PRESS DIGEST-Sunday British Business - May 25

LONDON Sun May 25, 2014 7:01am EDT

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LONDON May 25 (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

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS SNUBS 6 BLN STG OFFER FROM U.S.

Britain's biggest hotel company has rebuffed a 6 billion pound takeover approach from a U.S. suitor amid fears that it could be the next target of the corporate tax exodus from the United States.

Directors at Intercontinental Hotels Group, which operates in 4,700 hotels in 100 countries are understood to have turned down an approach from an investment fund.

AMAZON SHIELDS 11 BLN STG FROM TAXMAN

Amazon funnelled 11 billion pounds through its small office in Luxembourg last year to minimise its tax bill in Britain and across the Continent.

The online retail giant even claimed a 4-billion-pound rebate from tax authorities in Luxembourg, where it has based its European operations for tax purposes.

ZOOPLA OFFERS AGENTS SWEETENER

Zoopla IPO-ZPGL.L has offered estate agents a 20-million-pound sweetener in an attempt to hamper the launch of a new industry-based property search site.

Agents will be offered shares in Zoopla's forthcoming 1-billion-pound float at a 20 percent discount and will be allowed to buy again on the same terms - but only if they remain loyal.

SKY BUYS STAKE IN NEWSPAPER PUBLISHER

Satellite broadcaster BSkyB is grabbing a 5-million-pound stake in the owner of the Scotsman and Yorkshire Post as part of a big financial overhaul at the newspaper publisher, Johnston Press.

The pay-TV company will end up owning nearly 2 percent of Johnston after a 360-million-pound refinancing expected to be agreed this week.

POSSIBLE LONDON VENTURE FOR GOOGLE

Google is considering opening a London branch of its 800-million-pound venture capital division to invest in British technology start-ups.

The move would represent a substantial fillip for London's tech industry, which has spawned a number of 1-billion-pound companies including Zoopla, Just-Eat and the games maker King.

It would also mark the first time Google Ventures has planted a flag outside of the United States.

WPP BACKS EX-TOPSHOP MAN IN SOCIAL NETWORK

The advertising giant WPP has taken a stake in a social network launched by former Burberry and Topshop creative director Justin Cooke. Through its AKQA subsidiary, Sir Martin Sorrel's media empire has bought 20 percent of Tunepics, an app that lets users post photos and music at the same time.

BABCOCK IN ARMY PORT BID

Defence firm Babcock International is teaming up with Associated British Ports in a bid to run a military harbour on the south coast. Marchwood, near Southampton, which was used to launch the D-Day landings, is being sold by the Ministry of Defence.

The Sunday Telegraph

HALFORDS' SUPPLIERS SEEK LEGAL ADVICE OVER FUNDING DEMAND

A collection of Halfords' suppliers have joined together to hire lawyers to contest the retailer's demand for financial support, claiming it is in breach of competition law.

The move marks a dramatic escalation in the row between them and the FTSE 250 car parts and cycling retailer.

3i POISED FOR RETURN TO BLUE-CHIP INDEX

Britain's largest listed private equity group 3i, is poised to return to the FTSE 100 next month, underlining the company's turnaround under Chief Executive Simon Borrows.

Mail On Sunday

BANKS CRACKDOWN TARGETS HOUSING BUBBLE

Lenders are facing a regulatory crackdown as the Bank of England prepares to pop the London housing bubble with Barclays and Santander among those that could see lending curbed, according to a leading mortgage market expert.

Speculation is also mounting that Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 80 percent owned by the state, will be next to announce voluntary curbs after Lloyds Banking Group last week toughened its lending terms in London. (Reporting by Li-mei Hoang)

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