<strong>FINANCIAL TIMES<br /><br />ZURICH CHIEF BACKS EU SOLVENCY RULES</strong><br />The head of Zurich Financial Services, one of the world’s biggest insurance companies, has broken ranks to criticise industry rivals for lobbying against European plans to increase insurers’ financial strength. James Schiro, Zurich chief executive, said the fierce industry “pushback” against proposed new solvency rules for insurers was wrong. <br /><br /><strong>HUGE SURGE IN DEMAND FOR PRIVATE EQUITY BARGAINS</strong><br />The financial crisis has triggered a “huge surge” of investors looking to buy private equity positions from distressed owners, as three-quarters of them look for bargains in the so-called secondary market, according to research published today. However, the secondary market remains “surprisingly quiet”. <br /><br /><strong>VW BOOST FOR SECURITISATION</strong><br />Europe’s securitisation markets looked set to reopen after a year-long freeze after Volkswagen announced plans for a deal backed by car loans. A reopening, even slight, would signal a further step in normalising market conditions and could provide another source of funding for banks and other lenders such as car companies, which previously used the market to reduce their risk by repackaging loans into rated asset-backed securities.<br /><br /><strong>AGEING POPULATION IS GERMANY’S BIG CHALLENGE</strong><br />Audi, BMW and Daimler, Germany’s leading premium carmakers, are still reeling from the shock to demand triggered by the global economic crisis. They now face yet another threat to their business models: old people. Societies in the developed world are ageing rapidly, inducing sweeping changes in consumer habits, and forcing companies to revamp their product portfolios.<br /><br /><strong>THE TIMES</strong><br /><br /><strong>NATIONAL EXPRESS LOOKS AT OPTIONS </strong><br />National Express is working on a daring last-ditch plan to offer its UK bus and rail franchises directly to Stagecoach in a side deal that could save it from a takeover by CVC. The transport group, which is advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Greenhill, was weighing up last night whether to accept a £765 million joint bid from CVC and Stagecoach or to sell assets.<br /><br /><strong>CROWDED SKIES AS LUFTHANSA OPENS BMI BOOKS</strong><br />Lufthansa, the German flag carrier, has opened the books at bmi and is offering rivals a chance to conduct limited due diligence on the British airline before a possible sale. A number of airlines, including British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic, are understood to have signed confidentiality agreements with Lufthansa.<br /><br /><strong>The Daily Telegraph</strong><br /><br /><strong>UN WANTS NEW GLOBAL CURRENCY TO REPLACE DOLLAR</strong><br />The dollar should be replaced with a global currency, the United Nations has said, proposing the biggest overhaul of the world's monetary system since the Second World War. In a radical report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said the system of currencies and capital rules which binds the world economy is not working properly.<br /><br /><strong>PEARL TO APPOINT RON SANDLER AS EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN</strong><br />Northern Rock chairman Ron Sandler has been lined up as the new executive chairman of insurance group Pearl. Mr Sandler, who was appointed to oversee the bank's rehabilitation last year, will join the “zombie” insurer – so-called because it consolidated closed life businesses – to oversee its restructuring.<br /><br /><strong>WALL STREET JOURNAL</strong><br /><br /><strong>AIG COULD MAKE MORE QUICK SALES </strong><br />While AIG’s new CEO preaches patience on selling big-ticket assets, the hobbled insurer is still leaving open the option of quick spinoffs and is shedding smaller units like the asset-management division it agreed to sell to prominent Hong Kong businessman Richard Li.<br /><br /><strong>LEVEL OF SHAREHOLDERS EXERCISING VOTES CONTINUES TO INCREASE</strong><br />Voting turnout by investors at European companies’ annual general meetings has risen above 50 per cent for the first time, as shareholders increasingly turn out to make their opinions heard on directors’ handling of the financial crisis and its aftermath. Figures from Manifest show the average turnout at companies in Western Europe’s main eight blue-chip indexes hit 51 per cent in the year to the end of July.