PRESS DIGEST - British Business - May 23

Wed May 22, 2013 8:32pm EDT

May 23 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories on the business pages of British newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

The Telegraph

STOP PICKING ON UK COMPANIES, SAYS SSE BOSS IAN MARCHANT

Attacks by politicians on British listed companies risk driving money and talent away to unaccountable foreign private equity firms, SSE's chief executive has claimed.

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HEAD OF WAITROSE MARK PRICE REFUSES TO MEET ME, SAYS OCADO CHIEF TIM STEINER

The boss of Ocado has said Mark Price, the head of Waitrose, is refusing to meet him after the online grocer struck a partnership agreement with rival Wm Morrison.

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GOOGLE CHIEF ERIC SCHMIDT: 'THE TAX REGIME IS NOT UP TO US'

The head of Google has denied the search giant's tax operations were "unethical", as he claimed it was for governments to create the laws and for businesses to abide by them.

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The Guardian

FED CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE: STIMULUS PROGRAMME NOT CREATING 'BUBBLES'

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke denied his $85 billion-a-month stimulus programme was creating new financial bubbles as he updated Congress on his views on the U.S. economic recovery on Wednesday.

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OSBORNE PREPARES GROUND FOR RBS AND LLOYDS SELL-OFF

George Osborne is preparing to set out his plans to return bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland to the private sector after the International Monetary Fund called on him to devise a "clear strategy" for the two banks.

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UK RETAIL SALES SLUMP AS SHOPPERS BALK AT HIGHER PRICES AND COLD WEATHER

Retail sales slumped in April after shoppers balked at rising prices and were reluctant to venture out to the high street in one of the coldest springs on record. The Office for National Statistics said retailers reported a 1.3 percent decline in the amount of goods sold, with food shops the worst affected.

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The Times

FOOTSIE PARTIES LIKE IT'S 1999 AS SHARES APPROACH ALL-TIME PEAK

The FTSE 100 registered its second-highest close on record as global stock markets continued to bet that central banks would not pare stimulus spending, for now.

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NATIONWIDE BUILDS ACQUISITIONS WARCHEST

Nationwide Building Society has sparked speculation of a year of acquisitions by announcing plans to raise capital. Graham Beale, Nationwide's chief executive, said the UK's biggest building society did not need to raise additional capital to meet regulatory demands but wanted to do so for strategic reasons.

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BRITVIC CANS 400 JOBS TO CUT COSTS BY 30 MLN STG

Britvic Plc on Wednesday announced plans to close two factories with the loss of up to 400 jobs as it sought to strengthen its bargaining hand in the event of fresh merger talks with AG Barr.

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The Independent

TIME FOR PLAN B? IMF TELLS GEORGE OSBORNE TO EASE PACE OF SPENDING CUTS

George Osborne has been urged to put his austerity programme on hold by the International Monetary Fund in order to support the anaemic economy.

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'EUROPE'S TAX HAVEN' IRELAND FACES CRITICISM OVER APPLE'S TAX BILL

The Republic of Ireland has called for an international clampdown on multinationals shifting profits around the world to avoid tax, after criticism that Irish loopholes helped technology giant Apple to shrink its tax bill.