WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

NIGERIA APPROVES $2.5BN BID FOR NITEL
Nigeria has approved a controversial $2.5bn offer for the country’s main fixed-line telecoms group, but has demanded that the winning consortium come up with a $750m downpayment to secure the sale. The approval follows years of ill-fated efforts to sell off Nitel, which has withered since liberalisation a decade ago enabled MTN and Zain to make the nation one of the world’s fastest-growing telecoms markets.

VIMPELCOM TO FOCUS ON CUTTING DEBT
Vimpelcom’s immediate priority will be to cut its large debt load rather than to increase its dividend, following a deal that could make it the world’s fifth-largest mobile phone operator. Alexander Izosimov told the Financial Times that Vimpelcom’s dividend was likely to be flat over the next two years but held out the prospect of the pay-out rising from 2013.

JAPAN’S DENA SNAPS UP US RIVAL
A two-year-old San Francisco gaming start-up that raised $40m in funding has been sold for up to 10 times that amount to Japanese social gaming company DeNA. The acquisition of ngmoco for up to $400m is another example of the dealmaking taking place in mobile and social gaming.

ASIAN CITRUS MOVES INTO JUICE MARKET
Asian Citrus, the Chinese orange plantation group, is moving into the fruit juice market with its first major acquisition since floating on Aim in 2005. The company, which took a secondary listing in Hong Kong last November, is paying HK$2bn (£165m) for a 93 per cent holding in Behai Perfuming Garden Juice, the biggest tropical fruit juice producer in China.

THE TIMES

SECRET FIREFIGHTING FORCE STANDS BY AS UNION VOTES ON STRIKE
A secret strike-breaking firefighting force has been assembled to provide cover in London if 5,500 members of the Fire Brigades Union go on strike in the capital. The result of a ballot of FBU members in London will be announced tomorrow, with an increasing likelihood that they will vote for a strike.

WARNING ISSUED OVER VALUE OF ROYAL MAIL
A privatised postal service could be worth just £700m excluding debt when the effects of falling mail volumes, the threat of industrial action and a failure to modernise are taken into account, the first independent valuation has warned in an in-depth analysis that could scupper the government’s plans to privatise Royal Mail.


The Daily Telegraph

HEWLETT PACKARD DENIES HIRING OVERSEAS STAFF IN BRITAIN
Hewlett Packard (HP) has been accused of sending foreign staff from overseas offices to Britain to carry out the tasks of redundant workers.The computer giant announced on Monday that it would cut a further 1,300 staff in Britain, as part of sweeping redundancies taking place worldwide. However, Unite the union has alleged HP could be abusing migrant worker law by using the intra-company transfer (ICT) system.

PIZZA EXPRESS TEACHING STAFF TO FLIRT WITH CUSTOMERS
Pizza Express is teaching its staff how to flirt with customers in an attempt to relax them, it has emerged. The family-friendly restaurant has recruited classically trained actor Karl James to teach flirting and the art of chit-chat to staff.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

TRAVEL SITE OPODO DRAWS INTEREST
The sale of European online travel agency Opodo by Amadeus IT Holding attracted the interest of potential suitors including Internet search giant Google, online travel company Expedia. and private-equity firms Permira and Axa Private Equity, according to people familiar with the situation. The sale of the U.K.-based seller of plane tickets and hotel booking services is expected to fetch between €400m (£352m) and €500m, they said.

PLANS GROW FOR EUROPEAN AUDIT COP
The European Union begins consultations this week on proposals to regulate audit firms that could lead to their oversight by a pan-European market supervisor. The consultation is being launched today by the European Commission.