WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

VIRGIN SEEKS US ROLE
Virgin Trains is vying to play a role in the privatisation of the US rail industry in a move that could see it become the operator of the lucrative 457-mile route from Washington to Boston. Virgin, which already runs the profitable West Coast railway line between London and Glasgow in the UK, has held a series of meetings with the US Congress transportation and infrastructure committee to advise it on a possible sell-off of the government-controlled north-east corridor.

FTSE KEY FOR POLYUS
Polyus Gold, Russia’s largest gold miner, will seek to join London’s FTSE 100 as it angles to merge with top foreign peers and become one of the leading gold producers. German Pikhoya, Polyus’s chief executive, said the company was on track to acquire the City-listed Kazakhgold through a reverse takeover by July 25 and would use the London listing it acquired through the deal as a platform for yet another merger.

BLACKSTONE SELLS CHINA FOOD STAKE
Blackstone pulled out of its investment in a Chinese agricultural company earlier this year after the mainland group warned the buy-out firm that its involvement would complicate moves to raise prices, according to three people familiar with the matter. The case offers a stark illustration of the sensitivity surrounding rising prices as China seeks to combat inflation running at a three-year high.

LAIRD CONFIDENT OF COOPER COMEBACK
Investors in Laird are continuing to bet that Cooper Industries, the US electrical products maker, will return to the table with a sweetened offer for the FTSE 250 company as a 1 August deadline approaches for a formal bid.

THE TIMES

BABY-BOOMERS WILL HIKE DEBT
National debt could rise towards 100 per cent of GDP if future governments do not boost tax revenues and slash public spending to defuse the fiscal time bomb of an ageing population, the Office for Budget Responsibility will warn this week. A report by the spending watchdog will state that Britain’s ageing population is set to impose a mounting strain on already stretched public coffers.

BIG SOCIETY BLINDLY OPTIMISTIC
David Cameron’s Government has been accused of “wishful thinking” over its Big Society initiative. Phillip Blond, the director of ResPublica, one of the architects of the policy, told The Times that more than a year since the Government came to power, the Big Society remained a “Westminster-based project” and not a national movement.

The Daily Telegraph

AMAZON CREATES 900 UK JOBS WITH NEW DISTRIBUTION CENTRE
Amazon, the online retailer, is to create more than 900 new jobs in Britain with the opening of its seventh UK fulfilment centre. The 700,000 square foot packing warehouse at Rugeley, Staffordshire, will begin operating in September and will be fully staffed by the end of next year. The new jobs will be a mixture of permanent and temporary roles, although the exact numbers of each are not known.

ANDREW “FREDDIE” FLINTOFF SIGNS UP TO DESIGN JACAMO RANGE FOR N BROWN
Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, the former England cricketer, has signed up to a "brand ambassador" role with N Brown, the home-shopping clothing retailer, for its Jacamo “big and tall” men’s label. Flintoff has also fronted a TV ad campaign for Wm Morrison.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
EUROPE

AIG WILL DUMP SOME BANKERS
American International Group is planning to replace one or more Wall Street banks in a group of four managing its next sale of shares from the US government, reflecting dissatisfaction about the first sale in May. AIG hasn’t decided which investment banks that led its first offering to drop, but will definitely make changes to the line-up of lead underwriters before the next share sale later this year, Chief Executive Robert Benmosche said in a recent interview.

PETROVIETNAM EYES CONOCO'S VIETNAM ASSETS
Vietnam Oil and Gas Group and its partners are considering buying ConocoPhillips’ stakes in three oil and gas projects off the coast of Vietnam, according to the country’s state-run oil company, also known as PetroVietnam.