Morning Papers: Interest rate of 3% could become new norm

Interest rates are likely to settle at around 3 per cent over the next three to five years, according to outgoing Bank of England deputy governor Charlie Bean.

His prediction that rates could hover at a lower level than during the pre-crash period were reported by the Daily Mail and came amid suggestions the move away from the historic-low 0.5 per cent base rate could begin sooner than expected.

Mr Bean, the deputy governor responsible for monetary policy at the Bank, told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One: ‘The Bank rate averaged about 5 per cent in the decade or so before the crisis.

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“It’s reasonable to think that, because of the headwinds that are still out there as well as some the global forces ... perhaps the level that we go to three or five years out might be a couple of percentage points below that.”

Blackstone in joint bid For Friends’ tax arm

The private equity giant Blackstone is understood to have joined forces with a US-based specialist insurer to table a bid for the tax planning arm of Friends Life, the FTSE-100 financial services group, Sky News reports.

According to Sky News, Blackstone and Philadelphia Financial will make a joint offer for Lombard, which specialises in wealth planning solutions for some of the world’s wealthiest people.

Philadelphia Financial targets high net-worth families through a network of intermediaries, and is understood to view Lombard as an attractive opportunity to expand that area of its business.

Friends Life “has been in talks to sell the division for more than six months and is understood to have set a deadline in June for offers from interested parties”, according to Sky News.

Markets unruffled by EU elections

The City is refusing to be shaken by the sight of anti-establishment and extremist parties making stunning gains in parts of Europe, the Guardian reports.

The paper claims Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said: “The weekend European elections don’t appear to have had that much effect on markets despite a large anti EU vote in a number of countries, particularly in the UK, France, Greece and Denmark.

“The reality is that the outcome of these elections has very little bearing on what is likely to happen with respect to economic policy in the various European capitals which are striving to engineer an economic recovery, though European politicians will ignore the message being sent by voters at their peril.”

UK capital raising powers fuel dissent

One in five of the UK’s largest public companies are facing investor protests over powers to raise funds without seeking approval from shareholders, according to the Financial Times.

Analysis by the FT shows that at their most recent annual meetings, 23 of the FTSE 100 index of blue-chip groups had 10 per cent or more votes cast against the resolution allowing the companies to raise capital in this way.