Press Round-up – March 23

March 23, 2012

Delays raise doubts over Lloyd’s Co-Op deal
Cracks appeared on Thursday in Lloyds Banking Group’s plans to sell its “mini-Lloyds” business to the Co-operative Group after it admitted that it had fallen behind schedule on agreeing an outline deal.  (Times)

BP prepares for return to North Sea
Britain’s government has been accused of taking a huge risk with the Scottish environment after giving BP approval to drill its first deepwater exploration well in British waters since the Gulf of Mexico disaster. (Times)

EU urged to nearly double firewall
The European Commission has recommended increasing the size of the euro zone’s rescue system from 500 billion euros to 940 billion euros by combining the existing, temporary bailout fund with a facility that is due to start this summer, according to an “options note” obtained by the Financial Times.   (FT)

“Granny Tax” is fair, says Treasury minister
George Osborne’s controversial “granny tax” is fair and pensioners are “well protected” against most of the government’s austerity policies, a Treasury minister said on Thursday in defence of the finance minister’s budget.

Real Madrid lends names to UAE theme park
Football giant Real Madrid has lent its name to a $1-billion theme park being planned on an artificial island in the United Arab Emirates in the latest brand extension by a football club. (FT)

Goldman eyes star architects for London HQ
Goldman Sachs underlined the scale of its ambition for its new European headquarters in London by holding talks with three high-profile architect practices, including Foster and Partners, the practice behind some of London’s most famous landmark buildings.  (FT)

Pressure heightens to oust Irish media group chief
Gavin O’Reilly, the embattled chief executive of Independent News & Media, has described pressure from the publisher’s largest shareholder to step down as “almost reminiscent” of former U.S. President George Bush’s invasion of Iraq.   (FT)

FedEx dampens talk of TNT bid
FedEx, the package delivery company, on Thursday appeared to rule out a move to spoil a proposed tie-up between rivals UPS and TNT Express, insisting that its focus remains on profitable organic growth within Europe.   (FT)

Ratings agencies must improve transparency, EU finds
The three big credit rating agencies must improve their transparency, IT and internal controls and strengthen the committees that oversee decisions on individual securities, the first EU inspections of Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch have found.   (FT)

IAG offers more slots in bid for BMI
International Airlines Group has offered a limited number of extra concessions to try to secure regulatory approval for its acquisition of BMI British Midland, Lufthansa’s lossmaking UK subsidiary.  (FT)

Shell faces claim over Niger Delta spills
Lawyers representing 11,000 Nigerians will on Friday serve the details of a claim against Royal Dutch Shell at the High Court after negotiations about compensation for two oil spills in the Niger delta fell apart last week.  (FT)

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