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[December 12, 2013]


(City A.M. (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Nigeria's missing $50bn oil cash A letter from the Central Bank of Nigeria suggests that the state oil company has failed to account for nearly $50bn in crude oil sold between January 2012 and July 2013 that should by law have been remitted to government coffers. The alleged shortfall amounts to 76 per cent of crude oil sold by the NNPC and is nearly equal to federal budget expenditure for both years. The NNPC has rejected the allegations.

Support for US budget deal grows US Congress appeared on track to approve a bipartisan budget deal designed to provide stability to America's fiscal policy for the next two years and spur its economic recovery. The high-stakes agreement sealed on Tuesday night by Patty Murray and Paul Ryan, the Democratic and Republican budget negotiators, will be taken up by the House of Representatives as soon as Thursday, to be followed by the Senate.

Blackstone suffers another blow The patchy record of US private equity group Blackstone in India has been further dented by its holdings in Financial Technologies, a trading software maker for stock exchanges, whose sister company is mired in allegations of fraud. Financial Technologies has seen its shares fall by 71 per cent since the beginning of August. Investors took fright at a scandal relating to National Spot Exchange Limited.

Branson scales back at Virgin Trains It has emerged that in Virgin Trains' bid to run the London King's Cross-Edinburgh East Coast Main Line, Sir Richard's Virgin Group will be only a 10 per cent shareholder. The other 90 per cent will be held by Stagecoach, its long-term partner in Virgin Trains.

Spotify to launch free music on mobile Spotify is releasing a free version of its music service for mobile devices, a service that users previously had to pay for, in its latest attempt to take on rivals such as Apple and Google. The Swedish company said it was also releasing its free system for tablets.

EU state aid to hit Hinkley Point plans Britain''s £16bn plans for its first nuclear plant in a generation could be delayed or derailed by an EU investigation into possible illegal state support, which is likely to be launched within days. European Commission officials are expected to publish a strongly-worded list of potential breaches of state aid laws in the funding arrangements for the Hinkley Point project.

Ferrovial has eye on regional airports Spain''s Ferrovial, the biggest investor in Heathrow, has expressed an interest in buying the airport's three regional businesses.

JPM to spend double on controls J.P. Morgan chief executive and chairman James Dimon expects to double the amount the largest U.S. bank spends on controls in 2014 as it operates under heightened scrutiny from regulators.

Hilton hotel IPO prices at $20 a share Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. priced its initial public offering at $20 a share, capping a powerful turnaround for the giant hotel operator and generating an $8.5 billion profit for its owner, Blackstone Group LP. Hilton is the world''s largest hotel company by rooms, with nearly 700,000.

(c) 2013 City A.M.

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