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Sunday newspaper round-up: Two meters, Rolls Royce, Clinigen

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Sunday 14 Jun 2020

Sunday newspaper round-up: Two meters, Rolls Royce, Clinigen

(Sharecast News) - Senior scientists have reported flaws in an influential World Health Organization-commissioned study into the risks of coronavirus infection and say it should not be used as evidence for relaxing the UK's 2-metre physical distancing rule. Critics of the distancing advice, which states that people should keep at least 2 metres apart, believe it is too cautious. They seized on the research commissioned by the WHO, which suggested a reduction from 2 metres to 1 would raise infection risk only marginally, from 1.3% to 2.6%. - Guardian

A consortium of British businesses led by manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce has submitted proposals to Ministers to accelerate the building of a new fleet of mini nuclear reactors in the North of England. The plans, circulated in Whitehall 'in the last few weeks', could see construction of high-tech factories to build the small reactors begin by next year. The consortium - which includes UK construction and engineering firms Laing O'Rourke, Atkins and BAM Nuttall - would use British intellectual property to build the reactors. It would work with partners from the US, Canada and France. - Mail on Sunday

Retailers have intensified pressure on ministers to relax the two-metre social distancing rule, with a warning from Britain's leading business lobby that it threatens to push some businesses "over the edge of a cliff". The intervention by John Allan, the outgoing CBI president, who is also the chairman of Tesco, comes as non-essential stores prepare to open their doors for the first time in three months tomorrow, in the middle of an economic collapse. - Sunday Telegraph

An American private equity giant considered a £1.3bn swoop for a British company that supplies pharmacists with difficult-to-source drugs. Advent International, which took over the FTSE 250 defence group Cobham in a contentious deal in January, ran the rule over Clinigen a few weeks ago, sources said. - Sunday Times

The boss of Britain's biggest business group has waded into the row over Huawei's role in the nation's 5G network, warning moves to restrict the Chinese firm's involvement could 'damage' economic recovery. CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said the nation's future economic revival is already being labelled a 'digital first' recovery, with many employees working from home and firms seeking innovative ways to adapt and boost productivity. - Mail on Sunday

Investors that lent Virgin Atlantic £220m based on its Heathrow landing slots are in talks amid fears that their money could be wiped out. The long-haul airline, which is pleading with the government for a bailout, raised the cash in 2015 from giants including Pension Insurance Corporation, Hastings Funds Management, Standard Life Investments and Edmond de Rothschild Asset Management - firms that typically invest in safe assets with steady returns. - Sunday Times

Capita, one of the major providers of outsourced services to the UK government, plans to cut at least 200 jobs amid financial difficulties exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The company has started a consultation process with a number of employees about planned redundancies. The job cuts are focused on Capita's central support teams in London. - Guardian

A pro-China group is asking FTSE 100 companies to lobby ministers about the risks of Britain's deteriorating relationship with Beijing. The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), whose members include HSBC, BP, Standard Chartered and Glaxo Smith Kline, has approached several blue-chip companies with Chinese exposure about support for the lobbying campaign. The charm offensive is led by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the CBBC's chairman and head of public affairs at HSBC, Europe's biggest bank. - Sunday Times

The cinema chain Cineworld is bracing for a court battle with its latest takeover target after pulling out of the deal and triggering a row over the terms. Cineworld claims Cineplex, the dominant cinema chain in Canada, has suffered a "material adverse effect" under the terms of the deal, which included a ceiling of $725m (£578m) on its debts. Cineplex in turn accuses Cineworld of unlawfully abandoning the $1.7bn debt-fuelled merger because of the lockdown pressure on its finances. - Daily Telegraph

Fast-fashion powerhouse Boohoo is set for a showdown with shareholders this week over a £1m payout to chief executive John Lyttle. Influential advisory group ISS has recommended that Boohoo's shareholders vote against its pay policy, citing a lack of explanation either for Lyttle's payout or for salary increases handed to the other senior executives, which ranged from 18% to 30%. - Sunday Times Sunday Times

The Bank of England is expected to unleash a further £150bn of stimulus in its latest attempt to cushion the economic damage from Covid-19 - as fresh evidence emerges of the rise in unemployment caused by the lockdown. After an unprecedented 20.4% contraction in GDP in April, economists expect the Bank to add more firepower to its quantitative easing (QE) programme. It comes as global investors have been rattled about the fallout from the pandemic, with US markets suffering their biggest fall since March on Thursday. -


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