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Morning business round-up: FBI probes Heinz trades

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What's making the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is joining an investigation into suspicious trades ahead of the Heinz takeover deal last week.

The US financial regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is already suing unnamed traders for insider dealing.

Last Thursday, Heinz was bought for $23bn by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway fund and 3G Capital.

Unusual trading activity in the shares was noticed the previous day.

Mining giant BHP Billiton has announced that its chief executive Marius Kloppers will retire in May.

He will be replaced by Andrew Mackenzie, currently head of the company's base metals business.

"The board has decided that Andrew is the right person to lead BHP Billiton in a changing global environment," the company said in a statement.

It comes as the group reported a 58% fall in half-year net profit, knocked by weaker metal prices.

Japan's monthly trade deficit hit a record in January after its recent aggressive monetary policy stance weakened its currency sharply.

Exports rose in January, the first jump in eight months, as its goods became more affordable to foreign buyers.

However, a weak currency also pushed up its import bill resulting in a monthly trade deficit of 1.6tn yen ($17.1bn; £11.1bn), a 10% jump from a year ago.

Japan's deficit has also been impacted by an increase in fuel imports.

French bank Credit Agricole has reported a record loss for 2012 after an unexpected tax charge relating to the sale of its Greek business pushed it deeper into the red.

Losses for last year totalled 6.5bn euros ($8.7bn; £5.6bn).

The worsening economic downturn also led to losses at the bank's Italian and investment banking divisions.

The bank is now planning a three-year turnaround plan to try to revive its fortunes.

UK unemployment fell in the three months to December, while the number of people in work jumped to a new record.

The jobless total fell by 14,000 between October and December to 2.5 million, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The number in work rose by 154,000 to 29.7 million. More than 580,000 more people are employed than a year ago.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in January fell by 12,500 to 1.54 million.

In other UK economic news, Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King voted in favour of more action to boost the economy earlier this month, but was outvoted by his colleagues on the Monetary Policy Committee.

Minutes of the MPC's meeting show it voted 6-3 against expanding the quantitative easing (QE) programme from its current level of £375bn.

However, markets saw the vote as increasing the chance of more QE later.

As a result, the pound fell sharply against other currencies.

As Italy prepares for a general election, the latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service looks at what some see as one of its biggest challenges - a flagging economy, run by old-fashioned family firms.

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