* Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 20-26 points lower, or down as much as 0.5 percent, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed unchanged on Friday at 5,776.60 points after recovering late on having fallen to a session low of 5,739.41. But the benchmark ended the week in negative territory after three straight weeks of gains.
* ASTRAZENECA - AstraZeneca said it has appointed Pascal Soriot from rival drugmaker Roche Holding AG as its new chief executive in one of the most eagerly-awaited appointments within the pharmaceutical industry in years.
Separately, AstraZeneca said it had won European approval for Zinfor, a new intravenous antibiotic to treat complicated skin and soft tissue infections or community acquired pneumonia.
Also, the drugmaker has agreed to a $26 million settlement with the state of South Carolina to settle a lawsuit accusing it of misleading consumers about the risks associated with taking the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel.
* G4S - G4S, the company at the heart of the London Olympics security debacle, said it would cut 1,100 jobs as it looks to recover 50 million pounds ($79 million) lost on the Games contract.
* CAIRN ENERGY - The energy firm posts a first-half pretax loss of $50 million versus a $141 million loss a year ago.
* BUNZL - The packaging group said first-half revenue rose 7 percent to 2.61 billion pounds.
* XSTRATA - Qatar Holding is poised to raise its stake in Xstrata to 25 percent should the miner’s planned tie-up with Glencore collapse, The Sunday Telegraph said. Citing sources close to the bid, the newspaper said it understood that Qatar, which already owns 12 percent of Xstrata, could increase its stake to up to 25 percent, giving it a de facto veto over any future merger.
* BHP BILLITON - The global miner has agreed to sell an Australian uranium deposit to Canada’s Cameco Corp for $430 million, as the top global miner sheds assets to help improve returns and shore up cash in a deteriorating commodity market.
* BARCLAYS - The U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geitner is under pressure to explain a deal that allowed Barclays to avoid prosecution for helping Iran and Libya to move hundreds of millions of dollars through the American financial system, the Times said on Monday.
* ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND - The lender has ended talks to sell insurer Direct Line Group to private equity firms and will instead launch a flotation of the division within weeks, The Sunday Telegraph said. The state-owned bank has told prospective buyers, which included Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and KKR, that it will press ahead with an initial public offering.
* INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS - The hotels group could retain an equity stake of as much as 20 percent to secure the sale of its Barclay hotel, The Sunday Telegraph said. It entered exclusive talks with a party, believed to be Middle Eastern investor Ghanim Bin Saad Al Saad, earlier this year, but negotiations stumbled over IHG’s requirement for a $100 million refurbishment of the New York hotel, the newspaper said.
* LONMIN - The world’s no. 3 platinum producer said on Monday there were new reports of violence at its eastern operations in South Africa and only 13 percent of workers had reported for duty in the morning.
Also, Lonmin has asked its lenders Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and Standard Chartered to waive a test of banking covenants that it will breach following the collapse of production at Marikana after clashes between striking miners and police. Sources close to the situation described the talks with lenders as “positive”, the Sunday Telegraph said.
* TT ELECTRONICS - A director of activist investor Crystal Amber, which owns a 5 percent stake in TT Electronics, told the Sunday Times he thought the British company was “highly vulnerable to an opportunistic bid approach” after the component maker reported a poor set of first-half results last week.
* No important British economic data will be released on Tuesday, with little due all week aside from Bank of England July consumer credit and mortgage lending numbers, together with GfK’s August consumer confidence reading, both due on Thursday, with August’s Nationwide UK house prices survey also due during the week.
* Across the Atlantic, the Richmond Fed manufacturing survey will be released at 1400 GMT on Tuesday, with the Dallas Fed services report due at 1430 GMT. The main focus, however, will be on the annual Federal Reserve symposium for central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming which kicks off on Friday Aug 31 with comments from Fed chairman Ben Bernanake, while European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi is due to speak on Saturday, Sept 1.
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