Newspapers: The Times, Independent, FT, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail, Express, Herald 100815

The Times

L&G pulls the trigger on £1.5 billion investment: Legal & General is close to signing a deal to build 7,000 homes and almost a million square feet of office space on the outskirts of Leeds, pulling the trigger on the Chief Executive’s plan to invest £1.5 billion in infrastructure during the next five years.

Brighton rocks as Chinese check in to The Grand: The hotel company that runs the five-star Grand in Brighton has fallen into Chinese hands in a deal estimated to be worth at least £400 million.

Luxembourg leads war on global tax avoidance: Luxembourg will take a leading role in moves to address the problem of global tax avoidance by big business as the tiny European state looks to repair the damage from the so-called LuxLeaks scandal that revealed how it had been used to dodge taxes.

Fracking is poised for an explosive expansion: Britain is set to fire up a big expansion of the fracking industry, handing out dozens of new drilling licences and fast-tracking planning decisions despite intense public opposition to the practice.

Next rung on housing ladder out of reach: Families face unaffordable mortgage increases if they try to move to bigger homes in the same area, a study has warned.

No hedging as funds bet on recovery in oil price: Hedge funds have raised their bets on a rebound in oil prices for the first time in seven weeks, despite fears of a deepening global supply glut.

Guernsey’s neighbours become more than just good friends: Two of the best-known names in financial services are strengthening their relationship, with Stephen Lansdown paying £9 million for an 18% stake in Andy Stewart’s Channel Islands stockbroking and investment management business.

Crude price leaves small companies over a barrel: The oil industry is heading for an autumn debt crisis as drillers struggle to refinance loans, amid growing expectations that crude prices are set to stay lower for longer.

Phone company sorry as cyberattack hits millions: The data watchdog is investigating after Carphone Warehouse admitted that 2.4 million of its customers may have had their personal information and bank details stolen.

The Independent

City fraud cases fall as cutbacks hamper SFO: The number of raids carried out by the Serious Fraud Office halved last year despite an increase in the number of tip-offs by whistleblowers, the law firm Pinsent Masons has claimed.

Pharma giant Shire poised for $30 billion Baxalta talks: Takeover fever is set to grip the pharmaceutical sector once again this week with London-listed Shire poised to begin formal takeover talks with U.S. rival Baxalta in a deal that could top $30 billion (£20 billion).

Financial Times

Davies Review shines light on women’s pay: Britain’s biggest companies are being pressed to address pay inequalities at the very top, as the Davies Review considers setting a target for a quarter of top earners at FTSE 100 firms to be women.

P2P ‘land grab’ draws more than 100 startups: More than 100 peer-to-peer lenders have applied for full authorisation from the City regulator as entrepreneurs jostle for territory in the fast-growing industry.

Zurich targets savings from RSA reinsurance bill: Zurich Insurance is drawing up plans to slash hundreds of millions of pounds from prospective takeover target RSA’s annual reinsurance spending in a move that could help the Swiss group justify paying a premium for its U.K. rival.

Biffa could be valued at up to £1 billion in planned IPO: Biffa could be valued at up to £1 billion when it floats on the London Stock Exchange next year ahead of an expected wave of consolidation in the industry fuelled by new technologies that convert rubbish into recycled products or energy.

Outsourcers running U.K. immigration centres put to the test: Abdal Albashiar arrived at London’s Heathrow airport in 1998 after fleeing what he says was persecution by Sudan’s government.

Start-up Apis raises $150 million for emerging fintech honeypots: A young private equity house focused on investing in financial services across Africa and south Asia has won strong backing for its inaugural fund.

Junior creditors close to taking control at Oncor: An agreement giving junior creditors control of Oncor, the regulated U.S. utility that is part of Energy Futures Holdings, could come as early as this week, ending an acrimonious struggle over the carcass of a company that filed for bankruptcy protection last year with about $40 billion in debt.

BT pension fund bets £1 billion on private equity: BT’s pension scheme, the largest in the U.K.’s private sector, has handed £1 billion to Hermes to invest in private equity with a mandate that will seek to avoid pricey large buyouts.

CRH ready to add to $6.5 billion binge on Lafarge and Holcim assets: Irish building materials group CRH is still on the lookout for more acquisitions even as it prepares to integrate the $6.5 billion in assets it has acquired from Lafarge and Holcim.

Pearson set to offload Economist stake for £400 million: Pearson is expected to announce the sale of its stake in the publisher of The Economist magazine as early as this week for about £400 million, according to people close to the matter.

JCDecaux keeps an eye on potential U.S. acquisitions: JCDecaux is the world’s largest outdoor advertising group, selling space on everything from bus shelters in Edinburgh to bicycles in Paris and digital screens on the Shanghai Metro. This week it won the contract to sell advertising space in almost 5,000 of London’s bus shelters.

Record $253 billion in long-dated debt issued this year: International companies and governments worldwide are issuing record sums of long-dated debt as investors bet on decades of low growth and inflation.

Taiwan’s Foxconn to invest $5 billion in India: Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn will invest about $5 billion over the next 5 years to build a manufacturing facility in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, marking one of the largest foreign direct investment deals in Indian corporate history.

Google set to reboot Android One smartphone project in India: Google is to relaunch its Android One cut-price smartphone project, placing the goal of delivering a sub-$50 device at the heart of a “massive” investment push by the technology group into India’s internet market.

HS2 contracts for £7 billion put out to tender despite uncertainty: Contracts worth £7 billion for the tunnels and viaducts for HS2 are about to be put out to tender, despite continuing uncertainty over the project’s future.

Lex:

European insurers: payback time: Are things really so bad for Europe’s big composite insurers such as Allianz, Axa Group, Aviva, Generali and Zurich, with their spread of life and general insurance and investment products? Their share prices (bar Axa’s) have underperformed their national indices for much of the year as investors fret over low bond yields and investment returns, capital, dividend policy and regulation. Yet these insurers have restructured themselves; balance sheets are stronger and (bar Zurich) operating profits are rising too. At or close to the 200% level, investors ought to be reassured. Some will smell potential for capital returns. Allianz is already at 212%, so has the flexibility to return capital once there is final regulatory certainty on Solvency II. Zurich, with $3 billion to spend on its mooted offer for U.K. insurer RSA or capital returns, is in a similarly strong position. Axa will present its next capital management plan in December, but has lifted its payout ratio leaving scope for top-ups. And Aviva expects “additional capital synergies” over the next two years from its purchase of Friends Life. That sounds like a capital release, especially after the U.K.’s Prudential Regulation Authority said it would not use Solvency II to lift sector capital levels.

The Daily Telegraph

Greece inches closer to third bail-out deal but Finns insist rescue package ‘won’t work’: Greece is closer to unlocking a fresh €86 billion (£61 billion) rescue package after the country’s creditors reportedly agreed on a draft deal this weekend.

Chinese warning lights flash as tumbling factory gate prices pave way for more stimulus: Tumbling Chinese exports in July and the fastest fall in factory gate prices in almost six years have put further pressure on Beijing to launch fresh stimulus measures to support the economy.

TUI set to outline cost of Tunisia beach killings to tour business: Tour operator TUI is this week expected to lay bare the scale of the financial hit it has taken from the attack on a tourist beach in Tunisia that saw more than 30 of its customers shot dead by an Islamist gunman.

Dwell bounces back with new stores after DFS buyout: Dwell, the furniture retailer, is opening its first new stores since its collapse into administration two years ago.

The Guardian

Planned Hinkley Point nuclear power station under fire from energy industry: Hinkley Point, the planned £24.5 billion nuclear power station in Somerset, is under intensifying criticism from the energy industry and the City, even as the government prepares to give the final go-ahead for the heavily subsidised project.

RBS Executives set for multimillion-pound payouts: Royal Bank of Scotland is preparing to hand out shares worth an estimated £2.5 million to its 10-strong management team.

Greece hopes to conclude negotiations with creditors on bailout within days: Greece hopes to conclude negotiations with international creditors by early on Tuesday at the latest, a Greek official said, as talks continued in Athens on a new multibillion-euro bailout.

Thinktank urges investment in low-wage sectors to raise U.K. productivity: The government must focus on unloved sectors such as hospitality and retail, if it is to tackle Britain’s lamentable productivity record, according to a new analysis by Thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Oxfam looks to discounting as high street shops struggle with competition: Oxfam is to trial discount charity shops after sales slumped amid competition from cheap high street stores such as Primark and a drop in clothing donations.

Daily Mail

Prudential’s new CEO can boast profits are up 14% when he attends first shareholders’ meeting: Prudential’s new Chief Executive Mike Wells should have good news for his shareholders when he introduces himself at his maiden financial results .

Osborne to face a bigger shares storm over RBS as new 10% stake sale is likely to result in another huge loss for the taxpayer: George Osborne is set to provoke a new storm after his controversial loss-making sale of RBS shares by selling a further 10% stake before the end of the year, according to City sources.

Workers at luxury yacht manufacturer Sunseeker win battle on pay after rejecting initial offer: Workers at luxury yacht manufacturer Sunseeker have won an improved pay deal after rejecting the management’s initial offer.

Troubled fashion retailer Hobbs racks up £15.6 million loss: Women’s fashion retailer Hobbs has racked up a £15.6 million annual loss after it was hit by legal fees and redundancy costs.

Tour operator Mark Warner fights to keep profit afloat as it takes a hit from uncertainty in Greece: It’s sun, sea and sand all the way for its guests this summer, but Mark Warner has revealed a less-than-sunny set of accounts.

Britain’s oldest bank C Hoare & Co goes digital as it launches mobile app: Britain’s oldest bank still in operation is to join the digital age, launching a mobile app for its well-heeled customers.

Tesco poised to end its ‘junk’ status with £5 billion sell-offs of its Korean and Dunnhumby businesses: Tesco is poised to cast off its ‘junk’ status in financial markets as it closes in on the sale of assets that may be worth more than £5billion.

Daily Express

Factors that could push property over the edge: The housing market is on a knife edge as figures show that property is more over-priced than ever before, meaning that buyers are being forced to take on ever-larger amounts of debt to keep pace with the soaring prices.

Sweet taste of Japan to hit supermarkets: Desserts group Little Moons, which supplies Wagamama, Yo! Sushi and upmarket Japanese restaurant group Nobu, has expanded into retail after striking deals with Whole Foods and Selfridges.

Facebook tycoon funds small firms: Smaller businesses are being offered a new source of funding from a U.S. finance house backed by Facebook tycoon Peter Thiel.

Ladbrokes suffers in double tax whammy: Ladbrokes Chief Executive Jim Mullen will say this week that increased taxes and customers winning at its expense have sent profits crashing by 38.2% to £41.7 million.

The Scottish Herald

Scottish growth accelerates as manufacturing output rebounds: Growth of Scotland’s private sector economy has accelerated to its best pace this year, while remaining modest, with manufacturing output rebounding after three straight months of decline.

Ladbrokes merger plans in the spotlight as half year results published: Bookmaker Ladbrokes publishes interim results next week after announcing a £2.3 billon tie-up with rival Coral while property website Zoopla and outsourcing giants G4S and Serco are also due to deliver updates to the City.

Supermarkets shrink for first time in 21 years: The supermarket sector has shrunk for the first time on record, as FTSE100 pretax profits fell to a five-year low, according to the latest Profit Watch report by The Share Centre.

The Scotsman

Business confidence up but jobs market takes a blow: Scottish businesses are in rude health with output levels rising, according to two major surveys released.

Nairn-based WooHa to launch lighter shade of pale ale: Nairn-based WooHa, owned by head brewer and former microbiologist Heather McDonald, is to launch two fresh tipples at a craft beer festival in Inverness later this month.

James Bond Spectre boost for Cineworld: Takings at Cineworld are tipped to get a second-half boost from a flurry of blockbuster releases including the new James Bond movie, Spectre.

City A.M.

Top banks could face millions in new PPI claims over commission: Britain’s top banks are facing further fall out from the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI).

Trouble in paradise for Mark Warner: Mark Warner, the family-focused tour operator, said last year was less than plain-sailing after difficult trading conditions in both the ski and summer markets sparked an 80% slump in profits.

Hammond says migrants hit EU living standards: Foreign secretary Philip Hammond claimed that European living standards are at risk unless the continent clamps down on immigration from Africa.

Chinese insurance giant Anbang nears £750 million Heron Tower deal: The Heron Tower in the City that is part-owned by property tycoon Gerald Ronson could soon change hands after a Chinese insurance giant emerged as a frontrunner to buy the skyscraper for £750 million.

Profits jump 86% at Qatari investment group QInvest: Qatar’s largest investment group reported strong growth, ending the first half of 2015 with revenues up 40% and net profit increasing 86%, compared to the first half of 2014.

Virgin Money opens airliner-style lounge: Virgin Money will open its sixth lounge in London’s Haymarket as it seeks to differen­t­iate itself from its rivals and boost footfall to local branches.

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