Wednesday newspaper round-up: BP, Bumi, Barclays...

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LONDON (ShareCast) - Iran believes BP (LSE: BP.L - news) -operated Azeri oil platforms have polluted the Caspian Sea and may sue the UK oil group if it continues, Iran's deputy environment minister has been reported as saying by Iranian media. Iranian officials have complained that Azeri oil has washed up on Iranian beaches over the last year, with Iran's Press TV reporting on Sunday that Tehran may sue Azerbaijan. Mehr news reported on Tuesday that deputy minister Abdolreza Karbasi had accused BP of dumping oil waste into the Caspian Sea and that Iran might target BP in court if it continued. [The Guardian]

The soap opera at Bumi continues after the board of the London-listed Indonesian coal mining group voted unanimously to reject a radical restructuring plan proposed by its co-founder, Nat Rothschild. But Mr Rothschild's campaign did receive a high-profile boost when Peter Simon, the founder of the Monsoon and Accessorize fashion chain, declared his support for the proposal. "It is time for a complete change of management," said Mr Simon, whose Stoneycroft family trust owns 0.35 per cent of Bumi's shares. Mr Rothschild, who is locked in a bitter dispute with Bumi's other co-founders, Indonesia's Bakrie brothers, as well as senior executives has proposed replacing 12 of the group's 14 directors and rejoining the board, after quitting last year. [The Independent]

Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) is preparing to hand its chief executive Antony Jenkins a bonus of at least £1m for 2012 - a year when the bank was fined £290m for its part in the Libor-rigging scandal and set aside a further £1bn for mis-selling payment protection insurance. The award of "a seven-figure sum" to Jenkins has been discussed with the bank's major shareholders by Sir John Sunderland, the head of the Barclays remuneration committee. He will face a grilling from MPs and peers on the banking standards commission over the bank's pay policies on Wednesday day. [The Guardian]

Evidence that Philip Clarke's plans to rejuvenate Britain's biggest grocer are bearing fruit was delivered yesterday when it was revealed that Tesco (Other OTC: TSCDY - news) had put the brakes on an 18-month slide in market share. The grocer held its 30.4 per cent share in the 12 weeks to January 20, according to figures released yesterday by Kantar Worldpanel. Tesco emerged as the best-performing supermarket of the Big Four, with Wm Morrison continuing its run as the most poorly performing of the sector leaders. Sales at Morrisons fell by 1.7 per cent. Edward Garner, of Kantar Worldpanel, said: "These positive results are a sign of stabilisation for Tesco as the retailer gets back on track with its customers. However, this improvement has put some pressure on the rest of the Big Four, with Morrisons, in particular, suffering a drop in sales and a share decline of 0.6 percentage points in the latest period." [The Times]

Britain risks seeing its standard of living hit if it leaves the European Union, according to the head of the world's largest bond fund. Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive of Pimco, warned that David Cameron would need a 'Plan B' to limit the impact on the economy if the UK were to exit the EU. "Whichever way you look at this, Prime Minister David Cameron has materially increased the probability that, beyond 2017, Poland rather than the UK will be among the three largest economies defining the scale and scope of European regional integration. Let's hope that he also has a Plan B that would limit the potential downside to Britain's standard of living," Mr El-Erian wrote in Fortune magazine. [The Telegraph]

The European commissioner in charge of regulatory reform of the region's banks has signalled a retreat from plans to force lenders to build barriers around their securities trading operations, as policy makers focus on stimulating growth. Michel Barnier told the Financial Times that any implementation of last year's Liikanen report on the structure of European banks would have to "preserve their diversity" and avoid "penalising" lenders that were supporting the economy.

European officials are working on a "precise impact analysis" of the Liikanen report, commissioned by the EU from a panel of experts led by Finnish central banker Erkki Liikanen. Mr Barnier promised to set out his "choices and priorities" by the summer after considering "all options" for structural reform. However, the commissioner made clear that the Liikanen report's central recommendation - that banks' trading activities should be hived off into ringfenced, separately capitalised units - risked undermining fragile European growth outlook. [Financial Times]

Senior executives at BP were scolded by a judge yesterday for failing to apologise personally to the families of oil workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion. US District Judge Sarah Vance said that the testimony of relatives was "truly gut-wenching" as she found the oil company guilty of 11 counts of manslaughter. BP had agreed the terms of its $4 billion (£2.5 billion) settlement with the US Government two months ago, but the deal had to be formally ratified by a federal judge. The hearing in New Orleans yesterday gave family members of the men killed on the Deepwater Horizon rig three years ago an opportunity to express their anger in court. [The Times]

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