<strong>FINANCIAL TIMES<br />UK COURT RELAXES CURB ON SAAD CASH</strong><br />A bitter legal dispute involving prominent Saudi Arabian businesses and families opened in the English courts yesterday, with Maan al Sanea failing to overturn a $9.2bn (&pound;5.8bn) freezing order on his worldwide assets. The High Court eased the order to allow the billionaire $4m spending money a year after a colourful hearing in which Sanea rejected fraud allegations and outlined living expenses including a private zoo and utility bills of $800,000 a month.<br /><br /><strong>PREMIER LEAGUE OWNERS COURTED FOR BASKETBALL</strong><br />Premier League club owners could set up professional basketball teams to play in a new British league under their football brand names as part of a US-led $25m (&pound;15.7m) plan being launched today.<br /><br /><strong>LENDERS FLOCK BACK TO PROPERTY</strong><br />The number of banks prepared to lend significant amounts for real estate investment has almost doubled in the past six months because of more favourable funding conditions.<br /><br />There are now 23 lenders prepared to lend more than &pound;20m for real estate investment, according to Savills, the property consultancy, and about six willing to lend more than &pound;100m to the sector. This marks a rapid change in stance in the banking sector, with many lenders averse to property at the beginning of this year when prices were in freefall.<br /><br /><strong>US SALES SET FOR CHRISTMAS FALL AS BUYERS HANG BACK</strong><br />US retail sales over November and December will fall to the levels of four years ago as shoppers continue to keep a tight grip on their wallets, the largest US retailers&rsquo; group has warned. National Retail Federation, said sales in the holiday season will fall by one per cent.<br /><br /><strong>THE TIMES<br />BANKS COULD HAVE TO SHED 10 PER CENT OF CUSTOMERS</strong><br />The European Commission wants Royal Bank of Scotland to sacrifice up to 10 per cent of its small business customers as the penalty for receiving billions of pounds in state aid. RBS, which is 70 per cent state controlled, would have to give up about 100,000 of its 1m small business customers under the plan.<br /><br /><strong>BRUSSELS GAINS SUPPORT FOR CARBON TAX ON VEHICLE FUELS</strong><br />Brussels is considering a Europe-wide carbon tax on road fuel as the European Commission seeks to bring more carbon emitters into line with the European Union&rsquo;s climate change policy. The proposed tax on fuel would hit consumers directly and is supported by the Nordic countries and by France, which has introduced a carbon tax on domestic fuel.<br /><br /><strong>The Daily Telegraph<br />PIRC SAYS ITV BOARD SHOULD PUT ITSELF UP FOR RE-ELECTION</strong><br />Investor body Pirc says ITV&rsquo;s board should offer itself up for re-election because of the saga over installing new leadership at the struggling broadcaster. A Pirc spokesman said: &ldquo;Given that there is unease here, what would be the right thing is the whole board offering themselves up for re-election at next year&rsquo;s AGM.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>DYSON SAYS UK MUST DITCH BANKS IN FAVOUR OF ENGINEERING</strong><br />Sir James Dyson, the vacuum cleaner tycoon, has called for Britain to back science and engineering rather than the &ldquo;thrill&rdquo; of financial trading. The newly appointed Tory technology tsar attacked the banks for creating &ldquo;illusory wealth&rdquo; and said that the challenge now is to see if &ldquo;Britain can make money from money &ndash; or money from making things&rdquo;.<br /><br /><strong>WALL STREET JOURNAL<br />UNIVERSAL CHAIRMEN FORCED OUT</strong><br />In a major shake-up at Universal Pictures, studio chairmen Marc Shmuger and David Linde have been forced out after more than three years at the helm. The change comes amid negotiations on a possible deal that could cede control of General Electric struggling NBC Universal, which contains television, theme park, and movie assets, to Comcast.<br /><br /><strong>CIENA SIZES UP NORTEL ASSETS</strong><br />Technology firm Ciena is in advanced talks to buy substantially all of the optical networking and carrier Ethernet assets from a Nortel unit. Such a purchase would bolster the company&rsquo;s own network-infrastructure business, which includes optical equipment geared to long-distance connections. Ciena is looking to acquire assets within Nortel&rsquo;s Metro Ethernet Networks business.<br />