WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

NEW CLASHES BREW OVER TOBIN TAX
Britain and France are set for another European clash as Paris attempts to frame a new Eurozone financial transaction tax in a way that is likely to have a significant impact on the City of London. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France wants to include the so-called Tobin tax on the agenda of a European summit in Brussels on January 30, putting him at odds with David Cameron, who is opposed to the idea.

OFCOM PRESSED TO CURB BBC
News Corp is challenging Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, to include the BBC in any potential move to limit media ownership. In submissions to Ofcom’s review of media ownership and plurality published yesterday, the BBC argued that it should be excluded from calculations because of its public service role.

CHINESE NEW YEAR: BUFFET TO SING
Warren Buffett, widely revered in China for his investment savvy, will sing and play guitar to celebrate China’s upcoming Lunar New Year in a specially recorded performance to be aired online by state television. CNTV, the internet TV arm of CCTV, the state broadcaster, said the 81-year-old Mr Buffett had recorded a video for a special “Spring Festival” gala performance to be aired online. Mr Buffett’s song choice was not disclosed.

CATALONIA REJECTS BUDGET CONTROLS
Catalonia has rejected plans by the new Spanish government to impose strict controls on budgets, accusing Madrid of trying to usurp the powers of the 17 autonomous regions. “We would consider as a red line anything looking like previous line-by-line approval of our budget proposals,” Andreu Mas-Colell, finance minister in the Catalan government, told the Financial Times yesterday.

THE TIMES

RACE IS ON TO LOWER ENERGY PRICES
British Gas is preparing to end a year of runaway inflation in household energy prices by becoming the first nationwide power company to bring down its bills from their present record levels. The Times has learnt that executives at the supplier are considering announcing a moderate cut before its parent company, Centrica, announces annual results next month. Insiders believe a cut of up to 10 per cent would be affordable.

REFERRAL SHADOWS WATER DEAL
The future of mergers between English water companies is set to be tested after the Office of Fair Trading called for a full investigation into the £75 million acquisition of Cambridge Water. The OFT has referred the takeover by South Staffordshire Water to the Competition Commission.

The Daily Telegraph

HAMMOND: DEBT THREAT TO SECURITY
The defence secretary has used his first major international speech to link the economic situation to the ability of Britain, America and their allies to defend themselves. Speaking in Washington DC, Philip Hammond said: “Without strong economic and stable finances it is impossible to build and sustain in the long term the military capabilities requires to project power and maintain defence.”

SHOPPING CENTRES TRACK MOBILES
Equipment to track customers using their mobiles is being used in more than 30 major shopping centres including Lakeside in Essex, Manchester’s Trafford Centre, and Cabot Circus in Bristol. Its use has led to privacy fears from groups such as Big Brother Watch that shoppers are being spied on while they walk around shopping centres.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

SPAIN TO CRACK DOWN ON TAX FRAUD
Spain’s new government said it will accelerate public sector company closures and launch a new plan to crack down on tax fraud as part of its effort to slash a towering budget deficit. The new measures come after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government last week said the 2011 budget deficit will be around eight per cent of gross domestic product, amply surpassing its six per cent target.

PEPSICO WEIGHS JOB CUTS
PepsiCo is weighing thousands of job cuts as part of a broader review of its beverage and snack businesses, according to people familiar with the matter. PepsiCo lowered profit forecasts last year as its struggling beverage division, which includes its flagship cola and Tropicana orange juice, continued to lose market share to rival Coca-Cola.