Wednesday Newspaper round up.

The chief executive of HSBC and a string of top bankers will lose a slice of their bonuses and will have future payouts deferred after Britain’s biggest bank was hit with a record fine to settle damaging money-laundering charges. Stuart Gulliver, the former investment banker who runs HSBC, has already lost part of one annual payout in the light of the allegations. He will now lose an unspecified portion of this year’s deal. Numerous ‘code staff’ at the bank who carry out significant risk activities will also be hit by the measure. [The Times]

Channel 4 is locked in a stand-off with WPP, the world’s biggest advertising group, which could end up pulling all of its ads from the broadcaster. WPP’s media-buying arm, Group M, is in negotiations to renew its two-year deal to spend around £200m with Channel 4, after its current contract expires at the end of the month. The advertising group, founded by Sir Martin Sorrell, is battling for better terms than in previous years. Channel 4 is not giving ground, leading to an impasse. [The Telegraph]

Britain has no reason to fear a spike in borrowing costs if stripped of its AAA credit rating, the Government’s fiscal watchdog suggested today. “It’s not entirely clear that [a downgrade] would be providing any new information to the markets that they hadn’t already managed to deduce,” the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility, Robert Chote, told the Treasury Select Committee today.

At last week’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor, George Osborne, conceded he is likely to miss his self-imposed target of putting the national debt on a falling trajectory as a share of GDP by 2015-16. Fitch warned that this “weakens the credibility of the UK’s fiscal framework” prompting speculation that the agency will downgrade the UK next year. Some eurozone nations have seen their borrowing costs spike after downgrades. [The Independent]

The head of the government’s independent tax and spending watchdog has warned chancellor George Osborne that it would be a mistake to rely on forecasts showing public borrowing coming down this year. Robert Chote, the director of the Office for Budget Responsibility, said he would not stake his reputation on the predictions his organisation made for last week’s autumn statement. The chancellor wrongfooted his Labour shadow, Ed Balls, in last week’s Commons exchanges by announcing OBR figures showing that the UK’s budget deficit would fall from £121.4bn to £119.9bn this year once a number of special factors were taken into account. These include receipts from the Bank of England’s quantitative easing programme and future income from the sale of the 4G mobile phone spectrum. [The Guardian]

Britain is leaving itself with “no voice in Europe” by drifting to the margins of the EU, according to one of the Continent’s top politicians. Wolfgang Schäuble, the German Finance Minister, made the unguarded remarks at a private dinner in front of the British Ambassador and several other guests, one of whom told The Timesthat he was struck by the ferocity of the outburst. But despite rising German frustration at calls from London for more concessions and a looser relationship with the EU, it is understood that Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has told David Cameron that she will do everything she can to keep Britain in the 27-nation organisation. [The Times]

HSBC will spend $700m on a global “know your customer” programme, as part of a 26-point plan agreed with US regulators to settle money laundering and sanctions breaches. The UK bank, which signed up to the A-Z programme of management changes covering both its US and global operations, reiterated apologies for its failure to prevent Mexican money launderers and countries subject to sanctions, including Iran, from using its network. [Financial Times]

UK boardrooms are becoming more diverse but the lack of female executives remains a major concern for investors, one of the country’s leading shareholder groups has claimed. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) today called for businesses to step up their attempts to attract more women into boardrooms. In a survey released ahead of its investment conference in London today, the ABI said only 6.6 per cent of FTSE 100 executives and 4.9 per cent of FTSE 250 executives were currently female despite Government attempts to address the imbalance. [The Independent]

Scotland’s beleaguered high street retailers have had their hopes of a pre-Christmas boost dashed as new figures showed a dramatic slump in shop sales. The latest report from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), published today, indicates that hard-pressed Scottish consumers have delayed their Christmas shopping, contributing to disappointing sales that have fallen behind those elsewhere in the UK. The gloomy picture was revealed in the survey by SRC and KPMG, which compared last month’s sales with those recorded in November 2011. [The Scotsman]

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