What the other papers say this morning

FINANCIAL TIMES

GOLDMAN TEES UP SALE OF JAPAN GOLF COURSE
Goldman Sachs is ending its long love affair with golf in Japan. The US investment bank is seeking buyers for its remaining stake in Accordia Golf, the country’s largest golf course operator. The proposed sale comes as Japan’s enthusiasm for golf is also cooling – the victim of economic woes, a shrinking population and the gradual relaxation of corporations’ grip over their employees’ leisure time.

BLACKSTONE SET TO BUY OFFICE PARK FOR £480M
Blackstone is in exclusive negotiations to buy one of Britain’s largest office parks for almost £500m ($773m) in its biggest UK real estate investment for more than 18 months. Chiswick Park, the 1.1m sq ft office campus in west London, has come under offer from the US private equity group for £480m following a competitive sales process before Christmas. The price includes the assumption of the debt that backs the property.

OBAMA ASKS CONGRESS TO LIFT DEBT LIMIT
The Obama administration has requested approval from Congress for an increase in the national debt limit of the US, setting up a showdown with newly empowered Republican lawmakers and warning of “catastrophic economic consequences for decades” if a deal is not reached. In a letter to congressional leaders from both parties, Tim Geithner, US Treasury secretary, urged them to move quickly to raise the debt ceiling from its current level of $14,290bn “well before the threat of default becomes imminent”. The Treasury estimates that the national debt will hit its upper limit between March 31 and May 16.

THE TIMES

ASSET STRIP CLAIM OVER BUILDING SOCIETY DEAL
Kent Reliance Building Society is in danger of having its assets stripped by an American buyout company, it was claimed yesterday. Michael Laws, a 30-year member of the society who is fighting an attempt by JC Flowers to take a stake, told a hearing at the Financial Services Authority that the two parties were “incompatible” bedfellows.

BRUSSELS PLAN TO STREAMLINE EU TRADE IS UNWORKABLE, SAY CITY LAWYERS
Plans to introduce a single European contract law to replace domestic regulations would be expensive and disruptive to businesses, lawyers have warned. The European Commission is considering introducing measures to improve cross-border trade between consumers and businesses.

The Daily Telegraph

GAZPROM “HELD BACK BY ITS CORRUPT NATURE”
Russia’s state energy giant, Gazprom, is being held back from global expansion by its “inefficient, politically-driven and corrupt” nature, according to leaked US diplomatic messages. John Beyrle, the US ambassador to Moscow, gave his opinion of the gas monopoly in 2009, describing the company with international ambitions as confused.

EBAY SALES ON MOBILE PHONES TRIPLE TO $2BN
EBay's global sales made on mobile devices have tripled to $2bn (£1.3bn), with the UK leading international markets. The online auction site said the popularity of its apps for gadgets such as the iPhone has demonstrated that consumers “increasingly want to be able to shop anytime, anyplace, anywhere”. The website’s apps were downloaded more than 30m times.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

SARA LEE LIKELY TO SPLIT INTO TWO BUSINESSES
Sara Lee Corp. is moving ahead with plans to split up its meats and coffee businesses into two separate companies after it rejected Brazilian beef processor JBS SA’s takeover offer last month, people familiar with the matter said. JBS hasn't ruled out its interest in buying the company, which has a market capitalisation of about $11bn.

BORDERS IN TALKS WITH RESTRUCTURING ADVISERS
As Borders Group Inc. asks publishers for leniency on paying bills, the bookstore chain has been in discussions with restructuring advisers about ways to rework its debt-heavy balance sheet, said people familiar with the matter. Borders has been in talks with Wall Street firms that have worked on many high-profile bankruptcies, they said.