What The Papers Said; A round-up of Sunday business stories

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The Independent Online
t Goldman Sachs is to press ahead with its multi-billion dollar share offer, despite the disclosure that it is being investigated over price-fixing allegations. The US Department of Justice is examining claims that the bank and 24 other Wall Street investment houses conspired to fix underwriting fees on public share offerings.

t Thomson Travel Group is to launch a charm offensive in the City this week to head off investor criticisms of its plan to launch a new cut-price holiday company in a bid to undermine Airtours' pounds 750m offer for rival tour operator First Choice.

t Tony Ball, head of Rupert Murdoch's Fox television network in the US, has emerged as the favourite to take over as chief executive of BSkyB following the surprise departure of Mark Booth. Insiders say Mr Ball's appointment will be confirmed in the next month.

t Sainsbury's is sending hundreds of employees, including directors, to a mystery business school in a bid to catch up lost ground on its main rival Tesco. The London-based Piper School, founded two years ago by management consultant Crispin Tweddle, is not a member of the Association of Business Schools, and specialises in courses to change staff's behaviour towards one another.

t Britain's biggest mobile phone company, Vodafone, is preparing to float its Australasian subsidiary in a move that could value the business at up to pounds 2bn. Goldman Sachs has been brought in as adviser on the deal, scheduled for the first quarter of next year.

t Bank of Scotland is planning a New York flotation of the Internet and telephone bank it is launching with the controversial American television evangelist Pat Robertson.

t Michael Grade, chief executive of First Leisure, has put the group's family entertainment division up for sale. The business, which includes bowling alleys, indoor ski slopes and a caravan park, could fetch pounds 80m.

t J Sainsbury is to axe 1,500 senior store management positions as part of an efficiency drive launched by the supermarket group's chief executive, Dino Adriano.

t Equitable Life, the life assurer, is to face a challenge from a rebel member who is angry at its handing of the guaranteed annuities crisis. Edward Doogan, a chartered accountant from Kettering, is standing for election to the board. He wants to overhaul the way the company is run but is not planning to force a vote on conversion.

t Centrica, the demerged trading arm of the former British Gas, is eyeing up a pounds 6bn bid for National Power, the UK electricity generator that ousted its chief executive, Keith Henry, last week. Experts believe Centrica would bid in partnership with an overseas utility.

t Asda is joining the Sun newspaper's bid to become a leading Internet provider. The paper's new Internet service, CurrantBun, will be "baked at Asda" from today with 3 million free CDs available in the group's stores to enable subscribers to hook up.

t Morgan Grenfell has been Britain's most successful pension-fund manager over the last five years, while Phillips & Drew has been the worst performer, according to a survey conducted by The Sunday Times.

t National Power is facing a write-off of up to pounds 1bn on its poorly performing international operations. The group has invested pounds 2bn in overseas generating capacity in the last four years and has already made undisclosed provisions on its pounds 260m investment in two power stations in Pakistan.

t City economists expect the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee to keep interest rates on hold when it meets later this week. The MPC has cut rates at six of its last seven meetings but is now said to be split down the middle on the need for further reductions.

t National Australia Bank is considering selling its two UK regional banks, the Clydesdale and the Yorkshire, in a move which could raise pounds 2bn- pounds 3bn and trigger a shake-up in the UK banking industry.

t Marks & Spencer's new chief executive, Peter Salsbury, is to overhaul the business by splitting it into four divisions and transferring more power from head office to store and brand managers. About 60 middle managers' jobs will go.

t BSkyB is expected to announce it has signed up more than 450,000 subscribers for its new digital satellite television service, when it reports third- quarter figures on Wednesday.