Monday Newspaper round up

The head of Europe’s top banking regulator has raised the bar for lenders’ capital requirements, insisting that the nine per cent capital ratio they had to hit as a ‘temporary buffer’ by June is to become permanent. Andrea Enria, chairman of the European Banking Authority, said “capital conservation” was his priority, with the eurozone crisis persisting and the six-year phase-in of Basel III global capital standards set to begin next year. [Financial Times]

London’s second airport could double in size to handle 70 million passengers a year and allow the Government to maintain its commitment to prevent a third runway at Heathrow. Gatwick is to publish a long-awaited masterplan this week for expansion over the next decade and a half. It is likely to state that the Sussex airport’s existing two terminals and one runway are capable of handling 12 million more passengers a year this decade. [The Times]

Marcus Agius and Sir Mike Rake will this week meet investors in a bid to contain the fall-out from the Libor scandal as Barclays faces further embarrassment from Jerry Del Missier’s evidence to MPs. Barclays’ chairman and deputy chairman will travel to shareholders and investors groups to explain their strategy for stemming the crisis that has ripped through the bank and its boardroom. The pair are expected to use the meetings to sound out investors on the plan to elevate Sir Mike to chairman so he can swiftly start looking for a new chief executive and fill the management vacuum at the top of the bank. [The Telegraph]

Access to bank branches on the high street is set to halve despite government demands for bank reform and more choice for consumers. The Government has said it is committed to the creation of “challenger” banks – to compete with the “big five” of Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, RBS and Santander – but, despite this, shocking research from global property expert Jones Lang LaSalle released today shows that up to 50 per cent of bank branches will close in the next eight years. [The Independent]

Nokia has slashed the price of its flagship Lumia 900 smartphone in the US in an aggressive effort to make inroads into a market dominated by Apple and Samsung. The Finnish handset maker is cutting the price of the Windows phone from $99 to $49 on a two-year contract through AT&T. The decision comes just three months after the phone was launched amid great fanfare and subsequent disappointment due to a software bug and mixed consumer reviews. [Financial Times]

Britain faces zero economic growth this year and Ministers will struggle to meet their deficit reduction targets, according to a report to be published tomorrow. “The prospect of a durable recovery remains elusive, dependent upon confidence in financial and business communities, which is likely to take time to rebuild,” the independent Item Club forecasting group will warn. [The Daily Mail]

FirstGroup has emerged as a frontrunner for the multibillion-pound west coast rail franchise alongside incumbent Virgin Trains, with the contest now a two-horse race between the experienced operators. Aberdeen-based FirstGroup is vying with Virgin despite announcing last year that it is handing back its Great Western rail contract three years ahead of schedule, avoiding more than £800m in payments to the government. The Department for Transport is expected to bank a considerable windfall from the new 14-year west coast contract, with Virgin currently paying an annual premium of about £150m to the state. Both bidders are expected to promise an even bigger number over the life of the new franchise. The winner is expected to be announced next month. [The Guardian]

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