Lionel Barber’s pick of the week

Themes of the Week: The Obama administration unveils sweeping proposals for regulating the opaque over-the-counter derivatives market; a Hollywood media mogul eyes up buying the New York Times; Sri Lankan government forces strangle the Tamil Tigers; and Westminster MPs suffers their worst week since 1641 (with apologies to the Daily Telegraph…)

And if you missed the Financial Times or ft.com this week, you would have missed the following top ten gems:1) Barclays is in talks to sell its prized asset management arm for about $10bn to potential bidders including BlackRock, the US money manager.  Henny Sender, Martin Arnold and Jane Croft combined across the Atlantic to nail a clean scoop which told us a great deal about Barclays’ search for capital and the market appetite for assets.  We broke the story online, others followed.

2) Gordon Brown will back the controversial order of Eurofighter Typhoon jets, overriding British army generals’ objections that the fast-jets are Cold War relics.  Alex Parker and George Parker, supported by Jeremy Lemer, broke the story two days ahead of an official announcement eagerly anticipated in the UK defence industry and our allies in Berlin and Paris.

3) Fujitsu Services, the UK arm of the Japanese technology giant, is closing its final salary scheme – the first large employer in two years to close its defined benefit scheme and a harbinger for others in the middle of the recession. Norma Cohen once again established herself (and the FT) as the leading writer on pensions in Britain.

4) The image of China as an export-dependent, river delta-driven economy no longer matches the reality.  Rather it is becoming an increasingly self-propelling economic force, according to in-depth research compiled by China Confidential.  James Kynge wrote an excellent Global Insight on the theme in Monday’s FT.

5) David Geffen, the Hollywood media mogul, is interested in acquiring the New York Times. Matt Garrahan delivered the scoop, a most-read item on ft.com.  He followed it up with a sharp profile of Geffen in the weekend FT.  John Gapper wrote a very stylish comment on the opinion page.

6) Tim Geithner was fundamentally at odds with Alan Greenspan over his deregulatory, free market views, especially regarding derivatives trading and the opaque OTC world.  This 24-carat nugget could be found in Gillian Tett’s Friday markets column which offered a lucid account of now US treasury sec Geithner’s reform package, including this week’s OTC package driven by Sarah O’Connor, Gillian Tett and Aline van Duyn.

7) Ricky Gervais aka David Brent of The Office emerged as a savvy entrepreneur in an excellent profile/interview conducted by Emma Jacobs in Tuesday’s Business Life page.

8) The Bank of England, Treasury and Financial Services Authority must further redefine their roles in financial stability and macroeconomic policy, including the rate-setting MPC, according to Sir John Gieve who has just stepped down as deputy governor of the Bank.  Sir John’s confessional appeared on the opinion page on Tuesday.

9) Nakheel, the developer behind some of Dubai’s most extraordinary property projects, has had to turn to funding from the emirate’s department of finance).  Simeon Kerr reporting.

10) Nigeria’s middle classes are experiencing a boom in home-grown hip-hop known as “Naija” (youth slang for Nigeria).  Matthew Green’s Global Village column, written from Lagos, was as pulsating as the muzak itself.

FT.com watch: On the video front Anna Fifield delivered a fascinating interview with Hizbollah‘s dep secretary general, while Seb Morton-Clark and Steve Ager produced a beautiful video on Doha’s new Islamic Art museum for the Distinctive Living special report.  Chris Giles and Dan Garrahan delivered a pithy video on Scotland’s harder economic path to independence to back up the UK news pages’ decade of devolution series.

Westminster blog team kept the blog lively with YouTube videos of our political leaders being pummelled on question time – a reminder that blogs do not just comprise words.  Watch Margaret Beckett being turned into toast inside a minute.

Stress tests watch: Francesco Guerrera, Anuj Gangahar and Saskia Scholtes revealed that the bank stress test had created a bonanza for underwriters of the equity issues being done to fill the capital holes identified by regulators. Their Tuesday front-pager gave us three straight days of outside news coverage of the stress tests.

Headline of the Week: Riga Mortis in Lex – a witty but powerful reminder of the devastation wreaked upon the Baltic states by the global financial crisis.

UK corporate news watch: Peggy Hollinger and Ed Crooks covered every angle on the EDF/Centrica/British Energy deal.  Dan Thomas dissected the Land Securities writedown.  Andrew Hill wrote some pithy takes this week in Lombard.

US corporate news watch: Henny Sender produced a penetrating report on how investors in GM’s credit insurance had an interest in pushing for a bankruptcy filing by the automaker. The company’s stock lost about a fifth of its value on the day our story appeared.

Francesco Guerrera delivered a strong-second front scoop on how two Citigroup directors would have lost their seats in shareholder voting, if not for rule that enables brokers to cast votes for their clients. The news was buried in a company filing that reporters other than Francesco, apparently, didn’t bother to read.

Analysis page watch: Strong contributions from Asia this week, including Joe Leahy on the endgame in Sri Lanka and the Beijing connection, and Geoff Dyer on the Chinese health system and precautionary savings.

Asia watch: Amy Kazmin found herself in Burma at the right time, on the bizarre incident surrounding an American’s swim across a pond and the prosecution of Burma’s most famous opposition leader as a result. Tim Johnston from Bangkok worked hard to add some valuable insights from exiled Burmese.

James Lamont and Joe Leahy led excellent Indian election coverage, bringing us the news online on Saturday of Congress’s surprisingly strong performance. Good supporting work from James Fontanella-Kahn. Sunny Tucker and James Anderlini brought us a wealth of detail on the rich pickings from the flip-sale of Bofa’s firesale of its stake in China Construction Bank.

Fancy that…..Aban Contractor, one of our (Australian) production journalists, has a nice scoop in today’s paper about Australia giving foreign companies tax breaks on R&D. She got the story because the relevant Aussie minister rang her…four years after she stopped covering politics in Sydney and because he had heard she was at the FT.

Er, but we are still not supporting Australia in the Ashes…

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