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Friday Papers: Tusk says Brexit talks must solve ‘Ireland first’

And US President Donald Trump gives US allies hope of bypassing new trade tariffs.

Friday Papers: Tusk says Brexit talks must solve ‘Ireland first’

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Donald Tusk has called on the UK to provide “specific and realistic” plans to avoid a hard border in Ireland if Brexit talks are to make any progress.
  • The Times: President Trump imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminium imports last night but said that American defence allies could be spared; they will come into effect in 14 days, but trading and military partners of the US could be exempted. Allies could also escape the tariffs if their defence spending met acceptable levels, he suggested.
  • Financial Times: Cigna, the health insurer, added to the deals frenzy gripping the US healthcare industry by announcing plans to acquire Express Scripts, a large pharmacy benefits manager, for $67 billion including debt.
  • Financial Times: The struggles of an obscure brokerage that once had an office in London’s Mayfair has deepened a $1.2 billion debt quandary facing Abu Dhabi state-owned airline Etihad.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The European Central Bank has dropped its long-standing pledge to boost stimulus if conditions deteriorate, signalling the triumph of German-led hawks and marking a major turning point in the eurozone’s monetary regime.

Business and economics

  • The Daily Telegraph: Train company Grand Central has applied to run extra routes on the East Coast mainline in a move which could hasten the calls for greater competition on the country’s railways.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Channel 4 will echo Amazon’s manoeuvre in the United States by running a competition among British cities to host a "second headquarters”, as part of a package of measures to increase its impact outside London.
  • Daily Mail: Domino's Pizza has smashed expectations with its results for 2017 posting a 29% jump in total revenue over the year as it held on to its solid slice of market share.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Aviva, the FTSE 100 insurer once described by its boss as a lazy "couch potato" stuffing itself with junk food and staring blankly at the TV, has posted a rise in profits and payouts after refocusing its business.
  • The Times: Aviva was accused yesterday of considering “very aggressive action” against thousands of retail investors after it said it may buy back their lucrative bonds without paying a premium.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Security company G4S has presented a bullish outlook for its future, promising three years of growth after its 2017 pre-tax profits jumped almost a third.
  • The Times: Alfa Financial, the financial software company in London, has reported a 20% rise in revenue in its first full-year figures since making its stock market debut last year but the shares fell sharply amid investor concern about the weak dollar and the timing of certain contracts.
  • Daily Mail: Estate agency group Countrywide has slumped to a full year loss of over £200 million and issued its second profit warning since Christmas.
  • The Times: Fulham Shore, the company behind the Franco Manca pizza chain, sent a fresh chill through the casual dining sector when it issued its second profit warning in six months.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Bargain Booze owner Conviviality has warned a "material error" in its forecasts means its profit will be £5.2 million lower than expected, in a late trading update which wiped more than £300 million off its value.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Shares in Tango maker Britvic fizzed after City analysts predicted that the FTSE 250 company was well-equipped to ride out the Government’s war on Britain’s sweet tooth.
  • Financial Times: Kobalt, the London-based music technology company, is to invest $150 million into its fledgling recorded music arm as it looks to expand further beyond publishing and become a major label for emerging artists.
  • The Times: The British development group John Laing has asked investors for an extra £210 million so it can make the most of President Trump’s infrastructure plans in America.
  • The Guardian: KFC has gone back to its original recipe for chicken deliveries by rehiring Bidvest Logistics in the wake of last month’s supply fiasco.
  • The Times: Snap Inc is to axe about 100 staff in the third and largest round of redundancies since going public.
  • The Guardian: Canadian firm BGIS has pulled out of a deal to buy a substantial number of public sector contracts from collapsed outsourcing firm Carillion, putting at risk 2,500 jobs that looked set to be saved.
  • The Guardian: Maplin’s administrator has made more than 60 head office staff redundant as hopes of finding a buyer for the collapsed electronics chain fade.
  • The Guardian: John Lewis Partnership (JLP) has cut its annual staff bonus to the lowest level in 64 years after profit plunged at the group, which owns Waitrose and a chain of department stores.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Regulators have launched a probe into the Co-operative Group that could force it to pay £70 million of fines for mistreating its suppliers.
  • The Guardian: Wagamama, TGI Fridays, Marriott Hotels and Karen Millen are among the companies named and shamed by the government for failing to pay the legal minimum wage.
  • Financial Times: China’s foreign minister Wang Yi promised “a justified and necessary response” in any trade war, as Donald Trump said he would make Beijing reduce its huge trade imbalance with the US.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Times (Tempus share tips): BUY Premier Oil; BUY G4S.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Two leaders of Saudi Aramco, set to announce the location of what is expected to be the biggest company flotation in history, suggested it will not be decided until at least the second half of 2018, or even early next year.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Royal Dutch Shell is planning to deepen its stake in the US shale renaissance with a $10 billion (£7.2 billion) joint takeover of BHP’s American shale division.
  • Financial Times: Italian motorway operator Atlantia and Spanish construction group ACS are in talks about combining forces to take over Spain’s Abertis in a potential €19 billion deal.
  • Financial Times: Grab and Uber, two of the world’s biggest car-booking apps, are close to signing a deal that would result in the US company pulling back in south-east Asia in return for a more than 20% stake in its Asian rival.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Why the TPP has allure for US and post-Brexit Britain.
  • Financial Times (Comment): Why the global economy is due for a downswing.

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