PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – April 14

Financial Times

IMF ADDS TO BIG BANK SURCHARGE CALL

The International Monetary Fund has called for U.S. and
European regulators to consider setting higher bespoke capital
requirements for banks deemed “too big to fail”. Although the
IMF said on Tuesday that it was “not necessarily endorsing” the
concept of capital surcharges for big banks, it is the first
organisation to publish a methodology for the surcharges.
Bankers have argued that regulators should not penalise
institutions because of their size, but U.S. and European
governments want to avoid a repeat of the bail-outs given to
institutions like the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ) during the
financial crisis.

CITY SEES JOB VACANCIES JUMP 120 PERCENT

Job vacancies in the City more than doubled in the first
quarter from under 5,000 to more than 11,000, when compared to
the first quarter of 2009, showing London’s financial services
as one of the brightest spots of recovery in the labour market.
Research conducted by financial recruitment specialist Astbury
Marsden forecast the recovery would continue its momentum this
year with the City seeing a 26 percent rise on 2009 vacancies.
Recruiter Michael Page confirmed a return to City confidence,
reporting rising salaries as City job candidates secure multiple
employment offers for the first time in two years. Meanwhile,
recruitment agency Hays said that outside London the UK jobs
market was stagnant.

ACTIVISTS FIGHT SHAKE-UP OF LABOUR RULES

Activist Corner House Research is threatening court action
against the Export Credits Guarantee Department, which supports
British businesses abroad, over its policy reversal giving
British exporters greater freedom to use child workers. Corner
House says plans by the ECGD should be thwarted by the courts as
the change, made without any reasons, could breach the European
Convention on Human Rights. Nick Hildyard, a Corner House
researcher, described the policy shift as “unlawful”. However,
the ECGD said changes would help bring Britain into line with
fellow Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
members. The British Bankers’ Association said changes would “go
a long way towards levelling the playing field for UK exporters”
relative to rivals.

MORTGAGE DEMAND SLIPPED IN WINTER FREEZE

Mortgage demand in February saw a “modest recovery”,
according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, which revealed
that the number of mortgage loans increased 49 percent from
January but only 12 percent on February 2009. Data from the CML
also revealed a slight rise in the number of first-time buyers
in February from January, at 12,600 up from 11,200, but figures
remained below May 2009 levels. Bob Pannell, head of CML
research, predicted the shortage of credit combined with
political uncertainty due to the election meant “we are unlikely
to see much change in the near future” but suggested the stamp
duty exemption for first time buyers coupled with the
“traditional season pick-up” could see a boost in the market.

GREATER CLARITY ON EQUITY TRADES URGED

A report published by the Committee of European Securities
Regulators has called for more post-trade transparency in
European equity markets, proposing a streamlined trades
reporting system and stricter rules for bank-run “dark pools”.
The report has also suggested that exchange-traded funds should
face “transparency obligations”. The European Commission will
use the report to consult on the European Union’s regulatory
regime for equity markets. CESR’s findings could result in
post-trade data being shown across all marketplaces, demand for
which has been growing among equity market participants since
the introduction of the Mifid trading rules in 2007.

PENSION SCHEMES TURN SMALL SURPLUS

The aggregate funding position of all UK private sector
pension schemes has moved to show a small surplus for the first
time since June 2008, according to figures issued by the Pension
Protection Fund for the month of March. The PPF’s 7800 index
showed that overall, schemes are running a surplus of 300
million pounds. When only schemes with deficits are included in
the figures, the aggregate shortfall is down from 79.5 billion
pounds at the end of February to 73.3 billion pounds, well below
the record monthly shortfall of 253.1 billion pounds 12 months
ago.

ARSENAL OWNERSHIP ON HOLD

The future ownership of Arsenal continues to look uncertain,
after the Premiership team’s biggest stakeholder, the U.S.
billionaire Stan Kroenke, made a surprise move to acquire
American football team, the St Louis Rams. Earlier this week it
emerged that Arsenal’s fourth largest shareholder Lady Nina
Bracewell-Smith had appointed Blackstone to find a buyer for her
15.9 percent stake. Kroenke, who has built up a 29.98 percent
stake in Arsenal, was expected to sell his 40 percent stake in
the NFL franchise and use a portion of the proceeds to fund an
Arsenal bid. But observers have suggested that an Arsenal bid is
now unlikely as Kroenke is unlikely to have the working capital
to pursue both deals.

BOOST FROM OLYMPICS FOR TELFORD HOMES

Telford Homes (TELF.L: ) has said that its performance for the
year to April will be ahead of expectations. The Essex-focused
residential property developer benefited from demand for housing
close to the site of the London 2012 Olympics, with increased
demand for homes in the Stratford area in particular. Sales have
been boosted by buyers from Israel and Hong Kong and finance
director Jon Distefano noted that the Games had “put Stratford
on the map”. As well as the Olympic legacy, the area is
undergoing a multi-billion pound regeneration and is set to
benefit from the creation of a rail link to continental Europe.

GRAINGER EXPECTS SALES JUMP AND SEEKS PURCHASES

Grainger (GRI.L: ), the UK’s largest listed residential
property owner, has said it expects completed sales for the year
to the end of March to be 42 percent higher than last year’s
figure when it reports interim figures next month. In a trading
update ahead of next month’s publication of interim results,
Grainger said the company expected sales to be 78.5 million
pounds, up from last year’s figure of 55.3 million. The group,
which last year raised 250 million pounds through a placing and
rights issue, said it had taken advantage of increased stability
in residential markets to recommence a programme of
acquisitions.

NATIONAL STUD CHAIRMAN IN NEWBURY RACECOURSE MOVE

National Stud chairman Christopher Spence has been appointed
the new non-executive chairman of Newbury Racecourse (NYR.PZ: ).
He replaces former Marks & Spencer director Sir David Spencer,
who announced his decision to leave the west Berkshire
racecourse in December. The racecourse, which announced a
widening of full-year pre-tax loss to 701,000 pounds, also
confirmed that it would take another year to prepare for
redevelopment of the site, which it plans to turn into a
multipurpose leisure and entertainment venue.

Stock Investing

Prepared for Reuters by Durrants

PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – April 14