WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

LI & FUNG UPBEAT OVER THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
Li & Fung, the Hong Kong-headquartered sourcing company for retailers such as Walmart and Debenhams, sounded an upbeat note on Thursday, asserting that business conditions were “not at all” like those in 2008”, despite the current uncertainty over prospects for the global economy. Bruce Rockowitz, the company’s chief executive, said that demand was “not falling off like it did in 2008”.

LLOYDS ACTS TO TRANSFER ASSETS IN IRELAND
As much as €1bn (£877m) of distressed Irish properties backed by debt from Lloyds Banking Group could be transderred to a new venture with one of Ireland’s best-known property groups. The aim is to help recover the properties’ values, rather than book significant losses for the bank through a quick fire sale.

BANK OF AMERICA FACES OBSTACLES OVER CCB STAKE SALE
Bank of America is facing difficulties in selling down its 10 per cent stake in China Construction Bank, partly because potential investors are expecting a deluge of rights issues, share sales and new listings from Chinese banks. BofA can sell all or part of the stake when a lock-up period expires at the end of the month.

CHIEF EXECUTIVES STOCK UP ON SHARES IN SHOW OF CONFIDENCE
North American chief executives and their senior managers are buying their companies’ shares on a scale not seen since March 2009. The chief executives of Morgan Stanley, Chiquita Brands, General Motors and the holding company of Continental and United Airlines are among those who in the past week have sought to demonstrate confidence in their companies through share purchases.

THE TIMES

YOUNGER STAFF HELP AIRLINES BRING DOWN AVERAGE PAY BILL
Average pay for pilots and cabin crew at Britain’s biggest airlines has dropped for the first time in five years under the impact of cost-cutting, strikes, the Icelandic ash cloud — and a new recruitment strategy. CAA figures reveal that the average pay at British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fell last year as they recruited younger, cheaper workers.

BIRDS EYE AIMS TO PERSUADE US THAT THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN PEAS
Cost-conscious Europeans choosing to eat at home rather than dine out drove an eight per cent rise in first-half profits at Iglo, the owner of Birds Eye. The frozen foods group, owned by the private equity house Permira, said that it had benefited from broadening its product range.

The Daily Telegraph

US ECONOMY SHOWS GLIMMER OF HEALTH AS NEW JOBLESS FIGURES FALL
The outlook for the US economy got a boost today after a week of sliding markets, with the news that the number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits dropped to a four-month low last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 395,000

Gaddafi's diplomats in London 'tried to sell assets before they were expelled'
Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's diplomats in London tried to sell off embassy assets including cars before they were expelled by the British Government, sources have claimed. A senior UK official said other Libyan embassies are understood to be carrying out “fire sales” to raise money for the “cash-strapped” regime in Tripoli.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

GM PLANS INDONESIA PUSH
General Motors Co. plans to produce a seven-seat "people mover" van in Indonesia as part of a move to re-establish its presence in a surging market dominated by Japanese auto makers and eventually use the country as an export hub, according to a person close to the company. The person said GM intends to build a plant near Jakarta capable of producing about 50,000 vehicles a year.

AT&T HIRES BANKERS FOR POSSIBLE DIVESTITURES
AT&T Inc. has hired bankers to advise it on selling assets, in a significant step aimed at winning government approval for its planned $39bn purchase of T-Mobile USA, according to people familiar with the matter. The telecoms giant hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to line up buyers of customers and wireless spectrum.