Wednesday newspaper round-up: AstraZeneca, Facebook, PPI claims...

RELATED QUOTES

SymbolPriceChange
AZN67.68+0.820
GS-PB24.50+0.09
RBS.L301.20-1.00
BA129.96+2.41
APR.PA16.75-0.02

LONDON (ShareCast) - The new boss of AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN - news) has dismissed two of the drugs company's leadership team as part of a shake-up intended to tackle flagging sales and scientific setbacks. The head of research and development, Martin Mackay, and its global commercial chief, Tony Zook, are to leave the pharmaceuticals group at the end of the month and their positions will be "eliminated". Pascal Soriot, the chief executive, said that he wanted to "accelerate decision-making" and to bring an "even sharper management focus to key pipeline assets, key brands and key markets". [The Times]

Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB - news) has moved directly into Google (NasdaqGS: GOOG - news) 's territory after launching an advanced search capability for the social network. Mark Zuckerberg laid out on Tuesday a new vision of search based on his company's private database of social information, rather than the collection of links on the open web that underpins Google's service. "We're giving people the power and the tools to take any cut of the graph that they want and make any query they want," Facebook's chief executive said.[Financial Times]

The banking industry and the Financial Services Authority are in talks to set a new cut-off date to put an end to the continuing multibillion-pound stream of claims for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance. Industry sources confirmed that the British Bankers' Association has suggested a deadline of around next summer in return for the banks agreeing to finance a widespread advertising campaign to ensure that the public is aware of an end-date for claims. The FSA is understood to be sympathetic to banks' concerns that there may be no end to mis-selling claims, despite hopes that the majority would have been made last year. However, the need for consumers to get a fair deal will be central to any solution. [The Times]

Japan's largest airline, ANA, and its competitor JAL have each grounded their entire fleet of Boeing (NYSE: BA - news) 787 Dreamliners after an emergency landing due to a smoke alarm in the cockpit - the most dramatic of a spate of incidents involving the troubled aircraft over the past week and since its inception. All Nippon Airways said the plane's eight crew and all 129 passengers had evacuated safely on inflatable slides. Instruments in the cockpit indicated there had been a battery malfunction and the pilot had noticed a strange smell. [The Guardian]

Britain's bailed-out banks need billions of pounds more capital to shore up their balance sheets and support the economy, senior Bank of England officials have warned. UK regulators have given Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L - news) and Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L - news) until March to begin dealing with a black hole that Brooks Newmark, a Tory member of the Treasury Select Committee, suggested could be as large as £30bn. [The Telegraph]

Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB - news) has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown from plans to allow its highly paid bankers to avoid the 50% top rate of tax, following public intervention by Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King and pressure from the government. But the Wall Street firm is expected to spark a fresh row over City bonuses on Wednesday by revealing that its bankers have enjoyed a 10% pay rise when it announces profits for 2012. Goldman was already facing condemnation about proposals to defer bonuses until after 6 April (Paris: FR0004037125 - news) , when the top rate of income tax falls to 45% from 50%, when King waded in. The Bank of England governor told MPs he regarded such attempts as "depressing". [The Guardian]

Developing countries should not be tempted to stimulate their economies this year in the face of weak growth, the World Bank warned on Wednesday even though the world faces another challenging year. In forecasts that suggest 2013 will see only marginally stronger growth than last year, the Bank recommends that poor and middle-income countries concentrate on fundamental drivers of prosperity rather than attempt a quick fix. The warning comes as growth rates in large emerging economies including Brazil, Russia and India slowed sharply last year and just days after Japan's incoming government launched a Y10.3tn ($116bn) stimulus package to revive its economy. [Financial Times]

Cuts in public spending and the ongoing eurozone crisis will lead to thousands of fresh job losses across Scotland's construction sector over the next four years, according to a report that warns of a "demographic time-bomb" facing the industry. In today's annual report, the Construction Skills Network (CSN) estimated that employment in the sector north of the Border would fall by 1 per cent a year on average between 2013 and 2017. That is despite the fact that output is set to eke growth over the period, following a drop of 13 per cent in 2012. [The Scotsman]

BC