Monday newspaper round-up: Tesco, FCA, HBOS, Brexit. Virgin Money

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Monday newspaper round-up: Tesco, FCA, HBOS, Brexit. Virgin Money

Mon, 03 April 2017
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Monday newspaper round-up: Tesco, FCA, HBOS, Brexit. Virgin Money

(ShareCast News) - One of the most influential shareholder groups in the City has raised doubts about Tesco's proposed £3.5 billion purchase of the wholesaler Booker, saying that it could put corner shops out of business and trigger a backlash against the retail giant. Hermes Fund Managers said that it planned to raise the issue with Tesco before the vote on the deal. - The Times
Fears about the effect of Brexit are receding among Britain's company bosses - although the UK's departure from the EU remains their top risk. Nearly a third of chief financial officers said they are more optimistic about the prospects for their company than they were three months ago - the highest level since 2015 - a poll by advisory firm Deloitte has found. - Guardian

A significant number of British businesses are sitting on pension schemes that could represent a "material risk" to their business, a retirement consultancy has warned. An analysis of FTSE 250 accounts has found that 23 businesses - including the AA, Thomas Cook and Balfour Beatty - would have to withhold payments to shareholders for over two years if they needed to clear their pension shortfalls, compared to just seven in the FTSE 100. - Telegraph

Former HBOS employees could face prosecution over an alleged cover-up of the sprawling fraud run out of its Reading branch, a senior MP has inferred. The individuals should be subjected to an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority, Steve Baker, a member of the Treasury select committee said. - The Times

The financial regulator is preparing to use its competition powers for the first time, in a move that will set alarm bells ringing in the City. The Financial Conduct Authority was given competition enforcement powers two years ago and has built up a large team of lawyers to investigate anti-competitive behaviour, with one case getting close to being made public. - The Times

The government watchdog tasked with helping keep public finances in check is at risk of overshooting its own budget. The Office for Budget Responsibility is set to have a potential shortfall plugged by the Treasury because the cost of moving offices in Whitehall could hit its annual figures. - The Times

The Co-operative Group will reveal this week it has fallen back into the red for the first time since its tumultuous 2013 year, after writing off the value of its investment in the Co-operative Bank. The mutual is set to take a £140m hit as it slashes the value of its 20% stake in the bank to zero, amid ongoing uncertainty about its former financial arm's future. - Guardian

Virgin Money is set to express interest in buying the troubled Co-operative Bank this week, raising uncertainty over the future of the mutual lender's brand. The bank, backed by Sir Richard Branson, is among a number of potential bidders thought to be interested in the Co-op Bank with the first-round deadline set for Tuesday. - The Times

London's rival financial centres are lobbying their governments to support bids to steal tens of thousands of jobs from the City, according to a report on the impact of Brexit on the UK capital. The report found that financial firms in Paris, Frankfurt and Dublin are pushing politicians to relax domestic business regulations and permit new office construction as they seek to steal "low-hanging fruit" from London. - Guardian

Milk, cheese and cream prices could soar if a transitional agreement is not forged to save imports and exports from World Trade Organisation tariffs of 36pc after Britain leaves the European Union, the UK's largest milk producer will warn today. Arla Foods, the co-operative owned by 12,000 farmers across seven European countries, will also release a Centre for Economics and Business Research study showing that its UK business has a total economic footprint of £6bn a year in gross value added and can be associated with 119,000 jobs. - Telegraph

Homes and businesses will have to spend more than £1 billion replacing halogen lightbulbs before an EU ban takes effect next year. It is estimated there are about 480 million incandescent lightbulbs in British homes and 100 million in business premises and they must be replaced with LED alternatives before September 2018. - The Times

The Government must redouble efforts to create a Northern Powerhouse that will boost jobs and opportunities for those "left behind", the head of Britain's biggest business group will warn this week. Paul Drechsler, the president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), will call on policymakers and business leaders to "step up" to the challenge of closing the productivity gap between London and the rest of the UK to raise living standards across the country. - Telegraph

Brexit is set to hit Ireland much harder than any other remaining EU country and may harm its economy even more than Britain's, according to a study drawing on six previous estimates. With about £1 billion of trade taking place between the two countries every week, the Republic of Ireland is by far the most heavily exposed to Britain's withdrawal from the EU relative to its size. - Times

Lycamobile, the international phone call business and a major donor to the Conservative party, is embroiled in a £26m tax dispute with HMRC over VAT. Accounts filed with Companies House show that Lycamobile's UK division nearly doubled its pre-tax profits to £10.9m last year on turnover of £194m. - Guardian

Anglo-Swiss chemicals firm Ineos is privately leading an industry lobbying attempt to avoid paying for the cost of decarbonising Britain's economy. Documents released under freedom of information rules reveal that Ineos is pushing the government to use Brexit as a chance to exempt the chemicals sector entirely from climate policy costs. - Guardian

Greece looks set to miss another deadline this week for unlocking vital bailout funds, inching closer to a new crisis that could push Europe's most indebted member state into default. The country needs to complete a long-delayed review of its fiscal reforms and a bailout deal to get another slice of aid before some €7 billion of bonds become due in July. The year-long impasse has turned into a significant political gambit for Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, who faces sagging ratings. - The Times