Thursday Newspaper round up

The man responsible for setting boardroom pay at Barclays was hammered by MPs and peers yesterday and warned not to pay a one million-pound bonus to the new chief executive. Sir John Sunderland, one of Britain’s most eminent industrialists and a for- mer CBI president, was hit by a barrage of hostile questioning and accused of a significant misjudgment in approving a 2.7 million-pound bonus to Bob Diamond, the bank’s former chief, last year. He was also told that the embattled bank’s claim to have undergone a big shift in culture and standards since the Libor scandal last summer would be dismissed as PR spin if it pushed on with plans for a big bonus for the new chief, Antony Jenkins.

Sir John’s grilling by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards came hours after an explosive written statement from his predecessor as chairman of the Barclays remuneration committee, Alison Carnwath, who broke her silence to say that she had recommended Mr Diamond get no bonus at all last year, but received no support from any other board member. [The Times]

A judge in the Netherlands has ordered Shell to pay compensation to a Nigerian farmer whose livelihood was wrecked by oil spilling from a well abandoned by the Anglo-Dutch group. It is the first time that a court outside Nigeria has ordered Shell to pay out for its part in causing pollution in the Niger Delta and the ruling leaves it vulnerable to more claims from other victims. The Delta has been ravaged by oil spills for decades. Shell, the largest oil company in Nigeria, has blamed the pollution on thieves haphazardly siphoning oil from its pipelines, but its argument has failed to satisfy the farmers and Friends of the Earth, which took the fight for compensation to The Hague, where the oil company has its headquarters. [The Times]

The Government is expected to scrap the bidding competition for another major rail franchise, just months after it pulled the contract for the West Coast Main Line, costing the taxpayer more than £50m. Bidders for the Great Western line are braced for an announcement on Thursday by the Department for Transport (DfT) that FirstGroup, which currently runs the services connecting London to Bristol and Cardiff, has been awarded an extension to its contract. [The Telegraph]

Mothercare’s UK boss is to leave the company as the parent and baby specialist retailer battles to turn around falling sales. The departure of Mike Logue comes as Mothercare Australia, a business in which the UK-listed company owns a minority stake, called in administrators. The collapse of the Australian business is a blow for Mothercare as its international division has been driving growth in the last few years amid disappointing trading at home. Underlying UK sales slumped 5.9% in the 13 weeks to 12 January while international sales rose 12%. Online sales edged up just 0.9% during the period as the company failed to capitalise on shoppers switching to the internet.[The Guardian]

Facebook’s aggressive mobile advertising push through the presidential election and holiday shopping season helped the social network report its first quarterly revenue growth since becoming a public company in May but still left investors wanting more. Revenues for the fourth quarter grew 40 per cent to $1.59bn compared with the same period last year. Revenue growth was flat for the previous two quarters and had declined the quarter before that. [Financial Times]

A former tax chief accused of overseeing sweetheart deals that let big companies off millions of pounds in tax has found a new role – protecting HSBC from dealing with tax cheats. David Hartnett, the former chief executive of HM Revenue & Customs, is to join a committee of the great and the good set up to advise the bank on how to avoid getting entangled with tax evaders, terrorists and drug dealers. It follows the $1.9bn (£1.2bn) fine the bank was forced to pay to United States watchdogs for breaching rules on money laundering that allowed the bank to be used as a conduit for a river of money from drug cartels. [The Independent]

The Bank of England’s flagship scheme to increase the flow of credit to companies has come under renewed fire after figures yesterday showed lending continued to shrink last month. The Bank said net lending to businesses fell by £2.1 billion in December, following a £2.5bn contraction the previous month, prompting calls for the UK government to do more to prop up the ailing economy. [The Scotsman]

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