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Weekend Round-Up November 11, 2009

£165bn loan keeps Lloyds afloat Lloyds Banking is being sustained by £165bn in loans and guarantees from the Bank of England -- approaching the £200m of quantitative easing allocated to support the UK economy. This should, says Lloyds, be set against the context of its £1trn balance sheet, but its reliance on state funding is considerable compared to even the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Monday is sickie day Are you reading this from home? More than one-third of workplace absences occur on a Monday, with women 24 per cent more prone to call in sick with exhaustion, depression or stress-related ailments than men, says a Mercer study.

Kraftbury looms Kraft is poised to launch a hostile takeover bid for today's deadline, but Cadbury chairman Roger Carr is expected to use the US food giant's weak Q3 results as evidence against a merger.

The Observer
Britain lacks TLC The UK is not the best place to invest for sustainable energy projects. Climate change investors would do better to invest in Japan, Australia or even China than the UK, says a report from Deutsche Bank. Investors, it says, want "transparency, longevity and certainty", Deutsche Bank's Kevin Parker tells the Observer, which the UK's environmental policy lacks. While the UK's attracted some £10bn (around $17bn) of capital for climate change investments, this is dwarfed by Germany's $36bn or China's $41bn.

Could it be Branson at last? Richard Branson is said to be among a group bidding for 80 percent of Camelot, which would at last give him control of the national lottery after two failed tries. Among Camelot's investors is Royal Mail, but it won't be selling up its 20 percent stake -- the alliance means the lottery can be run from some post office branches.

Emerging cities Right now, New York and London may reign supreme, but by 2025, the league table for the world's richest cities will look quite different. PricewaterhouseCoopers's report into the globe's richest cities predicts that Shanghai, Beijing and Mumbai will grow at rates that outstrip the likes of Tokyo and London. Longer term, the report predicts rising fortunes for Delhi, Rio, Istanbul and Cairo.
Knickers in a twist Limited Brands is set to launch US lingerie chain Victoria's Secret onto the UK, with a flagship store and European site offering next-day delivery. The new outlet could spell trouble for M&S - its sales account for just over one-quarter of all knickers sold in the UK. Limited is said to be scouting for a European partner with which to open Bath & Body Works shops in 2010 - a potential rival for Body Shop and Boots.

Goldman vs. King in battle of the banks Is the recession over or not? City boys claim the third-quarter contraction in the UK economy is unbelievable, but the Bank of England's Mervyn King is expected to err on the side of caution when he gives the UK's quarterly inflation report on Wednesday. Why does it matter? "If Goldman is right, then the Bank of England is currently in the midst of creating a massive policy error," Fathom director Danny Gabay told the Observer.

Church finances in peril Recruitment freezes, pension deficits, longer working lives... even the church is not immune from the credit crunch. Priests may be asked to work longer and retire to make up for pensions losses incurred during the 2008 financial meltdown. The Church of England lost £1.3bn from its £5.7bn assets earlier this year and faces a pensions "black hole" estimated at £350m.

Only home made Cadbury will do It may be the same bar, but British-made Cadbury chocolate "just tastes a hell of a lot better" than the US (or Canadian version), according to US-chocolate fans. "American chocolate is so sweet it tastes like doggie chocs," says a Florida-based shop owner.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be. John Naughton's warning on the long arm of the End User Licence Agreement: buy a Kindle and Amazon still owns the book. You can't lend it or sell it, as you might a paper copy. And if your Kindle dies, so, too, does your little library.

The Sunday Telegraph
Government goes nuclear With Britain facing a potential power generation shortfall, energy secretary Ed Miliband says it no longer makes sense to dodge the nuclear option. The government's energy policy statement - which runs to 3,000 pages - will seek to fast-track new plant builds, with Miliband hoping the first will be done by 2017.

Crying all the way to the bank Barclays will bow to regulator pressure and dish out bonuses in shares rather than cash. Despite a strong year driven by BarCap's performance, it's believed that chief executive John Varley wants to show he's in tune with the public when it comes to the City's excessive bonus culture. Even so, its investment bankers are due an average of £200,000.

Daily bank tax divides opinion Gordon Brown's suggestion of a daily tax on financial transactions, or "Tobin" tax (after Nobel prize-winning US economist James Tobin) , has divided opinion at the G20 finance ministers' meeting at St Andrews. Naysayers include US Treasury secretary Tim Geithner, London mayor Boris Johnson (he called it 'crackers') and British Bankers' Association boss Angela Knight, who said it would be unworkable.

Buffett wannabes, look east Looking for a bit of the Sage of Omaha's investment magic? The trick is contrarian investment, says Fidelity International's Tom Stevenson. It's a pretty straightforward system: look the other way to the crowd and you'll may find undervalued investment targets that you can buy for a song. On this basis, says Stevenson, look to Japan, where the Nikkei index is some 75 per cent lower than 20 years ago (so share prices are certainly not over-valued). A new regime there promises structural reform and it is "the back-yard exporter to the world's fastest growing region".

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