Jan 28 - The following are the top stories on the business pages of British newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
OFWAT STEMS FLOW OF RETURNS TO WATER INVESTORS Water companies could have to cut dividend payouts to shareholders, analysts said on Monday, after regulator Ofwat said they should they accept a lower rate of return on investment than they had sought for the next five years. The plans could result in lower household bills, although Ofwat declined to estimate the scale of the impact on customers.
FORMER HBOS BANKER‘S FIRM COULD NET 45 MILLION POUNDS FROM MCCOLL‘S FLOAT
A private equity firm run by a former HBOS banker could net roughly 45 million pounds from the flotation of convenience store business McColl’s Retail Group. Cavendish Square Partners owns 20 percent of McColl’s and has signalled its intention to sell shares in the company as part of an IPO that was officially unveiled to the stock market on Monday.
Britain’s recovery is expected to have held up over the final months of 2013, helping the economy to clock up its strongest annual growth for six years. While there is still much ground to cover to get back to pre-crisis levels of output, most economists expect official data on Tuesday to confirm that last year ended on a relatively strong note.
Thousands of Ford workers are being balloted for strike action in a row over job security and pensions. Members of the Unite and GMB unions will vote on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action aimed at safeguarding jobs after recent cuts led to Ford ending 100 years of vehicle production at its plant in Southampton.
BRITAIN “CAN GET BETTER VALUE OUT OF THE EU”
Britain should send more civil servants and regulators to spend time inside the European Union machine in order to wield more influence over laws the UK does not like, according to the most powerful British Parliamentarian in Brussels and chair of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Sharon Bowles.
SIGNIFICANT JUMP IN MINIMUM WAGE IS AFFORDABLE, CLAIMS BUSINESS LEADER
Business can afford an inflation-busting increase in the minimum wage, according to Sir Mike Rake, the President of the CBI. His intervention makes him the most senior business figure so far to support calls for a real improvement in earnings for the lowest-paid.
The online property group which abandoned a sponsorship deal recently is accelerating plans for a flotation valuing it at well over 1 billion pounds. Sky News has learnt that Zoopla, which is terminating its association with the Premier League club West Bromwich Albion at the end of the season, has appointed Jefferies, the investment bank, to work on a stock market listing.
People in or nearing retirement are to be given the chance to use their savings to top up their state pension. The new scheme will allow eligible pensioners to pay in lump sums from as little 900 pounds. In return they will see an increase in their state pension by as much as 25 pounds a week.