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Sunday newspaper round-up: RBS, gambling, Brexit, Centrica, Mirror, EIS

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Sunday newspaper round-up: RBS, gambling, Brexit, Centrica, Mirror, EIS

Sun, 08 October 2017
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Sunday newspaper round-up: RBS, gambling, Brexit, Centrica, Mirror, EIS

(ShareCast News) - Royal Bank of Scotland has been accused of pursuing "unrealistic" business lending targets that risk incentivising reckless lending. The taxpayer-owned bank, which is under intense political pressure to boost support to the economy, has set strict targets for small and medium-sized enterprise lending to its around 800 lending managers, who are each expected to lend close to £2m a year. - Sunday Telegraph
Bank of England deputy governor Sir Jon Cunliffe sounds every inch the softly-spoken civil servant but has a tough message to deliver to errant bankers: You won't get off scot-free again if there is another financial crisis. Reckless bank chiefs, he warns, will be harshly punished, even possibly jailed. - Mail on Sunday

Some of Britain's biggest gambling operators - including Paddy Power, 888 Holdings and William Hill - are targeting children with their favourite cartoon and storybook characters in online betting games, an investigation by The Sunday Times revealed. Operators are exploiting a loophole in the rules that allows them to promote games that appeal to children without breaching Gambling Commission rules. Stakes on the games range from 1p to £600.

BREXIT BULLETIN

Theresa May is under pressure to publish secret legal advice that is believed to state that parliament could still stop Brexit before the end of March 2019 if MPs judge that a change of mind is in the national interest. The move comes as concern grows that exit talks with Brussels are heading for disaster. - Observer

Nicola Sturgeon has offered to pay the residency fees for EU citizens who currently work in the Scottish public sector, in an effort to reinforce her government's anti-Brexit credentials. Sturgeon said the pledge, to be set out in her speech at the Scottish National party conference on Tuesday, was designed to protect EU nationals from the "looming threat" of Brexit. - Observer

Two rebel Conservative MEPs who voted to block moves towards trade talks between the UK and European Union have been stripped of the party whip. The South West England MEP Julie Girling and South East England MEP Richard Ashworth were suspended from the party after supporting a resolution in Strasbourg declaring that "sufficient progress" had not been made in the Brexit talks to move on to discussions on the future relationship between the UK and EU. - Observer

Honda has promised to keep making and selling cars in its Swindon factory despite the raft of uncertainties facing the economy over Brexit and a hammering of profits at the plant. The Japanese car giant has sounded a bullish outlook on its future in the country despite seeing profits in its UK subsidiary fall 21pc for the year to March 31, partly down to the recent slump in the pound. - Sunday Telegraph

POLITICAL PLOTS

Theresa May must appoint a new generation of MPs to top jobs to breathe new life into the Conservative party and rescue her premiership, donors, ministers and grandees have warned. Senior Tory figures have said that while May has no long-term future as prime minister, she can secure a legacy of "restarting the party" by going ahead with a bold but risky ministerial clear-out in the next few weeks. - Observer

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was preparing to shake up her top team to ensure she has "the best people in my cabinet". Tory sources say May is planning a reshuffle after the European Council meeting on October 19-20. - Sunday Times

Ruth Davidson has said a Scot could "absolutely" become Tory leader as she ruled out trying for the post "right now" but left open the possibility in the longer term. The Scottish Conservative leader said that "without a doubt" a Scot could take the helm of the UK party amid a growing clamour for her to move to Westminster in preparation for a leadership bid. - Sunday Telegraph

Investors are on the alert for market turmoil before a potential declaration of independence by Catalonia this week, as an exodus of companies from the region gathers pace. Trading in Spanish government bonds surged to double its normal volume last week in the wake of the separatist referendum, said trading platform MarketAxess. Although the vote was declared illegal by the government in Madrid, Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont said he will press ahead with plans to formally declare independence on Tuesday. - Sunday Times

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Barcelona to protest against the Catalan government's decision to push for independence, as Spain's prime minister warned that he was prepared to suspend the region's autonomy to stop it splitting from the rest of the country. Sunday's rally - organised by Societat Civil Catalana, the region's main pro-unity organisation - comes a week after the independence referendum that has plunged Spain into its worst political crisis in four decades. - Observer

Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out trying again for a second independence referendum before Brexit as she accused Theresa May of "clutching at straws" over the Prime Minister's claim to have saved the Union. Speaking on the first day of the SNP conference in Glasgow, the First Minister repeatedly rebuffed an invitation for her to apologise for the SNP's mauling in the general election following a voter backlash against her March demand for another referendum. - Sunday Telegraph

Labour would consider offering annual payments to Brussels in order to maintain access to the single market after Brexit, a shadow minister has said. Jenny Chapman, the party's Brexit minister, said Labour would "leave the single market on the table". - Sunday Telegraph

Donald Trump on Saturday said "only one thing will work" in dealing with North Korea, after previous administrations had talked to Pyongyang without results. Trump did not make clear to what he was referring. - Observer

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, has appointed his sister to the politburo, the most powerful body in the isolated regime's ruling party. 28-year-old Kim Yo-jong, who was in January subjected to a US Treasury blacklist for North Korea's human rights abuses, will replace Mr Kim's aunt, Kim Kyong-hee, who is believed to be seriously ill. - Sunday Telegraph

Radical plans to turn Yorkshire into a "country within a country" with a powerful mayor to rival London have been leaked. Written by senior civil servants, the plan seeks to put a single leader in charge of Yorkshire's £110bn-a-year economy, which is around twice the size of that of Wales and larger than that of 11 countries in the European Union. - Sunday Times

MIRROR, UBER, BCA, BHP

A bid by Trinity Mirror to merge with rival publisher Express Newspapers faces potential opposition from pension trustees on both sides of the deal. It is understood that Trinity Mirror is attempting to thrash out a deal with Express owner Richard Desmond amid concerns that the trustees could object to the terms initially suggested. - Sunday Telegraph

Big City names are being lined up to steer ride-hailing company Uber back on course as it prepares a fresh attempt to win back its operating licence in London. The beleaguered firm is on the lookout for a new boss for Northern Europe after Jo Bertram quit last week as the company continued its row with Transport for London. - Mail on Sunday

Scientists attending a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology reported they had uncovered a highly disturbing trend. They revealed that bacteria containing a gene known as mcr-1 - which confers resistance to the 'antibiotic of last resort' colistin - had spread round the world at an alarming rate since its original discovery 18 months earlier. In one area of China, it was found that 25% of hospital patients now carried the gene. - Observer

The owner of Britain's largest energy supplier may need to raid its shareholder payouts to withstand a tougher-than-expected government crackdown on rising energy bills. The looming energy price cap is likely to slash the earnings of British Gas three times deeper than investors first feared, which may force its parent company to cut shareholder dividends by a quarter and could also expose Centrica to the threat of a takeover. - Sunday Telegraph

Film investment schemes that have helped finance a string of hits, including the James Bond movie Skyfall, are under threat from a government review of business funding. Curbs to the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) - where investors are given tax breaks for backing high-risk ventures - are likely to include restrictions on investing in media production companies, according to sources who have consulted with the Treasury on the review. - Sunday Times

Bosses from the firm behind webuyanycar.com are expected to face cross-examination in the High Court this week in a row with a computer programmer over a business deal that turned sour. City sources say BCA Marketplace, which owns Webuyanycar, is being sued for up to £20million by David Brown, who sold a majority stake in his online car dealing operation, Tradeouts, to the FTSE 250 group for £1.2million in 2014. - Mail on Sunday

The future of BHP Billiton boss ­Andrew Mackenzie has come under ­renewed scrutiny ahead of the miner's AGMs, as its new chairman looks to further reshape the board. Investors have urged BHP to begin succession planning as Scottish-born Mr Mackenzie approaches his fifth anniversary as chief executive - and 10th anniversary with the company - in March next year. - Sunday Telegraph

The secretive owner of Monarch Airlines, which collapsed last week, drastically cut its exposure to losses through a back-door deal with aerospace giant Boeing. Monarch received the bulk of the money to fund a £165m bailout one year ago from the Chicago-based plane maker - not from its private equity owner Greybull. - Sunday Times

The BBC is embroiled in a legal battle over how much it pays songwriters for using their work on the radio and in television shows. The broadcaster is fighting demands for a substantial increase in the estimated £70m a year it hands to PRS for Music. - Sunday Times

Britain's largest rent-to-own retailer Brighthouse could soon be parting from its private equity owner as a consortium of bondholders gets closer to tabling a deal. The chain, which rents out household items such as fridges and vacuum cleaners through its 280 shops, is under increasing pressure to refinance £220m of bonds that are due next year. - Sunday Telegraph

McDonald's British operation paid £132m in "franchise rights" last year under a controversial structure that allegedly limits its bill to the Exchequer. The payments are believed to go to the fast food giant's Luxembourg operation, whose tax payments are currently under investigation by the European Commission. - Sunday Telegraph

One of Britain's biggest credit-checking agencies may be about to change hands for up to £1billion. City sources said the US owners of Leeds-based Callcredit have been talking to corporate financiers from Credit Suisse and Jefferies about finding a buyer for the business. - Mail on Sunday

Airbnb paid less than £200,000 corporation tax last year, despite generating more than £600m of rental income for British landlords. The home-sharing website books the commissions it collects from renters and landlords in Britain through an Irish subsidiary. However, it has two offshoots in this country. - Sunday Times

The biggest shareholder in the Revolution bars chain has withdrawn support for a takeover by the pub group Stonegate, clearing the way for a rival bid from nightclub owner Deltic. Artemis Investment Management, which owns 15% of Revolution, has changed its mind after sending a non-binding letter of support for Stonegate's £101.5m takeover offer. - Sunday Times

UKIP donor Arron Banks is in line to make millions of pounds from the listing of an insurance firm that he says has been boosted by controversial technology used to help win the Brexit vote. Banks said he is aiming to float Eldon Insurance in the New Year. - Mail on Sunday

Sheffield-based Sumo Digital has begun preparations for a £150m float. The computer games developer, creator of titles such as Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, has enlisted Zeus Capital to advise on a listing in London, City sources said. - Sunday Times

Marks & Spencer is considering playing a pivotal role in the revival of hosiery supplier Adria, one of the UK's former manufacturing trailblazers. Adria, which closed down over a decade ago, was founded in 1961 by the late Rolf Noskwith, a Bletchley Park codebreaker who went on to take over his father's textile business. - Sunday Telegraph

NASDAQ 100 Top Risers

Name Last Chg.% Time
Baidu Inc. 272.82 3.86 22:58
Wynn Resorts Ltd. 146.81 3.15 22:50
Micron Technology Inc. 41.49 2.70 23:09
JD.com, Inc. 39.67 2.45 23:05
Applied Materials Inc. 55.04 2.04 23:03

NASDAQ 100 Top Fallers

Name Last Chg.% Time
Mercadolibre Inc. 233.00 -4.86 23:02
Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. 193.70 -2.46 22:58
Intuitive Surgical Inc. 353.55 -2.41 22:58
Liberty Global Plc Lilac Class A 22.77 -2.40 22:28
J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. 101.64 -2.28 22:28