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WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

Financial times

TNK-BP STEP UP SALE OF GAS FIELD
TNK-BP, BP’s Russian joint oil venture, ratcheted up the pressure for a sale of its vast Kovykta gas field on Thursday, announcing that it was pushing the unit that owns the licence to the field into bankruptcy.

The move raises the stakes over the future of the east Siberian field, which contains 2,000bn cubic metres of gas and is strategically located for supplying China.

Negotiations with Rosneftegaz, the state-owned vehicle chaired by Igor Sechin, the powerful energy tsar, have been dragging on since March, while a previous deal in 2007, in which TNK-BP agreed to sell the field to Gazprom for between $700m and $900m, never got off the ground.

VISA AND CHINA CLASH ON PAYMENTS
Visa has told banks they must stop using the payment system of Chinese state-backed China UnionPay to process international transactions for co-branded Visa and UnionPay credit cards. The move comes as credit card companies are becoming increasingly frustrated in China, where transactions must be conducted through the monopoly UnionPay, which is aggressively expanding beyond China’s borders.

BOOZ AND AT KEARNEY IN TALKS
Two of the best known names in management consulting, Booz & Co and AT Kearney, are in talks over a deal to bring the firms together to form the world’s third-largest consultancy. People close to the situation warned that no decision had yet been made and that discussions could yet fall apart. In addition, any deal would need to win the approval of the partners of the two firms. Shumeet Bannerji, Booz managing partner, has agreed several details of the proposed deal with Paul Laudicina, AT Kearney boss.

THE TIMES

DELAY NEW ELECTRIC TRAINS
Network Rail has singled out electrification of railway lines as a major area of investment that could be cut back as public sector spending is squeezed.
The £1bn electrification of the main rail route between London and Wales and a line between Liverpool and Manchester was announced by Labour last summer.

VANTIS MAY MAKE SALES TO CUT DEBT
Vantis, the beleaguered British accounting firm, is holding discussions with potential investors about selling part of the firm to reduce its debts, it said yesterday.
The AIM-listed accountant is also talking to its lenders about restructuring its balance sheet. Vantis owes more than £50 million to a consortium of banks, including Lloyds TSB, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Daily Telegraph

SYNERGY PROFITS RISE 50 PER CENT
Richard Steeves, chief executive of the FTSE 250 company, said the health care market was continuing to look for efficiencies as government and private sector budgets come under pressure, and that Synergy was well positioned to capitalise on this need. “We are more efficient and we raise clinical standards,” said Mr Steeves, adding that post-operative infection rates at the hospitals which used Synergy’s decontamination services were half that of their peers.

JOBS LOOKING AT CHINA DEATHS
Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, said he finds a string of suicides at Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer of the iPad, “troubling”. At least 16 people have attempted suicide at Foxconn, which assembles iPods and iPhones, so far this year, with 12 succeeding in killing themselves.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

AT&T LIMITS SALE OF WEB DATA
In a significant shift in how phone carriers bill customers, AT&T Inc. will stop selling unlimited Internet data plans to new customers that buy smartphones and iPads, and will instead begin charging more for heavy bandwidth users.
New AT&T customers will have to choose between two data plans with monthly usage limits—and pay additional fees for extra use. Existing customers, however, can stick with their current plans, AT&T said.

RISING SALES AT GE CONSUMER UNIT
The head of General Electric Co.’s appliances and lighting unit, Jim Campbell, has forecast rising revenue and profit for 2010 and next year, though he credited government stimulus programs rather than the economic recovery for boosting industry sales so far.