Buffett gives US$1.5 billion
Warren Buffett, the billionaire who pledged to donate most of his wealth to charity, contributed stock valued at US$1.52 billion in his annual gift to the foundation created by Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates. Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, donated about 18.4 million of his company’s Class B shares to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to a filing issued on Friday. The shares closed at US$82.54 in New York. Buffett announced plans in 2006 to donate 10 million Class B shares to the Gates Foundation and made an initial gift of 500,000 shares.
Stricter rules for derivatives
Banks may have to meet minimum collateral rules for over-the-counter derivatives trades that are not centrally cleared as part of a push by global regulators to make the market safer. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision on Friday published a draft of the standards, which it said would prevent companies from exploiting rule differences between nations. The paper sets out a partial list of assets that can count as collateral, including gold and some equities. The measures, which are being published for public comment, would apply to trades involving financial-services companies and large businesses in other industries that trade these securities.
IMF urges gas price rise
The IMF again urged the nation on Friday to raise natural gas prices for consumers, a sticking point in the resumption of an IMF bailout. The country’s strong economic recovery from 2010 to last year, following a global crisis, was slowing under pressure from lower demand for its exports and slow credit growth, the IMF said in an annual review of the economy. According to IMF projections, growth will slow to 3 percent this year after a 5.2 percent expansion last year. The IMF directors “urged the authorities to gradually increase gas and heating tariffs and enhance payment compliance,” the global lender said in a statement. “A comprehensive reform of the energy sector is critical to reduce the strain on the budget and gain energy independence.”
UK to ease loan regulations
Britain is prepared to relax lending and funding requirements to make it easier for building societies to lend to small businesses and to stimulate competition in the financial services industry, the Treasury said on Friday. Current rules state that 50 percent of a building society’s funding should be in the form of retail deposits and 75 percent of lending must be secured on residential property. The government said it supported those limits as they differentiated building societies from banks and acted as safeguards. However, it would be flexible if mutually-owned building societies decide to offer more services to businesses. Britain is desperate to boost lending to small companies which have suffered from a credit famine as mainstream high street banks focus on shrinking their balance sheets and building up capital reserves to meet new regulations. Nationwide CEO Graham Beale said the government proposals would enable Britain’s biggest building society to mount a challenge to the banks across a full range of retail financial services.