PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – April 15

Financial Times

GLOBAL ACCOUNTING RULES DEADLINE UNDER THREAT

The International Accounting Standards Board and the U.S.
Financial Accounting Standards Board have said they may fail to
meet the June 2011 deadline for agreeing a single global set of
accounting rules. A move towards converging the U.S. Generally
Acceptable Accounting Principle and the International Financial
Reporting Standards, used outside of the United States, was
supported by the Group of 20 leading economies in September
2009, to improve capital flows and reduce cross-border
arbitrage. But in a joint statement the two accounting standards
bodies said that while they have successfully agreed on five
main issues, there was “no guarantee” they would be able to
resolve all, or any, of their differences on financial
instruments.

RECRUITMENT IN CITY REACHES 18-MONTH HIGH

City recruitment has recovered to levels not seen since the
collapse of Lehman Brothers 18 months ago. There is some
sentiment that recruitment levels could reach pre-credit crisis
levels within months and leading financial recruitment firm
Morgan McKinley reports that the average City salary rose by
eight percent to 55,689 pounds in March compared with February.
The recovery in City recruitment is not expected to be mirrored
in the overall UK jobs market however, and there is concern that
public sector job cuts over the next 18 months could hinder the
economic recovery.

HOTEL GROUP TO CREATE 3,500 JOBS

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG.L: ) has signalled plans to
create 3,500 jobs over the coming three years as part of
expansion plans, which will see the hotel company open 36 new
hotels in the UK. Globally, expansion of the hotel company will
see more than 100,000 jobs created during the same timeframe, as
it opens 1,400 hotels. Chief executive Andy Cosslett said a
“commitment from the government to support and promote the
tourism industry” would help InterContinental to create even
more jobs, in addition to the 3,500 opportunities it plans to
create in the UK over the next three years.

BP DISMISSES CONCERNS TO PRESS ON WITH CANADA OIL SANDS PLAN

Energy company BP (BP.L: ) will announce its intention to
proceed with plans to invest in Canada’s controversial oil sands
at its annual general meeting today, despite protests by
environmentalists and shareholder concerns. The meeting is
expected to be the first test of the opposition to exploiting
Canada’s oil sands, which has so far resulted in more than 140
investors backing a resolution calling for a review. Similar
opposition is also anticipated at Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ) as
it discloses its plans in the coming weeks. In BP’s annual
sustainability report, chief executive Tony Hayward, who is also
expected to face investor scrutiny over his 41 percent rise in
remuneration, said greenhouse gas emissions are lower for some
oil sands projects than in some types of conventional oil
production.

PRU SEEKS MINORITY INVESTORS FOR AIA TO EASE CURBS

Insurer Prudential (PRU.L: ) plans to bring minority investors
into some of the Asian businesses it wants to acquire from rival
AIG (AIG.N: ), in a bid to ease capital curbs imposed by local
regulators. According to AIG’s recent filings, Asian regulators
have restricted loans and advances to the U.S. insurer from
subsidiaries of AIA, its Asian arm, with analysts estimating
that over three billion dollars could be trapped in AIA units.
However, sources familiar with Prudential’s thinking say the
restrictions could be eased in China, Thailand and Malaysia by
the sale of locally held minority stakes to investors.

BIDDERS LINE UP FOR HSBC TRAIN LEASING ARM

As banks attempt to dispose of non-core assets in order to
bolster their balance sheets, private equity and specialist
infrastructure investors are expected to be the most heavily
featured among a host of bidders for HSBC Rail, HSBC’s (HSBA.L: )
train leasing business. The sale comes as the rail leasing
market struggles to recover, after a Competition Commission
investigation led to the Department for Transport deciding to
buy and lease trains itself in the future, effectively cutting
leasing companies out of the market for new trains. The auction
is being run by Rothschild, along with HSBC’s own advisory team,
and the business is expected to be valued at around two billion
pounds.

JD SPORTS PUSHES UP DIVIDEND PACE

High street retailer JD Sports Fashion (JD.L: ) has increased
its final dividend by 65 percent after its performance beat
analysts’ full-year forecasts. Executive chairman Peter Cowgill
said the retailer was considering further European acquisitions,
adding that the firm had “the opportunity to be selective”.
Christmas trading helped to boost pre-tax profits 61 percent
from 38.2 million pounds to 61.4 million pounds, while total
sales rose 15 percent to 769.8 million pounds. JD Sports
increased its dividend from 8.9 pence to 14.7 pence. Shares
closed down 10.5 pence at 723 pence after rising 13 percent in
the last week.

STRONG DEMAND FOR CREDIT HELPS IPF BOUNCE BACK

International Personal Finance (IPF.L: ), which lends small
amounts of money to borrowers in emerging markets such as
Poland, Hungary and Mexico, returned to profit in the first
quarter of the year because of higher demand for credit in
central Europe. After generating a loss of 8.5 million pounds
during the first quarter of 2009, the group announced a pre-tax
profit of two million pounds this time. IPF chief executive John
Harnett said he expected full-year pre-tax profit to be about 85
million pounds this year, compared with 62 million pounds in
2009.

PERMIRA CHAIRMAN TO JOIN NEW BOARDS

Outgoing Permira [PERM.UL] chairman Damon Buffini is to join
the boards of German fashion group Hugo Boss (BOSG_p.DE: ) and set
top box maker NDS. The move gives Buffini, who steps down from
his role at the private equity firm in June, a controlling voice
at two of Permira’s best known portfolio companies. After nearly
a decade running Permira, Buffini became chairman in 2007,
stepping into a position created for him and handing over as
managing partner to Kurt Bjorklund and Tom Lister. A replacement
chairman will not be sought and Buffini will remain a member of
the firm’s investment committee.

POLE POSITION: JAEGER TARGETS YOUNGER SHOPPERS

Jaeger is to launch its first fashion line specifically
aimed at young shoppers. The privately owned fashion chain’s
Boutique by Jaeger range is aimed at shoppers aged 20-25 and is
intended to compete with high street rivals, such as Whistles
and Reiss. The line will also carry diffusion ranges such as
Marc by Marc Jacobs and See by Chloe. Jaeger’s strategy reflects
the importance retailers are placing on younger consumers, whose
spending patterns have remained relatively resilient through the
economic downturn.

Money

Prepared for Reuters by Durrants

PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – April 15