Frontrunning: April 20

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  • Current account surplus recycling goes global: BRICS demand bigger IMF role before giving it cash (Reuters)
  • Obama oil margin plan could increase price swings (Reuters)
  • Britons Abandoning Pensions Amid ‘Outdated’ Rules (Bloomberg)
  • Hedge-Fund Assets Rise to Record Level (WSJ)
  • Way to restore confidence: SEC considers case against Egan-Jones (FT)
  • Qatari wealth fund adds 5% Tiffany stake  (FT)
  • "Do we file bankruptcy and how?" Dewey Pitches Plan for Rescue (WSJ)
  • French president slips further behind Socialist challenger Hollande (ANI)
  • Nine U.S. Banks Said to be Examined on Overdraft Fees (Bloomberg)
  • Capital Rotation: Investors fret on emerging markets and look to U.S. (Reuters)
  • Verizon's Answer to iPhone: Windows (WSJ)

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* President Obama's efforts to project himself as a protector of the middle class have strengthened him for the general election, while Mitt Romney has gained traction with his argument that he can improve the economy.

* Dewey & LeBoeuf is considering a novel rescue plan that would put the law firm into bankruptcy protection but might be its best hope at preserving value at a prestigious firm that this year has been hemorrhaging talent.

* Rising layoffs, falling home sales and slowing manufacturing activity are sparking fears that the economic recovery is headed for a springtime stall for the third year in a row.

* An unprofitable business-technology start-up with a funny name turned in the best stock debut this year. Splunk closed up 109 percent, the latest proof that the tech-stock appetite extends beyond hot names like Facebook.

* Verizon, fed up with the high costs of offering the iPhone, plans to push smartphones powered by Microsoft's Windows software, as a counterweight to the popular Apple device.

* The SEC voted to take an enforcement action against Egan-Jones Ratings, alleging the credit-rating firm's regulatory filings included inaccuracies.

* Ford Motor Co said it would build its fifth car factory in eastern China as part of a plan to double its production capacity and sales outlets in the country by 2015 -- a $5 billion bet overall on a market where the U.S. auto maker faces significant challenges.

* The hedge-fund industry is bigger than ever before, after a market rally helped lift assets under management to a record. Total hedge-fund assets surged to $2.13 trillion at the end of the first quarter, beating the previous high of $2.04 trillion, set in the middle of last year, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc. Higher returns, rather than the flow of new money from investors, accounted for a large portion of the industry's growth.

FT

BRUSSELS APPROVES $2.2 BILLION SONY-EMI DEAL

A Sony-led consortium won European Union clearance on Thursday for its $2.2 billion purchase of EMI's music publishing business, giving unexpectedly early antitrust approval to one half of a deal to split the independent British music group.

MOSCOW TO BRING SPILL CHARGES AGAINST TNK-BP

Moscow has ordered that charges be brought against TNK-BP , BP's Russian oil venture, over damages caused by oil spills in Siberia.

SEC CONSIDERS CASE AGAINST EGAN-JONES

Egan-Jones and the credit rating agency's founder may face civil charges for allegedly filing misleading information in its 2008 application to rate asset-backed securities and sovereign debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

QATARI WEALTH FUND ADDS 5 PERCENT TIFFANY'S STAKE

Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has made its first big investment in a U.S. public company by acquiring a 5.2 percent stake in Tiffany, the jewellery retailer known for its diamond rings and blue, ribboned boxes.

UK REGULATORS URGE TAKEOVER TRANSPARENCY

Companies and bankers have been encouraged by UK regulators to share takeover plans more freely with investors in the wake of G4S's 5.2 billion pound ($8.35 billion) failed bid for Danish cleaning company ISS.

GOLDMAN SACHS TO SELL PETERSHILL FUND

Goldman Sachs is in late-stage negotiations over the sale of its Petershill fund, a high-profile investment vehicle which owns stakes in some of the world's most successful hedge fund managers.

CONCORDIA SALVAGE AWARD EXPECTED

The contract for one of the most challenging and costly salvage operations ever mounted is expected to be awarded this weekend as Italian officials and insurance companies select the winner of a tender to recover the Costa Concordia cruise liner, which sank off Tuscany in January.

BARCLAYS INVESTORS FORCE BONUS RULES

Shareholders in Barclays have forced the British bank to accept tougher bonus conditions and promise higher dividends, highlighting how the balance of power between investors and managers is shifting at some of the biggest global banks.

MPS SEEK SAY IN CHOICE OF BANK GOVERNOR

British finance minister George Osborne has been warned not to ignore the will of parliament in appointing a new Bank of England governor, as debate intensified at Westminster over whether a foreign candidate - possibly Mark Carney of Canada's central bank - should be considered for the post.

NYT

* Global finance leaders are meeting in Washington to discuss oil prices, unemployment and other issues putting a cloud over the economy.

* Europeans may discover this week that the debt crisis is not only threatening the euro zone economy and the integrity of the common currency, but also diminishing Europe's influence in world affairs.

* A credit rating downgrade could hurt Morgan Stanley's huge derivatives business, forcing the group to come up with billions of extra dollars.

* India cannot get enough fuel to run power plants, and the problem has contributed significantly to a second year of slowing economic growth in the country.

* Sales of Windows to consumers declined, but big businesses picked up the slack, Microsoft announced, with its earnings beating estimates by analysts expecting a drop.

* Nokia, struggling to reinvent its smartphone business around Microsoft's Windows Phone software, said Thursday that it might have to cut prices of its cheaper Lumia models to keep its new phones competitive in some markets.

* Federal prosecutors in California are investigating whether a Goldman Sachs executive leaked confidential information about two publicly traded companies to Raj Rajaratnam, the convicted former hedge fund manager.

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

 

- The NDP have swept to a decisive victory in both British Columbia by-elections - including a landslide win in an area where the party has not won since provincial elections began more than a century ago. r.reuters.com/hej77s

- Three recent deaths at the hands of Toronto police have prompted the force to launch a wide-ranging review of how they deal with the mentally ill. r.reuters.com/jej77s

Reports in the business section:

- The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is paying $1.14 billion for stakes in five major Chilean toll roads, as the fund seeks to boost its exposure to both infrastructure and emerging markets. r.reuters.com/nej77s

- Iamgold Corp's chief executive Steve Letwin laid out plans to nearly double the company's production by 2017 from the current 850,000 ounces, with most of that to come from acquisitions, including one in coming months that will likely be worth between $400 million and $500 million.

NATIONAL POST

- Foods and drinks boosted with high levels of certain vitamins and minerals are going to have to be reformulated to stay on store shelves as Health Canada moves to close a loophole that has permitted fortified snacks and beverages to be sold as natural health products. r.reuters.com/xej77s

Reports in the business section:

 - Canadian convenience store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc is eyeing Germany for its next big move after it takes time to digest its $2.8 billion proposed takeover of Norwegian service station operator Statoil Fuel and Retail ASA . r.reuters.com/buj77s