What The Papers Said: a roundup of sunday business stories

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THE OFFICE of Fair Trading is set to launch its second inquiry into Britain's pub industry in 10 years following Allied Domecq's plans to sell 3,600 pubs to Whitbread. Bass has decided not to counterbid for the Allied Domecq pub estate.

Debenhams is close to confirming that it will have the country's first interactive wedding service up and running this autumn.

Microsoft says that the number of British executives aware that the Internet is challenging traditional business models has gone from one- in-six last September to one-in-two today.

The European Commission is to announce this week a full-scale investigation into US oil giant Exxon's plans to take over its rival Mobil for pounds 54bn.

PERNOD RICARD, the French drinks group, is planning to bid pounds 5bn for Allied Domecq's spirits arm, a company more than twice its size.

Bass is expected to make a surprise counterbid for First Leisure's family entertainment division on Tuesday, sparking a bid war with Allied Leisure, which has already tabled pounds 100m for the division.

The European Central Bank is set to take advantage of the bank holiday in the UK and Labor Day in the US today to intervene in the currency markets to prevent the euro dropping to below parity with the dollar.

The Government is preparing to tell Railtrack to tear up its pounds 27bn 10-year spending plan for Britain's railways in favour of a much more expensive scheme.

Tesco is planning to join the battle to operate the next generation of mobile telephone networks, which the Government is expected to auction off later this year.

THE TREASURY is backing Railtrack to take complete control of London Underground in its forthcoming privatisation, instead of the partial control favoured by John Prescott's transport department.

Ford is believed to be weighing up a near pounds 900m bid for Lex Service, the group that is buying the RAC roadside recovery business.

The pound's strength, which culminated in its rise above the psychologically important DM3 level and a record high against the euro on Friday, is set to force the Bank of England into an interest rate cut at its meeting on 9-10 June.

BG, the gas pipeline, exploration and production business, is pursuing the non-American assets of Enron Oil and Gas in what could be one of its biggest acquisitions since it was formed from the British Gas demerger.

THE TRADES Union Congress (TUC) is to sever its 10-year association with the Bank of Scotland following the bank's decision to appoint controversial TV evangelist Pat Robertson as chairman of its US retail banking holding company. The bank has run the TUC's affinity card operation since 1989.

High-street retailer Storehouse is considering a pounds 500m plan to break itself up following the dramatic ousting of chief executive Keith Edelman on Friday.

SmithKline Beecham is on bid alert following City talk of a pounds 50bn hostile approach from arch-rival Glaxo Wellcome.

The Department of Trade and Industry has decided that a simple list comparing consumer prices in the UK and abroad is not feasible, meaning that further work for such a consumer list will be needed.

THE FRENCH government is to sell parts of its nationalised electricity industry so that the state-controlled monopoly Electricite de France can launch a pounds 7bn bid for Britain's National Power.

The European Central Bank is planning a massive intervention on the currency markets today in a desperate attempt to shore up the plummeting euro.

Hopes of a holiday price war have been dashed because tour giant Thomson has shelved plans for a no-frills budget brand.

Top fraud investigators including the Serious Fraud Office have warned that the fight against white-collar crime has been hit by moves by Jack Straw's Home Office to switch police resources into combating "high impact" crimes such as mugging and burglary.

Philip Bowman, the new chief executive of Allied Domecq, has started talks with US drinks giant Brown-Forman about a pounds 12bn spirits merger.

RAILTRACK BOSSES are threatening to pull out of the pounds 7bn London Underground privatisation and the pounds 3.5bn second phase of the Channel Tunnel rail link if Labour's new rail tsars take a tough line in the company's looming regulatory review.

Bank accounts in London belonging to the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha have been frozen after a search for a fortune swindled from his country.

British Steel is believed to be close to forging a strategic alliance with a European rival and is drawing up plans to return up to pounds 400m of surplus cash to shareholders through a share buyback.

Nick Ogden, 43, who founded WordPay, the Internet payment company, less than two years ago, is set to see his 10 per cent stake valued at around pounds 50m when the business is floated later this year.

THE BRITISH Racing Drivers Club is split over a proposed restructuring after its failure to stop the Grand Prix moving from Silverstone to rival circuit Brands Hatch, owned by Nicola Foulston.

Frozen food retailer Iceland is considering turning a substantial number of its 700-plus stores into mainstream supermarkets.