Saturday Newspaper round up.

The Daily Mail.

Barclays suffered a humiliating protest vote against its bumper bonuses as shareholders staged one of the biggest rebellions against bankers’ pay since the financial crisis. The bank was finally forced to put its remuneration report to a vote at its annual meeting at the Royal Festival Hall in London after weeks of criticism from politicians, shareholders and the press. Including those abstaining, the result showed almost a third (31.4%) of votes cast failed to back the firm’s pay, which included a package of up to £26.6million for its chief executive Bob Diamond. It also included a controversial £5.75million payment to cover his tax bill. Backlash: Protesters outside Barclays’ agm at the Royal Festival Hall The bank has come under fire for awarding £2.15billion in bonuses last year while paying just £730million in dividends. More than a quarter of votes (26.9%) voted against Barclays’ pay and another sizeable chunk were withheld. There was also a backlash against Alison Carnwath, the chair of the remuneration committee. Some 20.9% of votes were against her re-election, with 23.5 per cent failing to back her, including abstentions.

Fears for Spain’s ‘imploding’ economy grew yesterday as figures revealed that one in four people in the country are out of work. The figure – 24.4% – is so high it means that one jobless person in three inside the eurozone is Spanish. Unemployment in the country now tops 5.6million – its highest jobless rate in almost two decades. More than half of its young people are out of work, the figures released yesterday also showed. Spain is expected to be declared in recession within days, for the second time since 2009. Yesterday’s figures emerged hours after the country was downgraded by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s. Fears are growing that the eurozone crisis could erupt again prompted by the problems in its fourth largest economy. Spain’s government yesterday admitted it was ‘facing a crisis of huge proportions’.

The Daily Telegraph.

Jeremy Hunt avoided more than £100,000 in tax in a £1.8 million property deal weeks before the 2010 election, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. The Culture Secretary was paid a dividend by the company he founded in the form of half its office building. The offices were then immediately leased back to the same company. Accountants said that the deal allowed Mr Hunt to legally reduce his potential tax bill by more than £100,000 because it was completed just days before an announced 10% rise in the tax on dividends in April 2010.

Blind activist Chen Guangchengis believed to have taken refuge in the US   embassy in Beijing following his dramatic escape from house arrest. Fellow dissident Hu Jia, one of the best-known campaigners in the country, said that Chen was in the “safest place in China and that is the US embassy”. While American officials are refusing to comment on his  whereabouts, Mr Chen is believed to have been in the embassy for a number of  days following his daring escape from house arrest last Sunday night. Mr Chen, 40, had become an embarrassment to Chinese authorities after campaigning against forced abortions for poor women in his home province,   Shandong. By sheltering him, Washington risks a major diplomatic falling out with   Beijing ahead of a visit by Hilary Clinton and US Treasury Secretary Timothy   Geithner next week. The Chinese authorities are furious and embarrassed that such a high-profile dissident has escaped their custody.

The Scotsman.

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband accused Alex Salmond of acting as an “undercover lobbyist” for Rupert Murdoch, as the First Minister was urged to answer more questions about his links to the media mogul. Mr Miliband said this week’s revelations about the “warm” relationship between the SNP leader and  the press baron were “shocking”, adding that Mr Salmond should have been “open” about the fact that he was prepared to talk to Jeremy Hunt about the BSkyB bid. Mr Salmond has defended himself by saying that he nurtured his relationship with the Murdoch empire and was prepared to lobby for the News Corp take-over of BSkyB in order to protect and bring jobs to Scotland. But yesterday Labour called on Mr Salmond to provide detailed evidence to prove that his meetings with Rupert Murdoch were about jobs. Labour has claimed Mr Salmond’s insistence that he was concerned with Scottish jobs is an “alibi” for courting the Murdochs in order to gain press backing for the SNP.

First Minister Alex Salmond asserted yesterday that “the best is yet to come” on the value of the North Sea oil industry to an independent Scotland, claiming it would bolster its credit rating in financial markets. He argued in a speech to the annual convention of the Institute of Directors in London’s Docklands that independence would be good for business and the economy north of the Border. Salmond, who also heralded a new business marketing campaign launched yesterday by inward investment quango Scottish Development International (SDI), said he accepted that North Sea output was past its peak “with 60 per cent extracted and about 40 per cent left”. But he added: “In terms of value it’s the opposite.” The First Minister said there was an estimated $2 trillion (£1.5 trillion) of oil to be extracted from the North Sea over the next 40 to 50 years.

The FT.

The US economy grew a disappointing rate of 2.2% in the first quarter of 2012 as inventories piled up and the federal government cut spending. The annualised growth rate for gross domestic product came in below market expectations of 2.7% and compares with 3% growth in the fourth quarter of last year. The weak performance did not, however, break a pattern of steady if mediocre expansion in the US, as consumption and investment grow too slowly to make up for cuts in federal spending. “The US economy remains a bright light in the global economy, although the light is hardly blinding and also showing some signs of fading,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit in London.

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