PRESS DIGEST - Sunday British business - Aug 4

LONDON Sun Aug 4, 2013 9:14am EDT

LONDON Aug 4 (Reuters) - British newspapers reported the following business stories on Sunday:

The Sunday Times:

Plans for a government sale of shares in Lloyds Banking Group, and a surge in the lender's stock market value, have put Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio in line for a bonus windfall worth well over 2 million pounds ($3 million) - far more than the sum outlined by the bank five months ago.

Marex Spectron, the London commodities broker backed by Jeremy Isaacs, former head of Lehman Brothers Europe, is considering a bid for the JP Morgan Chase subsidiary caught in a storm over metal prices.

Goldman Sachs has teamed up with Allianz, Europe's biggest insurance company, to make a 2 billion pound bid for a 30 percent stake in Yorkshire Water.

HSBC is set to report a 15 percent rise in interim profits on Monday as three years of radical restructuring continue to bear fruit.

Cyprus is seeking to pump 17 million euros of emergency cash into its national airline in an attempt to save it from bankruptcy.

Guy Hands, the tax-exiled private equity tycoon, has put his green energy company Infinis up for sale for 1.5 billion pounds as he attempts to recoup the huge losses from his failed buyout of the EMI record label.

Postal staff want to set up a "workers' trust" to hold their 10 percent stake in Royal Mail, in an attempt to gain more power over the business. The trust would control the stake the government has promised to set aside for staff when the postal service is listed on the London Stock Exchange later this year.

Tesco is the only supermarket to have increased its share of the online grocery market in the past year, according to industry data, suggesting Britain's biggest retailer is extending its dominance beyond the high street.

More than 40 percent of the companies in the North Sea produce no oil and do not have the finances to be able to do so, according to research from advisory firm Hannon Westwood.

Treasury officials have held talks with private insurers about taking on the Help to Buy scheme's 12 billion pound liabilities when the housing initiative ends.

Maurice Levy, head of the French advertising group Publicis , predicted competition watchdogs will not force sell-offs after his group's planned merger with its American rival Omnicom.

Mark Wilson, the new chief executive of Aviva, warned his staff that no one in the company will get a bonus this year unless they hit targets linked to a 400 million pounds cost-cutting plan.

The 200 million pound sale of Defence Support Group, a state-owned company that maintains armoured trucks for the military, has hit a snag over the ownership of intellectual property.

The Sunday Telegraph:

One of Britain's biggest insurers, Legal & General, has signalled a 12 billion pound boost to Britain's economy by declaring it wants to increase investment in the nation's infrastructure from 3 billion pounds to 15 billion over the next 10 years.

The new chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland , Ross McEwan, was facing his first challenge this weekend after leading shareholders in the bank signalled they would not support breaking it up even if the Treasury insisted on going ahead.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the maverick founder of easyJet, is preparing to do battle with low cost supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl by launching his own budget food chain by the end of the year.

Embattled bookmaker Ladbrokes risks taking another hit in the markets this week amid fears of a second profit warning and a 31 percent collapse in half-year profits.

The Bank of England is expected to raise its growth forecasts and lower its inflation outlook this week as Governor Mark Carney unveils a radical new commitment to low rates in what is likely to be a further boost for the recovery.

HSBC is expected to report a $2 billion increase in profits on Monday for the first six months of the year as Britain's largest lender's efficiency drive bears fruit.

Hedge funds are threatening to undermine the Co-operative Group's last-ditch plan to rescue its stricken banking arm after amassing major positions in 300 million pounds of the lender's bonds.

The Wellcome Trust retains an investment in payday lender Wonga despite announcing that it had sold its direct shareholding. The Sunday Telegraph said the medical charity, which manages a 14.5 billion pound endowment, is an investor in a fund managed by Accel Partners which has a significant shareholding in Wonga.

London's FTSE 100 index could break through its previous record to reach 7,500 in 12 months, according to analysis by Goldman Sachs.

The Independent on Sunday:

Corporate governance advisers have warned they have "problems" with how the bosses of Publicis and Omnicom have carved up boardroom roles between them for the next five years as part of their 23 billion pounds advertising mega-merger.

The Mail on Sunday:

Diplomats in London have been thrown into chaos after Britain's biggest bank, HSBC, sacked them as customers and gave them 60 days to move their accounts.

The British chancellor will not sell any of the government's stake in Lloyds Banking Group until September, dashing hopes in the City of a sell-off as early as this week. Sources indicated he would instead wait to September.

JD Wetherspoon and Spirit Group, two of Britain's biggest pub chains, have become the latest to admit that the vast majority of workers are on controversial zero-hour contracts.