WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

LLOYDS LOOKS TO EASE DISPOSAL
Lloyds Banking Group is in early talks with the City regulator about easing the capital burden for prospective buyers of some of its branches in an effort to remove one of the biggest obstacles to the sale. It hopes to pave the way for a bidder to qualify for less onerous capital rules more quickly than new competitors would, as its branch portfolio is being sold with an existing management team.

WL ROSS READIES SHIPPING PUSH
One of the world’s best-known distressed-asset investors has revealed plans to take advantage of an overcapacity-induced slump across much of shipping to become a significant force in the industry.
Weeks after announcing his first shipping investment on August 1, Wilbur Ross, chairman and chief executive of WL Ross, said in an interview with the Financial Times his firm and other investors who financed Diamond S Shipping’s purchase of a fleet of 30 oil product tankers stood prepared to invest “significantly more capital” in the company if similar opportunities arose in future.

VW TO UNVEIL SINGLE-SEAT ELECTRIC CAR
Volkswagen is poised to unveil a single-seat, ultra-frugal, zero-emission electric car. The German carmaker also plans to offer a “full-service package” for customers of its electric cars by selling them power from renewable sources, Jürgen Leohold, head of research, told the Financial Times.

VW’s one-seat concept or experimental car will showcase the carmaker’s ambition to build vehicles that generate no carbon dioxide, even on a “well-to-wheel” calculation that takes into account the carbon dioxide generated by power plants.

THE TIMES

SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS AT OKA
Strong sales of garden furniture and room fragrances helped drive profits higher last year at Oka Direct, the interiors store part-owned by Lady Astor, David Cameron’s mother-in-law.Oka continued to buck the retail gloom this year, with sales up 32% in the first five months. The figures include takings from a new flagship store in Chelsea, opened last September. Oka will add a concession in Selfridges on Oxford Street soon.

STREWTH! BA AXES OZ FLIGHTS
British Airways is cutting direct flights to Australia from two a day to just one after axing its service from London to Sydney via Bangkok.From March, BA will operate one London to Sydney daily flight, stopping at Singapore on the way.

The Daily Telegraph

OFGEM TO INVESTIGATE ENERGY GIANTS’ PROFITS
Forensic accountants from BDO have been brought in by Ofgem to scrutinise how the Big Six energy suppliers calculate their profits. Ofgem made the appointment last week after growing concern that the Big Six may be attempting to appear less profitable in their retail divisions as they look to justify higher prices. The new investigation by BDO will investigate the hedging practices, trading profits and wholesale prices paid by the companies.

BANKS MUST REVEAL EXPOSURE TO SOVEREIGN DEBT, TYRIE DEMANDS
Andrew Tyrie, the highly respected chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, is to demand Britain’s banks reveal to the Bank of England their exposure to sovereign debt.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
EUROPE

LAW FIRMS' PROFITS INFLATED
More than half of America’s top 50 law firms may have overstated a key measure of profitability in a closely watched ranking, according to an industry analysis prepared by a major bank. The findings — which were shared with The Wall Street Journal by a person briefed on the report— raise questions about which law firms are making the most profit as the legal industry slowly recovers from a prolonged downturn.

VERIZON STRIKE CALLED OFF
Union workers at Verizon called an end to their 15-day strike and will begin returning to work this evening, taking pressure off the company as talks over a new contract resume. Verizon's unions had called the strike, involving 45,000 workers, to protest concessions the company is seeking on pensions and job security.