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Sunday newspaper round-up: Poundland, Lloyds, Brexit, broadband, Amazon

By Josh White

Date: Sunday 17 Dec 2017

Sunday newspaper round-up: Poundland, Lloyds, Brexit, broadband, Amazon

(ShareCast News) - The scandal-hit parent company of high street discount chain Poundland will this week face key creditors and insurers at a meeting that could determine the future of its British retail operations. Poundland is already under intense pressure after Atradius - one of the credit insurers on which suppliers rely to ensure they get paid - reduced its cover for the group. Reliable industry sources say another credit insurer, Euler Hermes, is also considering cutting cover. - The Sunday Times
Britain's biggest mortgage lender Lloyds has been accused of "immoral" behaviour for using billions of pounds of cheap central bank funding to boost profits rather than increase lending. The high street bank has been the biggest user of a £140bn Bank of England fund launched after the Brexit vote to boost the supply of cheap funding to the real economy. Lloyds has "maxed out" what it can draw under the Term Funding Scheme (TFS), having borrowed £20bn of the £100bn lent so far. - Sunday Telegraph

Britain's banks have written to Theresa May and Philip Hammond warning that a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU post-Brexit is not ambitious enough and that alignment with EU rules on finance is crucial. The open letter from UK Finance, which represents major banks and other financial institutions, said the government must place the City at the centre of Brexit trade talks or risk dealing a major blow to the economy. - Observer

The Mail on Sunday's call for tough regulatory action on companies that charge people for receiving unwanted mobile phone texts has received further parliamentary support. Earlier this month the newspaper revealed how thousands of people are unknowingly paying to receive pestering text messages - a practice Labour MP John Mann described as a 'national scandal'.

Ministers will outline plans this week to boost the download speeds of 1m rural homes and businesses to a level fast enough to stream music and films. The aim is to ensure that "forgotten" premises in remote areas receive an adequate broadband service by 2022 at the latest. At present, 1.1m properties are unable to access download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps), the minimum needed to "meet the typical needs of a family", according to the industry watchdog Ofcom. - The Sunday Times

High Street retailers want access to shoppers' bank details in order to provide services such as faster refunds and ­in-store access to balances, ­according to new research. Nearly a third of retailers will be ready to start taking advantage of reforms coming into force next month known as "Open Banking", the Accenture study found. - Sunday Telegraph

Amazon could face an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority over complaints that its premium service is failing to deliver on time in the run-up to Christmas. Amazon Prime claims to offer "unlimited one-day delivery" but customers have contacted the advertising regulator to say it is falling short of what is promised. - Observer

A register naming and shaming companies whose shareholders have protested over fat cat pay is expected to be launched this week. The idea for the list, which will be published online, came from Prime Minister Theresa May who said in August that it would help expose corporate greed and attempt to restore trust in capitalism. Any FTSE All-Share company where at least one in five shareholders vote against pay policy will appear on the register, which is expected to include a number of household name businesses. - Mail on Sunday

The Nigerian government is suing JP Morgan for $875m (£660m), alleging the Wall Street banking giant acted as the middleman in an illegal oil deal and made payments to a convicted money launderer. Papers filed with the High Court in London claim that in 2011 the bank transferred money to a company controlled by Dan Etete, a former oil minister in the Nigerian government. He had previously been convicted of money laundering by French courts and is being pursued by Nigerian authorities. - The Sunday Times

The chairman of the London Stock Exchange, Donald Brydon, is expected to survive an audacious attempt by an activist investor to bring about an abrupt end to his two and a half years at the helm of the group. Brydon faces a vote this week on his future after a row with the Children's Investment Fund (TCI), which owns 5% of the exchange, over boardroom changes. - Observer

The Government has been accused of dragging its heels over plans to encourage more people to save for retirement through a works pension. Steve Webb, the former Pensions Minister who oversaw the introduction of auto-enrolment in late 2012, says the recommendations announced today to extend the regime to more workers are 'shockingly lethargic'. - Mail on Sunday

Uber employed a global network of CIA-trained spies, used illegal wiretaps and hacked a rival's database to steal trade secrets and lure away drivers, according to an explosive letter unsealed by a California court on Friday. The 37-page letter from a disgruntled former intelligence executive was made public as part of a suit brought by Waymo, Google's sister company, which alleges Uber stole parts of its self-driving car technology. - The Sunday Times

Jigsaw, the womenswear retailer, is at the centre of a takeover scrap between two South African companies to clinch a deal before Christmas. Foschini, which already owns Hobbs, Whistles and Phase Eight, is ­going head to head with Truworths, owner of shoe chain Office. Their appetite for UK deal-making is in stark contrast to larger South African rival Steinhoff, which faces a fire sale of assets in the wake of an accounting scandal. - Sunday Telegraph

The chair of housebuilding firm Persimmon has resigned over his role in orchestrating a £100m-plus bonus for the company's chief executive, as critics accused the firm of benefiting from the taxpayer-backed help-to-buy scheme. The huge share award worth around £110m was attacked by politicians, charities and corporate governance experts, who described it as "obscene", "corporate looting" and a reward based on "taxpayer subsidies". Persimmon is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the government's help-to-buy programme, which has lifted sales and boosted house prices across the UK. - Observer

Insurance giant Aviva is facing open-ended losses that may in theory run to billions of pounds thanks to a bizarre investment product sold in the pre-internet 1980s that lets its owners profit from moves in financial markets after they have happened. It is pitting the FTSE 100 firm against a 28-year-old Frenchman, Max-Herve George, who lives in the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad. He says Aviva - which looks after pensions for millions of Britons and has many UK private investors - could owe him more than a billion euros over his lifetime. - Mail on Sunday

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