An inmate at a notoriously lax open jail was caught

An inmate at a notoriously lax open jail was caught trying to smuggle a rabbit inside to keep as a pet.

The prisoner at Hollesley Bay open prison in Woodbridge, Suffolk, is thought to have found the animal while outside on day release.

He was able to bring the rabbit back inside the prison - nicknamed Holiday Bay because its laid-back regime - where convicts managed to build it a hutch and started treating it as a prison pet.

Lax: The prisoner was able to bring a rabbit back inside Hollesley Bay open prison in Suffolk - nicknamed Holiday Bay by inmates

Prison wardens eventually found and confiscated the rabbit, then gave it to a rescue centre.

The inmate is thought to have found the rabbit roaming wild, as opposed to taking it from a previous owner. It is unclear whether the pet was kept in one prisoner's room or elsewhere in the jail.

  More... Thief breaks INTO Suffolk jail through a skylight and steals £3,000 worth of cigarettes Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy taken into custody and quizzed in corruption probe Carer stole £1,000 from her own disabled mother after becoming addicted to CANDY CRUSH He has since been disciplined for the breach, which took place several weeks ago.

The rabbit fiasco is the latest in a string of embarrassments for Hollesley Bay, which last week the target of a bizarre theft.

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+1 Low security: The jail in Suffolk is mocked by inmates because of its lax regime

An audacious thief broke into the jail, slipping through a skylight to steal £3,000 of tobacco meant to be sold to inmates.  

The cache was stolen from the prison's main storeroom in a late-night raid before it could be sold to convicts. Police hunting the culprits are understood to have found a shoe print near the scene.

The tobacco was taken between 4.30pm on Monday, June 16 and 8am on Tuesday, June 17.

Suffolk Police said up to 300 packets were taken.

A prison spokesman said: 'Earlier this month a quantity of tobacco products was stolen from HMP Hollesley Bay. This is now a matter for the police.'

New inmate: A prisoner at HMP Hollesley Bay brought a rabbit inside the prison as a pet - and built it a hutch

Recapitalizing Fannie, Freddie not viable--Treasury official

A senior U.S. Treasury official on Friday rejected proposals to recapitalize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying it would take at least 20 years to make sure they were adequately funded and that in the meantime taxpayers would potentially be on the hook.

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In remarks prepared for delivery to a housing conference, Treasury Under Secretary Mary Miller repeated the Obama administration's call for winding down the two government-controlled mortgage finance firms.

"Critics of reform would suggest that we can simply recapitalize the GSEs and avoid difficult decisions around creating a new system," she said. "Even if truly rehabilitating the GSEs were possible, recapitalizing them adequately would take at least 20 years." (Reporting by Timothy Ahmann; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

INVESTMENT FOCUS-Press here, Mr Carney, for lower volatility?

In the struggle to explain this year's collapse in volatility and volume in financial trading, one newly-nominated culprit is central banks' intent to use every tactic available short of raising interest rates too soon.

It sounded like a deeply contrarian view on Friday after comments by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, but a study by analysts from market heavyweights HSBC this week argued that the use of macroprudential steps will make central bank interest rates in general less volatile in future. Implicitly that may mean markets see less marked swings.

The global economy is right at the point, as the economic fates of Japan, Europe and the United States diverge, when an upturn in trading action could be expected due to the growing chances for arbitrage between future interest rates.

Yet volatility, which traders depend upon for profits, is at rock bottom. Trading in currencies on the biggest platforms has fallen by a third to half in the past year; options contracts betting on volatility are around all-time lows.

Even with a blip higher stemming from Carney's comments on Friday, sterling implied volatility was glued to its lowest levels on record, less than a quarter of highs reached in 2008.

There are numerous theories as to why, ranging from the growth in machine-driven trading to the scaling back of banks' mandates to invest on their own account, disappointment at the pace of the U.S. recovery or allegations of market manipulation that have pushed traders back inside their shells.

The HSBC study argues that one big factor may be that central banks are in the midst of a regime change of their own.

"Macroprudential policy, which aims to maintain financial stability through targeted measures, is already part of the mix and is set to grow ever more important," HSBC analysts said in the paper this week.

"It will, in part, replace interest rate moves and since FX has traditionally been very sensitive to rates, the repercussions for the currency markets will be significant."

HEAT RELEASE

Thereafter, it all gets a bit cloudy.

New Zealand, Canada and Norway have all used targeted measures to tighten their grip on mortgage lending and take some of the heat out of their property markets but in the end wound up raising borrowing costs anyway.

Indeed the New Zealand central bank delivered another market shock this week in pledging it still has a lot more to do.

Likewise, while UK finance minister George Osborne promised further steps to target house prices in a speech on Thursday, Carney followed less than an hour later with a U-turn on policy that looked very like a promise of higher borrowing costs this year.

This all goes to the traditional thinking of many market players on macroprudential policy: it is very nice in theory but has never worked except as a distraction before we return to the real business of managing demand through interest rates.

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Yet it is not just HSBC who says that view is outdated.

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"What you have to recognise about macroprudential measures is that they are a response to the failure of inflation-targeting, which does not work and is too blunt an instrument," said Neil Mellor, a currency market strategist with U.S custodial lender Bank of New York-Mellon in London.

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"You can certainly point to the failure of measures in the past, but if for example we can even partially enhance economic stability over the course of the cycle then that will be a good thing. I think we will see a lot of tinkering over the next few years."

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As with so much of policymaking since the 2008 crisis, this all stems substantially from the need to find ways to do more to address the imbalances and risks in the detail of economies that interest rates can just wash over.

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Much of the HSBC study concerns itself with trying to establish the likely impact of the longer-term and more consistent use of macroprudential measures.

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But, as ever, there are imperatives for officials like Carney in what is right in front of his nose: keeping the British economy going as fast as he can without the wheels coming off either the banking system or inflation.

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Notwithstanding Thursday's words, if he can find any way to accomplish that without having to deliver on the threat of higher rates then surely he will.

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"As a central banker you have to look at the overall picture of the economy," says Andrew Wilson, CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management in London.

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"I am not sure it will reduce volatility but if macroprudential policy dampens, for example, house price inflation then it may mean monetary policy needs to do less to weaken demand in the economy in general." (Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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REFILE-GM recalls 511,528 Chevy Camaros because key bump can cause power loss

General Motors Co said on Friday it will recall 511,528 Chevrolet Camaro cars, mainly in North America, because a driver's knee can bump the key fob and turn it out of the "run" position, causing a loss of power.

GM said it is aware of three crashes causing four "minor" injuries believed related to this issue.

"The Camaro ignition system meets all GM engineering specifications and is unrelated to the ignition system used in Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars included in the ignition switch recall," GM said in a statement.

GM earlier this year recalled 2.6 million small cars because of an ignition switch failure, linked to at least 13 deaths.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

Thai junta says curfew lifted nationwide

Thailand's military government lifted a curfew nationwide on Friday, citing the absence of any violence and the need to support the country's tourism sector.

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"As the situation has improved and there have been no incidents that can lead to violence ... and in order to improve tourism, the curfew will be lifted in all remaining provinces," the ruling military council said in a televised announcement.

The curfew had been in place from midnight to 4 a.m. in 47 provinces including the capital Bangkok. It had lifted the curfew in 30 provinces, which include the country's main tourist hotspots, over the past week.

(Reporting by Amty Sawitta Lefevre; Writing by Maertin Petty; Editing by Ron Popeski)

UPDATE 1-GM issues another ignition switch recall, for Chevy Camaros

General Motors Co recalled 511,528 Chevrolet Camaros on Friday for an ignition switch problem similar to the defect linked to at least 13 deaths in Chevrolet Cobalts and other models.

GM said it was aware of minor accidents but no fatalities from the Camaro, a sporty two-door car. It said the Camaro switch defect differed from the problem in the Cobalts, but a consumer advocate said GM still should have recalled the Camaros sooner.

GM said a driver's knee could bump the Camaro key fob and move the ignition switch out of the "run" position, causing the engine to shut off. The earlier recall of Cobalts and other small cars involved an ignition switch in which a bump of the key fob could turn off the engine, disabling power steering and airbags.

That defect, first observed by GM engineers in 2002, was not reported to consumers for years. Chief Executive Mary Barra in recent months overhauled the way GM handles safety recalls.

The Camaro recall bloats the number of GM vehicles summoned back for switch-related problems to more than 3.1 million as Barra prepares to return to Congress next week to give more testimony on the earlier recall.

"It is troubling that GM continues to announce ignition switch-related recalls on late-model vehicles (which) raises questions about how pervasive the problem is and why it is taking so long for GM to act," said Representative Henry Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee that is investigating GM.

Barra will be joined by Anton Valukas, chairman of GM's outside law firm Jenner & Block, who conducted a months-long investigation that detailed deep flaws in GM's internal decision-making process.

The so-called Valukas report, made public last week, triggered the departures of 15 GM employees, including several high-ranking executives in the legal, engineering and public policy groups.

GM's 3.1 million switch-related recalls are a fraction of the record 16.5 million cars the automaker has recalled this year in 38 actions. That's about as many cars as the entire auto industry expects to sell this year in the United States.

The switch problem in this recall, of Camaros from model years 2010 to 2014, is "not at all related to the Cobalt," GM safety spokesman Alan Adler said in an interview. "The condition here is a switchblade key" in which a key pops out of the key fob when a small button is depressed.

The problem with the Camaro switch "is an external bumping issue," Adler said. He said it involves "an atypical seating situation. If you sit somewhat normally and don't pull your seat way up, you are not going to have this problem."

The Cobalt and Ion had a similar issue involving the location of the switch on the steering column and the tendency of some drivers to bump that switch. Some other key issues also are similar: When the key fob is bumped and the switch is moved out of the run position, the engine can turn off, causing loss of power steering and failure of airbags to deploy in a crash.

GM said it was aware of three crashes causing four minor injuries linked to the issue in Camaro. Adler said air bags did not deploy in those crashes and he did not know details.

GM "should have recalled" the Camaro earlier, said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety, a Washington-based watchdog group. "GM said it's not the same problem, but it's a first cousin," Ditlow said.

Adler said GM would send letters to Camaro owners, advising them to visit dealers to get a new key made. Until then, he said GM is advising Camaro owners to "drive the car and be aware" of the problem.

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The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is responsible for overseeing safety defects and recalls, had not yet posted an official Camaro recall notice, but the agency has received and posted several consumer complaints.

NHTSA said Friday afternoon it had not received GM's official recall notice on the Camaro, but "is monitoring the issue closely."

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Lawmakers have criticized NHTSA for not acting more swiftly to recall GM small cars with defective switches.

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The agency awarded the 2012-2014 Camaro five-star safety ratings, its highest, for safety in front, side and rollover crashes.

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Adler said GM discovered the issue in the Camaro as it was testing a wide range of its 2014-2016 models after the widely publicized small-car ignition switch recall.

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Jeff Boyer, appointed to the new position of vice president for GM global safety earlier this year in response to the small-car ignition switch recall, said the Camaro recall was a quick action that is "the new norm for product safety at GM," according to the press statement.

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GM shares closed at $35.63, up 11 cents. (Additional reporting by Richard Cowan in Washington and Thyagaraju Adinarayan in Bangalore; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio)

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UPDATE 4-Carney signals earlier British rate rise, sterling soars

Britain could become the first major economy to tighten monetary policy since the 2008 financial crisis, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has signalled, sending sterling shooting towards a five-year high against the dollar on Friday.

British government bond yields soared, construction stocks tumbled and interest rate futures priced in a first hike by December after Carney said rates could rise sooner than markets had thought - his most hawkish comment to date.

"There's already great speculation about the exact timing of the first rate hike and this decision is becoming more balanced," Carney said in a speech late on Thursday alongside British finance minister George Osborne.

"It could happen sooner than markets currently expect."

Few economists had expected rates to increase until the second quarter of next year given the central bank's previous guidance that there was plenty of scope for Britain's economy to expand further without causing inflation.

A Reuters poll of economists on Friday showed most expect a rate rise will come by March 2015, three months earlier than a previous poll published two weeks ago. Only a minority expect a rate rise before the end of this year.

A rise in BoE rates this year would be the first since 2007 and put it ahead of both the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. The Fed is still pumping extra stimulus into the U.S. economy while the ECB cut interest rates to record lows last week and said it may not have finished easing.

Carney said Britain's economy still had room to grow without pushing up inflation, but added that he saw little sign yet of a slowdown in the pace of expansion that the central bank had pencilled in for the second half of the year.

"The change reflects the reality in the economy. It is flying now. Employment is rising at a record pace and we see no sign of economic growth slowing from its current pace," said Rob Wood, chief UK economist at German bank Berenberg.

The pound hit a 5-1/2 year high against a trade-weighted basket of currencies and came with in a hair's breadth of its highest in almost five years against the dollar.

Short sterling rate futures fell <0#FSS:>, pricing in the first hike by December. The interbank interest rate curve (SONIA) also pointed to a rate rise by year's end. On Thursday it had pointed to a rise in the first quarter of 2015.

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Rating's agency Standard & Poor's upgraded its outlook for Britain's triple-A credit rating to stable from negative late on Friday, although rivals Moody's and Fitch have still kept it a notch below triple-A.

An interest rate rise before a national election next May could hurt perceptions of the Conservative-led coalition government by raising mortgage costs and eating into disposable income, which the opposition Labour party says is being eroded by rising prices for everything from energy to transport.

"It is absolutely without question that those people who are right on the edge at the moment will, with a small increase in interest rates, be pushed over the edge," Conservative lawmaker Mark Garnier told Reuters.

HITTING VOTERS IN THE POCKET?

Although Britain's $2.5 trillion economy has won back the output lost in the convulsions of the 2008 crisis, Garnier said it could be a hard sell to convince voters of the recovery if they felt they had less money in their pockets.

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"We can't just go to people and say: 'Yes, it's costing you more, but overall the economy is bigger'. They'll just turn around and say 'Well, it's not bigger for me'," he said.

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While Britain's economy is growing fast now, its recovery began much later than in the United States or Germany, and wages have fallen significantly in real terms since the financial crisis.

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Carney also said the central bank would weigh carefully the merits of tackling housing market risks, including an undesirable loosening in mortgage underwriting standards, when its Financial Policy Committee meets later this month.

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House prices in London have soared in the past year and though rises outside the capital have been more modest, Carney cautioned that average household debt was 140 percent of disposable income - higher than in most other countries.

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Osborne said he would grant the BoE new powers to impose maximum loan-to-value and loan-to-income ratios on mortgage lending, a step which Carney welcomed.

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Last month, a minority of BoE policymakers said the case for a rate rise was "more balanced" and that interest rates might need to increase sooner rather than later to ensure they did not need to rise sharply.

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But Carney had until now appeared less keen to contemplate tightening, emphasising that Britain's economy was still a long way from full strength.

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On Thursday, he said that more important than the timing of a first rate rise was that future increases be "gradual and limited", in part due to high household indebtedness and a drag on growth from a stronger currency.

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He also said the timing of a rise would depend on incoming data, and the bank had no fixed plan on when to raise rates. (Writing by David Milliken and Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Kate Holton, William James, Andy Bruce, Anirban Nag and Tricia Wright; Editing by Paul Taylor and Peter Graff)

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Bain to sell stake in India's Hero MotoCorp worth up to $393 mln

U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital Partners LLC will sell its equity stake worth up to $393 million in Hero MotoCorp Ltd , India's largest maker of motorcycles and scooters, according to a deal term sheet seen by Reuters.

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Bain Capital, which holds a 8.6 percent stake in Hero MotoCorp through its unit BC India Pvt Investors, will sell up to half of its shares in open market transactions on Friday, the term sheet for the deal showed.

The private equity firm is offering the Indian company's shares in the indicative price band of 2,582 rupees to 2,717 rupees each, it said, a discount of as much as 5 percent from its closing price on Thursday. (Reporting by Abhishek Vishnoi; Writing by Sumeet Chatterjee, editing by David Evans)

Shares of plastic maker Trinseo rise 9 pct in market debut

Shares of Trinseo SA, a plastic and polymers maker backed by Bain Capital, rose as much as 9 percent in their market debut, valuing the company at up to $981 million.

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Trinseo raised about $190 million from the offering of 10 million shares, which were priced at $19 per share, at the high end of expected range of $17-$19 per share.

The Berwyn, Pennsylvania-based company sold all the shares in the offering.

Trinseo's products are used to make containers and bottles to package food items and medicines, among others.

The company's shares opened at $20.65 and touched a high of $20.75 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank Securities, Citigroup Global Markets and Morgan Stanley were lead underwriters for the IPO. (Reporting by Neha Dimri in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)

UPDATE 1-Italy's Prelios plans to halve debt by end-2016

Italian real estate company Prelios forecast on Thursday a near halving of its debts to 200 million euros ($272 million) by the end of 2016 as it pursues a disposal programme.

The company, whose debts totaled 388 million euros as of December 2013, manages properties in Italy and Germany but has been hit hard by writedowns on real estate investments in its recession-hit home market.

Prelios, which plans to continue selling real estate co-investments as it did in previous years, is refocusing on activities including asset management, distressed debt and real estate valuations, which it collectively terms its "service platform".

It aims to focus entirely on these businesses by the end 2016 and expects operating profit from its service platform to grow by 40 percent by the end of 2016.

In 2013, the group's operating profit, or earning before interests and tax (EBIT), was 6.3 million euros.

Prelios had also announced earlier this year it was in talks with U.S. private equity fund Fortress for a possible partnership in the areas of credit servicing, or debt collection, and asset management.

"Negotiations are progressing," the company said in a statement.

($1 = 0.7345 Euros) (Reporting by Elisa Anzolin and Francesca Landini; Editing by David Holmes)

UPDATE 1-Crafts retailer Michaels looks to long-awaited summer IPO: sources

The initial public offering of Michaels Cos Inc, which has been planned for the last two years, will finally take place this summer, according to people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. crafts retailer is likely to begin marketing shares to potential investors in the next several weeks, according to the sources, who declined to be named because the matter is private.

Michaels, which had been publicly traded and was taken private by Blackstone Group LP and Bain Capital LP for $6 billion in 2006, initially filed for an IPO of up to $500 million in March 2012. That was postponed after then-Chief Executive Officer John Menzer had a stroke and stepped down.

The Texas-based company withdrew the IPO last December after going through a reorganization, immediately refiled under a new name and then updated its registration documents in May.

Michaels and Bain could not be reached immediately for comment. Blackstone declined to comment.

Michaels confirmed in April it was hit by a security breach of customer payment cards. The company said about 400,000 cards were potentially affected by the breach, which occurred between June 26, 2013 and February 27, 2014.

The company doesn't expect the data breach to have an impact on the IPO, the sources said.

Michaels, which owns several private brands such as Recollections, Artist's Loft and Loops & Threads, competes with Hobby Lobby Stores Inc, Jo-Ann Stores Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Michaels had 1,262 stores as of May 3, and approximately $4.6 billion in sales in fiscal 2013.

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs are leading the IPO. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Jonathan Oatis)

Permira closes fifth buyout fund with revised target of 5.3 bln euro

Permira, one of Europe's biggest private equity firms, has raised 5.3 billion euros for its fifth buyout fund compared to a previous 9.6 billion euros it raised for a fund in 2006.

Fundraising by private equity firms, which aim to buy into businesses with a view to selling them on at a profit after an overhaul, remains a challenge in a weak economic climate.

It took Permira almost three years to complete its fundraising for Permira V, which kicked off in September 2011 with a target of 6.5 billion euros ($8.85 billion).

Earlier this year the London-based private equity firm downsized its fund's target to around 4-5 billion euros while already committing capital to six new investments.

The private equity firm, which led the turnaround of fashion brand Valentino in 2007, acquired footwear brand Dr. Martens for 300 million pounds in October using capital from Permira V.

Its recent investments, also backed by Permira V, include the acquisition of UK wealth management specialist BestInvest, Canadian nutrition specialist Atrium Innovations and American online legal services provider LegalZoom.

Permira remains focused on five core sectors - consumer, financial services, healthcare, industrials and TMT - where its typical investment hovers around 250 million euros mark.

"Permira V has had a strong start and we are excited by the growth prospects of the six companies the fund has already acquired," said co-managing partner Kurt Björklund.

Permira's new fund was largely backed by its existing investors, which include pension funds and other institutions contributing 72% of total committed capital in Permira V. North American investors provided 40% of total commitments while approximately 30% came from Europe and 25% from Asia.

Permira's fund IV, which totalled 9.6 billion euros in 2006, before the financial meltdown, grew in value by 30% in 2013.

It has yet to realize more than ten investments including German fashion house Hugo Boss and UK life insurer Just Retirement which were acquired in 2007 and 2009, respectively. ($1 = 0.7345 Euros) (Reporting By Pamela Barbaglia; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

BRIEF-CVC and Blackstone place 100 mln Merlin shares

Deutsche Bank :

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* CVC and Blackstone launch 100 mln share placing of Merlin via Deutsche Bank & Morgan Stanley Further company coverage:

CVC and Blackstone place 100 mln Merlin shares

Merlin Entertainments' private equity backers CVC Capital Partners Ltd and Blackstone Group LP are placing 100 million shares of the British theme park owner through Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, the German lender said.

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Merlin, the world's second-biggest operator of visitor attractions behind Walt Disney with brands such as Madam Tussauds and Legoland, counts Blackstone and CVC as its biggest shareholders after Kirkbi A/S, according to Thomson Reuters data. (Reporting by Richa Naidu in Bangalore, editing by David Evans)

Italy preparing to let insurers grant credit to companies - source

Italy is readying measures to allow insurers to grant credit to companies, a government source said on Thursday, as the country seeks to fund flagging growth after a deep recession.

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The measures are part of a draft bill now being prepared by the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and which the cabinet is expected to examine tomorrow or on June 20.

Insurance companies such as Generali as well as securitisation firms will be able lend directly to companies under conditions set by insurance regulator IVASS once they have adopted adequate risk control mechanisms, the source said.

"Individuals and micro-companies" will not be among those eligible to get credit from insurers, it added.

Italian companies currently rely almost exclusively on bank financing, which has fallen sharply during the economic downturn as lenders faced their own funding problems.

Italy, the euro zone's third largest economy, emerged from a two-year recession in the fourth quarter of 2013 with a 0.1 percent uptick in growth, only to fall back into contraction at the start of this year. (Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, writing by Danilo Masoni, editing by David Evans)

Liberty Global, Discovery in talks regarding F1 stake -report

John Malone's Liberty Global Plc and Discovery Communications Inc are in discussions with the owners of Formula One to bridge a $1 billion gap in the valuation of the motor-racing series as they seek to buy a 49 percent stake, according to Bloomberg.

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CVC Capital Partners, a London-based private equity firm, and Lehman Brothers Holdings want about $500 million more for the stake, the report said, citing people with knowledge of the matter. (link.reuters.com/sew99v)

Discussions with CVC Capital Partners Ltd and Lehman Brothers are ongoing although a deal may not be reached, the report added.

CVC remains the largest shareholder in Formula One with a stake of around 35 percent.

CVC may also contemplate an initial public offering of Formula One, according to Bloomberg, although the sources added that it is unlikely to occur before the conclusion of a trial involving Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone.

Discovery Communications and Liberty Global were not immediately available for comment. CVC Capital Partners and Lehman Brothers were also unavailable for comment.

(Reporting by Narottam Medhora and Tanvi Mehta in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Nextdoor CEO pleads no contest to hit and run charge

Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia, whose social networking website espouses neighborhood safety and community, pleaded no contest Thursday in a San Mateo court to a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of a highway accident that a driver says Tolia caused.

Tolia will pay a $239 fine, spend 30 weekend days in a county program in lieu of 30 days' jail time, serve two years' probation, and will be responsible for restitution to the victim, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Tolia originally faced felony criminal charges , but Wagstaffe said he reduced them to a misdemeanor "hit and run causing injury" because of Tolia's forthrightness in admitting his role in the accident.

"I'm glad he accepted responsibility right up front and never tried to lie about what happened or avoid responsibility," he told Reuters.

The work program includes activities such as picking up litter or trimming weeds along public roads and at schools, Wagstaffe said.

The incident occurred in August when executive recruiter Patrice Motley lost control of her car after Tolia swerved into her lane. Her Honda del Sol spun across two lanes and crashed into the median on Highway 101 near Candlestick Park, south of San Francisco, she stated in court documents in a separate civil case.

Tolia drove his wife and child home in their black BMW X5 SUV without stopping or calling 911, the lawsuit stated. Witnesses wrote down his license plate number and gave it to authorities.

Tolia told police in an interview he was shaken and did not call 911 because he was in shock. Last month, he said he was saddened by Motley's injuries and was troubled by the incident.

"What happened today in court was just Nirav continuing to take responsibility," his lawyer, Dan Barton, told Reuters.

Ten years ago, Tolia resigned as chief operating officer of Shopping.com after the company learned he had lied about the status of his Stanford University degree and previous work experience.

Nextdoor has raised just over $100 million from backers including Benchmark, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Tiger Global. Its last funding, a $60 million round in October, valued the company at more than $500 million. (Editing by Matt Driskill)

Univision held preliminary sale talks with CBS, Time Warner - WSJ

The owner of Univision Communications Inc have recently held preliminary talks about selling the Spanish-language broadcaster with CBS Corp, Time Warner Inc and other media companies, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

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The talks, however, appear to have gone nowhere, the people said, citing the $20 billion Univision's owners are seeking for company as an issue. (r.reuters.com/xew99v)

Univision spokeswoman Monica Talan said the company does not comment on rumors. Univision is based in the United States, and owned by Univision Communications Inc.

CBS representatives declined to comment on the report, while representatives for Time Warner did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

Univision's owner had also considered Mexican media conglomerate Grupo Televisa SAB as a possible buyer, the newspaper said. Grupo Televisa owns a minority stake in Univision and supplies much of its programming.

The was no immediate comment from the relevant officials at Grupo Televisa.

The talks are the latest sign of a rising tide of potential megadeals in the telecoms, cable and satellite TV industry, which is being roiled by Comcast Corp's proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc and AT&T's talk to buy satellite TV provider DirecTV. (Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

UPDATE 1-Nextdoor CEO pleads no contest to hit and run charge

Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia, whose social networking website espouses neighborhood safety and community, pleaded no contest Thursday in a San Mateo court to a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of a highway accident that a driver says Tolia caused.

Tolia will pay a $239 fine, spend 30 weekend days in a county program in lieu of 30 days' jail time, serve two years' probation, and will be responsible for restitution to the victim, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Tolia originally faced felony criminal charges , but Wagstaffe said he reduced them to a misdemeanor "hit and run causing injury" because of Tolia's forthrightness in admitting his role in the accident.

"I'm glad he accepted responsibility right up front and never tried to lie about what happened or avoid responsibility," he told Reuters.

The work program includes activities such as picking up litter or trimming weeds along public roads and at schools, Wagstaffe said.

"I am relieved that after further examination of the facts, the DA reduced the charge to a misdemeanor and that Thursday's hearing brought the matter to a close," Tolia said in a statement.

The incident occurred in August when executive recruiter Patrice Motley lost control of her car after Tolia swerved into her lane. Her Honda del Sol spun across two lanes and crashed into the median on Highway 101 near Candlestick Park, south of San Francisco, she stated in court documents in a separate civil case.

Tolia drove his wife and child home in their black BMW X5 SUV without stopping or calling 911, the lawsuit stated. Witnesses wrote down his license plate number and gave it to authorities.

Tolia told police in an interview he was shaken and did not call 911 because he was in shock. Last month, he said he was saddened by Motley's injuries and was troubled by the incident.

Ten years ago, Tolia resigned as chief operating officer of Shopping.com after the company learned he had lied about the status of his Stanford University degree and previous work experience.

Nextdoor has raised just over $100 million from backers including Benchmark, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Tiger Global. Its last funding, a $60 million round in October, valued the company at more than $500 million. (Editing by Matt Driskill)

DEALTALK-Canadian cannabis producers set their sights high

By unlocking the once-obscure medical marijuana market, Canada has created a fast-growing, profitable and federally regulated industry with a distinct appeal to the more daring global investor.

About a dozen producers of the drug will find themselves in the spotlight this year as they consider going public or prepare to so through share sales or reverse takeovers to capitalize on recent regulatory changes, investment bankers said.

The Canadian companies are in a race to raise money to build facilities, attract patients and grab shares in a market projected to grow to C$1.3 billion ($1.20 billion) in the next 10 years.

Despite facing considerable risks, they have the advantage of being in one of the few countries where medical marijuana is legal nationwide and where licensed operators can mass-produce it.

In the United States, the drug remains illegal at the federal level. Some 20 U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana, but investors worry about the prospect, however remote, that the federal government may strike down those laws.

Although the U.S. market is home to companies including Medical Marijuana Inc and Cannabis Science Inc , their northern counterparts are likely to benefit from greater legitimacy and legal clarity. Sources said much of the private equity investment in the Canadian industry had come from the United States.

"Canada is one of the few countries anywhere where its citizens have a constitutionally protected right to access medical marijuana with a physician's consent," said Paul Rosen, chief executive officer of PharmaCan, a holding company with large stakes in four producers. "And you've got the government trying to create an industry around it."

Tweed Marijuana Inc, which converted an old chocolate factory into a marijuana farm, led the pack by becoming the first publicly held Canadian company in the sector. Its April offering was oversubscribed within 15 minutes of being announced, sources said.

Inspired by Tweed, PharmaCan plans a listing in the next month or so. Producers Organigram, Aphria and Bedrocan expect to go public in the next three months, while CannMedica and others are looking at doing so.

Highlighting the industry's mainstream allure, Tweed's listing was led by two highly respected Bay Street firms, mid-sized investment bank GMP Securities and boutique adviser Jacob Securities.

Other banking firms involved in the sector include Dundee Securities, Bloom Burton, PowerOne Capital Markets, Jordan Capital Markets and Delavaco Group.

RISKS AND REWARDS

An April overhaul by regulator Health Canada has thrown the market open. More than 850 companies have applied for licenses to produce the drug, and 13 have obtained them so far.

"This is Health Canada's realization that medical marijuana deserves to have a space in the treatment paradigm," said Bloom Burton President Brian Bloom. "What they're asking in return is that the standards of manufacturing, distribution and vigilance are similar to what is seen in the pharmaceutical industry."

Analysts expect only a few major companies to remain standing a few years from now.

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"The winners will be the ones that are going to have a strong brand, a strong customer acquisition strategy, and have the ability to scale up quickly," said Jacob Securities analyst Khurram Malik.

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Health Canada estimates the sector will grow tenfold in its first 10 years, reaching about 450,000 users and C$1.3 billion in sales.

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Malik says that is only half of the market's potential because the same number of people already use medical marijuana through the black market and Health Canada's measures will bring greater access and lower prices.

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"It's an industry that has been born out of almost nothing, and it is moving very rapidly into something very large," he said. "The flip side is you're also going to have a lot of risk."

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Indeed, a list of risk factors takes up about half of the 22 pages in Tweed's latest quarterly filing.

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Potential industry pitfalls include legal changes, resistance from home growers suing for the right to keep producing their own pot and physicians who are not convinced about the drug's benefits.

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"We believe that there's not enough evidence out there that shows us that we could use this product safely," said Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, president of the Canadian Medical Association. "We're actually being asked to authorize use of a product blindfolded."

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Michael Krestell, president of investment bank M Partners, says investors betting on the sector at this stage are looking for "high-risk, high-reward" opportunities.

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He expects the planned offerings to be in the C$5 million to C$20 million range, with the companies valued at C$60 million to C$100 million.

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Tweed, which has a market capitalization of $108 million, raised C$15 million when it went public through a reverse takeover of a listed entity.

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Bankers expect most of the medical marijuana companies to take this approach since it is often faster and cheaper.

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For despite the potential of the industry, its biggest challenge is to establish credibility among patients, doctors and more-cautious investors.

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"I don't care if we're the biggest seller of medical marijuana in the first year or two," said Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld, who previously led vitamin maker Jamieson Laboratories, "but I want to make sure that we are the most trusted."

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($1 = 1.0844 Canadian dollars) (Additional reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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Bain sues EY over $60 mln loss in India kids clothing company

Global private equity firm Bain Capital Partners LLC is suing EY in a United States court, claiming that the auditing firm cost it roughly $60 million by advising it to invest in Lilliput Kidswear, a children's clothing company in India.

Bain alleges that it invested around $60 million in Lilliput in May 2010 for a non-controlling 30.99 percent stake, based on false financial statements that EY, previously known as Ernst & Young, had audited and certified, according to a copy of the lawsuit seen by Reuters.

Bain and 10 other subsidiaries of the global private equity firm have sued Ernst & Young Global Limited and Ernst & Young LLP in a Massachusetts court, claiming that the investment is now "rendered worthless", according to the suit.

An external spokeswoman for Bain declined to comment on the lawsuit.

"These allegations of wrongdoing are baseless and EY will vigorously defend this matter," EY said in a statement.

Bain invested in Lilliput in 2010 and planned to expand the company before taking it to an initial public offering.

Reuters reported in 2012 that Bain was alerted to problems with the accounts at Lilliput via a call from a whistleblower, soon after an initial public offering for the company was approved. (link.reuters.com/tas99v)

Bain halted the Lilliput IPO process after investigating the whistleblower's claims and finding inflated sales at the company, according to the suit.

The suit alleges that Bain, which has a longstanding global relationship with EY, was specifically targeted by EY to invest in Lilliput because the Boston-based firm had the resources to pay a higher investment price and the prestige and knowledge to take the company to an initial public offering.

The suit also alleges that Bain invested in Lilliput because it relied on false financial statements and EY's false audit opinions, and that EY continued to certify Lilliput financial statements "even as Lilliput's fraud grew with EY's active assistance", according to a copy of the complaint filed with the Suffolk County Court, obtained by Reuters.

Bain is bringing the action against EY for "fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair and deceptive trade practices based on EY's involvement in the scheme to defraud Bain." (Editing by Stephen Coates)

TPG agrees to buy Australia property firm DTZ from UGL for $1.1 bln -source

A consortium led by global private equity firm TPG Capital Management LP has agreed to buy the property arm of Australian engineering services company UGL Ltd for A$1.215 billion ($1.14 billion), a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Friday.

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UGL put the unit DTZ on sale to cut debt as its main engineering services division faces declining revenues due to a slowdown in the Australian mining sector.

TPG's consortium partners include Hong Kong private equity firm PAG and Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, the source added.

A deal is expected to be signed as early as Friday, the source said, declining to identified as the decision is not public yet.

UGL was not available for immediate comment, while TPG declined to comment.

PAG and OTPP could not be immediately reached for comment. ($1 = 1.0620 Australian Dollars) (Reporting by Stephen Aldred; Additional reporting by Byron Kaye in SYDNEY; Editing by Denny Thomas and Ryan Woo)

Merlin private equity backers sell $615 mln stake

Two of Merlin Entertainments' private equity backers sold 100 million shares in the British theme park owner for 366 million pounds ($615 million) on Friday, according to Deutsche Bank, one of the banks handling the sale.

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Plans to place the shares by CVC Capital Partners Ltd and Blackstone Group LP via Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley were announced after Thursday's close.

Merlin is the world's second-biggest operator of visitor attractions behind Walt Disney with brands such as Madam Tussauds and Legoland and counted Blackstone and CVC as its biggest shareholders after Kirkbi A/S, according to Thomson Reuters data.

($1 = 0.5956 British Pounds) (Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Pamela Barbaglia)

UPDATE 1-TPG agrees to buy Australia property services firm DTZ for $1.1 bln-source

A TPG Capital Management-led consortium has agreed to buy the property arm of Australian engineering services firm UGL Ltd for A$1.215 billion ($1.14 billion), a source told Reuters on Friday.

UGL put the unit DTZ, a real estate services company, for sale to cut debt as its main engineering services division faces declining revenues due to a slowdown in the Australian mining sector.

A deal is expected to be signed as early as Friday, bringing to a close a year-long sale process that has attracted interest from a number of private equity bidders including U.S. buyout firm Warburg Pincus.

The sale also underscores the return of strong buyouts market in Asia, spurred by easy credit markets and capital flowing into the region's private equity firms.

As a result, private equity-backed M&As have got off to their best-ever start, with $26.7 billion in deals announced so far this year. That is 21.6 percent more than the whole of 2013, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Private equity firms have invested nearly three times as much in Asia year-to-date as they did in the same period last year, the same data shows.

DTZ provides real estate brokerage and facilities management services, and has operations in Australia, China and the United States. It reported an 18 percent rise in revenue in the six months ended December.

UGL's gearing, as expressed by long-term debt to total capital, is nearly three times the industry average, according to Thomson Reuters data.

UGL shares are down 3.8 percent so far this year, compared with a 4.8 percent drop in benchmark Australian index.

TPG has been working on the deal to buy UGL since February last year, said the source, who declined to be identified as the deal was private.

Dallas-headquartered TPG is seen tapping more co-investment deals around Asia from its recently closed $3.3 billion Asia fund. The firm previously brought Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical into its $461 million buyout of U.S.-listed China healthcare firm Chindex International Inc.

TPG's consortium partners include Hong Kong private equity firm PAG and Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTTP), the source added.

UGL was not available for immediate comment, while TPG and PAG declined to comment. OTPP could not be immediately reached for comment. ($1 = 1.0620 Australian Dollars) (Reporting by Stephen Aldred; Additional reporting by Byron Kaye in SYDNEY; Editing by Denny Thomas and Ryan Woo)

ASIA GRAPHICS-Indian stocks lead on price performance; China lags

The Indian stock market is the topper in Asia on price performance in dollar terms this year, while Japan and China trail the region with negative returns.

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Indian stocks have surged over the last few weeks on optimism that the newly formed BJP government under Narendra Modi would revive the country's economy.

Track their performance through the following charts:

Asian markets performance: (link.reuters.com/ryx99v)

Asian markets valuations: (link.reuters.com/qyx99v)

Asian markets-Analyst Revision scores - (link.reuters.com/syx99v)

For related news:

India's economic outlook turns encouraging for new government

India's economy looks to Modi for growth rebound

(Compiled By Patturaja Murugaboopathy)