Sunday Round-Up: The main stories from yesterday's City pages

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The Independent Online
The Mail on Sunday

Directors of the 10 privatised water companies in England and Wales have made profits of pounds 4.5m by cashing in share options and could make further profits of pounds 5.6m immediately on exercisable options.

A pounds 4.1m pay-off to Bob Kennedy, the former chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi North America, has fuelled a row between the advertising group's chief executive, Charles Scott and non-excecutive director Sir Peter Walters.

Walt Disney has lifted its threat to close the Euro Disney theme park next month after being told that it could be made to cover the losses of the 63 banks that have lent money to the venture if it collapsed.

The Sunday Telegraph

SAVE and Prosper, the fund manager, is to cut its monthly interest charges to under 1 per cent - the first time any credit card rate has dropped below 1 per cent since the concept was launched in Britain 28 years ago by Barclaycard. The move is likely to increase pressure on the big players in the credit card industry to pare their rates further.

David Mellor, the former Secretary of State for National Heritage and now media pundit, has been appointed a senior adviser by Ernst and Young, the accountancy firm.

European bond and share markets are set to open lower today in the face of growing nervousness over the sell-off in the US bond market and general apprehension across bond markets worldwide.

Relations between Cazenove and its new client, Kingfisher, the retail group, have soured after rumours last week that a salesman at the blue-blooded stockbroker was urging investors to 'bargepole' the shares.

Stephen Merrett, who quit last year as deputy chairman of the Lloyd's insurance market, is planning a comeback as head of a new insurance company with US backing. The new venture is unconnected with Merrett Holdings, which has stopped underwriting and faces writs from Lloyd's names who say their losses could range from pounds 135m to pounds 765m.

The Observer

Charles Schwab, the American discount stockbroker, is preparing to expand into the UK in a move that could pose a challenge to the high street banks and share shops. Neil Stapley, the former managing director of NatWest Stockbrokers hired by Schwab to lead its European expansion, is expected to begin recruiting traders this summer.

The Treasury plans to raise up to pounds 1.3bn by selling its residual shareholdings in corporations privatised over the past 14 years.

An early move to cut UK interest rates further following last Thursday's surprise half-point reduction in the German discount rate is thought unlikely.

The Sunday Times

Directors of LWT, the London weekend television franchise holder, led by chairman Sir Christopher Bland, will collect pounds 50m if Granada's hostile bid succeeds this week. City analysts predict that the pounds 800m takeover battle will end in victory for Granada.

Saatchi & Saatchi, the advertising giant, has launched a wide-ranging review of its operations in the face of another looming financial crisis. The study, to be headed by non-executive director Sir Peter Walters, could lead to a boardroom shake-up and the return of Maurice Saatchi in a more active management role.

Currys, the electrical retail chain, owned by Dixons, has earmarked a further 150 high street stores for closure, reducing its branch network to about 200.

The Labour party is to unveil a new policy designed to attract cash from the private sector to finance public sector investment projects. The move threatens to eclipse the Government's own stuttering efforts to overcome Treasury opposition to private investment in transport systems, schools and hospitals.

Independent on Sunday

GUARDIAN Media Group and Emap, two of Britain's biggest media concerns, are fighting for control of Trans World Communications following the sudden decision of Owen Oyston to sell his 24 per cent interest in the business, Britain's second biggest commercial radio company. Trans World owns Piccadilly Radio in Manchester, Red Rose in Lancashire, Red Dragon in South Wales and Aire in West Yorkshire.

If Emap buys the Oyston stake, it would be obliged to mount a full bid as it already owns 29.7 per cent.

The Guardian, which is prevented by cross-media ownership rules from raising its stake above the present 20 per cent would like the Oyston holding to go to a friendly investor.

The increasingly acrimonious dispute between Midland Independent Newspapers and David Sullivan, publisher of the Sport, has escalated further with MIN threatening to call in the police over allegations of blackmail and dirty tricks. The row could disrupt plans by for the pounds 200m flotation of MIN, the Birmingham Post publisher chaired by Sir Norman Fowler.

The bank of England is under Treasury pressure to cut interest rates more quickly after criticism that the quarter-point reduction earlier this month was badly timed and poorly presented.

A fresh row is set to break out over privatisation as it emerges that a string of local bus companies are to be floated on the stock market at more than 10 times the price paid when their managements bought them from the Government. The flotations of GRT Holdings, Go Ahead Group and Rider Holdings could produce a combined valuation of more than pounds 100m.

City Editor Jeremy Warner comments on the extraordinary changes taking place in China and says the possibility of Shanghai soon rivalling Hong Kong as a commercial and financial centre is common dinner party talk. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch has found China's doors tightly locked against his Star TV and it may be well-nigh impossible for him to crack its huge potential market.

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