PRESS DIGEST-Sunday British Business

LONDON Sun Feb 2, 2014 8:18am EST

LONDON Feb 2 (Reuters) - British newspapers reported the following business stories on Sunday:

The Sunday Times

BANKS USE NEW LOOPHOLE TO DEFY BONUS PLAN

Banks could still pay top staff bonuses worth eight or nine times their basic salary after finding a way to sidestep European limits on annual payouts. The loophole hinges on the payment of monthly "allowances" that will boost bankers' take-home pay and multiply bonus payments.

BAE HANDS EX-CHAIRMAN OLVER 14,000 POUNDS ($23,000) A WEEK

The former chairman of BAE Systems is to be paid for another three and a half months despite stepping down from the board last week. Sir Dick Olver, who has been succeeded by the former Centrica chairman Sir Roger Carr, will continue to receive fees and perks until the middle of May, including a car and a chauffeur.

VODAFONE HAMMERED BY CURRENCY TURMOIL

Mobile phone group Vodafone is braced for a dramatic slide in overseas revenues because of the chaos engulfing the emerging economies of Africa and Asia. Britain's second-largest company has operations in India, South Africa and Turkey - three of the "fragile five" nations at the centre of financial markets turmoil.

WALL STREET TITANS VIE FOR 9 BILLION POUND RBS DEAL

Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, the two most powerful bankers on Wall Street, made personal sales pitches to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) last week as they battled for a role in the $15 billion listing of its American business Citizens. Taxpayer-owned RBS is accelerating the sale of Citizens to shore up its capital base.

TAX RULES TIGHTENED IN NEW BLITZ ON OFFSHORE PROFITS

Multinationals will be forced to reveal how much tax they pay in each country as part of a crackdown on shifting profits offshore. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) is to announce in the next fortnight that it will impose "country by country" reporting as part of its plan to prevent companies moving profits to tax havens.

SON OF WOOLWORTHS LINES UP BLOCKBUSTER MARKET DEBUT

A discount retailer described as a modern-day Woolworths is set for one of the biggest stock market listings of the year. B&M Retail is based in Liverpool and has 350 stores, 15,000 staff and two million customers a week. It is expected to go public in a deal that will value it at about 2 billion pounds.

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

BANK CALLS RBS CHIEF TO CRUNCH MEETING

Ross McEwan, chief executive of RBS, is to be called to a crunch meeting with the Bank of England over the state-backed bank's capital position.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that Mr McEwan is to meet the two most senior staff at the central bank's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) within the next fortnight. The meeting will consider RBS's capital position in light of Mr McEwan's strategy review, due to be unveiled on February 27.

OCADO SEEKS SITE FOR THIRD DISTRIBUTION WAREHOUSE

The online grocery retailer Ocado is to proceed with plans for a third distribution centre in the UK after its tie-up with Morrisons got off to a promising start.

Tim Steiner, the chief executive of Ocado, is expected to confirm in the company's annual results this week that it is looking for a site for a third "customer fulfilment centre".

BRITISH GAS FEELS HEAT AS PROFITS FALL

The warmest December since 2006 is expected to have hit profits at British Gas - the latest setback for investors in its parent, the embattled energy giant Centrica.

Britain's biggest energy supplier had been expected to return household supply profits of 592 million pounds in 2013, down 2 percent on the previous year, according to analysts' forecasts in the wake of a profit warning in November.

GOVERNMENT FIGHTS FOR AUGUSTAWESTLAND'S INDIA DEAL

British government officials have waded into a dispute between Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland and Indian authorities to try to salvage a 465 million pound contract.

A British government spokesman confirmed to the Sunday Telegraph that officials have held regular meetings with their counterparts in India after the Indian government decided to terminate a deal to buy 12 AW101 transport helicopters amid claims that officials were bribed to win the contract.

BARCLAYS TOPS LISTINGS LEAGUE IN IPO SURGE

Barclays has emerged as the top bank for new stock market listings in the City last year amid signs that 2014 could see a surge of initial public offerings (IPOs).

The British bank was ranked ahead of international rivals such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citi by data services company Dealogic in terms of the number of IPOs it acted on as bookrunner in 2013.

MAIL ON SUNDAY

Lloyds Banking Group is hammering out a deal with regulators to pay its first dividend since the financial crisis began, which could result in the bailed-out bank returning 350 million pounds to the taxpayer. Analysts expect a dividend of up to 1.5 pence a share in the bank's results next week.

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