What The Papers Said

A round-up of Sunday business stories

The Independent on Sunday Shell is facing a US lawsuit from the family of writer Ken SaroWiwa, who was executed by the Nigerian government in 1995, seeking millions of pounds in damages. The family alleges that the oil company is partly responsible for the Nigerian government's human rights violations. Shell is claiming that the US courts do not have jurisdiction in the case.

Fund manager Philips & Drew is making up for years of underperformance with a dazzling performance since Easter. It is heading for its best quarterly performance in five years after investing in smaller companies and retaining high cash holdings. P&D's UK equity investments have risen by 7 per cent compared with the stock market's 2 per cent increase since the beginning of April.

Sunday Business British Airways staff are to lose nearly pounds 60m in bonus payments following poor performance by the airline. Tuesday's results are expected to show a pounds 200m drop in pre-tax profits from pounds 580m last year. The pounds 1,400-per-employee bonuses are triggered only if BA hits its pounds 400m pre-tax profit target.

Rover is to cut 400 jobs at its tooling and pressings plant in Swindon in the first phase of a review of the future of the plant following a decision by BMW, Rover's owner, to move more components production to Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

The Sunday Telegraph BT is to offer totally free Internet access with no call charges. The secret plans, which are at an early stage, involve customers paying a marginal increase in the normal monthly line rental charge for access to a freephone number. BT is said to be in talks with the industry regulator Oftel about the move.

The Barclay Brothers, the millionaire owners of the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, want to buy Express Newspapers, owner of the Express, Sunday Express and the Daily Star, for around pounds 200m. In the past month they have approached United News and Media, the media group controlled by Lord Hollick. The bid would be through Press Holdings, a company headed by Andrew Neil. The brothers would be likely to sell off the Daily Star.

United Utilities is considering floating its telecoms arm. It has already received expressions of interest from a number of trade buyers, including Energis, but is unwilling to sell outright.

British Biotec is holding merger talks with rival biotech groups in a bid to reverse the the company's disastrous performance. Dresdner Kleinwort Benson has initiated talks with biotech groups involved in cancer treatment, including Chiroscience.

The Observer The Government is to allow Railtrack to charge higher prices to train companies and make extra profits on high-risk investments in return for modernisation programmes.

Virgin is to replace NTL with another cable company, thought to be Cable & Wireless Communications, as the conduit for its Internet service following persistent criticism.

The Sunday Times The sons of the late Robert Maxwell are making a stock market comeback eight years after the collapse of their family business empire. Kevin and Ian Maxwell have reversed Telemonde Investments, a private telecommunications company, into Pac-Rim Consulting, a shell-company quoted on Nasdaq's tertiary over-the-counter market. The deal values Telemonde at pounds 30m and will make the pair multi-millionaires again when their stakes are made public.

Storehouse chief executive Keith Edelman is facing pressure from institutional shareholders to step down following the group's disastrous results last week. Investors are to make their feelings known to Edelman in a series of meetings organised by the company following the results presentation.

Camelot has invited the Post Office, the largest retailer of lottery tickets, to join its bid to retain its lottery licence which expires in 2001. Camelot's partners, Cadbury Schweppes, De La Rue, ICL and Racal, may reconstitute the company to offer the Post Office a significant stake in Camelot itself.

The Mail on Sunday Barclays Bank wants to take over another firm in the UK financial services sector. Chief executive Sir Peter Middleton said Barclays was looking at insurance companies, mortgage banks and mutual funds. Legal & General, Norwich Union, Bradford and Bingley and Scottish Widows are possible targets.

n Institutional investors favour John Devaney, former head of Eastern Electricity, to head up National Power in succession to Keith Henry, who was recently fired. Through non-executive directors they have made it plain they will not tolerate an internal appointment.

n BSkyB is recruiting 1,500 more staff to stave off disaster in its free digital TV offer. Senior executives are seriously concerned they will not be able to meet demand. More than 1,000 engineers will be trained to install the systems and 500 customer assistants are being hired to handle inquiries.

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<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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