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Sunday newspaper round-up: BT Group, Big Lenders, Travel firms

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Sunday 02 Aug 2020

Sunday newspaper round-up: BT Group, Big Lenders, Travel firms

(Sharecast News) - Could a French telecoms billionaire be circling BT's Openreach arm? The mutter from the City gutter is that the secretive Patrick Drahi has set his sights on the division that maintains Britain's telephone lines and internet cables. Drahi, a powerful dealmaker, now resides in Switzerland but made his fortune in France building telecoms groups Altice. The rumour claims that one of the Altice companies Drahi controls - perhaps Altice USA - has secured financial backing from heavyweight bankers at JP Morgan with a view to paying £20billion for the unit. - Mail on Sunday

The big lenders' share prices are crumbling and now value them at less than the loans and other assets on their balance sheets. Not only are the returns of the big UK-facing players - NatWest Group (the new name for state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland), Lloyds and Barclays - squeezed by record low interest rates, but the toll on jobs from Covid-19 suggest a glut of consumers and companies will struggle to repay mortgages, car loans and corporate borrowing. - Sunday Times

Travel firms are offering to hand dividends to the Exchequer in return for an extension of the Government's furlough scheme until the end of the year. With hopes of a recovery this year snuffed out by the re-introduction of travel quarantines, the business travel industry will this week urge ministers to consider a "parachute package" to rescue companies from ruin. The radical proposals, put forward by the Business Travel Association, are intended to be self-funding and designed to not leave taxpayers out of pocket. - Sunday Telegraph

Shopping centre giant Hammerson is preparing to launch a huge cash call to boost its chances of pulling through the pandemic. The owner of the Bullring centre in Birmingham is drawing up plans for a rights issue that it hopes will raise hundreds of millions of pounds. The fundraising could be announced alongside Hammerson's interim results on Thursday. - Sunday Times

BP is being widely tipped to slash its £6.7billion dividend this week. The FTSE 100-listed oil giant, which is run by Bernard Looney, is scheduled to unveil half-year figures on Tuesday. City analysts said BP could cut or shelve its payout alongside the figures, which have been forecast to show a $6.8billion (£5.2billion) loss in the second quarter of this year. - Mail on Sunday

The government may have to consider closing pubs in England to control the transmission of the coronavirus and to enable schools to reopen after the summer holidays, one of its top scientific advisers has said. Prof Graham Medley, who chairs the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) sub-group on pandemic modelling, said reopening schools was a priority for the wellbeing of children and that some other activities might have to stop to control the infection rate. - Guardian

One of Britain's biggest wind power developers has called on the government to scrap the limit on its next offshore wind subsidy auction to help power a green economic recovery, claiming it will not lead to a rise in energy bills. Scottish Power has urged government officials to open up next year's offshore wind subsidy auction to as many new projects as possible in order to deliver a "huge wave" of investment and jobs following the pandemic. - Guardian

British Airways expects the £183m fine for breaching data rules to be written down by almost 90pc. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) signaled its intention to fine the airline in July last year after hundreds of thousands of customers' financial and personal details were stolen during a cyber attack in 2018. The ICO said the airline was compromised by "poor security arrangements" when it unveiled the penalty - one of the first of its kind following the introduction of the GDPR rules. - The Sunday Telegraph

The Bank of England could launch a further stimulus package worth as much as £100billion before it cuts rates to below zero, economists are forecasting. Economists say interest rates are likely to remain at 0.1 per cent when the Bank meets this week. But data firm Bloomberg said the money markets are already beginning to price in a cut to negative in the second quarter next year. And one expert has even raised the possibility of the Bank at some point introducing restrictions on the use of cash. - Mail on Sunday

Xinjiang, the homeland of the Uighurs in western China, is largely cut off from outside eyes, but there is growing evidence that dark events within its closed territory overshadow the British high street. On Friday, America imposed sweeping sanctions on a Chinese paramilitary and business organisation that runs mass "re-education" camps for ethnic Uighur Muslims and dominates the vast cotton and textile export trade in the repressive province. - Sunday Times

A battle for control at a major Russian gold miner is coming to a head with a crunch shareholder vote due on Monday next week. Chief executive Pavel Maslovskiy and other directors were booted off the board of Petropavlovsk in June as part of what opponents claim is an attempt by largest shareholder and rival UGC and others to gain control of the FTSE 250 company on the cheap. - Sunday Telegraph


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