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The Business Matrix: Monday 14 July 2014

French could buy out Eurostar

France’s government-owned rail giant SNCF has an option to buy the UK government’s 40 per cent share in Eurostar if a process to find another buyer fails, reports at the weekend suggested. The Sunday Telegraph said when the UK looks to sell its stake in 2020 as part of a £20bn privatisation programme, majority owner SNCF could be the buyer.

Protests against  US free-trade deal

Hundreds of people marched on the European Commission offices in London to protest against a free trade deal being negotiated with the US that some claim could lead to the privatisation of the NHS. War on Want said more than 1,000 took part, on a day of action against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The Independent on Sunday

Ease lending rules for small banks

The Bank of England has pushed for international regulators to relax capital rules for smaller banks, claiming that current regulations, put in place after the financial crisis, give big lenders an advantage and restrict lending to households and businesses. Experts say the rules are “over-conservative”. The Sunday Telegraph

Central bankers take the hot seat

Economic policy makers will be in the spotlight this week, with the world’s three most powerful central bankers all facing up to politicians. ECB head Mario Draghi kicks things off, appearing before the European Parliament today, with the bank’s latest stimulus package under scrutiny.

City waits to hear from Sports Direct

Sports Direct will publish its final results on Thursday, with the City predicting earnings of £325m, compared with £288m a year earlier. Investors will be hoping for an update on what, if any, ambitions Mike Ashley’s retailer has in Europe. It is also said to be planning to open in Australia and New Zealand.

Rush for orders  at Farnborough

Aircraft orders were being lined up ahead of the Farnborough Airshow, which starts today. CFM International, a joint venture between Safran and GE, expects another record year for engine orders and has bid for an engine deal with easyJet. Meanwhile Asian leasing group BOC Aviation said it plans to buy 35 Airbus A320s as well as a batch of Boeing aircraft.

Stars to settle in £5bn tax battle

Millionaire investors in a £5bn alleged tax avoidance scheme run by financier Patrick McKenna’s investment firm Ingenious are preparing to settle with the taxman rather than face a court battle with the authorities. The scheme counts numerous celebrities, including footballers David Beckham, and Wayne Rooney, as members. The Mail on Sunday

Peace faces third investor revolt

Sir John Peace faces a third shareholder rebellion after bruising pay votes at Burberry last week and Standard Chartered in May. Sir John is leaving Experian this week but failed to assuage investors’ anxiety over lavish boardroom payouts and a controversial boardroom reshuffle. The Sunday Times

Bwin poker losses offset Brazil gains

Online gambling group Bwin.Party is due to tell the market how its first half went ahead of official numbers due at the end of August. Broker Peel Hunt predicts good volumes from the World Cup but the difficult poker market may have offset any good news. Peel expects shares to remain depressed.

No surprises on Hilton Food menu

Don’t expect any menu changes for Hilton Food Group when it reveals its second-quarter trading update, also on Thursday. Peel Hunt retained a buy rating at 560p a share for the meat-packing group but doesn’t expect anything drastic to have happened. Its Tesco tie-up will have been a boost for its UK arm.

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