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Wednesday newspaper round-up: Coronavirus, Prudential, Barclays, Tesco, Sirius, Disney

By Josh White

Date: Wednesday 26 Feb 2020

Wednesday newspaper round-up: Coronavirus, Prudential, Barclays, Tesco, Sirius, Disney

(Sharecast News) - Preparations for a severe outbreak of coronavirus in Britain, including the closure of schools and restricting movement around the country, were being stepped up last night as the virus swept across Europe. Ministers are finalising contingency plans, which also include quarantining families, as Switzerland, Austria, Croatia and mainland Spain all recorded their first cases. - The Times
Thousands of Britons will be tested by GPs for coronavirus, amid fears that the explosion of cases in Europe means there could be far more cases in the UK than are known about. Mass surveillance will be introduced, as Britain ramps up its response to the growing threat, with health planners considering school closures and transport restrictions if the danger spreads. - Telegraph

Mounting fears over the spread of the coronavirus led to another global market sell-off on Tuesday, with investor panic wiping nearly ?100bn off the value of Britain's biggest companies in the past two days. The FTSE 100 index closed at its lowest level in a year, down 1.9% at 7,018, lowering the value of Britain's blue-chip companies by about ?35bn. It followed a major sell-off on Monday, when ?62bn was wiped off the value of the index. - Guardian

The billionaire hedge fund boss who attacked the Prudential has been forced to back down over his demand to shift its listing from the London Stock Exchange. Dan Loeb, who took a 5 per cent stake in the life insurer this week through his hedge fund Third Point, conceded that the Pru could maintain its London listing under his radical shake-up plan. - Daily Mail

An activist investor has increased the pressure on Barclays over the links between its chief executive and Jeffrey Epstein. Edward Bramson, whose Sherborne Investors holds a 5.5 per cent stake in Barclays worth ?1.8 billion, described an investigation into Jes Staley's connections with Epstein, the convicted sex offender, as "another example of governance weakness". - The Times

Two of Kazakhstan's largest businesses are mulling a float on the London Stock Exchange as enthusiasm returns to the market following a slump in listings last year. The national Kazakh oil champion and the firm behind the country's third largest lender are both plotting to go public in Britain. - Telegraph

More than 1,800 jobs are at risk at Tesco, after the retailer said it would cut staff at its large in-store bakeries to adapt to changing consumer tastes. The supermarket chain said it would do less baking from scratch in stores from May onwards, and would require fewer bakery staff as a result. Tesco said customers were buying fewer traditional loaves of bread, and are increasingly choosing options such as wraps, bagels and flatbreads instead. - Guardian

The Business Secretary has been dragged into the Sirius Minerals takeover battle amid growing fears ordinary shareholders will be shut out of a crunch vote. Alok Sharma has been urged to speed up a review of City rules that make it hard for individuals to take part in major company decisions. - Daily Mail

Robert Iger has relinquished his role as chief executive of Walt Disney after presiding over a decade and a half of big merger deals that turned the company into the world's largest entertainment group. Mr Iger has taken on the role of executive chairman and was succeeded last night by Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney's parks, experiences and products division, who becomes the seventh chief executive of the 96-year-old group. - The Times

The coronavirus sweeping the globe has led to the largest mass exercise in remote working in corporate history. Across China, Japan, South Korea and parts of northern Italy, office blocks are silent and factory floors are abandoned. School is cancelled and blue collar workers are being forced to log into video chats and workplace messenger apps to keep up with their jobs. - Telegraph

Coronavirus has spread further around the world as a World Health Organisation expert warned that countries outside China are "simply not ready" for a pandemic. The virus has proliferated in parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East in recent days, with the death toll rising in Iran, infections in South Korea passing 1,000 and the first suspected case recorded in Latin America - even as the number of deaths and fresh cases decline at the disease epicentre in China. Covid-19 has now reached dozens of countries with Austria, Croatia and Switzerland the latest to declare cases. - Guardian

Governments are 'simply not ready' to tackle their own coronavirus onslaughts, the World Health Organisation's China chief has claimed. Bruce Aylward, who leads the joint WHO-China mission of experts, said Beijing's success in firefighting the infection has lulled other nations into a false sense of security. - Daily Mail

A reduction in the size of the army is being considered as part of the government's foreign policy and defence review, which is set to end by the autumn in a victory for Dominic Cummings. Today Boris Johnson will announce plans to overhaul the approach to foreign policy through the cross-Whitehall exercise, which he has pledged will be the most sweeping review of defence and security since the Cold War. - The Times

Leading Brexiteer Arron Banks is among hundreds of people whose private records were wrongly published by the City watchdog in a major data breach. Mr Banks was one of 1,600 members of the public whose details were mistakenly released on the website of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) after they made a complaint to the regulator. In some cases the FCA even included addresses and telephone numbers. - Telegraph

The Democratic presidential candidates engaged in a series of chaotic and fiery exchanges on Tuesday night, in the final debate before the critical South Carolina presidential primary and Super Tuesday contests that could represent a make-or-break moment. Senator Bernie Sanders, the frontrunner who cruised to victory in Nevada last week, bore the brunt of criticism from a number of his centrist rivals, including the former vice-president, Joe Biden, ex-New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg and former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg. - Guardian

The Worcestershire town of Bewdley is underwater after flood defences finally failed in the face of unprecedented flooding and the ever-rising River Severn. Photographs taken at Beale's Corner in the riverside town, which straddles the Severn north of Worcester, show flood water pouring over the top of temporary barriers erected in the wake of Storm Dennis. - Daily Mail

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