October 20, 2014 / 11:49 PM / 3 years ago

PRESS DIGEST- British Business - Oct 21

Oct 21 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories on the business pages of British newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

The Times

SIGNALS OF DECLINE MOUNT FOR RAIL ROUTE The TransPennine Express is a microcosm of the British railway industry, at once enjoying unprecedented growth but with old, overcrowded trains that create a bar to economic progress. It is the railway that lives up to only half its name. Its core route is transporting people across the Pennines between Leeds and Manchester, but it does so at non-express average speeds of 40mph. (thetim.es/11ZcHk6) CGI EXPANSION GIVES WALES HIGH-TECH JOBS BOOST The burgeoning Welsh high-tech sector is set for a major boost after CGI Group Inc, the Canadian company that bought Logica, announced plans to create 620 skilled jobs in south Wales. CGI, which is the largest tech employer in the region with 900 employees, has announced plans to create hundreds of positions over the next five years after receiving a 3.2 million pound grant from the Welsh Government. (thetim.es/1zijBQd)

The Guardian

BARCLAYS CHAIRMAN QUESTIONS IMPACT OF LARGE BANK FINES ON PUBLIC CONFIDENCE

David Walker, appointed chairman of Barclays Plc in the wake of the Libor-rigging scandal in 2012 said on Monday that big fines on banks were making it harder for the industry to win back public trust. He also suggested fines were being levied for activities that in the past might have been regarded as acceptable, though he acknowledged past conduct issues needed to be dealt with. (bit.ly/1yc58Rw) FORMER JJB SPORTS CHIEF FAILS TO GIVE EVIDENCE AT 1 MLN STG FRAUD TRIAL Christopher Ronnie, former chief executive of JJB Sports Plc, accused of a 1 million pounds ($1.62 million) fraud has chosen not to give evidence in his defence at his trial. Ronnie was warned by the judge that jurors may "draw such inferences as appear proper" by his failure to take to the witness box. Ronnie is accused of receiving three payments from two sporting goods companies and failing to declare them to JJB's board of directors. Southwark crown court heard he used some of the cash to buy property in Florida. It had been anticipated that he would give evidence in his defence, but his barrister, Jim Sturman QC, told the jury on Monday: "We are calling no evidence at all for Ronnie." (bit.ly/1wko2Ey)

The Telegraph PUBLIC VOTE ON EU MEMBERSHIP WOULD 'RESOLVE UNCERTAINTY' FOR BUSINESS, SAY CONSERVATIVES A referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union would end companies' concerns over the country's increasingly fractious relations with Brussels, according to Matthew Hancock, Business Minister. Speaking at a CBI event on Monday about Britain's industrial strategy, Hancock denied that the Conservatives' pledge to put the decision on EU membership to voters would create problems for companies. (bit.ly/1rZggvj) EUROZONE STARTS QE-LITE AS CURRENCY BLOC FACES FRESH CRISIS The European Central Bank (ECB) has begun purchases of some French assets, in an attempt to revive a flagging eurozone. Monday's purchases marked the start of the covered bond purchase programme (CBPP3), and is one of three new tools intended to stimulate the euro area economy. By buying covered bonds - bonds backed by underlying loans - the ECB intends to expand its balance sheet, and boost demand in the region. (bit.ly/1r1mQlQ)

Sky News

ROYAL MAIL AND AMAZON CREATE 32,000 XMAS JOBS More than 30,000 temporary jobs are to be created for the Christmas postal rush, it has been announced. Royal Mail Plc said it would take on 19,000 additional workers and online retailer Amazon Inc wanted 13,000 staff. Privatised last October, Royal Mail said the jobs will start in the middle of November and end in January, with the peak staffing period in December. The roles will be in support of the company's 124,000 full-time sorting and delivery personnel. (bit.ly/1t68lmz)

The Independent

GREENE KING RAISES GLASS TO SPIRIT MERGER DEAL

Greene King and Spirit Pub Company Plc have agreed a 723 million pound takeover to create a pub company with the highest sales in Britain. Together the two will own just over 3000 pubs nationwide, which places them behind rivals Enterprise with 5500 and Punch with 4000. (ind.pn/1ybbekU)

GOOGLE COMMITS EXTRA $25M TO EUROPE'S TECH START UPS Google Inc has committed a further $25 million to invest in Europe's tech start ups, with the head of the search giant's venture capital arm revealing the company could be on the verge of investing in a London start-up. Bill Maris, who founded Google Ventures in 2009, revealed that the size of Google Ventures Europe's inaugural fund has been raised from $100 million to $125 million. The European arm was announced in July and is based in Clerkenwell. (ind.pn/1zilSL8)

SHIRE CFO LEAVES FOR SEVERN TRENT AFTER ABBVIE BUYOUT FALLS THROUGH FTSE 100 pharmaceuticals giant Shire Plc has had its finance director poached by water firm Severn Trent Plc, days after the collapse of its $55 billion by US rival AbbVie Inc. (ind.pn/1sHVVhU) BALFOUR BEATTY WANTS 'EXTRA 50 MILLION STG' TO FINISH WEST HAM STADIUM CONVERSION Taxpayers could have to find tens of millions more to fund the conversion of the Olympic Stadium into West Ham United 's home as building firm Balfour Beatty Plc presses for more cash. Balfour Beatty - hit by a string of calamitous profit warnings and without a chief executive - won the deal to convert the stadium with a bid of 154 million pounds. But according to the industry website Construction Enquirer, Balfour has been pushing for around 200 million pounds to complete the deal due to the technical complexity of the contract in a series of meetings with the client. Sources told the Enquirer that builder Balfour Beatty is pushing for up to 50 million pounds more to complete the job. (ind.pn/1uuap37) (1 US dollar = 0.6185 British pound) (Compiled by Rama Venkat Raman in Bangalore)

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