WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

BHP BILLITON DIGS IN AGAINST STRIKING MINERS
BHP Billiton has declared force majeure on exports from the world’s biggest copper mine, as a mineworkers’ strike entered its eighth day. The strike at BHP’s Escondida mine in Chile, which supplied 7 per cent of the world’s copper last year, comes in a month of widespread mining strikes from Indonesia to South Africa.

BRUSSELS TO PROBE ROYAL MAIL PRIVATISATION
Antitrust officials in Brussels are expected in the next few days to open a probe into the UK government’s plans to privatise Royal Mail. The move comes amid growing doubts about whether the coalition will be able to sell even part of the state-owned postal operator before 2013 because of Royal Mail’s deteriorating finances.

MADOFF TRUSTEE COLLECTS $1BN FROM HEDGE FUND
Hedge fund Tremont Group and its parent company Mass Mutual have agreed to pay more than $1bn to settle a lawsuit brought by the trustee responsible for collecting money for Bernard Madoff’s victims. The settlement, which requires US court approval, will bring the total amount collected by the court-appointed trustee, Irving Picard, to $8.6bn.

OBERTHUR SET TO SELL OFF SMART CARD STAKES
Oberthur is in the final stages of an auction to sell large chunks of its business to private equity bidders, in a move that analysts said would provide the French group with fire power to eventually relaunch a bid for troubled UK banknote printer De La Rue. US financial investors Advent International and One Equity Partners are the two remaining contenders vying for a 60 per cent stake in Oberthur’s smart card business.

THE TIMES

KEEP COMET AS A GOING CONCERN, BIDDERS TOLD
Kesa has sought to safeguard thousands of jobs at Comet by asking potential buyers of the struggling retailer to guarantee to run it as a going concern. Kesa, which also owns the profitable French electricals chain Darty, made its wishes known yesterday to bidders that had progressed to a second round.

IRELAND CLOSE TO STANDING ON ITS OWN FEET AGAIN
Ireland’s government could be in a strong enough position to raise funds on the markets as soon as next year, making it the first eurozone periphery nation to break free of the debt crisis. Booming exports and on-target deficit reduction could put Dublin in a position to raise funds on “acceptable” terms in the second half of 2012, Berenberg bank claimed.

The Daily Telegraph

PROMETHEAN WORLD SEES PROFITS PLUMMET ON US CUTS
Investors in Promethean World were handed their latest setback after the interactive whiteboard maker unveiled a 65pc drop in pre-tax profits and said it expected government austerity cutbacks to continue to make trading "challenging". The company made profits of £3.3m in the six months to the end of June after revenues fell 11.9pc to £107.8m.

DAVID BECKHAM LAUNCHES NEW UNDERWEAR LINE WITH H&M
David Beckham is to launch a new range of underwear in partnership with high street chain H&M. Shoppers will be able to get into the football star's pants in time for Valentine’s Day, with the former England football captain agreeing a two-year partnership that will see his 'bodywear' line hit the shelves from February 2.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

GOLDMAN-CITI OFFERING IS PULLED OVER RATINGS
Goldman Sachs and Citigroup pulled a $1.48 billion commercial mortgage-backed security from the market late Wednesday after an 11th-hour internal review by Standard & Poor's, throwing the CMBS world into disarray. The move surprised analysts and investors since Goldman Sachs and Citigroup had already priced the issue last Friday based on preliminary ratings. The firms were hours away from settling the issue.

JUDGE RULES FOR MARVEL IN COMICS DISPUT
Marvel Entertainment LLC, not the heirs to legendary comic-book artist Jack Kirby, own the rights to more than a dozen of the company's iconic characters, including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and Iron Man, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.