What The Sunday Business Papers Said

Vivendi, the French water, communications and football group, rejected a pounds 7bn bid from Vodafone for its telecoms interests.

NatWest is heading for a new row over pay after agreeing a basic salary of pounds 350,000 for Alastair Lyons, who will oversee restructuring.

Williams, the security and fire-protection group, is preparing a pounds 900m bid for Securicor.

Storehouse, owner Bhs and Mothercare, has abandoned its search for a chief executive and will split the group in two.

The Queen's press secretary, Simon Lewis, is to return to gas seller and car rescuer Centrica next year to run either the AA business or Goldfish financial services group.

British Telecom and Bell Atlantic of the US have both proposed a friendly merger to Mannesmann of Germany.

Barclays Bank plans to close up to 200 branches next year as it accelerates cost-cutting.

John Windeler, chairman of Alliance & Leicester, discussed resigning with Peter White, chief executive, just three days before Mr White was sacked.

ING, the Dutch banking and insurance group, is set to announce a 10bn euro (pounds 6.5bn) bid for Credit Commercial de France.

Nomura, the Japanese investment bank and Britain's biggest pub landlord, is preparing to sell its largest pub company, Unique, to a trade buyer for about pounds 1.2bn.

Klaus Esser, Mannesmann chief executive, is likely to reject a pounds 75bn all-share takeover bid expected to be tabled by Chris Gent, chief executive of Vodafone AirtTouch.

n Red tape is stifling British business, especially the small and medium- sized sector, according to the British Chambers of Commerce and the Better Regulation Task Force.

n Gordon Brown is planning tax cuts in his March budget and Treasury officials think he can also boost public spending in key areas without setting off a boom.

n Tesco will this week launch a pounds 30m price-cutting campaign in health and beauty products.

Stagecoach is to start selling stakes in Porterbrook, its train leasing company, perhaps raising more than pounds 500m.

Stephen Byers is thought to wish to bring together communications businesses under one economic regulator which will answer to the DTI.

SBC Communications, America's largest local phone operator, is gearing up to bid for Mannesmann.

Ladbrokes is to launch a series of lottery-style Internet games run by an offshore subsidiary.

Sir Ken Jackson, head of the AEEU engineering, will tell a conference on Tuesday that the Government is sacrificing manufacturing jobs in the north of England for the sake of tempering growth in the south.

Airtours is close to a pounds 20m deal to buy a stake in the TV travel channel of Harry Goodman, the former holiday tycoon.

Terry Smith, the analyst who caused a storm with his book Accounting for Growth is preparing to publish a potentially explosive analysis of Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Bank of England will revert to handwritten forms and personal computers if its systems fail at the Millennium.

Thomson CSF of France is lining up a pounds 600m bid for Racal's defence electronics business.

Tony Blair has ordered a top-level team to look at ways to cut red tape for small business.

n Whitbread is on full bid alert after a near-50 per cent collapse in its share price.

n A legal row has erupted at Chelsea Football Club between the firm and a former manager over claims of unpaid travel and tickets for race meetings.

n Alizyme, a British pharmaceutical research firm, is to launch a drug to help obese people lose weight.

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