REUTERS

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing has made a £29.6bn bid for the London Stock Exchange.

The offer values shares of LSE at 8,361p - a 22 per cent premium on Tuesday's closing price.

Hoever, shares in LSE rose only 16 per cent, suggesting investors are not entirely convinced the deal will go through.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent's coverage of business and economics events around the world.
 
The UK high street's woes are getting worse, according to new data from PwC and the Local Data Company.
 
Clothes and fashion shops shut down faster than any other category as shoppers switched purchases in those categories online.
 
A net 1,234 chain stores closed in the first half of 2019 - the highest net closure rate since at least 2010.
 
A total of 2,868 stores closed over the period, with 1,634 stores opening.

Serco wins extension to controversial Australian detention facilities contract

Outsourcing giant Serco has won an extension to a controversial contract to run Australia's onshore detention facilities.

Campaigners have fiercely criticised the Christmas Island Detention Centre over harsh treatment of asylum seekers.

UK-based Serco's new contract will now run to December 2021, and could be extended by a further two years.

The contract win comes despite Serco being fined £19.2m plus £3.7m in costs after admitting defrauding the British public over an electronic tagging scandal.

Profits tumble at housebuilder Galliford Try
 
Galliford Try has seen annual profits tumble 27 per cent after widened losses in its construction arm just a day after it revealed revived talks to sell its house-building business to Bovis Homes.
 
The builder reported pre-tax profits of £104.7 million for the year to the end of June amid "challenges" in the construction division.
It comes after Bovis and Galliford revealed on Tuesday that they had restarted talks over a £1.1bn house-building deal, which sent Galliford's shares soaring.
 
Galliford would remain a separately listed construction-focused firm after the proposed house-building deal.
 
Press Association
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing bids for London Stock Exchange Group
 
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing has made a £29.6bn bid for the London Stock Exchange.
 
The offer values shares of LSE at 8,361p - a 22 per cent premium on Tuesday's closing price.
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Cathay Pacific to cut capacity as demand for Hong Kong travel falls
 
Anti-government protests in Hong Kong have put a big dent in the number of passengers for Cathay Pacific, the territory's flag carrier.
 
Cathay says it will cut capacity for the winter season.
 
Cathay Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam says:
 
"Given the current significant decline in forward bookings for the remainder of the year, we will make some short-term tactical measures such as capacity realignments.
 
"Specifically, we are reducing our capacity growth such that it will be slightly down year-on-year for the 2019 winter season (from end October 2019 to end March 2020) versus our original growth plan of more than 6% for the period."
Charles Li, boss of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, says a tie-up between his firm and the London Stock Exchange would "redefine global capital markets for decades to come".
 
Together, we will connect East and West, be more diversified and we will be able to offer customers greater innovation, risk management and trading opportunities.
 
A combined group will be strongly placed to benefit from the dynamic and evolving macroeconomic landscape, whilst enhancing the longterm resilience and relevance of London and Hong Kong as global financial centres.
 
 
London Stock Exchange Group is not commenting on the news of a £30bn (£31.6bn including debt) merger proposal from Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.
 
 
Brexit - chances of a deal by mid-October 'limited'
 
Business secretary Andrea Leadsom says the government's priority is to secure a Brexit deal that does not include the backstop by the 17 October EU Council meeting.
 
Analysts at UBS think the chances of doing that are slim.
 
UBS Wealth Management’s, Dean Turner says: 
 
“In our view, Johnson's chances of reaching a deal with the EU by mid-October are limited. Thus, our base case is that the government will be forced to seek another Brexit extension and an election will be held before the year is out.”
 
“The government is leaning in the direction of a Northern Ireland-only backstop… Resistance [to this] from his own and opposition parties is likely to be high.
 
“If a Northern Ireland-only backstop deal were to emerge, it is far from certain that Johnson would be able to get the UK Parliament to agree to it, in our view.
 
“A number of his own MPs and opposition members [are] keen to bring the Brexit saga to an end…but this is still likely to be a majority of MPs.
 
“As the prospect of a no-deal Brexit in October has faded, sterling has staged a modest recovery, and we expect this to continue for the time being.”
 
 
 
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HKEX bid for London Stock Exchange is 'Unsolicited, preliminary and highly conditional'
 
The LSE has responded to news of a bid from Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and it doesn't sound overly welcoming.
 
LSE's statement says:
 
The Board of London Stock Exchange Group plc ("LSEG") notes the announcement from Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited ("HKEX") and confirms that HKEX has made an unsolicited, preliminary and highly conditional proposal to acquire the entire share capital of LSEG (the "Proposal").

The Board of LSEG will consider this Proposal and will make a further announcement in due course.
 
LSE also says it remains committed to its recent £22bn purchase of data group Refinitiv.
Journalists locked out of Sports Direct AGM... except one!
 
One intrepid reporter has made his way into the Sports Direct AGM, from which other media have been banned.

The Press Association's Simon Neville is inside.
 
 
Mike Ashley is expected to face anger from some shareholders who believe he exerts too much power over the retailer.
 
His company is facing multiple problems, including the fact that it is struggling to find an accountant that will sign off its books after Grant Thornton quit as auditor over a €674m tax bill.
 
If Sports Direct cannot appoint an auditor by the end of the meeting, the government may step in and appoint someone.
Huge corporate corruption trial of oil giants Shell and Eni back underway
 
A trial of Shell, Italian oil firm Eni, and a number of their current and former executives starts up again today.
 
The companies deny they acted illegally in a $1.3bn deal for a Nigerian oil field.
 
Prosecutors say Shell and Eni knew before signing the contract that almost all of the money would end up in the accounts of middlemen and government officials, including former president Goodluck Jonathan.
 
Here's a useful summary from Global Witness who have been investigating the deal for 8 years:
 
Buckle up for the Sports Direct AGM, says The Independent's chief business commentator James Moore.

"While these affairs aren’t usually terribly exciting, when they blow up, they blow up big. This one has has that potential. 
 
"Mike Ashley’s retail empire has a problem. With auditor Grant Thornton having quit, the company needs a replacement. It hasn’t been able to find one." 
 
Read more, here:
 
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Unite boss Len McCluskey is having another pop at the prime minister.
 
China suspends tariffs on some US goods
 
China's government will suspend tarifs on 16 types of US goods from 17 September. Beijing announced the measures ahead of trade talks between the two countries.
 
The change will not affect any items that China imports from the US on a large scale but that did not stop Donald Trump from hailing the news as a big win.
 
 
California passes historic gig economy rights bill
 
California legislators approved a landmark bill on Tuesday that requires companies like Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees, a move that could reshape the gig economy and that adds fuel to a yearslong debate over whether the nature of work has become too insecure.

The bill passed in a 29-11 vote in the state Senate and will apply to app-based companies, despite their efforts to negotiate an exemption.
 
Under the measure, which would go into effect 1 January, workers must be designated as employees instead of contractors if a company exerts control over how they perform their tasks or if their work is part of a company’s regular business.
 
Here's the full story:
 
A top 10 LSE shareholder is not impressed by HKEX's bid for the LSE
 
They told The Independent:
 
“HKEX bought LME a few years ago so have a presence in the UK already, but clearly they are trying to diversify away from their Chinese exposure, which is why they are bidding now and not nine months ago. 

Shareholders won’t be rushed to make a decision as we like the Refinitiv deal. If this is an opening gambit by HKEX and they go 10% higher, then it will be a case of what might happen in the short term to the LSE share price versus a five year view on where the share price can go on a successful Refinitv integration. The caveat to this is that any deal would be held up in anti-trust for a long time, although the Refinitiv deal is not going to close for around a year anyway.
 
The share price reaction one hour after the approach says the market does not believe it will be successful.  There will now be pressure on ICE ( Intercontinental exchange ) as it’s now or never if they want to get involved.”
 
 
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Graham Spooner, analyst at The Share Centre, says it is “definitely plausible” that the weakness of the pound is one reason HKEX has swooped for the London Stock Exchange.
Trump labels US central bankers 'boneheads'
 
Donald Trump says "boneheads" at the US Federal Reserve are farming the US economy by not bowing to his demands to cut interest rates.
 
The Fed is expected to cut its benchmark rate next week by 0.25 per cent after cutting the rate for the first time in a decade in July.
 
But that was not enough for Trump who has repeatedly attacked Fed chairman Jerome Powell to drop rates to zero. The rate currently is in a range of 2 per cent to 2.25 per cent.

The US president tweeted:
 
 
Weak pound is a factor in LSE bid
 
Will Howlett, research analyst at Quilter Cheviot, on HKEX's bid for the LSE:
 
"Lower for longer interest rates as well as the collapse in the value of sterling also help with the financing of such deals. 
 
“The shares are currently trading c. 15% below HKEX’s proposed bid and we believe this reflects the real risk that politics would disrupt this deal, with the UK ‘losing’ an industry leader, particularly at a time when Brexit may elevate such sensitivities.
 
Large scale cross border M&A has a patchy track record. For example, we believe the unravelling of the LSE and Deutsche Boerse’s merger reflected the influence of politicians particularly following the EU referendum result in June 2016.” 
Andrea Leadsom has said documents warning of food, fuel and medicine shortages after a no-deal Brexit should be kept secret because they will scare people.
 
Our deputy editor Rob Merrick has the details.
 

'Putting out there all of the possible permutations of what could happen actually just serves to concern people', Andrea Leadsom claims
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