BP is close to ditching its troublesome Russian joint venture and resurrecting a controversial Arctic exploration alliance after holding “positive” talks with Vladimir Putin. Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive, Carl-Henric Svanberg, its chairman, and Igor Sechin, the boss of Rosneft, the Kremlin-backed oil company, attended a private meeting with the Russian President at his retreat in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday. BP is in advanced talks with Rosneft about selling its 50 per cent stake in the TNK-BP joint venture. Industry sources in Moscow believe that the sale would pave the way for the British oil company to form another alliance with Rosneft to explore the Russian Arctic, The Times reports.
In a letter to EADS staff which marks Mr Enders first comments on the £30bn merger, he said EADS and BAE represent a “perfect fit” but warns there is “serious work to do” to convince shareholders and governments to back the deal. Mr Enders confirms in the letter that EADS and BAE are focused on winning approval for the deal from governments, including the US, UK, France and Germany. These talks are “constructive and advanced”, he adds, despite concerns about national security. All the governments must voice their approval for the deal or it will face collapse. Britain’s “golden share” in BAE means it can veto any merger or takeover of the company. BAE is also understood to be demanding that Germany and France loosen their grip on EADS’s strategy by losing their right to nominate board members and vote as a block, The Telegraph says.
More than 2,000 Britons in Monaco are costing the UK economy £1bn a year in lost tax revenue. An investigation by The Times into tax avoidance has revealed the scale of activity in the principality, where a wealthy elite reaps the benefits of British assets and connections, but escapes the levies that apply to other citizens. Some have been awarded knighthoods, while others have been able to make political donations — despite government pledges to close a loophole enabling them to do so.
François Hollande and Angela Merkel will seek to agree a joint position at a meeting on Saturday on the €35bn combination of EADS and BAE Systems to create the world’s largest defence and aerospace company by revenue. Approval by the French president and German chancellor is crucial to the deal on which EADS hopes to make an announcement soon. The heads of state are due to meet in Ludwigsburg in Germany to assess the Eurozone crisis but the EADS-BAE deal will be discussed, The Financial Times says.
The number of Britons contributing to workplace pension schemes has fallen to its lowest since records began in 1953, fuelling fears that people are not saving enough for their old age. In its latest snapshot of the pensions sector, the Office for National Statistics found that the number of people putting money into workplace pensions in the private sector fell to 2.9m last year, from 3m in 2010 and the peak of 8.1m in 1967. Joanne Segars, chief executive of the National Association of Pension Funds, said: “The ongoing slide in pensions uptake in the private sector is deeply worrying. Our society isn’t saving enough for its old age and millions of workers are set to end up scraping by on just the state pension,” writes The Times.
The EU has stalled a controversial trade case against Chinese telecommunications companies, defusing a row with Beijing on the eve of premier Wen Jiabao’s last summit with European leaders. Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner, has told officials that the anti-subsidy case, which was seen as proof of a more assertive stance towards China, required stronger evidence before it could proceed, according to people briefed on the meeting. Commission staff insist the move is not tied to Mr Wen’s visit on Thursday, or to stronger pressure from Beijing – as well as from some EU member states, worried about Chinese retaliation – to drop the case, The Financial Times explains.