Railways, in a senior role. <br /><strong><br />Grainger chief Rupert Dickinson retires with £3m payout</strong><br />Grainger, the FTSE 250 residential property company, paid outgoing chief executive Rupert Dickinson a £3m “compromise agreement” as part of his retirement package. The payment, equivalent to six times Mr Dickinson’s annual salary, was revealed the day after the company launched a £250m fund-raising.<br /><br /><strong>WALL STREET JOURNAL<br /><br />GE, Comcast Reach Agreement on Valuing NBC Universal<br /></strong>General Electric and Comcast have settled on how to value NBC Universal now and in the future, clearing a key obstacle to giving Comcast control of GE’s television and movie company, according to people familiar with the matter. After weeks of wrestling, both sides have agreed to value NBC Universal in the neighbourhood of $30bn, people close to the talks said. <br /><br /><strong>Sprint to Cut Up to 2,500 More Jobs</strong><br />Sprint Nextel said it plans to cut 2,000 to 2,500 jobs, roughly 4 per cent of its work force, as the cellphone-service provider looks to cut annual costs by at least $350m. It’s the second significant round of cuts this year as the embattled wireless carrier struggles to return to profitability.