<strong>THE FINANCIAL TIMES<br /><br />OPEL U-TURN LEAVES GERMANY ANGRY</strong><br />Germany and Russia reacted furiously to General Motors’ surprise decision to keep Opel rather than sell it, throwing up fresh uncertainty about the future direction of one of Europe’s biggest carmakers. The news that GM’s board had abandoned the sale of Opel/Vauxhall to Canada’s Magna and Russia’s Sberbank also led to a schism among the carmaker’s workers, with UK employees celebrating while Germans said they would start warning strikes on Thursday.<br /><br /><strong>GAS GLUT CHALLENGES RUSSIA</strong><br />The world faces a natural gas glut that will cool prices, says the International Energy Agency, raising the prospect that Russia’s grip over Europe’s energy security will loosen.<br />In a draft version of its World Energy Outlook (WEO), to be published next Tuesday, the rich countries’ energy watchdog says that “global gas markets have evolved from a seller’s market, driven by tight supply and demand, to a buyer’s market as demand weakens while new supply comes on stream”.<br /><br /><strong>CHINA CUTS SANYO PANASONIC DEAL</strong><br />China is forcing Panasonic to sell off assets in Japan to secure approval for its acquisition of Sanyo Electric, the first time Chinese competition authorities have compelled disposals outside of the country in a monopoly review. <br /><br /><strong>SATOIL: NO EVIDENCE OF RECOVERY</strong><br />Statoil, Norway’s national oil company, warned that it sees no firm evidence of a sustained recovery in industrial investment, private consumption and employment, and promised to continue cutting costs in spite of the upturn in the oil price. The firm has shed between 2,000 and 2,500 since 2007.<br /><br /><strong>THE TIMES<br /><br />COSTA SALES LIFT WHITBREAD<br /></strong>Costa, the coffee shop chain owned by Whitbread, is steaming ahead with new store openings after reporting a recession-defying trading performance in the first half of the year.<br /><br />The chain’s 974 stores in the UK reported like-for-like sales growth yesterday of 2.5 per cent in the six months to 27 August and it has seen a similar trend in the first few weeks of the second half.<br /><br /><strong>M&B LOOK FOR NEW DIRECTOR</strong><br />Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), the pub and restaurant operator, is seeking a new heavyweight non-executive director with a view to the successful candidate taking over as chairman in the next few months, The Times has learnt. Drummond Hall, chairman since June last year and a non-executive since 2004, is understood to have indicated a desire to step down.<br /><br /><strong>The Daily Telegraph<br /><br />BOA GENERAL COUNSEL UNREGISTERED</strong><br />Beseiged Bank of America is in further hot water after it emerged the man Ken Lewis chose to act as the bank’s general counsel in the month it completed its controversial acquisition of Merrill Lynch, was not fully registered to practise law at the time in his home state. Boston-based Brian Moynihan, who was appointed as BoA’s general counsel on 10 December last year, was not at the time registered to give legal advice because his membership of his local bar association was not active. <br /><br /><strong>GOLD READY TO TEST $1,100 LEVEL</strong><br />Gold hit record highs above $1,095 an ounce yesterday as dollar weakness added to momentum lent to the market by India’s purchase of 200 tonnes of gold from the IMF to push prices through key technical resistance levels. Gold is now poised to target the $1,100 an ounce level, dealers said.<br /><br /><strong>WALL STREET JOURNAL</strong><br /><br /><strong>NOVARTIS BUYS CHINESE VACCINES</strong><br />Novartis’ planned purchase of an 85 per cent stake in a Chinese vaccine maker underscores big pharma’s growing interest in a corner of healthcare — emerging-market inoculations — that previously offered little prospect of profit.<br />The Swiss drug maker said it has reached an agreement to pay $125m in cash for the stake in Zhejiang Tianyuan Bio-Pharmaceutical.<br /><br /><strong>ADIDAS: OPTIMISTIC ON 2010</strong><br />Sportswear and equipment maker Adidas on Wednesday expressed cautious optimism for 2010, the year of the football World Cup in South Africa, as it stuck to its 2009 market outlook forecasts despite reporting a 30 per cent fall in third-quarter net profit. The firm said it was “cautiously optimistic” about next year's prospects.