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Newspapers today: The Times, Independent, FT, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail, Express, Herald 130316

The Times

Premier Oil ruffles feathers with talk of Falklands’ field tax break: Premier Oil is asking the Falkland Islands for a tax break to help to develop its Sea Lion field and deliver the area’s first oil. The company is struggling to make the project commercially viable because of low crude prices.

MPs to mull Hogg’s fate as doubts rise: MPs will this week discuss whether the Bank of England’s new Deputy Governor should remain in her post. Charlotte Hogg is under growing pressure to consider her position after failing to disclose a potential conflict of interest.

Food lobby Chiefs fear border threat to Irish trade: The food and drink industry has called on the government to protect tariff-free trade with the Republic of Ireland. In an attempt to ensure a healthy future for Britain’s largest manufacturing sector, it wants to highlight the risks faced if Brexit results in a “hard border” between Ireland and the U.K.

Vodafone rings changes with 1,300 new jobs: Vodafone has announced plans to recruit about 1,300 staff across northern England, the Midlands and Scotland as part of a £2 billion U.K. investment programme.

Capital controls end as Iceland recovers from 2008 collapse: Iceland will lift capital controls on businesses, pension funds and households tomorrow. The controls were put in place after the collapse of the country’s largest banks in 2008.

Business guilty of failing to turn research into wealth, MPs say: Britain is failing to turn world-class research into commercial success because there is too little focus on encouraging businesses to invest, MPs have warned.

Essex wakes up to the smell of Costa’s coffee: Europe’s largest coffee roastery will open in Essex today, in an attempt to slake Britain’s growing thirst for lattes, americanos and flat whites.

Jet set’s luxury taxi is no flight of fancy: A private jet company that has been dubbed the Uber of the skies has reported a 28% increase in passenger numbers last year, with its growth driven by ultra-rich corporate clients who have given up owning their own jets.

Powa pay struggle ends in vain for former staff: Former employees of Powa Technologies have been left out of pocket after the administrator confirmed that it had failed to claw back wages and holiday pay.

Big screen experience set to become (virtual) reality: The company behind Imax cinemas is to pilot Europe’s first virtual reality entertainment centre in Britain. Imax Corporation said that it would install 12 VR “pods” in the lobby of the Odeon multiplex in the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester, where players can put on a VR headset and watch short films and play games.

Hostels are safe as houses for fund spending €450 million: One of Europe’s leading hostel chains has been sold in a €450 million deal. Generator Hostels has been acquired by Queensgate Investments, a private equity property fund, almost a decade after it was first bought by Patron Capital. The deal is expected to close in May.

It’s not just froth, craft breweries say as launches rise by 55%: The number of brewery launches leapt by 55% in Britain last year as the craft beer boom continues. A record 520 sites started operating in 2016 — up from 336 the previous year.

Overseas bosses take more seats in FTSE 100: Britain boasts more foreign Chief Executives than any other country. The number of non-U.K. nationals leading companies on the FTSE 100 rose from 21 in 2001 to 40 at the end of last year, research from Odgers Berndtson, the recruitment firm, found.

The Independent

Theresa May sowing seeds of her own downfall with Brexit approach, Nick Clegg warns: Theresa May treated Michael Heseltine like a “two-bit backbencher” and is sowing the seeds of her own downfall in the way she deals with her party, ex-Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has warned.

John McCain tells Donald Trump to prove Obama wiretap claim or else retract it: A senior Republican senator has called on Donald Trump to either provide evidence that Barack Obama wiretapped his offices or else retract the claim.

Financial Times

Copper concentrate supply hit by disputes in Chile and Indonesia: Supply disruptions at two giant mines in Chile and Indonesia are spurring a global shortfall in copper concentrate according to the Chairman of China’s second-largest copper refiner.

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Room at the top for big miners in fresh leadership hunt: Three of the world’s biggest mining companies are hunting for new Chairmen as the industry emerges from a bruising couple of years during which profits have dived and debts ballooned to dangerously high levels.

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Gulliver’s departure from HSBC sets first test for new Chairman: Stuart Gulliver has told the HSBC board he will quit as Chief Executive next year, making the search for his successor a priority for Mark Tucker, who has decided to leave Asian insurer AIA to become the bank’s Chairman.

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TD Bank under pressure over sales tactics claims: TD Bank Group, Canada’s biggest bank by deposits, is battling to contain damage from a potential sales scandal after a TV show claimed employees regularly broke laws for fear of being fired.

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Sanofi hails broader promise of eczema medicine: Sanofi has hailed an eczema medicine tipped to be the biggest drug launch of the year as an “inflection point” as it tries to plug a revenue gap left by patent expires on top-selling products.

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Yingde Gases reappoints Sun as Chairman and Chief Exec: Yingde Gases has once again appointed co-founder Zhongguo Sun as Chairman and Chief Executive following the resolution of a rare public boardroom battle last week.

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Leasing companies strengthen Chinese influence in world shipping: Chinese leasing companies have taken ownership of hundreds of vessels in deals worth tens of billions of dollars in the latest sign of the industry’s rapid transformation amid a long-running financial crisis.

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Sale of stake in Deutsche AM puzzles analysts: Deutsche Bank’s decision to sell a section of its asset management arm as part of a strategic overhaul threatens to prolong the instability that has plagued an important business unit at Germany’s biggest lender for more than five years.

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McVitie’s digestives to be taken global in ambitious expansion: McVitie’s, the quintessential British biscuit, is to be savoured by more consumers in the Middle East, Africa and the U.S. in an ambitious global expansion plan by its Turkish owners to boost sales by 50% in two years.

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Leading U.S. sports punter faces insider trading trial: William “Billy” Walters, one of the most successful sports betters in the U.S., is making the biggest gamble of his life this week as he goes to trial to fight criminal charges alleging he made more than $40 million by insider trading.

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Rail operators seek to run trains despite strikes: Train operators in three areas of England will attempt to keep as many services running as possible in the teeth of simultaneous strikes on Monday, as unions and companies continue to wrestle over changes to working practices.

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ANA uses brand to hire pilots for low-cost wings: ANA, Japan’s largest airline, is stepping up efforts to ensure it has enough pilots for its low-cost subsidiaries in the face of a worldwide crew shortage and fierce competition in the no-frills sector.

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Lex:

Dick’s Sporting Goods: endurance race Premium: What more can a business do? U.S. retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods beat sales, earnings and market share forecasts and is growing strongly online. Investors punished the news with a 7.5% share price drop last week. This seems overdone. The retailer is as well positioned as any to withstand challenges.

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The Daily Telegraph

National Grid’s ‘unnecessary’ power reserve cost £180 million – and wasn’t used: National Grid has been forced to defend payouts of £180 million to a string of reserve power plants which were never called on over the three years of the scheme.

LK Bennett to open its first store in Russia this week: LK Bennett will officially open its first shop in Russia this week after its private equity backers injected £2 million to support the retailer’s international expansion plans.

Turkish exile snaps up smartphone maker Vertu for £50 million: The scion of an exiled and secretive Turkish business dynasty has bought the British smartphone maker Vertu, which targets the wealthy buyers with handsets costing up to £40,000.

Liberty Media owner on track for more motorsport acquisitions: Liberty Media, the Nasdaq-listed investment company which owns Formula One, has revealed that it is considering buying a complementary motor sport to boost its returns.

Bovis in merger battle after receiving offers from Galliford Try and Redrow: Bovis Homes was at the centre of £3 billion bidding battle tonight after spurning competing merger offers from rival housebuilders Galliford Try and Redrow.

HSBC unveils AIA Boss as its next Chairman: HSBC has unveiled Mark Tucker as its next Chairman, ending a year-long hunt for a replacement for Douglas Flint and marking the first stage of a shake-up at the top of Europe’s biggest bank.

U.K. tax burden set to keep rising over the next decade to its highest in 40 years by 2025: The tax burden on British households and businesses is on course to climb to a 40 year high by the end of the next parliament as slower growth and an ageing population forces policymakers to choose between more austerity or higher taxes.

U.K. looks to supercharge EU trade deals post-Brexit: Britain is looking for ways to take on the EU’s free trade deals with countries around the world after Brexit – then use its new independence to cut taxes and regulatory barriers to trade, boosting the power of the deals.

The Guardian

No-deal Brexit ‘would put U.K. in worst trading position of rich nations’: If Britain leaves the European Union without a replacement trade deal its commercial links with the bloc will overnight become less favourable than any other major industrialised nation, a cross-party campaign has warned as Theresa May prepares to trigger article 50.

Britons like vodka and Nike and won’t consider AirBnB, survey reveals: Britain is a nation of vodka drinkers who wear Nike, prefer to gamble at Ladbrokes and don’t realise Brexit will make life more expensive, according to a consumer survey by HSBC.

Green Investment Bank sell-off racks up at least £1 million in fees: The troubled £2 billion privatisation of the Green Investment Bank has already cost at least £1 million of taxpayer money in consultancy fees, official documents have revealed.

Ivy restaurant spin-off accused of hogging service charge: A chain of restaurants spun out of the prestigious London celebrity haunt the Ivy has been accused of failing to give waiters and kitchen staff their fair share of the money diners pay in service charges.

Gamblers ‘lost more than £10,000’ on fixed-odds betting terminals: Seven gamblers lost more than £10,000 in a day while using controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) during a 10-month period, it has emerged.

Rolls-Royce calls its first staff AGM: Rolls-Royce, the engine maker hit by a £671 million settlement of bribery and corruption charges, is to hold its first annual meeting for staff with the aim of improving communication with its global workforce of almost 50,000.

Daily Mail

Bookies on a lucky streak as they brace for record £300 million bets at Cheltenham Festival: Punters will splash out a record £300 million on bets at this year’s Cheltenham Festival as bookies pray for a reversal of last year’s crushing losses.

Daily Express

Consumer spending boost as Brits splash out on Valentine’s Day romance: Consumer spending picked up in February as Valentine’s Day and the half-term school break encouraged people out to restaurants, bars, hotels and cinemas, a report has found.

Balfour Beatty considers piece of U.S-Mexico border wall: Balfour Beatty is set to face tough questions over whether it plans to try and win work constructing President Donald Trump’s controversial wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Chancellor’s rates relief won’t stop the small business bailiffs: For nearly 100,000 businesses across the country, the Chancellor’s attempts to help ease the enormous burden on stifling business rates could have come too late, according to new figures.

The Scottish Herald

Growth improves for manufacturers: The Scottish manufacturing sector grew last month at its fastest pace for more than three years but it faced mounting inflationary pressures, a key survey shows.

PwC forms alliance with CodeBase technology incubator: Codebase the technology incubator is increasing the capacity at its Edinburgh base with support from PwC.

Shop deals boost sales at artisan vinegar producer: A farm-based food producer in Fife has lifted its turnover by more than £200,000 after securing listings with Selfridges and Dobbies and clinching a deal with a specialist distributor.

Firms urged to prepare for new gender pay gap law: A new law that will require businesses with 250 or more employees to publish their gender pay gap statistics by next April could lead to some becoming uncompetitive in the labour market.

Large businesses increasingly turning to asset financing: Asset-based financing has grown 13% in the last year to a record high of £22.2 billion, with Brexit insecurity and borrowing against acquisition target invoices cited as reasons for the rise.

Vet group moves into retail park: Veterinary group Vets4Pets is to open a new practice in East Lothian after agreeing to long-term lease at Olive Bank Retail Park, Musselburgh.

The Scotsman

Threat of hard Brexit looms as final EU debate looms: MPs demanding the right to reject a hard Brexit have warned that the U.K. could crash out of the European Union without a deal in six months.

Scottish Labour still opposed to indyref2 despite Corbyn comments: Scottish Labour has reaffirmed its opposition to a second independence referendum, but stopped short of calling for Westminster to vote to block one.

Fox to visit China in quest for post-Brexit trade deal: U.K. efforts to secure a trade deal with the world’s second-biggest economy are set to begin in earnest within weeks with a visit to China by Liam Fox, the international Trade Secretary.

City A.M.

London IPO market set for £30 billion boost, with Logicor, O2, Misys, TI Fluid Systems, BGL Group and Kuwait Energy weighing up flotations: London is set to benefit from up to £30 billion of flotations in the coming months, with Logicor, O2, and Misys among a number of high-profile companies weighing up initial public offerings (IPOs) in the capital.

Ministers put regional infrastructure plans in the spotlight ahead of “largest ever” Qatari business summit: Ministers are hoping to secure a cash injection for the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine projects when the U.K. plays host to the biggest investment and business forum ever held with Qatar later this month.

U.K. house prices grew at their fastest pace for 12 months in February yet annual rate of growth fell: House prices grew at their fastest pace for 12 months in February, with average prices increasing 0.6%. The average U.K. house price hit £297,832 due to strong performance in the east of England, new peak prices in Merseyside and Birmingham, and a return of growth in high value London property, according to Your Moves’ latest house price index.

Boris Johnson warns Russia is “up to all sorts of dirty tricks” and could undermine the U.K.’s democratic process: Boris Johnson has warned Russia is “up to all sorts of dirty tricks” following an intelligence report that told political parties to protect themselves against potential cyber attacks.

German minister: London Stock Exchange “derailed” Deutsche Boerse deal and shifted blame on to Brussels: An influential German minister has accused the London Stock Exchange of having “derailed” its Deutsche Boerse merger and attempted to “pass the buck to Brussels”.

Former L’Occitane Boss and CVC Capital Partners plot bid for The Body Shop: Former L’Occitane Boss Emmanuel Osti is plotting a bid for The Body Shop. Osti is working with CVC Capital Partners, which agreed to sell control of Formula One to John Malone’s Liberty Media last year, for the takeover.

Sweden bids to prise financial services power from U.K. after Brexit as minister visits Citigroup and fintech firms in London: Sweden is the latest European country making a push to win financial services power after Brexit, having sent a minister to London to woo fintech firms and a major Wall Street bank.

Tanzania’s gold ban stalls merger talks between Acacia Mining and Endeavour: Tanzania’s ban on gold and copper exports has put talks of a £3 billion merger between Acacia Mining and Canada’s Endeavour on the back burner.

French Connection expected to announce ninth year of losses amid turnaround plan: French Connection is set to record a ninth year of losses in its annual results this week. However, the group is expected to point out that it is only two-thirds of the way through its programme of closing loss-making stores, which is part of a wider turnaround plan.

Google’s DeepMind is in talks with National Grid to apply artificial intelligence to energy use: The Google-owned star British artificial intelligence company DeepMind is in talks with the National Grid about a potential partnership, with the possibility of using the technology to make the supply of energy across the U.K. more efficient.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) wins tax tribunal disputing stamp duty land tax scheme used by housebuilder Crest Nicholson: Crest Nicholson has been told to pay £1.3 million it unsuccessfully tried to keep under a stamp duty land tax (SDLT) avoidance scheme after a tribunal found in the taxman’s favour.

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