News round up: BP, TNK-BP, Rosneft, Intel, ARM Holdings, Bank bail-outs, Energy partnership, Acquisitions, Bank crisis.
The confidential shareholder agreement governing the troubled relationship between BP plc (LON:BP) and its oligarch partners in TNK-BP could be made public, Russian authorities said on Wednesday. Russia’s anti-monopoly service said it had agreed legal changes for such documents to be published, following a complaint by state-controlled Rosneft, which fell foul of TNK-BP’s agreement last year. Rosneft is now seen as one of the most likely buyers of BP’s stake in the joint venture, which it put up for sale on Friday.
As political manoeuvring around BP’s planned exit from the venture intensified, the anti-monopoly service was also reported to be investigating the terms of the TNK-BP shareholder agreement for possible antitrust violations. Rosneft attempted an Arctic exploration deal with BP in 2011, but saw it blocked by the oligarchs who said it breached the shareholder agreement.
Anatoly Golomolzin, deputy head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, reportedly told Reuters: "Last year, there was a situation linked to the fact that a deal could not take place – BP’s deal with Rosneft – and it became clear that it was linked to the shareholder agreement. Since last year, we have been analysing the agreement and have agreed amendments to the law requiring the publication of such agreements," writes the Telegraph.
Intel and ARM Holdings
It may be a funny-looking Trojan horse, but Intel won’t mind if its latest gadget can successfully open the gate to one of the world’s biggest and most exciting technology markets. This week’s launch in Britain of the Orange San Diego is more than than merely the unveiling of another lightweight but speedy smartphone.
Intel, the company that gave Silicon Valley its name, is hoping to break the stranglehold that Cambridge’s ARM Holdings has on chips used to power mobile phones. It has dominated the market for semiconductors used in personal computers for decades, but the American giant has failed to tap into demand for the low-power chips used in small devices. This, then, according to Mike Bell, the head of Intel’s mobile and communications division, is a landmark moment, The Times explains.
The Government is facing another battle with Brussels after the European Union raised the prospect of cross-border bank bail-outs under wide-ranging reforms to protect taxpayers from a future financial sector collapse.
Although the Treasury supported the broad thrust of the reforms, which mirrored those already being introduced in the UK, Michel Barnier, Europe’s financial services commissioner, suggested one member state could in future help rescue another’s banks under a joint liability plan that would move Europe closer to a "banking union". Treasury sources said that, while the EU’s main ideas were "sensible and welcome", "we will want to make sure UK taxpayers are not put into a position of bailing out European banks," The Telegraph explains.
Britain could see more than 1,600 jobs created under a new energy partnership with Norway to be announced by David Cameron, according to Downing Street sources. The bulk of those are expected to come through plans from Norwegian oil services group Aker Solutions to develop its west London offices into an engineering hub, creating 1,300 jobs by 2015.
It currently has around 3,100 employees in the UK. More concrete announcements on companies’ expansion and investment plans are expected after Mr Cameron and his Norwegian counterpart Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday meet senior executives from ten energy companies, including Aker, National Grid, Centrica, Shell and Norway’s state-owned giant Statoil, The Telegraph says.
Acquisitions of foreign companies by UK businesses have fallen to their lowest level in 25 years as corporate Britain takes shelter from the recession and Eurozone crisis. The value of cross-border acquisitions by British businesses tumbled from £12.6bn in the fourth quarter of 2011 to just £700m in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
This is the lowest quarterly level for acquisitions since the ONS series began in the first quarter of 1987. Bankers blamed the slowdown in deal-making on a combination of factors, the major reason being the uncertainty caused by the Eurozone debt crisis and concerns that it could trigger another banking crisis, according to The Telegraph.
A European Union plan to draw closer links between the member nations' regulators to protect taxpayers from bank crises will be published today. European officials want to protect taxpayers from future banking disasters and the proposals from the European Commission will aim to protect everyday banking functions - such as cash machines - and pass any bailout bills onto bank creditors and shareholders in the event that a bank runs into difficulty.
The Commission's 156-page draft legislation, to be published today, will suggest giving regulators powers to 'bail in' or force losses onto bondholders of a failing bank so that taxpayers are kept off the hook, and forge closer links between national back-up funds to wind up cross-border lenders, The Daily Mail reports.
Newer news items:
Older news items: