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Defence review, BP, Apple: Newspaper roundup 19 Oct 2010

(Sharecast) – David Cameron is set to announce that Britain will delay replacing the submarines that can launch Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent by between three to five years in a move that significantly cuts capital costs of Trident over the next decade.

In an announcement that will be warmly greeted by Mr Cameron’s Liberal Democrat coalition partners, the prime minister is to say that there will be a bigger-than-expected delay in replacing the current fleet of Vanguard submarines – and that the move will not jeopardise round-the-clock deterrence, the FT reports.

The UK will lose the ability to fly jets from its aircraft carriers for ten years, it emerged last night as the military cost of budget cuts became clear. The 80-strong fleet of Harriers will be decommissioned immediately, David Cameron will announce today, raising questions about the ability to project force overseas. HMS Ark Royal, one of the two ageing carriers from which the Harriers are the only jets that can operate, will go out of service, the Times reports.

One of Britain’s biggest independent oil explorers is mulling a $500m bid for BP’s gas production business in Pakistan in an attempt to bolster its position in the troubled South Asian nation. Premier Oil has expressed an interest in the unit alongside Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, according to people familiar with the talks, the Times reports.

Bonuses for the fourth quarter for BP staff will be based solely on how employees perform in terms of safety and risk management, Bob Dudley, the UK oil group’s new chief executive, has told staff. The move will affect all of the company’s employees around the world and is the latest proposal by Mr Dudley as he tries to restore BP’s reputation after the disastrous spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the FT reports.

Blacks Leisure, the outdoor retailer and owner of the Millets chain, has appointed advisers to field takeover offers after it received multiple bid approaches from private equity companies. The retail group is understood to have appointed McQueen, the corporate finance advisory firm, to oversee a potential bidding process. Blacks is thought to have received at least two indicative takeover approaches from private equity firms, the Telegraph reports.

Sales of Apple’s iPad have failed to meet the steadily rising expectations for the touchscreen tablet device, letting some of the air out of the enthusiasm that has built on Wall Street in recent weeks. Apple’s shares slipped more than 6% in after-hours trading after it said it had sold 4.2m of the devices in the three months to the end of September, below the 5m that some had projected. It sold 3.3m after being introduced part of the way through the prior quarter, the FT reports.

Security companies are expected to be included in the Government’s review of the defence industry as a recognition of their growing importance in protecting Britain from attack. Companies such as G4S and Securitas, which provide security guards for buildings and events, and technology companies working on cyber security will join established defence giants such as BAE Systems in the review, the Times reports.

One of the most prominent financial commentators at Reuters resigned yesterday after admitting that he had owned and dealt in shares while writing about them for the media company’s Reuters Breakingviews operation. Neil Collins accepted he had breached the company’s strict internal rules on writers’ share ownership and dealings in a resignation email to Hugo Dixon, the editor of Reuters Breakingviews. A subsequent investigation by the company revealed that two other journalists, Margaret Doyle and Neil Unmack, had also fallen foul of the same guidelines. They will remain with the company, the Independent reports.

Ray Ozzie is to leave Microsoft four years after taking over from Bill Gates as the technology giant’s chief software architect. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, told all staff of Mr Ozzie’s departure in an e-mail yesterday. He did not give an explanation for the move, but wrote that Mr Ozzie had no plans to take another job at this time. Mr Ballmer said that he would not appoint another chief software architect after Mr Ozzie leaves, the Times reports.

Andrew Keen, an analyst at HSBC, took a contrarian view and advised clients to ditch copper-related shares following the base metal’s strong rally over the last few months. “The market loves copper, but it is increasingly a momentum trade and the upside is compressing,” he said. However, Mr Keen added that “this is not a short-term call (the copper market looks as if it could be squeezed in the next month or so), but is instead an argument for positioning for medium-term investors”, the Telegraph reports.

The retail entrepreneur George Davies is considering closing his UK chain of standalone Give stores just a year after the first one opened. Mr Davies, the former chief executive of Next, who also launched the George at Asda and Per Una fashion brands, has opened eight standalone Give branches since last October, but this month offloaded the lease on his store on Regent Street in London, the Independent reports.

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