Chief Correspondent, UK Company News, London
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Oct 8, 2009

Lloyds mulls asset scheme exit, bumper cashcall

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Lloyds Banking Group said it was still assessing ways to exit or reduce its participation in a state scheme to insure its toxic assets, after reports it plans to raise 25 billion pounds.

The part-nationalized bank will struggle to leave the asset protection scheme (APS) altogether and a lot depends on whether UK regulators see its plan as too risky and on the remedies imposed by European competition authorities, analysts and investors said.

Oct 3, 2009
via UK News

Chastened Irish PM pulls off “masterful” campaign. Can it save him?


It’s amazing what a banking meltdown, a shrinking economy and opinion poll ratings near record lows can do for a prime minister’s sense of motivation.Avoiding any hint of triumphalism, a straight-faced Brian Cowen appeared on the steps of his office in Dublin to declare victory in the Lisbon Treaty referendum while his supporters and opponents alike rushed to praise his handling of the campaign.Declan Ganley, one of the most colourfully outspoken critics of the treaty, lauded Cowen for “a masterful campaign from a masterful politician who has made absolute glove puppets of the opposition”.Ganley’s suggestion that the “Yes” camp had used Machiavellian tactics confirmed any suspicions his compliment was a back handed one but a beleaguered Cowen will probably accept all the praise he can get at the moment, however damning.European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, who had sportingly donned a green tie for the occasion, said he had been “genuinely impressed” during a visit to Limerick by the campaigning and the improved availability of information on the treaty.It’s a stark contrast to last year’s referendum when Cowen, whose party has dominated Irish politics for decades, was accused of arrogance, complacency and of staging a lackluster campaign that was slow to respond to the “No” camp’s agile and energetic opposition.Such a lackadaisical approach allowed arguments from anti-treaty groups to gain a fierce head of steam and put Cowen and his supporters firmly on the back foot for much of last year’s campaign.Driving into Dublin from the airport on Friday I was struck not only by the quantity of posters calling for a ‘Yes’ vote but their quality. Gone were the faces of grinning and not particularly popular politicians to be replaced by clear, and in the current environment resonant, messages about the economic consequences of a ‘No’ vote.The ‘No’ camp’s posters meanwhile seemed to have something of a desperate air to them. One sporting the wide-eyed face of a child against an apocalyptic background and warning of an end to Ireland’s short-lived independence seemed a particularly cynical and rather too obvious attempt to tug at the heart strings.Adding insult to the injury already done to people’s intelligence, another warned the minimum wage in Ireland could fall from €8.65 to €1.86 if the treaty were passed. Posters from the ‘Yes’ camp directly countering the assertion showed how much more responsive and nimble pro treaty parties have been this time round.Perhaps Cowen, renowned for his own brusqueness, has finally captured the mood of a pretty grumpy nation.Certainly he will be hoping that just as last year’s ‘No’ vote marked the start of downward spiral for him and the country, today’s ‘Yes’ vote will mark the start of a recovery for him, his country and the weakest link in the euro zone’s economy.The main opposition parties, who devoted so much energy to supporting Cowen’s ‘Yes’ campaign, may be feeling a little worried this evening.

Oct 2, 2009

UK fraud office threatens to prosecute BAE Systems

LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Britain’s Serious Fraud Office
(SFO) said on Thursday it was prepared to prosecute BAE Systems
<BAES.L> for bribery but stopped short of formally requesting a
criminal trial of Europe’s biggest defence contractor.

Legal experts said BAE could face penalties of hundreds of
millions of pounds if found guilty but said that securing a
conviction would be very difficult, and that both sides would
probably still seek to reach an out of court settlement.

Sep 30, 2009

SFO hopeful of concluding BAE bribery case

LONDON, Sept 30 (Reuters) – British prosecutors are hopeful
of an imminent conclusion to the long-running investigation into
allegations of bribery and corruption by BAE Systems <BAES.L>,
Europe’s biggest defence contractor.

Reuters last week quoted sources close to the case as saying
that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) wanted BAE to plead guilty
and agree to a substantial fine by Sept. 30 or face possible
criminal prosecution. [ID:nN24478509]

    • About Paul

      "I took over the team covering British business news in September 2008, just as Lehman Brothers collapsed and banks plunged into crisis. Prior to that, I ran Reuters operations in Ireland, covering the Celtic Tiger boom and IRA disarmament. From 2000 to 2004, I worked in Frankfurt reporting on the European Central Bank and making daily TV appearances on the BBC World Business Report. I have also reported from Athens and Dublin during the euro zone crisis. Follow me on twitter at"
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