Sunday newspaper round-up: Credit crackdown, L&G, real wages, BT, BHP

Digital Look WebFG News | 13 Aug, 2017 16:47 | | |

sundays

Lloyds Banking Group has shortened the terms of some of its zero per cent balance transfer deals in a sign that banks are responding to a Bank of England crackdown. Earlier this year Lloyds was offering a Halifax-branded card giving customers 43 months interest free – a market-leading rate. The equivalent card today has been pegged back to 38 months. - Mail on Sunday

Legal & General, Britain’s third-biggest insurer, is preparing to bid for a £10bn slice of Prudential’s annuity business. L&G has earmarked funds internally to bankroll the deal, according to insiders. A formal move could come within weeks, after Prudential said last week that it would merge its UK fund manager and life assurance divisions. - Sunday Times

The squeeze on living standards is set to intensify with new figures showing that wage growth has fallen further behind inflation. Official data is expected to reveal this week that consumer price inflation rose to 2.7% last month after dipping to 2.6% in June, while average pay is expected to grow at just 1.7%. Economists say the decline in real household income, which has knocked overall economic growth this year, has further to run. - Sunday Times

BREXIT BUSINESS

Britain will not stay in the European Union by the "backdoor" and will completely leave the single market and customs union after Brexit in 2019, Philip Hammond and Liam Fox have declared. After a summer of bitter Cabinet infighting, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Dr Fox, the International Trade Secretary, appear to bury the hatchet with a joint pledge that there will be a fixed transition period after leaving the EU. - Sunday Telegraph

David Miliband has made a dramatic entry into the debate about Britain’s exit from the EU with an impassioned call for politicians from all parties to work together to avoid the Tory high command driving the country “off a cliff”. Labour’s former foreign secretary warned that Brexit is an “unparalleled act of economic self-harm” and suggested that it is up to MPs of all political colours to fight back against its worst consequences. - Observer

Theresa May is to offer free movement to Irish citizens in and out of Britain after the UK leaves the European Union. News of the offer of a “Schengen area” between Britain and Ireland came as the Government prepares to publish a formal proposal to the EU on the future of the Northern Irish border. - Sunday Telegraph

A former aide to David Davis and George Osborne claims two serving cabinet ministers have expressed interest in his idea of forming a centrist party aimed at blocking Brexit. James Chapman stepped up his online campaign for a proposed “Democrats” party he has been mounting while on holiday in Greece, saying Brexit signalled the demise of the Conservatives. - Observer

The Conservative party could split if Theresa May insists on pursuing a “hard Brexit”, the former business minister Anna Soubry has claimed. The MP also said she would be willing to resign from the Tories and join up with “like-minded people” equally opposed to this outcome if the government opted for a Brexit outcome that would “destroy the lives and livelihoods” of her constituents. - Observer

British retirees are rushing to settle in European countries such as Spain, Portugal and France ahead of the Brexit deadline, according to financial advisers, believing that such a move will become significantly more difficult in the future. One company that supports those moving to mainland Europe after they finish working revealed that the number of monthly inquiries to its website had doubled in a year, while actual business was up by 25%. - Observer

BT BOSS AND BHP UNDER PRESSURE

BT Group shareholders are urging more change at the top of the company, with one top 20 investor calling on the company to line up a replacement for chief executive Gavin Patterson. The investor, who controls a stake in BT worth hundreds of millions of pounds, said that “with the benefit of hindsight, Gavin Patterson was not the right man for the job”. - Sunday Telegraph

"Think Smart” yell the billboards across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. “Tell BHP it’s time for CHANGE.” The slogan is a play on BHP Billiton’s recently unveiled strapline “Think Big”, and the advertising campaign is the latest salvo from activist investor Elliott Advisors, which wants the world’s biggest mining company to shake up its strategy. - Sunday Telegraph

Investors in Telit Communications must have thought things could not get much worse last week, after it emerged that the company’s chief executive appears to be a fugitive from American justice who has been living under a false name. Yet now they are also asking questions about what happened to the proceeds of a $50m (£38m) fundraising that took place earlier this year. - Sunday Times

FTSE 250-listed drug company BTG is to plough new investment into cutting-edge cancer therapies in a bid to shake up the fast growing global immuno-oncology (IO) drugs market. BTG’s play in IO – a market worth $8bn (£6.2bn) a year today and projected to reach $50bn – is to develop medical devices that can deliver the immune system-boosting drugs ­directly to the cancer-affected part of the body using specially-designed needles, catheters or probes. - Sunday Telegraph

A leading North Sea oil expert has said that the accelerated shift to electric cars and renewables could damage investment in the industry and accelerate “peak oil” — the point at which global crude production reaches its maximum rate before going into irreversible decline. Alex Kemp, professor of petroleum economics at Aberdeen University, said that the rush to switch the economy away from hydrocarbons will be felt in the North Sea as global oil prices react to lower demand. - Sunday Times

Diageo is embroiled in a row with the French taxman over a large slug of back taxes from the drinks giant. France’s tax authorities have accused the Johnnie Walker and Guinness owner of not paying enough corporation tax on its earnings in the country. - Sunday Times

The liquidator of collapsed fashion group BHS has launched a legal action against Sir Philip Green’s fashion empire. The action has been filed in the High Court by SHB Realisations, formerly BHS, and now being run by liquidator FRP Advisory. - Mail on Sunday

BUSINESS RATES, LANDLORD LOOPHOLE, RAIL FARES

The government pushed ahead with plans to overhaul the appeals system for business rates despite not receiving a single consultation response in support of them. Businesses were consulted about the new “check, challenge, appeal” process in August 2016, which has overhauled the grounds on which companies can argue against rating ­decisions by introducing a power to throw out appeals that are within a margin of error of around 15pc. - Sunday Telegraph

Britain’s landlords could cost the energy system hundreds of millions of pounds by using loopholes in the government’s housing standards to avoid improving ­energy efficiency. Landlords are expected to file for ­exemptions from the forthcoming efficiency guidelines to avoid shouldering the expense of upgrading the country’s most poorly insulated homes, at a major cumulative cost to energy consumers who will pay for new power ­capacity through their bills. - Sunday Telegraph

Rail fares and season tickets are set to soar at their fastest rate for four years in a move likely to prompt fury among commuters and other train travellers. Regulated rail fares are pegged to the Retail Prices Index of inflation for July. Official figures out on Tuesday are expected to show this rising at a rate of 3.5 per cent a year. The rate will be applied to rail fares from January 1, adding nearly £200 to the cost of some annual tickets. - Mail on Sunday

Flight prices may be pushed higher to cover the financial risk of delays or construction problems on Heathrow’s new third runway. The airport is demanding the right to make airlines and passengers contribute to any unexpected cost overruns or engineering problems on the £18.6bn project. - Sunday Times

ASDA, NETFLIX, HILTON

Hundreds of Asda staff could lose their jobs as the US-owned chain battles slumping sales and changing shopping habits.
Bosses are reviewing 18 large UK stores – where 10 per cent of the 3,257 roles could go. - Mail on Sunday

Asda is expected to serve up its first quarter of positive sales growth in three years this week, giving the supermarket a brief respite from 12 quarters of relentlessly woeful trading. The Walmart-owned supermarket has been tarnished as the worst performing major grocer as its rivals have been more aggressive in responding to the threat from rapidly expanding discounters Aldi and Lidl. - Sunday Telegraph

American hotel giant Hilton is planning on increasing the size of its UK ­estate by almost 25pc in a vote of confidence in the British economy as it moves to leave the European Union. Hilton, which is majority owned by US private equity giant Blackstone, is due to open 30 hotels over the next two years as it moves to cement the nation’s place as its second largest market outside the US. - Sunday Telegraph

The explosive growth of Netflix in the UK is coming to an end, according to analysis by a well-placed industry player. The figures raise new questions over its business in the wake of Disney’s ­decision to take its films off the steaming service in the US. - Sunday Telegraph

Controversial businessman and Labour party donor Chai Patel has signed a deal to buy half of Bupa’s care homes to create Britain’s biggest operator. City sources said Patel’s company, HC-One, has agreed to pay up to £450 million for the 150-home portfolio. The deal will catapult HC-One from the third largest care home company in the country to the largest, potentially worth more than £1 billion. - Mail on Sunday

David Davis backed a City high-flyer’s appeal against a huge fine for insider dealing a month after accepting a lucrative position at one of his companies. The Brexit secretary has been a staunch ally of star banker Ian Hannam for many years. - Observer

Fears have been raised about a shortage of greyhounds next year when the rights to broadcast races is split between two rival groups. The Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service (BAGS) has for 30 years distributed pictures through a company called SIS but will go its own way in 2018. - Sunday Telegraph

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