WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

WATCHDOG TO PROTECT IRRATIONAL INVESTORS
Investors cannot be counted on to make rational choices so regulators need to “step into their footprints” and limit or ban the sale of potentially harmful products, the head of the UK’s new consumer protection watchdog said yesterday. In his first big interview since starting work last autumn, Martin Wheatley told the Financial Times that the 2008 financial crisis had fundamentally reshaped regulators’ assumptions about the people they protected.

CAMERON INSISTS ON LIMIT TO RBS CHIEF HESTER’ BONUS
David Cameron has insisted that the chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland should receive a bonus of no more than £1m this year – half of last year’s award – as the UK prime minister attempts to tighten his clamp down on executive pay. Stephen Hester’s pay, an annual lightning rod for public and political criticism after the bank received a £45bn state bail-out during the crisis, has become a crucial litmus test for the government’s appetite for a public showdown over pay in recent weeks.

ALEXANDER CRACKS DOWN ON PUBLIC SECTOR PAY
Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Treasury chief secretary, has highlighted a crackdown on high pay in the public sector as he revealed he had authorised top salaries to be cut or frozen in 68 cases since the general election. Mr Alexander has the power to sign off any new pay deal of more than £142,000 – equivalent to the salary of the prime minister. This was a “vital deterrent to ever higher pay at the top of the public sector”, he told the Commons. He said he had rejected many applications for pay packages over the threshold.

THE TIMES

OBAMA TAKES AIM AT RICH REPUBLICANS WITH BUFFETT RULE
President Obama reclaimed the spotlight from the feuding Republican Party last night, launching his 2012 re-election campaign with a plan for a new “Buffett rule”. The so-called Buffett rule is based on an idea floated by the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who has repeatedly claimed that he and his “mega rich” friends should be paying more in taxes.

HUAWEI HEADS FOR EAST ANGLIA
The Chinese group that beat Marconi to win a key BT fibre-optics contract has strengthened its foothold in Britain by buying a research laboratory in East Anglia. Huawei, one of the world’s largest makers of telecoms equipment, has paid $10m to take over the Centre for Integrated Photonics, which specialises in the transmission of data over fibre-optic cables.

The Daily Telegraph

THE NUMBER OF HOUSE SALES FALL 11 PER CENT IN 2011
Sales of homes in the UK fell by 11pc last year, according to new figures published by HMRC. House sales fell by 11pc during 2011, with only 890,000 completions – one of the lowest total since records began in 1978.

This was the lowest number of property sales since 2009, when they slumped to a record low of 848,000.

UK COULD SAVE £4BN A YEAR ON EU REGIONAL AID
Britain could save over £4bn a year by taking back control from the European Union funding policy for the country’s poorest regions. Over a seven-year period ending next year, Britain will have paid almost £30bn into the EU’s “structural and cohesion funds” targeted at Europe’s poorest areas but will get back just under £9bn.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

BRITISH AIRWAYS HOLDS KEYS TO AMERICAN AIRLINES
Some potential suitors for American Airlines are looking for support, or perhaps an investment, from British Airways, people familiar with the matter said. Private-equity firm TPG Capital, which is considering investing in American Airlines parent AMR, has reached out to International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, the holding company of British Airways and Iberia Líneas Aéreas de España, some of the people said.

SOLAR STORM RE-ROUTES US FLIGHTS
Delta Air Lines said yesterday that it was rerouting some transpolar flights between Asia and the US to avoid the impact of the largest solar storm in almost a decade. Airlines occasionally reroute transpolar flights as a precautionary measure during big solar storms.