PRESS DIGEST - British Business - Feb 4

Sun Feb 3, 2013 9:57pm EST

Feb 4 (Reuters) - The Times BARCLAYS LOOKS TO MAKE A CLEAN BREAK - Chris Lucas, the finance director since 2007, and Mark Harding, the group general counsel who has been with Barclays for 10 years, are stepping down, the lender said on Sunday.

OSBORNE VOLTE-FACE GIVES BREAK-UP POWERS TO THE BANK OF ENGLAND - Chancellor George Osborne has made a surprise U-turn over banking reform and will hand powers to the Bank of England that allow it to break up banks that flout rules over ring-fencing.

MERLIN FLOATS IDEA OF FAIRYTALE DEBUT IN NEW YORK Europe's biggest theme park and attractions operator could opt for New York over London as it plots a possible 3 billion pounds plus stock market flotation. Merlin Entertainments, which owns the Legoland and Madame Tussauds chains, is understood to be considering an initial public offering in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2014 as it taps the public markets for the next stage of its ambitious expansion plans.

The Telegraph BAE REJECTS CALLS FOR FRESH SAUDI INVESTIGATION BAE Systems rejected calls for an investigation into allegations that the company's former chairman acquired two luxury properties from offshore companies linked to a Saudi defence deal.

TWIN CRISES IN ITALY AND SPAIN STALK MARKETS AS POLITICAL UNREST PREVAILS-The escalating political crises in Italy and Spain are being watched with growing concern by bond investors, fearful that both countries could slide into paralysis and lose the crucial backing of the European Central Bank.

CONCERNS OVER 1,000 JOBS AT STORE TWENTY ONE Concerns are rising about the future of 1,000 jobs at discount retailer Store Twenty One after bailiffs were called to a collection of shops to claim stock.

Independent on Sunday RBS PLEDGES HESTER WILL STAY TO 2014 Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Sir Philip Hampton has moved to calm investor fears over chief executive Stephen Hester's future, privately pledging that the 52-year-old will stay in charge well into 2014.

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