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SHARECAST: Monday newspaper round-up: BP, Tesco, British Airways

Mon 22 Jan 2007

LONDON (SHARECAST) – Lord Browne of Madingley, chief executive of BP, decided to quit the oil company after a year which saw his hopes for a £220bn merger with Shell frustrated and his plans for staying on for another five years rejected by the board, reports the Telegraph.

The longstanding chief executive announced 10 days ago his surprise decision to leave BP this summer.

Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, plans to break into the home building business by redeveloping urban sites.

The grocer says building homes helps to make new store developments commercially viable, particularly in poorer areas of the country. It plans to build a store and 960 homes in Woolwich, south-east London, as part of a £400m project, says the Independent.

The UK economy goes into 2007 in rude health, buoyed by a booming financial services industry and strong business sectors, according to the Ernst & Young Item club. The think tank, which uses the same model of the economy as the Treasury, predicts economic growth of 2.9% this year, ahead of most forecasts, writes the Independent.

Senior bankers and leading politicians have attacked demands from the American Department of Justice for British bankers to hand over details of their dealings with online gambling companies outlawed in the US, reports the Times.

After calls on the British Government to spell out the limits of the US authorities’ reach, the Treasury said last night that it was monitoring the situation.

Thousands of British Airways cabin crew are to stage a three-day strike following the breakdown of talks aimed at resolving a row over sickness absence, pay and staffing.

The stewards and stewardesses will walk out from January 29 to 31, threatening travel chaos for the airline’s customers, it was announced last night, says the Telegraph.

BAE Systems and VT Group plan to relaunch their British shipyards as big exporters of warships if a planned restructuring of their interests can be agreed. BAE and VT, formerly Vosper Thornycroft, are in talks to merge their shipbuilding assets, which include the Govan and Scotstoun yards on the Clyde and VT’s Portsmouth dock. The Times has learnt that the operational plans are well advanced and the aim is to create an entity capable of representing the UK in international markets.

The Competition Commission is to outline the main thrusts of its inquiry into the grocery market at 7am tomorrow, raising speculation that it will include market-sensitive information. At this stage, the commission will not reveal plans for any action that it may force the supermarkets to make, such as the sale of stores, reports the Times.

The seven investment banks behind the Project Turquoise secondary trading platform have begun a beauty parade to find a technology provider to run the system.

The banks, including Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, are understood to have already seen a number of potential specialists but are not thought to be close to making any form of final decision. Project Turquoise is due to launch in November, and is designed to be a direct and cheaper rival to the London Stock Exchange, writes the Telegraph.

The international commercial property market attracted record levels of investment last year with $643bn (€506.3bn) of stock changing hands, a jump of 33 per cent on the previous year, writes the FT.

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