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By Tim Hepher, Parisa Hafezi and Praveen Menon (Reuters) - While foreign ministers raced to Geneva for a crucial phase of talks over Iran's nuclear activities earlier this month, passengers with the country's national airline faced a little-noticed drama on the other side of the world. As a 37-year-old Boeing 747 climbed out of Beijing bound for Tehran, the Iranian crew received a cockpit alert that one of the jumbo jet's four Pratt & Whitney engines was on fire. The Iran Air pilots shut the engine down, activated a fire suppression system and flew back to the Chinese capital. Both the November 8 incident and the actions taken to remedy it, as reported by accident database Aviation Herald, highlight the juggling act needed to keep Iran's fleet in the air after years of sanctions and challenges in procuring parts.
By David Milliken and Huw Jones LONDON (Reuters) - The Bank of England moved to head off the risk of a housing bubble in Britain on Thursday, making a surprise announcement that it would put the brakes on a scheme launched last year to help boost mortgage lending. Britain's economy and its housing market have staged an unexpectedly strong turnaround since the FLS was launched by the BoE and finance ministry in July 2012 in an effort to spur the long-delayed recovery by unblocking credit markets. It's better to shift into neutral," BoE Governor Mark Carney said. Another - much-criticized - government program to aid the housing market, Help to Buy, remains in place.
By Steve Slater LONDON (Reuters) - In the 1990s, London-based investment banks rewarded top employees with gold bars, fine wine and oriental carpets to dent the impact of higher payroll taxes. Now, with public anger at banking excess near all time highs, they are looking at less flashy ways to cope with curbs on bonuses, including a new monthly allowance. European rules due to take force in January say bankers' bonuses cannot exceed annual salary, or twice that if shareholders approve, to curb the sort of excessive risk-taking blamed for the 2008-09 financial crisis. At least 10,000 bankers, most of them in London, take home more than half a million euros ($678,700), according to industry sources, more than 10 times the average wage in wealthier European states.
Italy marked the end of an era on Thursday after Silvio Berlusconi's historic ouster from parliament, with the billionaire tycoon humiliated and assailed by legal woes but now a powerful force in opposition. Prime Minister Enrico Letta's ruling coalition will survive the withdrawal of support by Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, thanks to the defection of some of his former proteges who will stay on in the government. But while he is a figure of fun around the world, Berlusconi is still a formidable campaigner who can continue as a figurehead leader even if he is banned from running for election for the next six years. "Berlusconi talks about something that Italians feel strongly about -- taxes," he said, adding that Berlusconi could now mount a populist campaign.
A Russian court on Thursday granted bail to the last of 30 Greenpeace crew members detained since their September protest against Arctic oil drilling. The decision to free the ship's Australian radio operator Colin Russell reversed an earlier ruling and is likely to take diplomatic pressure off Russia as it prepares to host the upcoming Winter Olympic Games. "Excellent news! Colin Russell from Australia is granted bail," the global environmental protection group tweeted in a message moments after a court in Saint Petersburg issued its ruling. State television showed the 59-year-old Australian delivering court testimony by video link from behind heavy metal bars of a dark jail cell in his Saint Petersburg detention centre.
By Valentina Accardo BOLOGNA, Italy (Reuters) - Raoul Weil, a former UBS banker charged by U.S. authorities five years ago for allegedly helping rich Americans dodge taxes via secret Swiss bank accounts, has agreed to go to the United States to face trial after being arrested in Italy, Weil's lawyer and judicial sources told Reuters. Italian authorities have not received a formal request for extradition, but have received indications that such a request is on the way, the sources said.
By David Ljunggren OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada allowed the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct widespread surveillance during the 2010 Group of 20 summit in Toronto, according to a media report that cited documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp is the latest potential embarrassment for the NSA as a result of Snowden's leaks, although it remains unclear precisely what information the agency was looking for during the summit. Snowden has already revealed the agency spied on close allies such as Germany and Brazil, prompting heated diplomatic spats with Washington. The CBC report, first aired late on Wednesday, cited briefing notes it said showed the United States turned its Ottawa embassy into a security command post during a six-day spying operation by the top-secret U.S. agency as President Barack Obama and other world leaders met that June.
Chronically weak lending and persistently low inflation suggest the eurozone's fight against deflation is not over and more action may be needed from the European Central Bank, analysts said Thursday. Even though the ECB has pumped unprecedented amounts of liquidity into the financial system and cut interest rates to new all-time lows, lending to the private sector -- a key gauge of economic activity -- is continuing to contract, new data showed. The ECB calculated that private sector loans in the single currency area dropped by 2.1 percent in October in a year-on-year comparison, after already contracting by 2.0 percent in September. The Frankfurt-based institution also published its latest money supply figures, a yardstick of pipeline inflation, showing a sharp slowdown in money supply growth to 1.4-percent in October from 2.0 percent in September.
By Fredrik Dahl VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. atomic watchdog will probably need more money to verify the implementation of a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, its chief said on Thursday, and it would take some time to prepare for the task. Yukiya Amano also said Iran has invited the agency to visit the Arak heavy-water production plant on December 8, the first concrete step under a new cooperation pact aimed at clarifying concerns about the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Both agreements indicate how Iran is acting quickly to address fears about its nuclear program after the election in June of a relative moderate, Hassan Rouhani, as new president on a platform to smooth its troubled relations with the world. The International Atomic Energy Agency can mobilize expertise and staff from within the organization for an increased workload in checking whether Iran is complying with the interim accord with the major powers to curb its nuclear program, IAEA Director General Amano told a news conference.
By Katharina Bart and Dinesh Nair ZURICH/DUBAI (Reuters) - Swiss lender UBS is scaling back corporate advisory and investment banking services for ultra-rich clients in some emerging market countries to reduce overlap with other departments, three sources familiar with the plan said. The move comes one year after Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti said UBS would let go 10,000 staff and eventually derive profits almost solely from its private banking unit, which caters to the financial needs of the wealthy. At the private bank, where it is not unusual for client relationships to be forged over generations and personalized service is prized, such cuts are far trickier. The private banking unit being reduced, UBS's Corporate Advisory Group (CAG), offers services such as advice on mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings, financing options and structured equity products to individuals and entrepreneurs with at least $25 million in investable assets.