Thursday Newspaper round up.

BP is expected to pay the largest criminal penalty in US history to resolve the investigation arising from the 2010 Deep-water Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Details of a settlement with the US Department of Justice were still being finalised on Wednesday night but an agreement could be announced on Thursday afternoon, according to people with knowledge of the talks. The settlement would mark another step forward for BP as it attempts to determine the cost of the disaster, which killed 11 people and caused the world’s largest-ever accidental offshore oil spill. The Financial Times

John Lewis says that it could be put out of business if foreign multinationals such as Amazon are allowed to continue paying tiny amounts of tax in Britain. Andy Street, managing director of the retailer, said last night that the Government must urgently “address the Amazon problem” and create a level playing field for business. His comments come two days after MPs on the Public Accounts Committee lambasted executives from Amazon, Google and Starbucks for paying practically no corporation tax in the UK.  The Times

Global banks operating in London have been warned by the top UK bank supervisor that this year’s staff bonuses must reflect the mis-selling and market manipulation scandals that have damaged the sector in the past 12 months. Andrew Bailey, head of the Financial Services Authority’s prudential business unit, wrote to bank chief executives in late October ahead of this year’s bonus round warning them that the watchdog would be looking for evidence they had “clawed back” deferred bonuses from people involved in scandals. The FT

Billions of pounds invested by pension funds, City institutions and retail investors could be hit by a looming “Armageddon” in the bond markets, it emerged yesterday. Experts warned that a bubble is building in the £250bn corporate bond sector, which has become a popular way to invest because it offers safer returns than most traditional savings and investment products. According to industry figures, 40 per cent of assets in the market are owned by five large funds and 30 per cent by the three largest. Fears have been raised that these funds could struggle to meet investors’ demands to withdraw money because of illiquidity in the market.  The Independent

The European Commission yesterday stopped short of imposing legally binding quotas to increase the number of women on company boards. Instead, it is proposing a target for large plc boards to be made up of at least 40 per cent women by 2020 but it would be up to individual EU countries whether there would be penalties for failing to achieve it. Under the proposed directive, companies would also only face sanctions if they failed to have procedures in place to increase female representation rather than just missing the target. The Scotsman

The violent protests and strikes that flared up across the European Union on Wednesday are a sign of things to come as frustration grows over austerity measures and Europe’s recession peaks. A popular backlash is building against cuts to public services and the “internal devaluation” policies that have targeted wages and Europe’s high levels of social protection with the aim of restoring competitiveness to the EU’s highly indebted economies. The Daily Telegraph

Manchester United has trimmed its debt pile by 18 per cent and moved into the black following this summer’s flotation in New York. The club also revealed that the nine football matches staged at Old Trafford during the London Olympics helped boost its match-day revenues by 13.3 per cent to £19.6 million in the three months to 30 September. Total debt dropped to £359.7m by the end of the quarter, down from £436.9m at 30 June, as the controlling Glazer family used some of the flotation proceeds to reduce its borrowings. A £26.5m tax credit helped deliver a profit from continuing operations of £20.5m, compared with a £5m loss a year ago. More from The Scotsman

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