The weekend papers suggest Olympic organisers chose logo firm without seeing any of its designs and urge us to switch off the lights

IMF chief warns of risks in debt-fuelled takeovers

The Times on Saturday reported that the head of the International Monetary Fund sounded a warning on Friday that the global boom in highly leveraged takeovers could threaten financial stability as rising world interest rates increase financing costs. “This merger mania…could be a show of complacency,” said Rodrigo de Rato. “We are worried. Some of the very big and exuberant mergers could pose problems in the future.”

Seoul reaches for the sky in attempt to raise its profile

The Times on Saturday said that a new Rogers-designed tower scheme in Seoul was part of the City’s attempt to make it a financial axis for northeast Asia. Parc 1 in central Seoul is due for completion in 2011 and will comprise two office towers (one of them 75 floors and 333m which will be the cities tallest building), a hotel and a shopping centre.

Olympic logo firm chosen ‘blind’

The Sunday Times said that the organisers of the London Olympics hired the firm that designed the much-derided logo for the 2012 Games, Wolff Olins, without seeing any of its designs first.
Olympic Park

Councils told to axe translation help for migrants

The Sunday Times reported that councils are set to be ordered to stop funding translation services for immigrants in order to encourage them to learn English instead. The paper said that a report to be unveiled by Ruth Kelly this week will warn that foreigners who settle in the UK are relying too heavily on interpreters, hindering their integration into mainstream society.

Tesco to open three US stores a week

The business section of the Sunday Times said that retail giant Tesco was planning to open a new store every two and-a-half days in America. It has pledged to have 50 stores open by the end of next February after making its US debut in four cities – Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego – in November.

BAA in Heathrow push

The paper also reported that BAA will this week throw its weight behind a controversial expansion of Heathrow by announcing that it is joining Future Heathrow, a group that is lobbying for a new runway at the London airport. The paper said that it represents a bold departure for the airport operator, which has steered clear of publicly backing more flights at Heathrow.

UK leads heated debate over the Israel boycott

RIBA president Jack Pringle was quoted in an article in the Observer about the growing number of boycotts against Israel. “This is not some bunch of rabid activists,” he says. “I am not in the least anti-Isreal or against its foundation. Nevertheless there is a string of UN resolutions, about these bits of land. Palestinian villages are being bulldozed and Israeli settlements are being built.”

Runway fight heats up as BAA buys out homeowners

Homeowners close to Stansted airport are being offered premium prices for their homes by BAA, the Observer reports this weekend. The move is part of the company’s plan for a massive expansion involving a second runway, the paper said. BAA now has more than 100 homes, including 18 Grade II listed buildings.

Switch it off!

Famous buildings such as Buckingham Palace, Canary Wharf, the BT Tower, the National Portrait Gallery, Harrods and the Ritz will take part in a mass twilight switch off on Thursday, the Observer reports. Households and businesses across London are being asked to switch lights and appliances off between 9pm and 10pm.

Tesco in £156m swoop for garden centres

The Saturday Telegraph said that Tesco has made a surprise swoop on Dobbies Garden Centres as it continues its thrust into the garden centre market.

Skateboarding may be an Olympic sport

The paper also reported that skateboarding could make its Olympic debut at the 2012 Games. The International Olympic Committee has held talks with skateboard officials in Switzerland to agree a timetable for the sport’s inclusion.

Property at half-mast

The Sunday Telegraph said that even though returns on popular property funds have fallen, investors are still pouring money into them.

Britain may call on foreign armed police to protect London Olympics

Foreign armed police may be needed to guard the London Olympics because too few British officers are trained to use guns, the paper said.

Fresh problems hit HIPs as 100 assessors axed

The paper reported that following the closure of, the market leader in training and providing energy assessors, there have been 100 job losses.

Bid to save Britain’s vanishing gardens

There was good news for the green-fingered in the Independent on Sunday, as a Bill to prevent gardens being classed as brownfield sites is expected to be passed this week. Campaigners told the paper that 12 square miles, or the equivalent of 5,200 football pitches has been lost to builders and developers because gardens are not properly protected by planning classifications.

Public-private projects set to shrink

Privately financed public-sector projects are likely to get smaller in size and change in nature after the government alters accounting rules next year, the FT reports at the weekend. The paper says that is the view of Treasury officials and the head of Partnerships UK, the body that helps the public sector deliver public-private partnerships.

London house prices continue to grow

The cost of the average London home has risen to just under £350,000, well above the £200,415 average for the rest of the country, according to the latest FT house price index.

Franco – German rail rivals vie for success on high-speed line

The weekend FT reports on the 300km-long dedicated high-speed train line linking Paris, Strasbourg, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland, due to open today. The paper says that comparisons between different manufacturers’ trains on the line will be a fresh battleground for Franco-German rivalry.