PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – March 13

Financial Times

FORMER UNDERGROUND CHIEF IN TALKS TO HEAD TUBE LINES

Tim O’Toole, former managing director of London Underground,
could soon become chief executive of one of the private
contractors he strongly criticised while in office. O’Toole has
held preliminary talks with Tube Lines regarding the role, less
than a year after he retired to spend more time with his family.
The appointment would go some way to alleviating tension between
the two groups, following disputes over the contractor’s funding
and delays to Jubilee line work.

FINANCIAL WATCHDOG POISED TO INTERVENE EARLIER

Hector Sants, chief executive of the Financial Services
Authority, has pledged that regulators will step in more quickly
to protect consumers from risky financial products. Sants blamed
its previous “principles-based” approach for repeatedly failing
to prevent cases of mis-selling. “The strategy will restore
trust in the regulator and benefit everyone – consumers and
providers,” he said. As part of wide-ranging changes already
implemented by the FSA, regulators are second-guessing strategy
and taking a harder look at candidates for key board and
executive roles.

CASH FOR CARBON CAPTURE PROJECTS

Separate plans from E.ON (EONG.DE: ) and Scottish Power
(SPW.L: ), the utility giants, for capturing the carbon dioxide
emissions from coal-fired power plants have been granted
government funding to begin detailed design work. Scottish Power
plans to retro-fit the technology to its power station at
Longannet, Fife, whilst E.ON is trying to build a new plant in
Kingsnorth, Kent. Both projects are the remaining contenders of
a major competition to win government support for a
commercial-scale carbon capture plant.

ELITE LONDON LAW FIRM FACES FALL-OUT FROM REPO 105

It has emerged that London law firm Linklaters signed off on
controversial transactions that allowed Lehman Brothers, the
failed investment bank, to shift 50 billion dollars off its
books. The development risks dragging the elite law group into
the legal action currently surrounding Lehman. According to a
review into its dealings, the bank turned to Linklaters for a
legal opinion blessing the use of “Repo 105” transactions when
it was unable to obtain a suitable opinion from lawyers in the
US.

SALES OF SECOND HOMES INCREASE BY 40 PER CENT

According to data to be released next week by Savills
(SVS.L: ), the property consultant, there has been a sharp
increase in sales and values of second homes in the UK. Buyers
have been encouraged to stay in the country rather than look
abroad because of the weakness in sterling and fall in prices
from the market peak. In the last three months of 2009, the
number of sales of second homes worth more than 750,000 pounds
picked up by 40 per cent compared with the three-year average.
This is against an uplift of only ten per cent in total prime
regional transactions.

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PRESS DIGEST – Financial Times – March 13