May 4, 2014 / 1:10 PM / 4 years ago

PRESS DIGEST-Sunday British business - May 4

LONDON, May 4 (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

PFIZER‘S 63 BLN STG ‘BEAR HUG’ ON ASTRA DIRECTORS

Pfizer is preparing a “bear hug” attack on AstraZeneca in an attempt to force through its 63 billion pound ($106 billion) takeover of its British rival.

Senior sources at the American pharma conglomerate said it would lobby Astra shareholders to force the company into talks by warning it would not increase its 50 pounds-a-share offer.

It would also highlight alleged weaknesses in Astra’s drug development programme.

BARCLAYS TO SELL UP IN EUROPE AS PRESSURE GROWS ON JENKINS

Barclays will hoist a “for sale” sign over its businesses in Spain, France, Italy and Portugal this week as part of a radical cost-cutting exercise.

REBELLION GAINS PACE AT TESCO

Tesco faces a wave of investor unrest at its annual general meeting as frustration over the supermarket’s poor performance and unclear strategy starts to boil over.

ONE THIRD OF BRITAIN‘S TRAINS FOR SALE

One-third of Britain’s trains are up for sale after Porterbrook, one of the three giant leasing companies that own the rolling stock, put itself on the market, with analysts citing a price tag of over 2 billion pounds ($3.4 billion).

MOTHERCARE GOES CRYING TO BANKS ONCE AGAIN

Struggling British baby products retailer Mothercare is renegotiating the terms of its bank loans only seven months after securing a 90 million pound ($152 million) refinancing, as it tries to fund investment in the group.

MYNERS TO CALL FOR CO-OP CLEAR OUT

Former government minister Paul Myners will this week call for sweeping reform of the Co-Operative Group’s board to help pull the mutual back from the brink, when he publishes his report on its corporate structure on Wednesday.

LLOYDS PRIVATE EQUITY BOSS STEPS DOWN

Darryl Eales, the head of Lloyds Banking Group’s private equity arm, LDC, has stepped down after 11 years.

The Sunday Telegraph

GROCERY GIANTS FACE MORE SALES PRESSURE

Two of Britain’s top supermarkets, Wm Morrison and J Sainsbury, are this week expected to explain how they intend to take on the increasing might of the European discounters amid falling sales.

GIANTS LINE UP FOR UK TAX BREAKS

Hundreds of multi-national companies are lining up to establish operations in the UK, paving the way for thousands of new jobs and billions of pounds in extra tax revenues.

POLITICAL PRESSURE ON CENTRICA‘S RATING

Centrica faces losing its “A”-grade credit rating for the first time as political pressure takes its toll on the embattled utility, after ratings agency Moody’s placed the British Gas owner on review for downgrade.

WONGA WARNS ON PAYDAY LOAN REGULATION

Wonga, the technology-powered finance company, has warned that over-regulating the payday loan sector could stymie competition and reduce investment.

Mail on Sunday

PFIZER READY WITH 50 POUNDS-PLUS BID AFTER ASTRAZENECA SNUB

American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is understood to be working on an enhanced bid for AstraZeneca to come at the end of the week after an offer for the company was rejected after just four hours on Friday.

SAINSBURY‘S FACES 100 MLN STG PROFIT BLOW IN PRICE WAR

Sainsbury’s will plunge into the supermarket price war this week when it unveils annual results amid City fears that discounting will wipe billions of pounds off retailers’ profits in the coming year.

Some analysts believe Sainsbury’s is preparing to launch price cuts and promotions worth up to 200 million pounds ($337 million) to defend itself.

KUWAITIS TEAM UP WITH CHURCH OF ENGLAND FOR STAKE IN BANK

The Kuwait sovereign wealth fund has lined up alongside the Church of England as a surprise backer of Williams & Glynn - the bank whose founders funded the Victorian railways - which is being revived by RBS.

M&S FACING STRIKE OVER 20 PCT PAY CUT

Marks & Spencer faces potential strike action at its Irish business, where it makes almost half of international sales, after proposed pay and pension cuts were rejected by staff.

Sunday Express

PFIZER MULLING A FRESH TAKEOVER BID

U.S. drugs giant Pfizer is understood to be considering making a new, improved multi-billion pound offer for British rival AstraZeneca, which could come as early as this week.

PRIORY EYES UP 1 BLN STG FLOTATION

Advent International, the private equity owner of the Priory Group, best known for offering rehabilitation to troubled celebrities, is understood to be considering options for the business, including a float which could value the firm at more than 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion).

SAINSBURY‘S UNDER PRICE-WAR PRESSURE

Sainsbury’s will come under pressure to join the raging supermarket price war as it looks set to post its slowest profits growth in almost 10 years this week.

ASDA STARTS SEARCH FOR LONDON STORES

ASDA has fired the starting gun on ambitious expansion plans that will see it open 20 stores in London, creating about 4,000 new jobs.

$1 = 0.5927 British Pounds Writing by Neil Maidment; Editing by Sophie Hares

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