PRESS DIGEST - Sunday British Business - Dec 1

LONDON Sun Dec 1, 2013 9:56am EST

LONDON Dec 1 (Reuters) - British newspapers reported the following business stories on Sunday:

The Sunday Times

RBS STOKES PAY ROW WITH 500 MLN STG BONUS SEASON

Royal Bank of Scotland is expected to pay its bankers an estimated 500 million pounds ($819 million) in bonuses this year, in spite of the string of scandals engulfing the taxpayer-backed lender.

CAMERON LENDS HAND TO FINANCIAL TECHIES

David Cameron plans to throw Whitehall's weight behind Britain's burgeoning financial services technology industry. FinTech UK, a coalition-led initiative to be launched early next year, will bring together start-ups, small firms and large companies.

JOHNSTON PRESS IN TALKS ON IRISH EXIT

Johnston Press, owner of The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, is closing in on a 10 million pound deal to sell its Irish titles. The indebted publisher is in advanced talks with Mediaforce, a British print advertising company, about a disposal of its 12 papers in Ireland, sources said.

VODAFONE IN NEW INDIAN LAWSUIT

Vodafone's Indian subsidiary is facing more legal woes after a local company accused it of illegally acquiring its 65,000-strong customer base.

Matrix Cellular Services has accused Vodafone of "cheating, fraud, breach of trust and theft" under the country's Information Technology Act and penal code. The complaint is set to be heard tomorrow in a Delhi court.

Vodafone told the newspaper that "the unsubstantiated allegations by Matrix are without merit".

NEWSAGENT MCCOLL'S IN 200 MLN STG FLOTATION

One of Britain's biggest chains of convenience stores is planning a 200 million pound flotation. McColl's Retail Group, which runs 1,265 shops and newsagents across the country, plans to make its market debut early next year.

GKN SWOOPS ON BOEING SUPPLIER

One of Britain's top engineering companies has entered the race to buy an American rival that makes wings for Boeing airlines. GKN, the FTSE 100 company with operations in aerospace, defence and automotive components, is understood to have lodged a bid to buy a division of Spirit Aerosystems .

ENGINEERS SET FOR BID BATTLE

Petrofac has entered the race for Foster Wheeler, raising the prospect of a bid battle for the U.S.-listed engineering conglomerate. The FTSE 100 oil services company pounced after the collapse of merger talks between Foster Wheeler and Amec, one of Petrofac's biggest UK rivals.

TOP BUSINESSMEN MULL SERCO'S FATE

A trio of top businessmen will help the Cabinet Office decide whether Serco, the beleaguered outsourcing company, will be allowed to bid for government contracts again.

Ian Tyler, the former chief executive of Balfour Beatty , Ed Smith, a former senior partner at PwC, and Tim Breedon, a former chief executive of Legal & General, have been recruited to an "oversight" panel, which is expected to report in the next few weeks.

The Sunday Telegraph

LIDL PLANS EXPANSION

Discount food retailer Lidl is planning an ambitious expansion drive that will result in it more than doubling in size in Britain, with its UK managing director claiming that grocery shopping in the country is entering a "new era".

FOUR SEASONS IN RUNNING FOR FORMER SOUTHERN CROSS CARE HOMES

Four Seasons Health Care, the care home business owned by Guy Hands' Terra Firma, is among the bidders for a company rescued from the collapse of Southern Cross.

BARCLAYS INVESTS IN SHALE GAS REVOLUTION

Barclays is backing the search for shale gas in Yorkshire and could fund fracking in the area as early as next year. Third Energy, which is 97 percent owned by Barclays Natural Resource Investments, a private equity arm of the bank, took shale rock samples while drilling in Kirby Misperton, Ryedale, this summer and is now analysing their potential.

IGAS STARTS DRILLING FOR SHALE GAS AT PROTEST SITE

The chief executive of shale gas explorer IGas has confirmed it has started drilling at Barton Moss, near Manchester. Andrew Austin said the well would be used to see what type of gas might be available in the rocks across the North West. Fracking - using high-pressure water and chemicals to force oil and gas from the rock - would be only one option considered in the future.

KERRY GROUP IN POLE POSITION TO SNAP UP PEPERAMI

Peperami, the meat snack sold under the slogan that it's "a bit of an animal", is close to being sold, with Ireland's Kerry Group leading the bidders. The pork salami sausage, created by consumer giant Unilever, was put up for sale in the summer.

MEDIA GROUPS CIRCLE AS GOVT PLANS DIGITAL RADIO LICENCE SELL-OFF

The government will announce a major expansion of commercial digital radio this month, in spite of missing targets towards a switchover to the digital format from FM.

SCRAP AIR PASSENGER TAX RISES, URGE CEOs

The government has been accused of "turning a blind eye" to the damage caused to inward investment and job creation in the UK by a controversial tax on air travel.

Some 250 chief executives have written to the Chancellor this weekend, accusing the Treasury of ignoring evidence that Air Passenger Duty is harming the economy.

The Independent

RBS PRESSURED TO REVEAL PLANS IF SCOTLAND VOTES FOR INDEPENDENCE

Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life are among the listed businesses based north of the border that are under pressure to tell shareholders their plans should Scotland vote for independence.

The Sunday Express

DEFENCE COMPANY TARGETS NHS DEAL

U.S. defence firm Lockheed Martin is targeting Britain's National Health Service and other health providers as part of its plans to grow its IT business in Britain.

The Mail on Sunday

BOOHOO IN FULL CRY ABROAD

A major assault on international markets is being planned by internet fashion firm Boohoo as it prepares for a 500 million pound flotation next year.