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Monday newspaper round-up: Basel requirements, Rolls-Royce, Anglo American…

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Bank liquidity rules relaxed; Rolls-Royce accused of bribery; Anglo American close to hiring new CEO

The heads of the world’s top regulators and central banks yesterday approved plans to require banks to hold significantly higher levels of liquid assets in order to reduce the chances of a repeat of the 2008-09 financial crisis. But in an apparent response to financial sector lobbying, they also relaxed the definition of what will be considered a liquid asset, and said banks will have four years longer than expected to implement the new standards. The Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision (GHOS), meeting in the Swiss city of Basel, approved the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) put forward by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Sir Mervyn King, present chairman of the GHOS and outgoing Governor of the Bank of England, said: “The agreement reached today is a very significant achievement. For the first time in regulatory history, we have a truly global minimum standard for bank liquidity.” [The Independent]

Rolls-Royce is facing allegations that it paid bribes to an executive involved with two Chinese airlines, in the latest claims attached to a corruption probe at the aircraft engine maker. The latest allegations are contained in postings by a blogger operating under the pseudonym of “soaringdragon” and related to deals worth a total of $2bn (£1.25bn) with Air China in 2005 and China Eastern in 2010. They claim an executive who worked at both airlines, Chen Qin, accepted payments as an intermediary in those deals. [The Guardian]

An Australian goldmining veteran is on the brink of winning the race to succeed Cynthia Carroll as the chief executive of Anglo American. Mark Cutifani, the boss of AngloGold Ashanti who began his career down a pit as a trainee miner, could be named in the middle of this month to replace Ms Carroll, who said in October that she was preparing to stand down after pressure from investors. She is leaving after the company suffered a $14bn drop in market value and because of its dependence on strike-hit mines in South Africa. Her tenure was also been tarnished by delays and cost overruns at its $14bn Minas Rio iron-ore project in Brazil. [The Times]

The Bank of England has been warned that the final cost to banks for mis-selling payment protection insurance is likely to be about £25bn. It means they will have to pay double the near-£13bn that they have set aside so far, according to industry calculations using the Financial Services Authority’s monthly PPI payout figures and historic selling data. [The Times]

Aggreko, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are looking at adopting new rules on prompt payments for suppliers after Michael Fallon, the Business and Enterprise Minister, threatened to “name and shame” companies that refuse to comply. Mr Fallon has written to the chief executives of all FTSE 350 companies asking them to sign up to a Prompt Payment Code (PPC) after small and medium-sized businesses complained they sometimes have to wait up to 180 days to receive payment from large companies in return for goods and services. Mr Fallon said he was “going to war” with corporates over the issue and warned they had one more month to sign up to the PPC before they were publicly named and shamed. [The Telegraph]

Financier Nat Rothschild has told Bumi’s senior independent director Sir Julian Horn-Smith he must take action over the alleged financial misdemeanours at the coal miner or consider quitting the board. Mr Rothschild, who created Bumi in June 2010 via an ill-fated $3bn (£1.9bn) deal with Indonesia’s Bakrie family, emailed Sir Julian last week, claiming he had failed to grasp “the gravity of the situation” facing the London-listed group. [The Telegraph]

The smartphone is predicted to become a mass market phenomenon this year, with annual shipments soaring to 1bn globally for the first time, although a fifth of the devices will rarely be used to go online. In 2013 the smartphone will become an everyday object worldwide, according to a study by accountants Deloitte, bringing the number of active phones with either a touch screen or an alphabet keyboard to 2bn by the end of the year. [The Guardian]

China’s sovereign wealth fund is in talks to buy a stake in Daimler, the German luxury car and truckmaker, according to official Chinese media. The People’s Daily reported on its website that China Investment Corporation was likely to acquire 4-10 per cent of Daimler, which would cost about €1.8bn-€4.5bn at the current market value. CIC declined to comment, saying it never responds to market rumours. It is rare for the People’s Daily, the main organ of the Communist party, to report on investment deals involving state-owned entities before they have been officially announced.[Financial Times]

The City of London jobs machine is stalling, according to a survey by the recruitment firm Astbury Marsden. It says that some 35,115 new City jobs were created in 2012, down from 52,025 in 2011, representing a 35 per cent decline. The banking sector has been battered by a succession of scandals over the past 12 months, from manipulation of the Libor interest rate, to revelations of money-laundering, to payment protection mis-selling, which have depressed profits. Firms have also been forced to retrench by regulatory pressure. [The Independent]

Britain’s boardrooms are shrugging off fears of a triple-dip recession amid rising hopes over prospects for 2013, according to leading financial chiefs. The professional services firm Deloitte’s latest survey of chief financial officers representing quoted companies worth almost £700bn reveals optimism rising for the second quarter in a row as immediate threats such as a eurozone break-up recede. [The Independent]

The Christmas woes that faced high street retailers will be laid bare this week, with figures out today showing a drop in consumer spending last month and stoking fears of a triple-dip recession in the UK. Data from credit card provider Visa and Markit Economics revealed that spending fell by 2 per cent year-on-year during December as shoppers kept their hands in their pockets. Overall consumer spending – which also highlighted greater online sales figures – fell by 1.7 per cent year-on-year. [The Scotsman]

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