What The Papers Said

A round-up of Sunday business stories

British Telecom and AT&T have finalised a $1.5bn investment in Japan's fourth-largest telecoms company. The two giants will each take a 15 per cent stake in Japan Telecom, giving them a head start over other European and US rivals trying to break into Japan's $108bn annual telephone services market.

SmithKline Beecham is set to revise its executive pay scheme in the face of pressure from institutional investors, who have criticised the pounds 90m pay package received by its chief executive, Jan Leschly. Shareholders, including Standard Life, are reported to be ready to vote against SmithKline at this week's annual meeting.

The British Racing Drivers Club has told Brands Hatch Leisure that Silverstone, the host of the British Grand Prix, is not for sale. The BRDC rejected the idea of selling the track to Nicola Foulston's Brands Hatch Leisure, which could have netted them pounds 75,000 windfalls, on Friday.

Future interest rate cuts are still likely, according to City analysts, despite the recent rise in official earnings data reported last week. Data due this week are expected to show pay settlements in manufacturing and services declining, while the UK's trade deficit with countries outside Europe is expected to widen.

Kingfisher is believed to be in talks to take over a German retailer, with the DIY groups Obi and Hornbach said to be front-runners. A deal could be announced in July.

The Automobile Association is set to reverse into the red as a result of its restructuring programme last year. A pounds 30m loss is forecast for 1998, compared with a pounds 40m profit in 1997.

Asda shareholders are hoping an overseas buyer will emerge to counter Kingfisher's all-share bid, with the US's Wal-Mart and the European giants Ahold and Carrefour tipped as interested. The value of Kingfisher's offer has fallen from 198p a share to just over 185p, as its own shares fell last week.

Boeing is working on plans to challenge Airbus's A3XX "super jumbo". The US company could either develop a "stretch" version of its 747 with up to 420 seats, or develop a rival super jumbo from scratch.

Brent International, the Buckinghamshire based chemicals company which sold its loss-making inks and coatings unit last week, is in takeover talks with three overseas buyers. The chairman, Alex Daly, is thought to be looking for 150p a share, valuing Brent at pounds 100m, in talks with the German chemicals group Chemetal and two US groups, MacDermid and PPG.

A Treasury inquiry under GEC's director Peter Gershon has concluded an Office of Government Commerce is needed to handle government contracts worth pounds 13bn and stem waste in Whitehall. The inquiry is said to have found Whitehall could save up to pounds 1bn on suppliers' contracts within three years.

Deutsche's London investment banking operations have been heavily hit over the past 12 months as more than half its corporate finance clients have followed staff to rival banks.

BG, the pipeline business of the former British Gas, is expected to return pounds 1bn to shareholders under a balance sheet restructuring of the group by David Varney.

PowerGen is set to announce the sale of its Ferrybridge and Fiddler's Ferry power stations to Mission Energy, part of the California-based Edison International, for up to pounds 1.4bn.

Carlton is thought to have made a preliminary pounds 170m approach to the outdoor advertising group Maiden in an attempt to increase its outdoor advertising business.

Littlewoods' former Oxford Street store could be snapped up by Sainsbury's, which is looking for sites for its new Central format.

Deutsche Telekom and Mannesmann, the German telecoms giants are looking to buy a UK mobile operator. If they fail to capture One2One, the UK's fourth-largest mobile phone operator, they are expected to turn their sights on Orange, the number three.

The privatisation of BNFL is likely to be delayed until after 2002, depriving the Government of an expected windfall of up to pounds 3bn before the general election. An announcement on the nuclear generator and reprocessor's fate is expected in June, but DTI officials are said to believe that the plans are too far behind schedule to make an earlier sale feasible.

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