Tuesday Newspaper round up.

David Cameron has said he wants state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland to speed up restructuring and has refused to rule out giving the government’s share in the bank to the public. The government owns 82pc of RBS after pumping in 45bn pounds of capital when the bank neared collapse in 2008. Speaking in India during a trip aimed at drumming up trade and investment, the prime minister made it clear he was keen to return the bank to private ownership as soon as possible and wanted it to step up its efforts to overhaul itself. [The Telegraph]

BP has squared up for a court fight against the US government over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, arguing that the penalties it is likely to face should be far below the $20bn or more that some estimates have suggested. With less than a week to go before the civil trial over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP has indicated it does not expect to reach a civil settlement with the US Department of Justice and intends to fight in court to reduce its liability. Rupert Bondy, BP’s general counsel, told the Financial Times that the penalty BP faces under the Clean Water Act could be well below $5bn. The company argues that factors including the causes of the accident, the oil captured by BP before it leaked into the gulf, and its efforts to clean up the oil afterwards would all work to limit the penalties it faced. [Financial Times]

The escalating horsemeat scandal has ensnared two of the biggest names in the food industry, Nestlé, the world’s number-one food maker, and JBS, the largest beef producer by sales. Switzerland-based Nestlé on Monday removed pasta meals from shelves in Italy and Spain and suspended deliveries of all processed products containing meat from German supplier, H.J. Schypke, after tests revealed traces of horse DNA above 1 per cent. Nestlé said it had informed the authorities. […] JBS late on Monday moved to distance itself from the scandal, saying none of the tainted products came from its factories and clarifying that H.J. Schypke “is not in any way part of the JBS Group”. [Financial Times]

The fierce struggle for control of Bumi plc is set to go down to the wire after one of the troubled coalminer’s Indonesian investors changed the balance of power yesterday by selling a 10 per cent stake. In a surprise move days before a crucial shareholder meeting that could decide Bumi’s future, Rosan Roeslani agreed to offload his holding to two hedge funds and a company controlled by another rich Indonesian. The last-minute sale has changed the takeover battle’s complicated arithmetic and makes it less likely that Nat Rothschild will succeed with plans to make sweeping changes to Bumi’s board at the emergency general meeting on Thursday, insiders said. [The Times]

Clashes broke out at Madrid’s main airport yesterday as police charged at hundreds of Iberia workers striking over job cuts imposed by the airline’s parent company in London. Strikers trying to force their way into Terminal Four at Madrid-Barajas were initially repelled by police, although they were allowed in later. The protesters waved banners criticising Willie Walsh, the chief executive of International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways and Iberia. One of them read: “Iberia for sale.” Some strikers stood at BA check-in desks to protest against the “sale to the English of a company with the brand of Spain”. [The Times]

Individuals and companies using tax avoidance schemes should be “named and shamed”, according to MPs who lambast the Government for not doing enough to close legal loopholes. Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs is also losing a game of “cat and mouse” with firms that promote tax avoidance schemes to individuals, a new report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) argues, in the latest salvo in the growing debate over tax laws. [The Telegraph]

The boss of Heathrow has defended steep rises in landing charges that will push up air fares by saying returns to investors now have to come first, despite a leap in revenues at the airport on the back of record passenger numbers in 2012. Spending on the airport facilities is to slow over the next five years while charges rise, but chief executive Colin Matthews said: “What we need to do now is to make a fair and market return to shareholders.”

The largest shareholder remains the consortium led by the Spanish Ferrovial group, which bought BAA for £10bn in 2006, although it has sold down its former majority holding to just over a third of shares. The sovereign wealth funds of Qatar, Singapore and China own a total of over 40%, with the rest held by Canadian pension fund CPDQ and private investment firm Alinda Capital Partners. Matthews warned that investors, who he said had spent £11bn on Heathrow since 2003, would go elsewhere without returns. The airport paid a dividend of £240m last year, its first since the 2006 takeover. [The Guardian]

The pound took a fresh beating yesterday as the prediction of a German economic resurgence triggered a sterling sell-off and experts said the currency was at risk of a “large-scale devaluation”. Sterling trails only Japan’s yen as the worst performer against a basket of international currencies this year as a 4.5 per cent decline fuels import prices and pushes up the cost of holidays for hundreds of thousands of households. But bullish forecasts from the Bundesbank over an immediate return to growth for Germany, after a worse-than-expected 0.6 per cent slide between October and December, put sterling on the back foot again yesterday as it sank close to 15-month lows against the euro. [The Independent]

Scottish oilfield services firm Hydrasun has been sold by the former private equity arm of Barclays Bank in a deal believed to be worth about $225 million (£145m). Equistone Partners Europe, which was spun out of Barclays in 2011, sold its controlling stake in the Aberdeen-based firm to Bahraini investment manager Investcorp, former owner of luxury goods brands Gucci and Tiffany & Co. No value for the deal was disclosed, but Mohammed Al-Shroogi, president of Investcorp’s activities in the Gulf region, said: “The size of the transaction is between the $150m and $300m range.” [The Scotsman]

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