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Tuesday newspaper round-up: StanChart, Cost of Energy, QE

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Standard Chartered back atop takeover target list; EU energy costs widen over trade partners; unwinding of quantitative will have ‘little impact’ on real economy.

When Standard Chartered and HSBC engaged in a £500m bidding war for Royal Bank of Scotland more than 30 years ago, it did not end well. The UK competition authority blocked both bids, citing their damaging impact on “career prospects, initiative and business enterprise in Scotland”. Now this UK-based commercial lender specialising in Asia, Africa and the Middle East is back at the top of the list for many investment bankers and analysts as the most likely target of a big banking takeover. – Financial Times

The gap in the cost of energy between Europe and its leading trading partners is widening, according to an official paper to be released by Brussels this week. The research shows that industrial electricity prices in the region are more than double those in the United States and 20% higher than in China. – The Times

Central banks will be able to unwind quantitative easing with little impact on the real economy, a study by the Bank of England suggests. Two senior advisers have countered economists’ fears of a surge in inflation and a spike in borrowing costs once the recovery is firmly established. They argue that central banks should be able to end their stimulus without significant disruption. – The Times

The world could face years of jobless economic recovery, with young people set to be hit hardest as global unemployment continues to rise this year, a report from the International Labour Organisation warns. As the World Economic Forum kicks off in the Swiss town of Davos on Wednesday with a focus on growing inequality, the ILO has highlighted a “potentially dangerous gap between profits and people”. – The Guardian

The Co-operative Group did a U-turn on the planned sale of its general insurance arm today, as the accountancy regulator launched a probe into the auditing of the distressed mutual’s books by industry giant KPMG. The dramatic developments came ahead of the appearance today before MPs of Lord Levene and Gary Hoffman, the Chairman and Chief Executive respectively of the former NBNK Investments banking consolidation vehicle. – The Scotsman