<strong>FINANCIAL TIMES<br /><br />HIT HAMSTER RANGE LIFTS CHARACTER GROUP</strong><br />Toymaker and distributor The Character Group has predicted Christmas shortages of its most popular lines of children’s gifts, including Go Go Pets, based on a range of battery-powered interactive hamsters.<br /><br />John Lewis, the department store chain, has already imposed a limit of one order per customer for the out-of-stock item, as supplies of the £9.95 hamsters have dwindled.<br /><br /><strong>RUSAL TO AGREE $17BN DEBT RESTRUCTURING</strong><br />Oleg Deripaska’s UC Rusal is expected to announce today that it has finally completed an agreement to restructure nearly $17bn in debt, paving the way for an initial public offering of the aluminium group by the end of the year. The agreement – in which foreign creditors owed $7.4bn are to agree to extend payments over seven years – has been seen as a litmus test for the restructuring of up to $432bn in foreign debt owed by Russian companies.<br /><br /><strong>KWIK-FIT BAIL-OUT COSTS PAI £20M</strong><br />PAI, the French private equity group, will inject £20m ($33m) into Kwik-Fit to avoid a breach of banking covenants at the tyres and exhausts retailer, which has been hit by the falling pound. Kwik-Fit, which was bought by PAI for £800m in 2005, has seen a slight slowdown in sales growth in the recession as car owners have delayed maintenance projects.<br /><br /><strong>SIEMENS STRIKES €5M DEAL WITH VON PIERER</strong><br />Siemens yesterday struck a €5m ($7.5m) damages deal with Heinrich von Pierer, former chief executive and chairman, following a bitter and often public fight over his alleged responsibility for a multi-billion euro bribery scandal.<br /><strong><br />THE TIMES<br /><br />DARLING HITS BACK AT FRENCH PRIME MINISTER</strong><br />Alistair Darling has delivered a blunt warning to the EU’s new French finance chief against meddling with the City of London. As Nicolas Sarkozy gloated over impending curbs on the City, the Chancellor said that such moves would drive financial services out of Europe. Darling, writing in The Times today, says that it would be a “recipe for confusion” if firms were supervised by the EU as well as national watchdogs and that Britain would not accept new laws that could leave taxpayers picking up the bill<br /><br /><strong>CHRISTIAN LACROIX CUT TO BARE BONES IN RESCUE</strong><br />Christian Lacroix, the French fashion designer, will be forced to abandon haute couture under a restructuring plan approved yesterday.<br /><br /><strong>The Daily Telegraph<br /><br />MURDOCH URGES RIVALS TO CHARGE FOR ONLINE NEWS</strong><br />Rupert Murdoch has urged the rest of the media industry to join him in getting consumers to pay to read newspapers over the internet. The chairman of News Corporation – whose British newspapers include The Times and the News of the World – stressed that good journalism is an “expensive commodity” which should not come for free. Murdoch is currently in talks with Microsoft about a revenue-generating deal with its Bing search engine.<br /><br /><strong>PRINCE CHARLES WILL NOT BE CALLED IN CANDY CASE</strong><br />The lawyer for Christian Candy’s CPC Group, Lord Grabiner QC, told the High Court yesterday that the dispute over Chelsea Barracks in London was a matter about the Qatari developer’s actions, not the Prince’s well-publicised opposition to the scheme.<br /><br /><strong>WALL STREET JOURNAL<br /><br />MCDONALD'S PRESIDENT, COO TO RETIRE, CITING HEALTH REASONS</strong><br />Ralph Alvarez, widely regarded as the likely successor to McDonald’s chief executive Jim Skinner, abruptly announced his retirement yesterday citing health reasons. Alvarez, 55 years old, said longtime knee problems made the global travel required by his job “too painful”<br /><br /><strong>PFIZER-PROTALIX DEAL BOLSTERS COMPETITION FOR GENZYME</strong><br />Pfizer yesterday agreed to pay at least $60m for rights to Protalix Biotherapeutic’s experimental drug for a rare genetic disease, setting the stage for potentially more formidable competition for Genzyme Corp’s best-selling drug. Pfizer said it signed an agreement with Protalix to develop and commercialize taliglucerase alfa, now in development for the treatment of Gaucher’s disease.