• From The BBC:

    Entertainment giant Walt Disney is to buy Marvel Entertainment in a shares and cash deal valued at $4bn (£2.5bn).The deal means Disney will take over ownership of 5,000 Marvel characters, such as Spider-Man and the X-Men. Marvel shareholders will get $30 per share in cash plus 0.745 Disney shares for every Marvel share owned. The boards of Disney and Marvel have both approved the deal, which now needs the backing of Marvel shareholders and competition authorities. Marvel shares were ahead $9.68, or 25%, to $48.33 in Monday trading while Disney shares fell 80 cents, or 3%, to $26.04. ‘Great assets'”We believe that adding Marvel to Disney’s unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation,” Disney president and chief executive Robert Iger said. “We are pleased to bring this talent and these great assets to Disney.” Other Marvel’s characters include Captain America, the Fantastic Four and Thor. “Disney is the perfect home for Marv…

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  • From The BBC:

    Four senior banking executives in Nigeria have appeared in court to deny charges they were involved in a multi-billion dollar banking scandal.The three men and one woman were chief executives of major banks until being fired from their jobs two weeks ago. Anti-corruption police brought criminal charges against executives from five banks rescued in a 400bn naira ($2.6bn; £1.6bn) government bail-out. All the banks were found to have low cash reserves because of bad loans. Former Finbank chief Okey Nwosu was the first to plead not guilty to 11 charges relating to bad debt built up under his management. The three other banking chief executives, Sebastian Adigwe, Berth Ebong and Cecilia Ibru, all pleaded not guilty to charges put to them at hearings later on Monday. They and their teams are accused of fraud, giving loans to fake companies, lending to businesses they had a personal interest in and conspiring with stockbrokers to drive up share prices, says the BBC’s Caroline Duffield i…

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  • From The BBC:

    Brazil has unveiled plans to bring more state control to its oil industry and take advantage of offshore reserves.President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has proposed switching to a system which would see the government own a part of all oil produced. Currently, companies bid to win the rights to explore for oil in blocks. President Lula said the rules, if approved by congress, would see a “new Independence Day” for Brazil, helping tackle poverty and fund education. It is thought Brazil’s reservoirs of oil could see it become a producer nation to rival some Opec countries such as Venezuela within a decade. However the location of the oil, about 500km (311 miles) off its south-eastern coast, means huge investment will be needed.
    President Lula has called it a passport for the future – an opportunity to be seized in terms of combating poverty and investing much needed funds in education.Part of the task is to ensure that the government secures a bigger share of the profits without alienatin…

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  • From The BBC:

    An alleged “rogue trader” blamed by French bank Societe Generale for 4.9bn euros (£4.3bn; $7.2bn) in losses has been charged.Jerome Kerviel is accused of forgery, breach of trust and unauthorized computer use. Mr Kerviel has been under investigation since SocGen unveiled the losses in 2008, which it blamed on unauthorised deals carried out by him. The former trader has always maintained the bank knew about the risky deals. His superiors turned a blind eye to his trading while he was earning money for the bank, but intervened when he began to lose, he has argued. The trial is not expected to begin until next year. TransparencyThe case has led to concerns in France over lack of transparency at banks. Senior executive Jean-Pierre Mustier and non-executive director Robert Day, who are the subject of an inquiry by the French financial watchdog, reject allegations of wrongdoing. Mr Mustier led Societe Generale’s corporate and investment banking division, where Mr Kerviel worked. He ste…

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  • From The BBC:

    The US faces annual trade sanctions of about $295m (£181m) for failing to scrap illegal subsidies paid to its cotton growers.However the punishment, imposed by the World Trade Organization (WTO), is far less than the $4bn that Brazil, which brought the case, had wanted. A WTO panel upheld last year’s ruling that subsidies helped US cotton growers undercut foreign competitors. Brazil said that its farmers and those in West Africa had suffered the most. It made reference to the $4bn figure in documents it filed with the WTO about three years ago. Squeezed outThe US said it was “disappointed” with the overall outcome of the dispute, which saw the WTO rule that Brazil could take retaliatory sanctions against the US and “suspend concessions or other obligations”. But the US Trade Representative’s office added that it was “pleased” that arbitrators had “awarded Brazil far below the amount of counter measures it asked for”. US cotton subsidies were one of the most contested issues in th…

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  • From This is Money:

    But with mortgage criteria still tough and a lack of supply cited as the driving factor behind recent house price rises, economists warn the market could fall again next year.
    The number of homeloans approved for buyers rose by 7.5% to 38,181 in July: 28.5% higher than the six-month average and 77% higher than the same month last year.
    Mortgage approvals for homebuyers have staged a slow but steady comeback from their lows recorded last winter, to reach the highest level since February 2008, but are still just under half the longer-term average.
    A combination of a pool of cash rich buyers and a lack of supply of homes for sale has been credited as the driving force behind recent monthly house price gains posted by major studies.
    The continued rise in mortgage approvals is likely to support this momentum in the coming months, but economists warn that house prices could fall back again next year.

    Seema Shah, property economist at Capital Economics, said: ‘The one strange thing th…

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  • From This is Money:

    Most will list alternative fixes, trackers or discount deals for loyal customers.

    But an examination of the market reveals that many borrowers will be better off tearing up the letters and switching to their lender’s standard variable rate instead.

    – Has your SVR been cut?
    This decision is likely to make even more sense as borrowers are unlikely to be charged a fee to move on to their lender’s standard rate. By contrast, signing up for a new fix or special rate deal such as a tracker or discount can trigger fees of several hundred pounds.
    Ironically, it is the most generous lenders with the lowest standard rates who most need to distract borrowers from them at remortgage time.
    C&G, for example, is keen to promote its latest range of fixed-rate deals, priced at between 4.19 and 6.69%, rather than its super-low standard variable rate of 2.5%.
    Halifax hope its remortgage customers look at its fixes of between 4.39 and 6.19% rather than its standard rate of 3.5%.
    Royal Bank o…

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  • From The BBC:

    UK bookmaker William Hill has said it won a “six-figure sum” after England regained the Ashes on Sunday.After England’s 5-0 drubbing in 2007, it seems that most English cricket fans had expected the Australians to retain the prize. “The patriotic punt never really occurred,” the bookmaker said. “Although I am sure they will never admit it the majority of our customers were backing Ponting and his men all through the series,” it added. Australia tried hard to fight back on day four of the Test, but were unsuccessful in their quest to score what would have been a world-record-breaking target of 546 for victory. But Australian captain Ricky Ponting was ran out by Andrew Flintoff and Mike Hussey was last out to seal England’s 2-1 victory at The Oval. “We were sweating a bit before Ponting was run out but have cleaned up with a six figure win,” said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams….

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  • From The BBC:

    The UK government should spend more money to tackle youth unemployment, says the CBI employers’ group.It wants £125m ($206m) of the UK government’s £500m recruitment subsidy fund to be spent on funding 50,000 new apprenticeships. Under the CBI’s plans firms would receive a subsidy of £2,500 towards the cost of training each extra apprentice. “Young people leaving education this summer face the toughest job market in a generation,” the CBI said. The proposals come as a new crop of school leavers and university graduates are about to join the jobs market this summer. ‘Lost to work’Data from the Office for National Statistics shows the unemployment rate among 16-24 year olds has risen to 19.1%, with about 928,000 people classed as unemployed. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has said work experience, mentoring and internships were needed to avoid a generation “lost to work”. The CBI also proposed a £25m fund for employers who train more apprentices than they need….

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  • From The BBC:

    Fewer requests for information about the current state of workers’ pensions shows rising confidence in retirement savings, according to consultants Aon.Requests from pension scheme members about the current value of their pension pot fell by 17% between the first and second quarter of the year. But another pensions expert claimed the conclusion was a “huge leap”. The value of assets in defined-contribution pension funds rebounded in July owing to rising share prices. RequestsAon said that the number of people asking about their projected pension based on their current savings plan fell by 9% in the second quarter of the year compared with the first three months of 2009. However, the numbers were still 36% higher than the same period the previous year. Mark Duke, head of pensions at Towers Perrin, said that although Aon made a good point, it was a “huge leap” to suggest the figures showed confidence in pensions was rising. He said relatively few people checked the value of their pension…

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