Populist Venezuelan politician Hugo Chavez died last night, at the age of 58, due to complications from cancer, leaving behind a divided country. Nevertheless, he did admittedly end the social and political exclusion of a large number of Venezuela’s poor and some studies show he did indeed reduce poverty, although he did little to eliminate its long-term causes. Venezuela, which has the world’s biggest oil reserves, is among the biggest oil exporters and a top-five US supplier, so any sign of instability here could roil markets, The Wall Street Journal Europe explains.
‘Sequestration’, the automatic US federal government spending cuts which went into effect on the March 1st, have claimed another victim. Security services firm G4S has decided to put its landmine clearance and nuclear security unit up for sale, due to the pressure of budget cuts Stateside, according to The Times on Wednesday morning. In the case of its government solutions business, however, which it is also seeking to dispose of, the company blames security restrictions on non-US companies for impeding greater levels of efficiency.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) had apparently realised as early as 2008 that the manipulation of LIBOR could pose a “significant” problem for the banking industry, The Telegraph said. Several warnings about the rigging of borrowing rates had gone unheeded, it has emerged. The paper said: “The FSA conceded it had been slow to respond to intelligence provided by banks and its own staff about the dangers posed to the financial system by LIBOR-rigging.”
Speaking last night at the Royal Academy of Engineering the Chairman of Ofwat, Jonson Cox, said that regulated water companies did not seem to have understood the anger of households at rising prices at a time when shareholders are benefitting from record levels of dividends and pay-outs, according to The Times. He also warned of private-equity style capital structures which have loaded these companies with debt. Boards need to show they are acting in the interests of customers and shareholders if regulation is to become less intrusive, the paper said.
The European competition commission could hit tech giant Microsoft with a fine running into hundreds of millions of dollars over its failure to stick to a competition agreement, the Financial Times reported. The company had previously agreed to offer buyers of new PCs in Europe a choice of internet browser, rather than making its own IE browser the default choice. However, citing people familiar with the case, the paper said Microsoft failed to give an estimated 28m customers the choice, blaming a “technical error”.