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FINANCIAL TIMES

Brussels turns up pressure on Libor
Banks and broker-dealers ensnared in the Libor-rigging scandal are facing fresh pressure to settle with Europe’s top competition authority as it expands the scope of its probes. In a speech on Friday in Paris, the EU’s competition commissioner will stress his determination to pursue the cases and ensure competition enforcement complements actions of global authorities against misconduct and corruption.

Joaqu?n Almunia’s speech is intended as a warning to financial institutions.

Former Virgin exec to head centre
Will Whitehorn, a former senior Virgin Group executive, is to chair a government innovation centre being created to devise integrated transport systems for export in a global market predicted to be worth ?900bn by 2025.

Reyl & Co opens London office
Reyl & Co, the Swiss private bank, has opened an office in London with a view to setting up a corporate advisory business, highlighting how a clutch of smaller banks are pushing into traditional investment banking activities.

THE TIMES

Mercedes and dealers fined
Mercedes-Benz and three commercial vehicle dealers have been fined ?2.6m by a competition watchdog for rigging the sale of vans and trucks around Britain.The Office of Fair Trading imposed the fines.

Dyson puts its faith in ?50m plant
Dyson is expanding its manufacturing in the Far East by taking production of its ground-breaking electrical motors in-house. The private company is to open its own production lines in Singapore.

The Daily Telegraph

Bankia to reveal largest loss
Nationalised Spanish lender Bankia is expected to reveal a ˆ19bn loss next week, the largest in the country’s corporate history. The bank has been struggling to sell assets since its bailout in 2012.

Merkel accused of unholy alliance
Angela Merkel has been accused of engaging in an “unholy alliance” with Britain after backing David Cameron’s demands for a cut to the European Union budget.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Heinz profit slips
H.J. Heinz’s earnings slipped 5.3 per cent as the ketchup maker recorded a larger loss from discontinued operations, though organic sales continued to improve in emerging markets.

Nielsen aims to gauge online TV
Nielsen Holdings is taking a step towards extending its TV-ratings business to measure online viewing, aiming to gauge how much viewership has drifted away from traditional TV to online outlets.

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Citigroup reveals pay shake-up as Corbat gets $11.5m for 2012

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MICHAEL BOW

GLOBAL banking giant Citigroup yesterday introduced a new pay policy for top executives at the firm to more closely align salaries and bonuses with the bank’s performance.

The move, revealed in a regulatory filing yesterday, follows shareholder concerns over payouts which led to the departure of former boss Vikram Pandit after shareholders rejected his pay deal last year. Executive pay used to include a controversial profit-sharing plan, which has now been shelved.

“When our shareholders spoke last year about Citi’s compensation structure, we listened. We have stepped up our efforts to solicit feedback from investors to better understand their concerns,” chairman Michael O’Neill said. Citi said the new executive pay programme would use a “scorecard-based structure” to remove the discretionary nature of pay awards in the past.

In light of the tougher measures, shareholders agreed to award chief executive Michael Corbat $11.5m (?7.5m) for 2012, which included a $4.18m cash bonus and $6.27m of shares.

     
     
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Competition body slams audit firms

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MARION DAKERS

THE COMPETITION Commission will this morning find that the Big Four accountancy firms have too much control over the industry, and call for measures to encourage Britain’s largest companies to change auditor regularly to boost competition.

In its long-awaited provisional report, the commission is expected to find no evidence of collusion, but will raise concerns that PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and Ernst & Young have an unfair grip on the books of big UK companies.

Many blue-chip firms have “Big Four-only” rules in place, and the commission is set to propose a ban on such measures, according to Sky News.

But it is expected to be less forthright about imposing mandatory rotation, in a move likely to upset mid-sized accountancy firms attempting to crack the FTSE audit market.

The Competition Commission will also urge investors to become more vocal about a firm’s choice of auditor.

All but a handful of the FTSE 100 use one of the Big Four to audit their accounts, and a firm will keep their auditor for an average of 48 years, according to a House of Lords report in 2011.

At least four blue-chip companies are believed to have put their audit contract out to tender in 2012, but only two – asset manager Schroders and oil explorer BG Group – decided to switch. Both continue to use the Big Four.

The Competition Commission declined to comment last night.

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