PRESS DIGEST - British Business - Feb 3

LONDON Sun Feb 3, 2013 12:22pm EST

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LONDON Feb 3 (Reuters) - The Sunday Telegraph OSBORNE WEIGHS NEW POWERS IF RING-FENCING FAILS Chancellor George Osborne is in talks with business minister Vince Cable on new powers that could be used to force banks to split if proposals to ring-fence retail and investment banking divisions fail. The proposals will be outlined in a speech on Monday. RBS PLANS TO FLOAT BRANCHES AFTER SANTANDER BID COLLAPSE British bank RBS is pushing ahead with plans for a 1 billion pound listing of the 316 branches it failed to sell to Santander last year, the newspaper said, although it would remain open to another offer to buy the branches. HEATHROW TO INVEST 3 BLN STG IN FIVE-YEAR UPGRADE London's Heathrow airport will unveil a 3 billion-pound modernisation plan for 2014-2019 that will signal its confidence in the future, The Sunday Telegraph said, citing sources close to the airport. HMV SET TO CLOSE UP TO 100 STORES Deloitte, the administrator of music and video retailer HMV, will this week announce plans to close between 60 and 100 of the group's 223 stores, resulting in the loss of 1,500 jobs, the newspaper said. SEYMOUR PIERCE IN RESCUE TALKS Seymour Pierce is in talks with an individual and a rival broker about financing a rescue deal before administrators are appointed to the 130-year old firm. A spokesman for the company told the newspaper it had received a number of offers. MORRISONS BUYS JESSOPS STORES Grocer WM Morrison has bought seven former Jessops stores from the retailer's administrators as part of its push into the convenience sector. LLOYDS APPEALS TO GOVERNMENT ON FALSE PPI CLAIMS Lloyds chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio has written to the government asking for the cost of processing false payment protection insurance claims to be shared by claims management companies. Sunday Times BRITISH MOBILE OPERATOR EE PLANS 10 BLN STG FLOAT EE, the British mobile operator jointly owned by France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, is close to appointing advisers for a flotation of the business, which could come as soon as September. HEINEKEN PUTS HARTWALL ON THE BLOCK Heineken is understood to have hired JP Morgan to prepare for the sale of Hartwall, which was the Finnish arm of the former Scottish & Newcastle brewing empire, for about 500 million pounds ($790 million). AFREN PLANS SALE OF KURDISTAN AND EAST AFRICA FIELDS Oil explorer Afren has hired Stern Associates, a corporate finance firm, to examine the sale of its oil fields in Kurdistan and east Africa for up to 1 billion pounds, leaving the group focused on its main operations in Nigeria. ARLE PARTNERS PUTS SLUMBERLAND OWNER UP FOR SALE Hilding Anders, the Swedish bed and mattress company that makes Slumberland and Jensen products, is heading for a 1 billion pound ($1.6 billion) sale after private equity group Arle Partners hired Deutsche Bank to handle a deal. GRIFFITHS ENERGY EYES LONDON FLOAT African oil explorer Griffiths Energy, which is backed by Glencore, is close to launching a 700 million pounds float in London. The company, which declined to comment to the newspaper, has appointed RBC Capital Markets and Barclays to handle the offering, The Sunday Times said. Independent on Sunday SUPERMARKETS TARGET EMPTY HMV STORES Supermarket groups Iceland, Tesco, J Sainsbury and WM Morrison have all submitted bids for HMV stores. Iceland wants up to 50 stores, while Tesco is eyeing 20 stores and Sainsbury's around 25, the newspaper said.

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