PRESS DIGEST-SUNDAY BRITISH BUSINESS - MARCH 30

LONDON, March 30 Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:48am EDT

LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - British newspapers reported the following business stories on Sunday. Reuters has not independently verified these media reports and does not vouch for their accuracy.

The Sunday Times

INSURERS DEMAND CITY WATCHDOG'S HEAD AFTER MARKET BLUNDER

Martin Wheatley, head of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), faces calls for his resignation after a gaffe that wiped billions of pounds from the value of insurance companies.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is expected to write to Chancellor George Osborne to complain about the FCA, which has been accused of creating a false market in insurers' shares over the way plans for a review of savings policies sold in the 30 years after 1970 were announced on Friday.

Senior sources at four of Britain's biggest insurers have told The Sunday Times that Wheatley's position is untenable, the paper said.

CHINESE GIANT SWOOPS ON HOUSE OF FRASER

A Chinese business tycoon is in advanced talks for a takeover of House of Fraser, the British department store chain.

Sunpower, a Nanjing-based conglomerate run by Yuan Yafei, has tabled a bid that values House of Fraser at more than 450 million pounds ($749 million).

RBS LINES UP MASTERMIND OF BAILOUT AS NEW FINANCE CHIEF

An architect of the 2008 banks bailout in Britain is believed to be the frontrunner to become finance director at Royal Bank of Scotland.

Ewen Stevenson, co-head of European investment banking at Credit Suisse, is said to be close to being appointed to the position.

FOUNDER DAMELIN SET TO QUIT AT WONGA

Wonga founder Errol Damelin is poised to quit as chairman as the City watchdog prepares to clamp down on the payday loans industry.

CHINESE BANK SETS SIGHTS ON UNICREDIT'S PIONEER

China's biggest state-owned bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), is considering a 2 billion-euro swoop on Pioneer, one of Europe's biggest fund managers. Pioneer is owned by Unicredit, the Italian bank.

MANSION TAX FEARS STALL LAND SECURITIES LUXURY FLATS PLAN

Land Securities has postponed plans to build 200 luxury flats near Buckingham Palace in the first sign that threats of a "mansion tax" are hitting the capital's economy.

The firm has pushed back a decision on Portland House, next to Victoria station, until after the general election next year.

STANLOW REFINERY ON BRINK AS DEBT TALKS LOOM

The future of the Stanlow oil refinery, Britain's second-largest, has been thrown into doubt by a funding crisis.

The refinery, owned by Essar Energy has been hit hard by plummeting margins and a fire that forced a partial shutdown last year. In July it must repay or refinance a 330 million pounds ($549 million) loan from Barclays.

BABCOCK FEARS SCOTS "YES" VOTE

Babcock International, the owner of the dockyard assembling the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers, has warned that Scottish independence would bring at least two years of "complete uncertainty".

The Sunday Telegraph

NETWORK RAIL FACES BIGGEST FINE IN ITS HISTORY

The authority responsible for the British rail network is expected to be fined about 70 million pounds ($116 million) as it prepares to tell regulators on Monday that only 89.9 percent of trains are reaching their destinations on time. The official target is 92.5 percent.

LABOUR'S BANK PLAN "IMPOSSIBLE" SAYS HEAD OF NEW COMPETITION WATCHDOG

Labour's plans for a swift break-up of Britain's banking industry would be unworkable, the head of the UK's new competition watchdog has warned.

Alex Chisholm, the chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), said any investigation leading to the potential forced sale of bank branches would take "18 months at least" and require "a ton of work", while any ensuing disposals could take several years.

CARD FACTORY EYES SUMMER FLOTATION

Card Factory is planning to join the list of retailers looking to float on the stock market with an initial public offering that could value the discount retailer at 700 million pounds ($1.2 billion). ($1=0.6011 pounds) (Compiled by James Davey; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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