What the other papers say this morning

FINANCIAL TIMES

RBS DIRECTOR TO STEP DOWN FROM BOARD
One of the last Royal Bank of Scotland directors to remain on the bank’s board from the days of Sir Fred goodwin is poised to step down from his role. Colin Buchan, 56, a former UBS investment banker who until recently was chairman of RBS’s remuneration committee, is set to leave in March, according to people familiar with the plan.

“BRIC” CREATOR ADDS MEXICO, KOREA, INDONESIA AND TURKEY TO THE LIST
Jim O’Neill, who coined the term “Bric”, is about to redefine further emerging markets and will explain the new approach to clients this month. The chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management plans to add Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and Indonesia into a new grouping with the Brics – Brazil, Russia, India and China – that he dubs “growth markets”. “It’s just pathetic to call these four emerging markets,” he told the Financial Times.

LLOYD’S TO PUSH FOR REDUCTION OF CAPITAL RESERVES
Lloyd’s of London is pushing for cuts in the amount of capital insurers are required to hold against exposure to catastrophes under new European rules, which threaten to force the historic insurance market to hold billions more in capital.

CALL TO REASSESS WATER VALUATIONS
Billions of pounds worth of water-related assets held by uk companies and property funds are being valued incorrectly, according to the body responsible for setting professional standards for surveyors. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors will today set out proposals to standardise values of assets.

THE TIMES

TOP AUDITORS UNDER PRESSURE”
Three of the City’s most powerful investors have called for a root-and-branch overhaul of the audit market, amid growing concerns about the dominance of the “Big Four”. Standard Life Investments, Aviva Investors and Hermes have demanded radical action to allow smaller firms to compete with Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC for big company audits.

400 LOSE JOBS – BECAUSE FEWER BUSINESSES GO BUST
Four hundred jobs are to go at the Insolvency Service as the regulator faces budget cuts and falling income with the decline in bankruptcies. The cuts will stoke fears that the service, a division of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, is letting crooked company directors off the hook because of lack of resources.

The Daily Telegraph

UK HOUSING MARKET TO GET TOUGHER FOR FIRST-TIME BUYERS
Housing affordability is at near-record levels, new figures show, However first-time buyers will find it increasingly hard to join the property ladder this year. Mortgage lending is tighter now than it was six months ago, an economic consultancy has warned. The prospect of buying a house will also become more daunting if, as is widely expected, the Bank of England “will start raising interest rates” this year, putting further strain on the cost of living, the consultancy warned.

GERMAN COALITION SPLIT ON INCREASING EU’S BAIL-OUT FUND
Important members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition in Germany are resisting plans for an increase in the EU's bail-out fund to protect Spain from contagion.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
EUROPE

FOREIGN LENDERS RACE TO ISSUE BONDS IN US
Foreign banks are flocking to the US bond market because it’s cheaper to borrow there than it is in Europe, where worries about the financial health of some governments have shaken fixed-income markets. Led by Lloyds Banking Group and HSBC Holdings, foreign banks sold $36.4bn (£23bn) of investment-grade bonds in the US in the first two weeks of 2011, the biggest total in the first two weeks of any year since at least 1995, according to data provider Dealogic.

PRODUCTIVITY MAY SLOW IN 2011
Global economic productivity rallied strongly last year thanks to a notable economic recovery, but it is likely to flag in 2011 in advanced economies as employment catches up, the Conference Board announced late yesterday.