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Newspaper briefing including Tesco to admit defeat over Fresh & Easy, the Times

Newspaper Summary 

The Times 

Bet of the Day: Mulberry reports, with the share price having recovered since the previous update. It seems that the designer of luxury handbags got the skeletons out of the closet then in an attempt to manage expectations, having suffered the weight of disappointment when its last update frightened investors. 

Deal of the day: After 30 years in the self-storage business Douglas Hampson would seem the ideal person to buy out Laxey Partners stake in Lokn Store Group. Using his Montecito Storage Investors, Mr Hampson has acquired a near-16% of the company. The 30 million AIM-listed company has a yield of 4.2%. Lokn shares rose 1.7% to 119p. 

Gilts: UK gilts underperformed their German counterparts ahead of George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, amid worrying signs of deterioration in Britain’s fiscal outlook. Simon Peck, an RBS strategist, said: There’s been a bit of concern as to what happens with the borrowing numbers. The March gilt future settled 13 ticks up at 119.02. 

Tesco braced for defeat in battle to conquer America: Tesco is poised to pull out of the United States, five years after its bold and loudly heralded arrival in the vast American grocery market. Britain’s biggest supermarket group is expected to announce a strategic review into its 185 Fresh & Easy stores in California, Nevada and Arizona when it updates the City on its third quarter trading. 

Land Secs acquires control of X-Leisure: Land Securities gave a vote of confidence in the leisure sector by taking a controlling stake in the company behind Xscape in Milton Keynes and Brighton Marina that employs PY Gerbeau, who ran the Millennium Dome. 

Outrage at massive payoffs for SFO staff: A departing Serious Fraud Office executive has been promised a payoff of up to 475,000 in a controversial exit deal struck under the agency’s former Director, the Government has revealed. 

Baxter swoops for dialysis machine maker: A Swedish company behind one of the world’s first artificial kidneys has been snapped up by the US healthcare business Baxter International for $4 billion. 

Scrap the short-term gain in bonus culture: Banks should ensure that they can claw back bonuses years after they have been awarded to tie workers into the lenders long-term health, the Bank of England said. 

Xstrata Bosses are cashing in and heading for exit: Xstrata said that Trevor Reid, its Chief Financial Officer, would leave the company after shareholders decided to block a 144 million bonus package for the company’s top staff last month. 

Campaigners are not finished with Facebook: The campaign group that forced Facebook into making concessions over its privacy policies has threatened to take legal action to reopen an investigation into the social network. Europe-v-Facebook said that the network had failed to keep its promises on protecting the personal information of its one billion users. 

The Independent 

Character blames Zhu Zhu Pets for profit fall: Character Group, the maker of Peppa Pig toys, has blamed unloved Zhu Zhu hamsters for a sharp fall in annual profits, as it warned of a disappointing Christmas. The toy maker, which issued a profit warning last month, said weak sales of Zhu Zhu Pets and Squinkies had forced retailers to delay orders and discount to clear stock, hitting the groups margins. 

EDF to extend lives of nuclear plants: The French energy giant EDF is to extend the lives of two of the UK’s oldest nuclear power stations by seven years until 2023. 

Slower demand hits Northgate profits: Northgate, the van hire firm seen as a barometer of the smaller business end of the economy, saw profits slide 13% to 28 million in the last six months as demand slowed. 

Tui Boss cheers return of package holidays: Package holidays are back and staycations are out. So says travel industry veteran Peter Long as he unveiled another strong set of results at TUI travel, the FTSE 100 business behind Thomson and First Choice. 

Bramson to take back seat at F&C: Edward Bramson, the American investor who staged a boardroom coup at F&C Asset Management almost two years ago, is preparing to move to more of a back seat. 

BA wants to axe 400 cabin crew: British Airways is looking to shed 400 senior cabin crew jobs, but stressed there would be no compulsory redundancies. 

The Daily Telegraph 

Philip Green to sell 25% stake in Topshop to US buy-out firm: Sir Philip Green is close to selling a 25% stake in Topshop and Topman to an American private equity firm in a move that will generate a multi-million pound windfall for the retail tycoon. 

Warren Buffett seeks $1 billion damages from Swiss Re: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate is claiming up to $1 billion from reinsurer Swiss Re in a dispute over a life insurance deal they agreed to in 2010. 

Former FSA Chief Hector Sants in talks to join Deloitte: Hector Sants, the former chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, is in talks to join accountancy firm Deloitte as a partner less than six months after quitting his post as Britain’s top regulator. 

The Guardian 

Gas strategy should be plan Z, governments climate adviser warns: George Osborne’s dash for gas is completely incompatible with the nations legally binding carbon emissions targets and should be plan Z, according to the government’s official climate advisers. 

Nokia to sell and lease back Finnish headquarters: Nokia is selling its Finnish headquarters for 170 million (137 million) and leasing the property back on a long-term deal. 

UK merger and acquisition activity falls as corporations take caution: Domestic merger and acquisition activity involving U.K. companies fell to its lowest level in 20 years in the third quarter of 2012 as risk-averse companies shied away from doing deals. 

Roman Abramovich gains control of worlds biggest nickel mine: Roman Abramovich has gained control of the world’s biggest nickel and palladium mine after he brokered a deal forcing two other Russian billionaires to end their four-year feud over the assets. 

No case for Gatwick airport expansion, says IAG’s Willie Walsh: Airlines will only pay for expansion at one U.K. airport and that is Heathrow, Britains foremost airline executive told MPs, in a pointed rejoinder to Gatwick Chiefs pushing for a second runway. 

Daily Mail 

Discount chain brothers sell major B&M Retail stake for 500 million: The three brothers who made half a billion pounds selling control of their Woolworths-style discount chain to private equity say they would like to see the business listed on the stock exchange. 

Chairman of Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards slams Lord Stevenson for flippancy at HBOS: When former HBOS Chief Executive Sir James Crosby finally said sorry this week for the collapse of the lender, he had much to apologise for. Andrew Tyrie, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, summed up the lenders implosion four years ago as a catastrophe for taxpayers and ordinary savers. 

Britain’s AAA credit rating at risk as George Osborne may ditch one of his cast-iron budget rules: George Osborne could be forced to ditch one of his cast-iron budget rules putting Britain’s coveted AAA credit rating at risk. The Chancellor looks set to admit in the Autumn Statement that the national debt will not be falling as a percentage of national income by 2015-16. 

Daily Express 

Sirius Minerals cuts mine cost: Sirius Minerals slashed 700 million from the cost of building one of the world’s biggest potash mines in a Yorkshire national park. The group said it would now cost 1 billion to develop its controversial fertilisers project near Whitby in the North York Moors National Park compared with previous forecasts of 1.7 billion. 

Get smart to take the heat off energy rises: Households are being urged to protect themselves from higher energy costs as EDF prepares to hike its gas and electricity prices by 10.8% on Friday. The increase will raise the average EDF dual-fuel bill from 1,202 a year to 1,332, says 

The Scottish Herald 

Greene Kings profits up on back of cheap lager: Cheap supplies of Carling lager have helped boost performance at brewer Greene Kings Scottish pubs as catering to value-conscious consumers helped it achieve a 7% rise in first half pre-tax profit to 82.7 million. 

Aberdeen’s First Oil eyes up additional acquisitions: Ian Suttie has said his First Oil business is on the hunt for more acquisitions in an update which highlights the appeal of the North Sea. 

Auchrannie at double in family awards: The Arran Company triumphed in the rural family business and customer service excellence categories at the black tie event, which attracted around 200 people to the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. 

Dandy shop pops up for comics last issue: Des Barr, of Sinclair Barr Newsagents, has invested more than 100,000 in buying stock of the famous comic and hopes to sell thousands of the 3.99 edition in the run-up to Christmas. 

Blipfoto plans foreign growth: Edinburgh photo-sharing platform Blipfoto has secured an additional 375,000 funding round to target further international growth. 

New offer for Sportingbet: Bookmaker William Hill and its partner GVC Holdings have tabled a revised offer for online gaming firm Sportingbet. 

The Scotsman 

MiiCard secures Napier contract: Software firm MiiCard has sealed a deal with Edinburgh Napier University to provide a proof-of-identity system for users of the university’s online healthcare and childcare protection initiatives, giving access to sensitive data. 

Sainsbury’s on song as the star supermarket: Sainsbury’s received a boost yesterday ahead of the festive rush as industry figures reinforced its position as the star performer among the big four supermarket players. 

City AM 

Boris calls for renegotiation of deal with EU: Boris Johnson called for Britain to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union, saying he wanted a new deal based solely on trade agreements that would be put to the public in a national referendum. 

TfL to spend 3.8 billion on road upgrade work: Transport for London hopes to double spending on the capitals roads over the next decade, it said in a 10-year business plan. A roads task force will set out priorities for the 3.8 billion funding pot in the spring, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said. 

Sainsbury’s has top quarter for market share: Sainsbury’s has picked up market share in the last quarter, to make it the biggest winner among the overall grocery market, data revealed. According to figures from market researcher Kantar Worldpanel the supermarkets sales rose 4.7% and its share rose 0.2 points to 16.9% in the 12 weeks to 25 November. 

Marshall Wace boosts profits on fund returns: London-based hedge fund Marshall Wace posted a 20% jump in pretax profits led by a surge in income from improved fund performance. The company, set up by Paul Marshall and Ian Wace, improved profits from 39.4 million to 47.3 million for the year ending February 2012 with income from performance fees up 10% to 60.6 million from 55 million. 

Dexia in talks to sell Asset Manager Unit: Franco-Belgian group Dexia is in talks on a disposal which will mark the near completion of its dismemberment following its virtual collapse in the wake of the financial crisis. 

US and Canada buoy Wolseley quarterly sales: A gradual recovery in the US housing market and continued growth in Canada has helped plumbing and builders merchant Wolseley offset revenue declines in Europe. 

William Hill and Sportingbet cut takeover price: William Hill’s drawn-out takeover of online bookie Sportingbet took another twist, as the parties cut the price of the deal. Sportingbet, which is set to be carved up by William Hill and GVC Holdings, agreed to reduce its price from the 530 million previously agreed to around 485 million. 

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