Friday Newspaper round up.

Royal Bank of Scotland will on Friday confirm it has all but repaid the £163bn in emergency loans it received from British and US taxpayers during the financial crisis. The part-nationalised lender, which is 82pc state-owned following a £45bn taxpayer bailout, will complete the loan repayments next week. An announcement will be made during the company’s first-quarter update on Friday, where RBS’ pre-tax losses are expected to fall below £50m. The figure will compare favourably with the £106m loss it made during the first quarter of 2011, The Telegraph reports.

America’s largest nuclear generator has been approached by a consortium bankrolled by the Chinese Government to rescue Britain’s flagging reactor building programme, The Times has learnt. Exelon would operate up to six new reactors on two sites in Anglesey and Gloucestershire if the estimated £15bn cost of building them can be found. The German energy giants E.ON and RWE pulled out of the Horizon joint venture in March, leaving Britain’s energy policy in tatters. The Government has been scouring the globe for new backers and could be forced to accept a bailout from a Chinese state-owned group to revive the venture. Chinese involvement would be hugely controversial and could be blocked by British regulators over safety fears. China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) had offered to stump up more than half of Horizon’s costs before E.ON and RWE pulled out. In return, SNPTC and the Japanese nuclear group Toshiba wanted a 60% stake in the venture with the Germans owning the rest.

Wealth among Britain’s homeowners will not return to pre-recession levels until 2019, as almost 1m highly indebted “zombie” households hold back recovery, a leading think tank has warned. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said the main drag on wealth in Britain would be house prices, which it forecast would fall by an average of 1.5% every year for the next five years, accounting for inflation. The warning came as Nationwide said on Thursday that average house prices fell by 0.2% in April to £164,134, following a 1% fall in March. It was the fourth fall in five months, and prices were 0.9% lower compared with April 2011, The Telegraph says.

Pay is poor and the hours are long, but there is job security, fresh air and as much pecorino cheese as you can eat. As Italy’s unemployment rate topped 10% this week, it emerged that young people are flocking to become shepherds. Traditionally the preserve of older men, the profession has recently attracted 3,000 young Italians, according to agricultural body Coldiretti. They are choosing a simple life in the great outdoors because their aspirations to become doctors, lawyers or engineers have been thwarted by Italy’s negligible economic growth, which has been compounded by grinding austerity measures, according to The Telegraph.

British satellite technology chiefs are pledging to bring something of Cobham to the state of Denmark. The defence and aerospace supplier has landed a satellite antennae rival, Thrane & Thrane, after a short-lived takeover battle. The acquisition, which has the recommendation of the Thrane board, presents an enlarged Cobham satellite communications threat to industry giants such as Honeywell of the United States. Cobham raised its offer to DKr435 (£47.50) a share from DKr420, valuing Thrane & Thrane at £275m. The British company won over Lars Thrane, the Danish group’s co-founder and its most significant shareholder with a 22% stake, with a promise that future business would come to Copenhagen and not be taken away, says The Times.

The board of Aviva must have thought that chief executive Andrew Moss had taken the sting out of a looming showdown with investors when he agreed to waive a near-5% pay rise. It wasn’t to be, and another annual meeting has been used by shareholders to vent their anger over executive pay. No sooner had the Aviva vote come through than Swiss bank UBS and Premier Foods also felt the backlash from disgruntled investors. Then came the bombshell that Sly Bailey was stepping down at Trinity Mirror, another casualty in the pay battle. Following so soon after last Friday’s revolt over Barclays’ pay plans, the issue is clearly building up a head of steam. Although it could push ahead with its current plans, Aviva’s board is expected to re-visit its pay policy and come up with new plans, The Scotsman reports.

A shareholder revolt has prompted Sly Bailey to quit Trinity Mirror amid unrest over her pay package. The chief executive announced her decision a week before the newspaper publisher’s annual meeting, at which many shareholders are expected to vote against its remuneration report. Critics argue that Ms Bailey, 50, is paid too much given the company’s dwindling size and performance, a view that several shareholders are believed to have expressed to the board. Over her nine years as head of Trinity Mirror, which publishes the Daily Mirror, she has been paid £12.7m despite the group’s share price falling by more than 90%, The Times reports.

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