LIBOR ENQUIRY EYES CRIMINAL ANGLE
The US investigation into alleged manipulation of interbank lending rates is focusing on possible violations of a commodities law that has previously been used to send financial executives to prison. According to people familiar with the probe into the setting of London and Tokyo interbank offered rates, US authorities are modelling their investigation on an earlier prosecution of three energy companies for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, which resulted in criminal settlements and prison terms of up to 14 years.
WEETABIX IN TALKS WITH BANKS OVER £900M DEBT REFINANCING
Weetabix has started talks with bankers about a potential £900m debt refinancing following the recent appointment of a new chief executive for the UK cereal maker. The company, has begun talks with its historic loan arrangers, which include JP Morgan, about refinancing all or part of its debt.
MOBILE PAYMENTS UNDER ATTACK BY 3
Mobile operator 3 is mounting a campaign to scupper a mobile payments joint venture between its bigger rivals, urging regulators in Brussels and London to block the plan on competition grounds. The smallest of the British operators, 3 claims it was frozen out of an industry-wide agreement to promote the use of mobile phones as a payment mechanism alongside traditional credit and debit cards.
BEIJING ASKS FOR NEW OIL SPILL PROBE
Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, has called for a fresh probe into the offshore oil spill at Penglai 19-3, the clearest sign yet of Beijing’s displeasure over the incident that has forced ConocoPhillips to shut down its largest oilfield in China.
QATARIS TO BUYING THE W HOTEL
A Qatari sovereign wealth fund is poised to exchange contracts to buy the trendy W Hotel on Central London’s Leicester Square for almost £200m, The Times has learnt. The award-winning luxury hotel opened in February on the site of the former Swiss Centre and has already become a popular celebrity hangout.
EDF STOPS SELLING ON DOORSTEPS
EDF Energy has become the third of Britain’s Big Six electricity suppliers to stop doorstep sales amid mounting complaints about mis-selling. Jim Poole, the director of residential customers, said that EDF was suspending the practice after accepting that “the majority of customers do not want to be sold energy on their doorstep via unsolicited calls”. About 300 field sales staff could lose their jobs.
The Daily Telegraph
UTILITY COMPANIES WRITE DOWN £600M OF COAL ASSETS
Major energy companies have written down the value of coal and oil power station assets by £600m, with RWE npower poised to cut around 440 jobs linked to closing plants. The falling profitability of coal stations is linked to costly restrictions from Europe on carbon dioxide emissions and lower wholesale electricity prices last year.
ASTRAZENECA REVEALS PAYMENTS
AstraZeneca will for the first time disclose the multi-million dollar payments it makes to American doctors for meals, travel and clinical research in an effort to be more transparent about its relationship with physicians. The firm, which already discloses how much it pays to US doctors represent the company, has launched a searchable database with other payments made to doctors and institutions.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
BOEING SEES CHINA ON THE RISE
Boeing raised its two-decade forecast for China's spending on commercial aircraft by 25 per cent, citing international expansion in what the company expects will become the world’s second-biggest aircraft market, after the US. Boeing it expects Chinese carriers and others to spend $600bn for 5,000 new commercial airplanes from Boeing, Airbus and other manufacturers.
FRANCE TÉLÉCOM GIRDS FOR MOBILE-SERVICE PRICE WAR
France Télécom SA unveiled a low-cost mobile brand aimed at young adults, the latest sign that Europe's second-largest telecom market is bracing for a price war as a new mobile operator prepares to enter the fray. The company said that the new brand—called Sosh, short for social—will be sold exclusively over the Internet.