The Friday Newspaper round up.

India’s government has confirmed plans to make mobile operators including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone pay a one-time “spectrum charge” that could amount to as much as $4.24bn, dealing a further blow to the debt-strapped industry. A ministerial group meeting in New Delhi confirmed moves to charge for so-called “excess spectrum” owned by operators in certain areas. Government estimates have previously suggested this charge could raise as much as Rs226bn ($4.24bn). The move is the latest blow to an industry which was once viewed as an emblem of the economic dynamism of Asia’s third-largest economy, but has since become increasingly known for incompetent regulation, fierce price competition, stagnant revenues and ballooning debts, The Financial Times writes.

Redrow chairman Steve Morgan last night ditched his plan to buy the housebuilder he founded in 1974 – bringing seven weeks of takeover talks to an end. The 59-year-old entrepreneur, who left the Flintshire-based company in 2000 but returned as executive chairman in a boardroom coup nine years later, proposed a 152p-a-share-offer at the end of August worth £560million. But in a statement to the stock exchange at 16:50 yesterday, after shares closed up 2.8p to 162.5p, he revealed that talks ‘have now been terminated’. The approach – first revealed in the Daily Mail – was made through Morgan’s investment vehicle Bridgemere Securities which holds a 40% stake in Redrow.

When the University of Oxford’s investment chief was invited to address private equity titans at one of the industry’s biggest annual events, she was asked to give an investor’s perspective. Her explosive remarks were perhaps not quite what the industry had in mind. Sandra Robertson startled the audience at the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s annual summit on Thursday, accusing managers of failing their clients by charging excessive fees and delivering lacklustre returns. “Why on earth as a rational investor would I allocate blindly to private equity?” she asked, in a speech calculated to provoke debate among quiescent private equity investors as much as those handling their money. “We need proof that the time and resources required to invest in private equity is worthwhile. You need to earn your place in our portfolios,” she told the audience at London’s Landmark hotel, The Financial Times says.

The new financial regulator should be given explicit powers to block big bank mergers to avoid a repeat of Royal Bank of Scotland ’s near collapse after its purchase of the Dutch lender ABN Amro, say MPs. “We need a regulator with the self-confidence to intervene, even if it might cause some destabilisation in the short term,” the Treasury select committee says in a report published on Friday.
The ill-fated 2007 ABN deal, which came shortly before a global meltdown in financial markets, left RBS requiring a £45bn government bail-out. Responding to a Financial Services Authority analysis of the failure of RBS, the committee said the regulator “should and could have intervened” in the bank’s acquisition of ABN, The Financial Times reports.

Web search giant Google’s stock crashed by as much as 11% and wiped more than $22bn (£13.7bn) off the value of the company after the inadvertently published figures revealed a 20% fall in profits. The announcement was scheduled for publication after markets closed in New York, but they were accidentally published four hours early. The release even contained a space for a quote from Google’s chief executive, Larry Page. The mistake sent Google’s share price plummeting – before their trading was suspended, more than 9% down at $687.30 – amid fears that the stock would crash, The Telegraph writes.

The board of BP is expected to accept a landmark cash and shares offer from Rosneft for its stake in the Russian joint venture TNK-BP when it meets today. A speedy sale is on the cards after the Kremlin-backed giant was the sole bidder for BP’s 50% share by yesterday morning’s deadline. The deal means that BP will finally cut its ties with the four Russian oligarchs behind AAR, who co-own TNK-BP, and secure its place as a junior partner in Rosneft. Rosneft yesterday offered BP between $25 billion and $28 billion, with the share element expected to give the British company a stake of between 10% and 20% of the enlarged business, The Times says.

Tesco Bank has sparked a possible mortgage price war by taking advantage of cheap government money to launch cut-price deals. Chief executive Benny Higgins unveiled what he called “market-leading rates” after announcing that Tesco was accessing the Bank of England’s Funding For Lending Scheme. Edinburgh-based Tesco Bank is now offering two-year fixed mortgages with rates starting at 1.99 per cent. Higgins said: “We welcome the Funding for Lending Scheme, and are delighted to be able to pass on the benefit to our customers. “We are committed to responsible lending and hope to enable our customers to borrow a further 1bn pounds, over the next year, at affordable rates.” Rates on other products are also lower, he said, adding that the bank will be launching a cash ISA before the end of the year, The Scotsman reports.

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