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Monday newspaper round-up: Brexit concessions, new referendum, Unilever, Barclays

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Monday newspaper round-up: Brexit concessions, new referendum, Unilever, Barclays

Mon, 27 February 2017
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Monday newspaper round-up: Brexit concessions, new referendum, Unilever, Barclays

(ShareCast News) - Labour peers say they are confident that the government will ultimately make concessions as the article 50 bill on leaving the EU passes through the House of Lords this week. Opposition whips will watch keenly how the government responds to the first debate at the committee stage of the bill on Monday, which will focus on the Good Friday agreement, to gauge whether the government appears open to concessions, one Lords source said. - The Guardian
Theresa May is preparing for the Scottish government to call a second independence referendum to coincide with the triggering of Article 50 next month. Senior government sources say there is serious concern that Nicola Sturgeon will use the start of the Brexit process to demand another vote on the future of the UK and that Whitehall is planning for that event. - The Times

Unilever shareholders are prepared to back a demerger of its food operations after the consumer group's rejection of an unwanted £115 billion takeover approach from Kraft Heinz. Paul Polman, Unilever's chief executive, attempted to pacify any disgruntled investors last week with a review into all options to accelerate the delivery of value. - The Times

Workers in the UK saw their wages fall by 1% a year in the period following the financial crisis, putting the country in 103rd place in a global ranking of pay growth compiled by the TUC. The trade union umbrella body said wages rose in many parts of the world between 2008 and 2015, but average pay in the UK fell once the impact of inflation was taken into account. - Guardian

The Government's obsession with Brexit will harm the economy if it fails to address urgent issues such as the country's "broken business rates system", the head of the British Chambers of Commerce will warn this week. Adam Marshall, director general of the business group, will tell delegates at its annual conference tomorrow that policymakers risk hurting UK businesses if they neglect the need for high-quality infrastructure and support for new businesses. - Telegraph

Sir Ian Cheshire, the former chief executive of B&Q's owner Kingfisher, is poised to become chairman of the UK division of Barclays Bank, the part of the lender being ring-fenced to protect taxpayers from any future banking crisis. The move has been cleared by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the part of the Bank of England that oversees senior appointments. - The Times

Rising inflation and higher business rates could hit smaller businesses disproportionately hard, according to a clutch of surveys published today. RSA, the insurer, forecasts that a rise in inflation to 2.7 per cent, so bumping up the price of imported goods, would add £6.8 billion to smaller company costs, when they were already suffering from an increase in business rates, the expense of auto-enrolment and the apprenticeship levy. - The Times

Government plans for an overhaul of company retirement schemes risk putting a hole in the nation's pensions lifeboat. A government green paper suggests that struggling companies could soon be allowed to dodge their liabilities to former employees by separating out their pensions funds and setting them up as standalone entities. - The Times

The Government will grant more visas to technology workers in a major boost to the industry's attempts to secure access to overseas talent after the Brexit vote. Tech City UK, the government organisation that processes applications for the special visa, has been granted the right to endorse 250 immigration visas this year, 50 more than it had originally been allocated. - Telegraph

Energy utilities are bracing for an expected surge in consumers shopping around for a better deal. After years of falling wholesale prices, energy suppliers are beginning to raise their tariffs as energy costs begin to climb. - Telegraph

Online financial services and lending companies are increasingly being targeted by fraudsters and costing consumers millions of pounds around the world last year alone, according to research. Cyber attacks against online lending companies and alternative payment systems increased 122pc last year, according to ThreatMetrix, a security company that monitors more than 20bn online transactions a year. - Telegraph

Overseas shoppers don't only head to Oxford Street to buy the latest fashion. They are also snapping up most of the stores along the famous retail street. Data from Savills shows that Oxford Street properties are increasingly being bought by non-UK landlords, with buyers investing in the once run-down east end of the central London street. - Thce Times


O2 is seeking to cut costs in its customer service operation by encouraging people to talk to a new artificially intelligent robot rather than contact its call centres. The mobile operator's parent company, the Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, unveiled the new voice recognition technology, called Aura, at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. - Telegraph

Discount supermarket Lidl might be known for bringing bargain bratwurst to the UK, but the German chain is enjoying its own Brexit boost after exporting £300m worth of British goods across Europe. Lidl has taken advantage of the weaker pound and ramped up its shipments of British produce including cheese from the West Country, chutney and Scotch whisky to its stores across Europe. - Telegraph

The consultancy helping to make the competition case for Tesco's merger with Booker has provoked concerns over a potential conflict of interest after winning a contract with the regulator. Frontier Economics, chaired by Lord O'Donnell, has been awarded work with the Competition and Markets Authority, the body under pressure to launch a formal investigation into the proposed tie-up. - The Times