Morning business round-up: BP faces civil trial over US spill

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

BP is set to begin a civil trial in New Orleans over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that became the US's worst environmental disaster.

The UK oil giant will be pitted against the US states that were affected by the spill and the Department of Justice. It could face a fine of up to $17.6bn - the biggest civil fine in history.

It comes after BP agreed in November to pay $4.5bn (£2.9bn) to settle criminal charges relating to the spill.

Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) has said it will cancel all Boeing 787 flights until at least the end of May, in the latest blow to Boeing.

International regulators grounded all 787 Dreamliners in January so that safety checks could be carried out on their lithium ion batteries.

ANA is cancelling more than 1,700 flights in April and May, a period that includes Japan's Golden Week holiday.

On Friday, Boeing gave US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), its plan to fix the battery problems, which reportedly involves a significant redesign of the battery pack with new ceramic insulation around each of the battery's eight cells.

The pound has begun to recover some losses after it fell in reaction to the loss of the UK's top AAA credit rating.

Earlier, sterling had hit a two-and-a-half year low against the dollar of $1.5069 and a 16-month low against the euro of 1.145 euros.

Ratings agency Moody's downgraded the UK's credit rating on Friday, the first cut since the 1970s.

Despite initially falling in Asian trading, the pound pared losses on Monday, while the FTSE 100 share index opened higher.

Japanese shares have risen and the yen weakened on reports that Haruhiko Kuroda is likely to be nominated as the next Bank of Japan (BOJ) governor.

Mr Kuroda, currently the President of the Asian Development Bank, is seen as a supporter of monetary policy easing as means to spur growth.

The Nikkei 225 index rose 2.4%, while the yen fell to a 33-month low.

Japan's government has said it will sell a third of its stake in Japan Tobacco, to raise $10.3bn (£6.8bn) for the reconstruction of areas devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The Ministry of Finance currently owns about one billion shares, or 50%, of the former state monopoly, which is the world's third largest tobacco company.

It is now selling 333 million shares, according to a regulatory filing made in Tokyo.

Ikea has halted sales of its meatballs in Sweden after traces of horsemeat were found in meatballs on sale at the furniture giant in the Czech Republic.

The discovery comes as European Union agriculture ministers meet in Brussels for talks widely expected to focus on the growing horsemeat scandal.

Inspectors in the Czech Republic said horsemeat was found in meatballs made in Sweden labelled as beef and pork.

The horsemeat scandal began last month with frozen meals and burgers.

Singapore has said it will impose more limits on the number of foreign workers and has called upon businesses to help upgrade skills of the local workforce.

The limits include more levies on firms that employ low-skilled foreign workers, a cut in foreign worker quotas and stricter qualification guidelines.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced the moves as he unveiled the budget for 2013.

Investment in the North Sea is the highest for 30 years and rising, according to a report by an oil and gas trade body.

Companies looking for offshore energy invested £11.4bn in 2012, said Oil and Gas UK, which comprises more than 320 companies active in the area.

That will rise to £13bn this year, it predicted.

For an in-depth examination of the business issues behind the headlines, listen to the latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service.

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