News round up: RBS, Financial Services Bill, Eurozone debt crisis, Capital Shopping Centre, Emerging markets and Fuel prices.
Stephen Hester, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS) chief executive, has a public duty to refuse his bonus of nearly £1 million, according to Jeremy Browne, a government minister.
Mr Hester could still receive a pay package for his work last year worth more than £7m, even after the bank moved to cut his annual bonus to less than £1m. In a statement on Thursday night, RBS said Mr Hester would get a bonus of £963,000 as the taxpayer-backed lender bowed to political and public pressure to ensure its chief executive was not handed more than £1m.
Prime Minister David Cameron made clear he expected the bonus to be "a lot less" than in 2011. But the Opposition said that the scale of the payout showed the Government was "desperately out of touch" with voters and not serious about reining in executive pay and perks, writes the Telegraph.
Financial Services Bill
The Treasury will on Friday publish plans for a radical overhaul of financial regulation that will hand the Chancellor new powers to take charge in a crisis, rein in the might of the Bank of England, and provide extra protection for consumers. The new Financial Services Bill will be put to Parliament on Friday morning alongside a memorandum of understanding between the Treasury and the Bank that will set down how the authorities should respond to another financial crisis.
It will make clear that responsibility lies with the Chancellor whenever taxpayers' money is put at risk to avoid a repeat of the Northern Rock fiasco when Alistair Darling found he could not order the Bank to act, The Telegraph says.
Eurozone debt crisis
Faltering efforts to resolve the Eurozone debt crisis may lead to growth forecasts for this year being cut again. Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, said that Europe’s approach to the crisis was “like going to a prize fight with one hand tied behind your back”. Leaders needed to use the firepower of the European Central Bank “to the hilt”, he said. The OECD cut its forecast for this year’s growth in the Eurozone to 0.2% in November.
“Even those recent numbers may prove too optimistic because of the trend for slower or sometimes negative growth in [the] Eurozone in particular,” Mr Gurría said. He urged the coalition in Britain not to relent in cutting the deficit despite the fall in GDP in the fourth quarter, warning that countries could lose credibility in the financial markets “very fast”, The Times reports.
Capital Shopping Centre
Capital Shopping Centre's agreement to buy land from its biggest shareholder Peel Group is "confusing", according to City analysts. The FTSE 100 retail property group will pay an initial £13.3m to acquire land next to its Braehead shopping centre in Glasgow and a development plot in Malaga, Spain. However, it could eventually pay about £100m because of clauses in the agreement, and the proposals have met a backlash from analysts and investors.
"Two deals totalling £13m at first seem immaterial, but they are not," said Robert Duncan at Jefferies. "The Spanish land option is confusing and we are concerned that CSC risks diluting its core UK franchise investing in a market in which it has no track record through a transaction with its major shareholder." The land in Spain has planning consent for an 860,000 sq ft shopping centre, The Telegraph writes.
Stephen King, group economist at HSBC, has predicted a return to the world economy of 1,000 years ago - with the centre of world trade centred on China, India, Indonesia, and the east coast of Africa. Trade between emerging markets will rise sharply in the coming years, said Mr King as the European and the US economy slowed. "Where will global growth come from? Much will come from the growing connections between these countries over the next 20 to 30 years.
We will see a ten-fold expansion of trade, an extraordinary change." Citing the car industry as an example, he said emerging market companies would create products for other emerging markets, with smaller, cheaper cars produced by Indian and Chinese companies for Indian and Chinese consumers. Emerging markets had invested heavily in trading infrastructure, he added, citing the fact that five of the world's top container shipping ports were now in China, according to The Telegraph.
Fuel prices have risen again just 24 hours after one of Britain’s biggest refineries went bust, stopping supplies to filling stations. Administrators for the Coryton oil refinery in Essex have rushed to strike a deal with suppliers and customers to get fuel delivery trucks rolling again today but the action came too late to prevent long queues forming outside several filling stations in the South East yesterday as diesel pumps ran dry.
Supermarkets – which usually set the trend – have put up to 1p a litre on the price of diesel and unleaded. On average across the UK, diesel rose to 142.32p (from 142.21p) per litre and is now within a fraction of a new record. Petrol rose to 134.03p per litre (from 133.89p), the AA reported.