Lionel Barber’s pick of the week

Introduction: Upstart Xstrata makes a multi-billion dollar approach for Anglo-American, the establishment mining company; the turf battle over banking regulation intensifies in the UK; the Iranian authorities tighten a noose around the opposition; and Michael Jackson, the Peter Pan of pop, dies in California, aged 50.

Award watch: Barney Jopson’s articles on the political and economic impact of water aid in Asia and Africa won a distinguished mention in despatches in the Martha Gellhorn prize.

And if you missed the Financial Times or this past week, you would have missed the following top ten items:

1) The Federal Reserve is considering dramatic changes in the repo markets where banks raise billions of dollars overnight. Our front-page scoop from Henny Sender and Michael Mackenzie was accompanied by a full package inside. This included an expose by Henny on the role played by JP Morgan Chase – in its capacity as a clearing bank in the repo market – in the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

2) The founders of Rothschild bank and Freshfields, the leading City of London solicitors, had financial links to slavery, according to previously undiscovered documents in the National Archive. The scoop was by Carola Hoyos (following diligent work by an ex City banker).

3) Simon Cowell, the Pop Idol founder-creator, and Sir Philip Green, the High Street retailer, are teaming up in a joint business venture.

4) Guy Dinmore wrote the best account by far of Silvio Berlusconi’s political difficulties triggered by sexual liaisons with women of various ages and backgrounds.

5) Charles Clover’s magisterial report on the modernisation of the Red Army, pushed through by a group of insurgent generals in the wake of the Georgian war.

6) Board tensions are erupting at Marks & Spencer over the planned (or lack of planned) succession to Sir Stuart Rose. Kate Burgess dug deep, working alongside Andrea Felsted.

7) Tony Barber’s nuanced global insight which explained that there is more common ground between France and Germany than first appears regarding their superficially divergent approaches to economic policy in Europe’s monetary union.

8) Amy Kazmin’s report on the rising number of attacks by white Australians on Indian students. Amy highlighted how Indians are pushed or tricked into second-rate courses by unscrupulous agents, and often forced to live in the least salubrious areas of Australia’s cities.

9) Byron Trott, Warren Buffett’s favourite banker, has raised more than $2bn for a new fund. Justin Baer, Henny Sender and Julie Macintosh broke the story.

10) Simon Schama’s brilliant books essay on insects – a great read for non-scientists but also richly illustrated.

Corporate news watch: Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson wrote a sophisticated second fronter on the decline in customer loyalty that has taken place during the economic downturn.

Joe Menn wrote everything you needed to know about the state of play at Apple, post Steve Jobs’ liver transplant.

Saskia Scholtes produced a scoop on insurers owing as much as $6bn on policies that protect companies against legal costs.

William McNamara and Richard Lapper have produced good copy on the Xstrata-Anglo deal.

Richard Waters wrote an excellent Saturday analysis on how western companies are also assisting the Chinese. Kathrin Hille has written lucidly on the Green Dam censorship move in general.

Trend watch II: Catherine Belton revealed that the Kremlin is working on plans to recapitalise Russia’s stricken banks – one to watch. John Authers wrote a sharp Short View on Russia to complement the coverage.

Our man on the spot: Farhan Bokhari’s reporting from the ground in Buner, the district in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province that was the first major battleground in the confrontation between the Pakistani Taliban and the military. Farhan did an audio interview for as well producing two pieces for the newspaper, and followed up with a scoop interview with Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who disclosed rising Chinese aid to Pakistan and a state of alert in the southern provinces of Sindh and Punjab.

Our woman on the spot: Emma Jacobs wrote an arresting on-the-ground piece on how the downturn is affecting this year’s Wimbledon hawkers. A really hint of the life of the small entrepreneurs feeding and supplying the queue.

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