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Newspapers today: The Times, Independent, FT, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail, Express, Herald 100416

The Times

Drone surveyor makes hay while the sun shines: A British drone company has been backed by the government to become the world leader in detecting faults in the growing global solar-farm industry.

Bale is role model for the laid back: A London company that sells “the most advanced mattresses in the world” online has signed Gareth Bale to promote its wares as it expands further into Europe, Asia and North America.

Drax investors fired up over pay revolt: Drax Group, the owner of the U.K.’s biggest power station, is facing an investor revolt at its annual meeting on Thursday over the grant to Will Gardiner, the finance Director, of new shares worth almost £1.4 million.

Travelodge is doing the business: Travelodge hailed a “milestone year” in the hotel chain’s development after revenues from business customers for the first time surpassed leisure travel sales last year.

Guardian looks north as rates bill to rise 50% on London HQ: The Guardian’s decision to contemplate returning to its Manchester roots coincides with a 50% rise in the business rates at its lavish London headquarters, The Times has learnt. The revaluation that came into effect this month has resulted in a 73% increase in the value of the newspaper’s property assessment which is used to calculate the new rates, experts say.

Gender pay gap law could fail to resolve disparity: Britain’s new gender pay gap legislation could fail to fully resolve discrepancies in pay between men and women, one of the world’s largest Executive search companies has found.

The Independent

U.K. spending growth slips to slowest rate since 2013 in first quarter of year, Visa says: The first three months of 2017 marked the slowest quarter for spending growth in the U.K. since 2013, as consumers started to feel the pinch of inflation and fretted against a backdrop of general economic uncertainty.

Coca-Cola produces over 100 billion plastic bottles that can’t be recycled, Greenpeace says: Coca-Cola is failing to combat the environmental damage caused by it producing over 100 billion throwaway plastic bottles each year, a new analysis by Greenpeace has revealed.

Pret and Paul offer discount to customers who bring their own coffee cup: French bakery group Paul and sandwich chain Pret a Manger will begin offering discounts to customers bringing in their own reusable cups, yielding to pressure from environmental groups concerned about the mountains of cardboard waste generated in the U.K. each year.

U.K. high street expecting more shoppers over Easter but spending will stay muted, reveals study: Shoppers might have tightened their purse strings in recent months, but they still seem to have a healthy appetite for hitting the high street and hunting for a bargain.

Financial Times

HNA’s buying spree surpasses $40 billion with CWT deal: China’s HNA Group, the small domestic airline operator turned ultra-acquisitive conglomerate, has now struck more than $40 billion of deals in little more than two years after announcing plans to buy Singapore logistics provider CWT.

 

Fink urges privatisation of critical U.S. infrastructure: The U.S. should embark on a sweeping privatisation of critical infrastructure, such as its airports, in order to harness private capital for a major building effort, says the head of the world’s largest asset manager.

 

Activists clash over direction for NRG Energy: Two competing models of shareholder activism are clashing over the future of NRG Energy, the second-largest U.S. electricity producer. Investors are being asked to choose between an activist fund’s performance-driven push to shake up the company, and a call from New York City’s Chief financial official for it to retain its renewable energy investments and dismiss a Director for his views on climate change.

 

Concord Resources eyes listing to fund ambitious growth plans: Concord Resources, a fast-growing metals trader launched during the worst commodity downturn in a generation, is considering a stock market listing in London to help fund ambitious growth plans

 

Singapore’s DBS to boost private banking in London: Singapore’s DBS, south-east Asia’s biggest bank by assets, will use a new U.K. licence to quadruple the size of its hitherto tiny London wealth management operation, in a post-Brexit endorsement of the U.K. as a destination for rich Asian investors

 

Chinese box office takings set to fall in 2017: A 7% drop in China’s first-quarter film revenues presages a likely annual fall this year in the country’s box office — the first such decline since the late 1990s.

 

India dessert makers in frosty legal dispute: The origins of the dispute date to 2012, when Amul complained that HUL was marketing Kwality Walls as ice cream although it is made with vegetable fat rather than dairy fat. India’s advertising regulator upheld that complaint, ruling that Kwality Walls and other similar products should be sold as “frozen desserts” rather than ice cream.

 

SoftBank pushes for merger of India’s Snapdeal and Flipkart: Japan’s SoftBank is attempting to engineer a merger of Snapdeal and Flipkart, India’s two biggest homegrown ecommerce groups, in an attempt to take on Amazon, which has pledged to spend $5 billion to become the country’s dominant internet retailer.

 

Tech IPO supply falls short of renewed market demand: Wall Street has discovered a new enthusiasm for tech IPOs, to judge by the third strong reception for a software company in less than a month. But few tech companies are waiting in the wings to take advantage of the most receptive IPO market for some time, say investors and other observers.

 

Lex:

Fairness opinions: knowing right from wrong: When it comes to buying companies, value should be in the eye of the acquirer. Most sellers will, still, pay an investment bank to second guess it for them. A new analysis by one of those financial advisers suggests so-called “fairness opinions” are more useful than their critics concede. Shareholders should nevertheless do their own homework.

 

The Daily Telegraph

Mortgage Gym looks for Meerkat magic with Comparethemarket hire: Mortgage Gym, a robo-adviser launching with high-street banks this summer, is hoping to capture some of the success of Comparethemarket’s famous meerkat advertising campaign by hiring one of its founding Directors.

Asian hotel giant Minor International circling U.K. market for entry: Thai-based Minor International, which has 140 hotels largely in Asia, said the fall in the value of the pound had made the company more determined to find a site for its first U.K. hotel.

British workers for British jobs is a ‘fallacy’, industry leaders warn: Businesses across the U.K. have warned that tighter immigration controls will weaken the nation’s global standing, describing suggestions that British workers could simply replace EU nationals as a “fallacy”.

Virgin Atlantic Airways suffers fall in profits as it calls for quick Brexit airline agreement: Virgin Atlantic Airways has suffered a dive in profits after the costs of leasing its aircraft fleet jumped. Pre-tax profits tumbled two thirds to £3.9 million last year after finance costs rose to £19.4 million at the airline, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

Thirst for transatlantic flights pushes Gatwick to break passenger world record: A spike in long-haul passengers to North America has helped Gatwick Airport smash a world record for passenger at a single-runway airport.

London races ahead of European rivals as top choice for company flotations: London was the top choice for company flotations in the first quarter of the year, accounting for almost half of the total amount raised in European initial public offerings.

Bluejay Mining unearths ‘world’s purest ilmenite deposit’ in Greenland: Aim-listed Bluejay Mining is set to declare the discovery of the “world’s purest ilmenite deposit” in Greenland.

The Guardian

Wonga data breach could affect nearly 250,000 U.K. customers: More than a quarter of a million customers of payday loan firm Wonga are being warned that their personal data may have been stolen in a data breach at the firm.

Diesel cars can improve air quality, claims motor industry group: Car manufacturers have hit back at the recent spate of negative comments about diesel vehicles, saying that the latest incarnations are “the cleanest in history” and “light years away from their older counterparts”.

Inflation and wage figures to underline Brexit strain on Britons: Fresh details on price rises and wage growth this week are expected to underline the rising pressures on U.K. household budgets as the pound’s sharp fall since the Brexit vote continues to stoke inflation.

‘See you in court’: activists ready for Trump to relax smog and drilling rules: Environmental campaigners promised on Saturday to wage fierce and protracted legal battles against “outrageous and wrong-headed” Trump administration moves to open Atlantic and Arctic waters for drilling and loosen smog limits.

Daily Mail

Watchdog Boss ‘must quit over fraud probe’: Fury at FCA Chief’s role as it investigates HBOS scandal: John Griffith-Jones, 62, Chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority, has been accused of a conflict of interest as his investigators probe a possible cover-up at failed bank HBOS.

Surging demand for British-made luxury items helps furniture firm founded by Queen’s nephew post record sales: David Linley’s high-end interiors business saw sales almost double from £6.9 million to £13.5 million in the year to June 30, and it swung to a £337,000 profit from a £1.9 million loss.

Boss of troubled railway service Southern pockets almost £500,000 while presiding over year dominated by strikes and commuter misery: Charles Horton’s payday bonanza came despite a £15.3 million loss for the network’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway.

Report claims march of robots will cost millions of men their jobs – but women likely to get off more lightly: The march of robots will cost millions of men their jobs – but women are likely to get off more lightly, a report claims. Traditionally male-dominated roles of lorry driver, builder, factory worker and even City trader could disappear in coming years, suggest a study by BCA Research.

Hong Kong billionaire Samuel Tak Lee spends £500 million on shares in London landlord Shaftesbury ahead of possible takeover bid: The tycoon now owns 20% of the business, which is the landlord for Carnaby Street, Chinatown and much of Soho.

Daily Express

ASOS stays ahead of curve in fashion stakes: First-half results show continued momentum at online clothing retailer ASOS. Retail sales rose 38% to £889 million in the six months to February 28, including a particularly strong performance from the international businesses.

Families feel squeeze as rising prices take strong grip on finances: Growth in households’ spending has slowed to the weakest rate seen since the end of 2013 as rising prices take a stronger grip on people’s finances, according to an index.

Britain to benefit from 1.8% boost to economy this Easter: Britain’s economy will grow by 1.8% this year according to upgraded forecasts from the EY ITEM Club, thanks to a recovery in global trade.

The Scottish Herald

Economy stagnant as services weaker: Scotland’s private sector economy broadly stagnated in March, as a decline in services output offset manufacturing growth, a survey reveals.

Leap of faith takes Glasgow doctor into the world of business: While unemployment is falling in Scotland this relative newcomer to the ranks of the country’s entrepreneurs reckons governments still need to make it easier for small firms to take on staff.

SSE sells off PFI streetlights: Energy giant SSE has sold its remaining U.K. PFI (private finance initiative) streetlight projects to an Amsterdam-based investment fund.

Tesco set to reveal rise in profits amid booker takeover scrutiny: Tesco is expected to report a rise in full year profits this week but the supermarket faces growing shareholder scrutiny of its proposed £3.7 billion takeover of Booker.

The Scotsman

Brewdog valued at £1 billion after U.S. equity firm investment deal: Craft beer producer BrewDog has sold about a fifth of the business to an American private equity firm in a deal valuing it at about £1 billion, which will take it “to the next level” amid reported plans foran IPO in the next five years.

SNP stewardship of economy blamed for £6.5 billion of lost growth: Scotland’s sluggish economy under the SNP leadership has cost £6.5 billion in missing growth, Labour has claimed.

Scotland would be ‘most welcome’ as full EU member, 50 MEPs say: A group of 50 politicians from across Europe have signed a letter stating that an independent Scotland would be “most welcome” as a full member of the European Union.

City A.M.

Business must step up to solve the skills crisis and nurture Britain’s tech and engineering talent: The U.K. is a world leader in technology and innovation. Having led international technology and engineering businesses over many years, I can confidently say we have the talent and commitment in the U.K. to compete with the very best globally.

A revival in international trade could offset the U.K.’s consumer spending woes: A report released predicted that the U.K. economy’s adjustment to Brexit would be smoothed by increased international trade. Net trade is expected to contribute 0.2% to Britain’s GDP this year and 0.6% in 2018, bucking a negative trend which last year saw international trade subtract 0.4% from GDP.

MarketInvoice reports record funding to U.K. businesses: MarketInvoice, an online platform offering invoice funding for businesses, has reported its best ever quarter for funding to U.K. businesses.

Small construction firms shake off Brexit concerns as confidence is sky-high with investments in the works: Confidence among small construction firms is on the rise as three quarters of subcontractors plan to invest in their business in the coming months.

Smalltime oil industry player Serica Energy eyes BP’s North Sea assets: A relatively small player in the oil industry is scoping out BP’s assets in the North Sea as part of plans for a potential buying spree in the area.

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Disclaimer: Statements in this article should not be considered investment advice, which is best sought directly from a qualified professional.