PRESS DIGEST-Sunday British business - Nov 18

LONDON Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:27am EST

LONDON Nov 18 (Reuters) - British newspapers reported the following business stories on Sunday:

Sunday Times

BLACKSTONE BACKS BARCLAY TWINS

Blackstone is backing billionaire twins David and Frederick Barclay in their battle for control of three top London hotels - the Berkeley, Claridge's and the Connaught.

BP PLANS 3.7 BLN STG BUYBACK

BP is planning to spend up to 3.7 billion pounds ($5.9 billion) buying its own stock to revive its flagging share price.

OCADO IN CRUNCH TALKS WITH BANKS

Online grocer Ocado is in talks with its banks to avoid a damaging breach of loan agreements at the end of this month.

RBS BRANCHES COULD BE STANDALONE BANK

A network of 316 branches being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland could be nationalised and turned into a new business lender under a government plan if no buyer is found. The business would be branded Williams & Glyn's.

INVESTORS TO BLOCK XSTRATA PAYOUTS

Investors are this week expected to vote down a bonus package worth tens of millions of pounds for central office staff at mining group Xstrata. Shareholders will meet on Tuesday to approve the miner's 51 billion pounds takeover by Glencore.

Sunday Telegraph

YAHOO PLOTS SEARCH ALLIANCE WITH FACEBOOK

Facebook and Yahoo! are in talks about forging an alliance that could end Yahoo!'s relationship with Microsoft. Sources said Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer had held discussions with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg about more substantial collaboration on web-based searching.

POLITICIANS "MAKING UK BANKS UNINVESTABLE"

Political interference, regulatory upheaval and opaque accounts are making British bank shares "uninvestable", according to the Association of British Insurers. The trade group is preparing to deliver a strongly worded report to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

SHELL BACKS UK'S DASH FOR GAS

Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Peter Voser has backed the UK government's "dash for gas". Voser said Shell saw gas as a fuel for the future and planned to invest $20 billion in the sector between 2012 and 2015.

GUGGENHEIM IN EXCLUSIVE TALKS TO BUY AVIVA UNIT

U.S. institutional asset manager Guggenheim Partners, working with Apollo Global Management, is in exclusive talks to buy the U.S. arm of British insurer Aviva. A deal, valuing Aviva USA at 800-850 million pounds, could be announced within the next fortnight. A person familiar with the matter last week told Reuters that Guggenheim was providing capital to Apollo for its bid.

Mail on Sunday

CENTRICA TO ABANDON UK NUCLEAR PLANTS

British utility Centrica is expected to turn its back on building new nuclear power stations in Britain and instead focus on expansion in the United States. It will formally take the decision by January at the latest to end its partnership with EDF to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, west England.

Independent on Sunday

TESCO LOSES STRATEGY DIRECTOR

Retailer Tesco's management shake-up is continuing, with the group's strategy director, Michael Fleming, the latest to leave his post after only 18 months in the role.