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Thursday newspaper round-up: Boeing, Goldman pay, Blockbuster…

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17/01/2013
Boeing grounds planes around the world; Goldman's lifts pay; hopes for some Blockbuster shops.

Europe, Japan and India on Thursday joined the United States in grounding their fleet of Boeing Dreamliner 787s, a day after a Japanese aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing. Japanese Transport Ministry Vice Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said the grounding was for an indefinite period, and India’s aviation regulator said it was unclear when the aircraft would be back in service. The emergency landing of Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) outside Tokyo on Wednesday was the sixth incident in the past 10 days to hit the Dreamliner, which Boeing has spent billions of dollars on and touted as the future of air travel, due to its radical new design, systems and materials. [The Telegraph]

Goldman Sachs risked stoking the row over City pay on Wednesday by revealing its bankers were paid an average of $400,000 (£250,000) each last year, a rise of more than $30,000 a head on 2011. Goldman’s annual financial results show the bank has set aside $13bn to cover the salaries, bonuses and perks for the 32,400 it employs around the world. Details of the payroll come just a day after the bank was forced to back down from plans to defer bonuses until April so that its highly paid staff could avoid the 50% tax rate. The size of the bill to pay staff is 6% higher than a year ago. However, the average individual payouts to staff are higher as the number of employees has fallen by 3%. [The Guardian]

Administrators have raised hopes that a “profitable core” of Blockbuster shops could be salvaged after dismal Christmas trading prompted the DVD rental chain to collapse under a mountain of debt. Blockbuster followed HMV and Jessops to become the third household name in a week to fail on Britain’s high streets yesterday after sustaining losses of almost £1m a month last year. The British business owes £23m to its Colorado-based parent company in unpaid royalties for the use of the Blockbuster name and in loans to stock up for a Christmas rush that never arrived. Suppliers are owed a further £3m. [The Times]

Hopes that the UK economy might avoid a triple-dip recession have received a boost as a survey showed marketing spend grew at its fastest rate for over a year, despite the tough economy. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s quarterly bellwether survey said a net 1.1 per cent of companies increased spend in the last three months of 2012, the highest since the third quarter of 2011. The trade body found a majority of advertisers planned to increase budgets this year and ad spend should “steadily accelerate” by 2017. [The Independent]

Gunmen believed to be Islamist militants kidnapped dozens of expatriate workers on Wednesday at a natural gas facility in southeastern Algeria jointly operated by BP and Statoil. The UK government confirmed on Thursday that one of the three people believed killed in the attack was British although William Hague, foreign secretary, said it was still unclear how many Britons were being held by the kidnappers as the stand-off with Algerian security forces at the In Amenas facility entered a second day.

Algerian officials said at least nine people were taken hostage but some local media reported that up to 41 foreigners had been seized. British, Japanese, French, US, Norwegian and Irish nationals were among the hostages, according to diplomats and media. With French ground forces moving into action in neighbouring Mali, there are fears that the hostage-taking is in retaliation for the intervention, aimed at pushing Islamist groups back from their advances on the south of the country. [Financial Times]

The architect of ring-fencing UK banks has welcomed MPs’ proposals to electrify those fences. Sir John Vickers, who headed last year’s Independent Commission on Banking, told the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards today that he believed electrification would make it more likely ring-fencing the retail parts of banks from their investment business would work. [The Independent]

National Australia Bank (NAB) could boost its market value by up to A$4.5 bn (£3bn) by spinning off its loss-making Clydesdale division as a separately-listed entity, analysts have claimed. The lender is under pressure to improve its shareholder returns and group chief executive Cameron Clyne is due to unveil a strategy in March aimed at reducing costs by encouraging more customers to bank online. Clyne has previously ruled out a “fire sale” of NAB’s UK business in an effort to avoid shareholder losses, but has acknowledged that it will be some time before the division is able to generate “acceptable returns”. [The Scotsman]

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