Thursday Newspaper round up.

Barclays has been ordered to pay a 470m dollars (293m pounds) in fines and other penalties by the US energy regulatory after being found to have manipulated the American electricity market. The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has provisionally fined Barclays a total of 435m dollars and ordered the bank to repay 34.9m dollars in “unjust profits” as it accused the lender of engaging in a “coordinated scheme to manipulate trading at four electricity trading points in the Western United States”. Four Barclays traders were named by the authorities and fined a total of 18m dollars for taking part in the alleged scheme. Scott Connelly, managing director of North American power at Barclays, who was described by the regulator as the “leader of the manipulative scheme” and its “highest paid member”, was hit with the largest fine and provisionally ordered to pay 15m dollars. Three other traders, named as Daniel Brin, Karen Levine and Ryan Smith, were each fined 1m dollars, according to The Telegraph.

Britain needs to get used to a “new normal” of slower growth, with annual expansion of only 2% considered a good outcome, a leading business lobby group said yesterday. The CBI said it expected GDP to be flat this year before picking up to 1.4% next year and 2% in 2014. They would all be well below the 3% average annual growth in the eight years before the banking crash, but John Cridland, the Director-General of the CBI, said that it would still be “a good trajectory”. Britain enjoyed strong growth in the 2000s thanks to hefty borrowing, effervescent personal spending and rising asset prices. The coalition Government and the Bank of England have said that the country needs to “rebalance” towards an economy more orientated towards investment and exports. That process is likely to proceed at a muted pace, the CBI said. Investment growth will be modest at 3.8% this year and trade will be flat as the poor performance of the Eurozone depresses exports, the group predicted, The Times says.

Igor Sechin added to concerns about investor rights in Russia when the Rosneft chief executive said the state-controlled oil group had no obligation towards minority investors in TNK-BP. He was speaking as Rosneft moved ahead with plans to buy TNK-BP, Russia’s third-largest oil producer, in a $55bn deal.The deal will be a bonanza for TNK-BP’s owners, BP and a group of Soviet-born oligarchs known as AAR. But concerns have been raised about the fate of minority shareholders in TNK-BP Holding, the company’s listed unit. Analysts say the way they are treated in the deal will be seen as a litmus test for Russia’s investment climate. TNK-BP Ltd controls 95 per cent of TNK-BP Holding, while the remaining 5% is freely traded. Until this October, TNK-BP Holding was one of Russia’s biggest blue-chips, The Financial Times reports.

Electrical retailer Comet could file for administration as soon as Thursday, putting another 6,000 jobs under threat on Britain’s struggling high street. The retailer has been under increasing pressure from suppliers to pay upfront for stock before the critical Christmas trading period.Those demands are understood to have intensified in the past fortnight after it emerged that OpCapita, the private equity company that owns Comet, had received approaches for the chain. Deloitte has been lined up as an administrator in what will be the 29th high street retailer to go into administration since the turn of the year, The Telegraph reports.

Ecuador has asked Argentina to seize up to $19.2bn of assets from Chevron in the latest twist in a long-running lawsuit over pollution in the Amazon rainforest. The oil giant will also have its bank accounts in Argentina seized and gas sales frozen, a judge has ruled. The 2011 ruling, one of the biggest of its kind in history, stated that 30,000 residents of Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region had been harmed by the operations of Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001. However, since Chevron has minimal assets in the country, the claimants tried to get the ruling enforced outside the OPEC-member nation – Chevron is the fourth-largest producer of oil in Argentina. The company attacked the decision, saying that the residents would have filed their lawsuit in the US, where Chevron is based, had they had confidence in their claims, The Telegraph says.

Kazakhmys chairman Vladimir Kim has 17% of the copper miner’s shares backing personal loans. The billionaire has pledged almost 91m shares to support loans that are unrelated to the Kazakhstan-focused copper miner. In total, Mr Kim owns 28.5% of the group, so more than half of his stake is now backing personal borrowings. Under UK stock exchange rules, directors are required to inform senior company executives if they use their shares as collateral, because they may be forced to sell their shares to raise the funds to repay the debt. It is believed that Mr Kim has retained the shares’ voting rights, but the particulars of the loans involved have not been disclosed, The Telegraph explains.

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