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Sunday newspaper round-up: Brexit, Patisserie, Lloyds, Babcock, vaping

By Digital Look

Date: Sunday 14 Oct 2018

Sunday newspaper round-up: Brexit, Patisserie, Lloyds, Babcock, vaping

(Sharecast News) - The UK Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, is holding crunch talks with the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, after making an unexpected dash to Brussels days ahead of a "moment of truth" leaders' summit. Raab arrived in the Belgian capital on Sunday for a 4pm meeting, with the talks expected to last late into the night, sources close to the Brexit secretary said. - Observer
A leaked EU timetable of the Brexit negotiations has suggested that Theresa May is due to strike a deal today where the UK stays in a customs union to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. In a memo obtained by German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, senior EU negotiators predicted Sunday would be the day when "a deal is done, and nothing is made public (in theory)." - Sunday Telegraph

David Davis on Sunday called for a cabinet uprising against Theresa May over Brexit - as MPs and ministers said they are ready to oust her if she does not change course. The former Brexit secretary accuses the prime minister of pressing ahead with a "flawed" plan to keep Britain in a customs union, a proposal he brands "completely unacceptable". - Sunday Times

EU leaders are preparing to hold an extraordinary "no deal" Brexit summit in November to deal with the potential consequences of the UK crashing out of the bloc should Theresa May fail to deliver decisive progress on the Irish border issue this week. A special meeting of heads of state and government at which the EU had hoped to sign off on the Brexit negotiations next month may instead be turned into a emergency summit to discuss the bloc's response to a cliff-edge Brexit. - Observer


Patisserie Valerie's management snubbed a £30m deal that would have protected small investors, it has been revealed, as furious shareholders rounded on the company last night. Investment fund Crystal Amber was plotting a convertible debt deal to rescue the firm which would have meant investors would not have seen their stakes diluted by the emergency fund raise that offered up new shares at a huge discount. - Sunday Telegraph

The board of troubled cafe chain Patisserie Valerie has discovered almost £10m had been run up on two previously secret overdraft facilities that none of the directors knew about, The Sunday Times can reveal. Company overdrafts had been set up with Barclays and HSBC, and £9.7m had been used by the time they were discovered last week.

The boss of stricken chain Patisserie Valerie came under fire from City advisory groups for his controlling influence at the firm just months ahead of a crisis that engulfed it last week. Reports obtained by The Mail on Sunday show that Luke Johnson was told in January his 37 per cent shareholding conflicted with his other roles at the company, which include executive chairman and a key position on the audit committee.

The City faces a further wave of departures and "very volatile markets" if the UK fails to strike a deal on regulation of £41 trillion worth of derivative deals, experts have warned. The world's largest trade body for derivatives traders, the Washington-based Futures Industry Association (FIA), told The Sunday Telegraph its members faced unprecedented disruption without progress before Christmas.

The UK economy is on course for its worst year of growth since the depths of the financial crisis, an influential forecaster has warned. The EY Item Club, which uses the Treasury's forecasting model, has cut its growth prediction for this year to 1.3% - the weakest level since the economy shrank by more than 4% in 2009. - Sunday Times

The FTSE 100 is on course for its worst year since the financial crisis as economists warn that investors need to brace for a "Wile E Coyote moment" when the overheating US economy runs off a cliff edge in 2020. Even after £2.3trn was wiped off the value of global stock markets last week, the Centre for Economics and Business Research has warned that its model suggests that US stocks are still overvalued by around 30pc even after this week's sell-off. - Sunday Telegraph

Investors pulled billions of dollars out of corporate bond markets last week as concerns about higher American interest rates triggered turmoil across financial markets. A record $7.5bn (£5.7bn) was withdrawn from funds that invest in high-grade corporate debt, figures from the data firm EPFR Global suggest - the latest sign that the Federal Reserve's drive to lift rates is shaking up the global financial system. - Sunday Times

Saudi Arabia's stock market tumbled in early Sunday trade on concerns about relations with the international community following the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Riyadh and a US resident, vanished on 2 October after visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Ankara believes that he was murdered inside the building and his body removed. - Observer


The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is considering a fresh investigation into a multimillion-pound fraud at a subsidiary of Lloyds Bank, emails reveal. The agency is conducting "a pre-investigative review" into allegations in an internal report known as Project Lord Turnbull, claiming that HBOS had a strategy to conceal the fraud at its Reading office which affected hundreds of business customers. - Sunday Times

The FTSE 250 engineering services company Babcock International has come under attack from a shadowy research firm that claims to have spent six months compiling a dossier on its shortcomings. Boatman Capital Research, which is not traceable on Companies House and refuses to disclose the identity of its directors, claims that the company has been "burying bad news about its performance" and that the leadership team is "not up to the job". - Sunday Times

MPs have branded Capita's handling of a British Army recruitment contract a "national disgrace" and called on the outsourcer to hand the job back to the Government after figures showed it had hired just 7pc of its annual target for non-commissioned soldiers in the first quarter of the year. - Sunday Telegraph

The £1bn vaping industry in Britain is today exposed for using cartoon characters and images of sweets, popcorn and ice cream to market nicotine products that can hook children into addiction. A Sunday Times investigation reveals that vaping manufacturers exploit lax regulations, describe liquid nicotine mixtures for electronic cigarettes as "sweet treats" and sell them online for £1.

Virgin billionaire Sir Richard Branson and Stagecoach tycoon Sir Brian Souter shared in a payout of more than £50m from the West Coast main line shortly before walking away from another franchise, at a cost to taxpayers of £2bn. Last night, Labour said the payment showed that Britain's ailing railways were "lining the pockets of billionaires" and bolstered the case for renationalisation. - Sunday Times

The UK's competition watchdog could start initial work on its investigations into the actions of US online giants by the end of this year, raising the prospect of further penalties for Big Tech on top of major European fines. Sources familiar with the situation said the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) was planning preliminary work within the next couple of months to prepare for a possible ­full investigation shortly after the UK leaves the EU at the end of March. - Sunday Telegraph

Google has admitted in a leaked internal document that it has become a "moderator in chief" of online content, suggesting that its status as a neutral platform without liability for content is "crumbling". The 85-page presentation, called The Good Censor, was produced in March by Google's "Insights Lab" for internal use. - Sunday Times

Digital music giant Spotify has been booking three-quarters of its revenue to an entity in Sweden, allowing it to pay just £891,425 a year in UK tax. The Swedish firm boasts that it has a 59 per cent share of UK music streaming, its second largest market by sales after the US, but booked just £107million of revenue to Spotify Ltd, its UK arm. - Mail on Sunday

An economic development body in London has been accused of wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on "pet projects", including £4,000 on an experiment to question "neoliberal economic dogma". London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) spent £44m of public money in 2017-18, aiming to "identify strategic actions to support and lead economic growth and job creation in the capital". - Sunday Telegraph


Gatwick will this week unveil a controversial plan to create a second runway in a move that could result in more than 84,000 extra flights a year. The plan involves using an existing emergency runway and could help the airport steal a march on Heathrow without the need for a costly and time-consuming building project. - Sunday Times

Britain plans to become the world's cleanest country by cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Claire Perry, the energy minister, will announce the target tomorrow: the transport, aviation, farming and power industries will be ordered to comply. - Sunday Times

Royal Dutch Shell is preparing to "turbocharge" its bid to become a global leader in clean energy in the coming years as it seeks to overcome the "existential" challenge posed by climate change. Boss Ben van Beurden said that the FTSE 100 giant should be able to gauge by the early 2020s whether its recent moves into the clean electricity market will be stepped up, having so far pledged to spend $1-2bn of its $25bn (£19bn) a year spending budget on technologies including electric car charging and ­renewable energy. - Sunday Telegraph

The discount retailer B&M European Value Retail is hunting for an acquisition to break into the French market, as chief executive Simon Arora sets about trying to turn the company into one of Europe's largest players. Arora has drawn up a list of targets in France and is understood to be holding talks with a local chain. - Sunday Times

A major investment firm has taken aim at James Bond's favourite car firm Aston Martin in a sign it believes the share price will remain in reverse. Carmignac, a French asset manager, has become the first investor to disclose a short position in Aston Martin, whose cars have been driven by 007 in 11 Bond films. - Mail on Sunday

A luxury travel company specialising in South African family breaks is gearing up to float in London next week. Intosol, which has been taking wealthy Germans and Swiss on holiday since 2002, wants to raise up to £5m in a share offering that would value the company at £11.4m. - Sunday Times

Grimsby-based frozen food giant Young's Seafood could be netted for as much as £200million after it emerged that the firm's owners are in advanced sale talks. Irish private equity firm CapVest, the owner of Jacob's Cream Crackers, honey maker Rowse and peas brand Batchelors, is the 'preferred buyer', City sources said. - Mail on Sunday

Harry Ramsden's, the fish-and-chip shop chain, has swung to a £5m loss after closing a chunk of its restaurant ­estate. The company was hit with £2.4m charge over its decision to exit six sites owned by the company and a further three franchise stores. - Sunday Telegraph

Ailing restaurant chain Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) is poised to press ahead with an insolvency process to close outlets and cut rents. GBK, which is owned by South Africa's Famous Brands, had appointed restructuring advisers from Deloitte to thrash out deals with landlords. - Sunday Times

The Treasury has handed over £1billion in tax refunds to oil giants over the past three years - signalling the decline of the Government's North Sea tax haul just as the Chancellor prepares his Budget. Figures compiled by The Mail on Sunday show HM Revenue & Customs triggered tax relief worth £1.2billion to multinationals including Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil between 2015 and 2017. - Mail on Sunday

More than 100,000 people are set to lose in excess of £4,000 a year in a budget raid on pension tax relief, a former minister has claimed. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, has signalled that he is targeting what he has called the "eye-wateringly expensive" perk to fund a £20bn cash boost to the NHS. - Sunday Times

Three years on from a Government promise to let people cash in annuities, millions of pensioners are still languishing on contracts paying as little as £1.26 a week. - Sunday Telegraph

A Cheshire-based data company hoping to profit from the boom in ­internet-connected cars has bought a Silicon Valley start-up in a rare case of an American tech firm being poached by a British one. Wejo, which allows car manufacturers to sell data generated by their vehicles to insurers and transport authorities, is paying several million dollars for Carjojo, a website that negotiates car purchases on buyers' behalf. - Sunday Telegraph

Shareholders of the stricken viral publisher Unilad are exploring a legal bid to halt a sale of the business by the administrator, claiming that a "proper process . . . [has] not been undertaken". Manchester-based Unilad, which publishes videos and articles on Facebook and other social media, fell into administration this month with debts of more than £9m, including £1.5m owed to HM Revenue & Customs. - Sunday Times

Chinese tech giant Tencent has urged European companies to focus on ethical applications of artificial intelligence, leaving higher-risk ventures to the US and China. Speaking at a conference in Helsinki, Finland, David Wallerstein, Tencent's chief exploration officer, said he was encouraging the European Union to "embrace AI and deploy it in the areas that would have a maximum benefit for human life, even if that technology isn't competitive to take on an American or Chinese market". - Sunday Telegraph

Scientists have turned coffee waste into electricity for the first time, in research that could help farmers and curb pollution in the developing world. The coffee industry generates a huge amount of liquid waste during the process of turning the raw material of the tree - the coffee cherries - into the 9.5m tons of coffee the world produces each year. - Observer


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