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PRESS DIGEST- British Business - March 16

March 16 The following are the top stories on the business pages of British newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

The Times

* The British government's stake in Lloyds Banking Group has been reduced to below three percent. bit.ly/2muOHjj

* British Prime Minister Theresa May signed off a humiliating retreat over planned tax rises on the self-employed after finance minister Philip Hammond conceded, in a private meeting on Wednesday, that they breached the "spirit" of their party's manifesto pledge. bit.ly/2ntOGwT

The Guardian

* Theresa May is expected to refuse a new Scottish independence referendum unless it is held after the UK has quit the European Union. Britain's Scotland minister David Mundell and other UK government sources indicated on Wednesday that the prime minister was prepared for a drawn-out battle with Nicola Sturgeon's government over the referendum's timing and the question that will be asked. bit.ly/2muenf2

* Welsh-based international media company Tinopolis is for sale with a price of up to 300 million pounds. Tinopolis is understood to have circulated a memorandum to a number of media owners and private equity companies that says the firm is considering a range of options, including a sale of the company. bit.ly/2nGojmL

The Telegraph

* Sports Direct International Plc said that a report by Pensions and Investment Research Consultants "incorrectly claims that Sports Direct had a chief executive-to-average employee pay ratio of 400:1, the second highest in the FTSE 350". bit.ly/2muP1yB

* The board of Bowleven Plc has been ousted from an African oil explorer with immediate effect following a bitter boardroom battle with an activist shareholder. bit.ly/2npi1vR

Sky News

* Sky News has learnt that British engineering group GKN's board has appointed headhunters to identify a successor to Chief Executive Nigel Stein, who has run the company since 2012. bit.ly/2n15SMN

* A fresh deal to resolve the long-running dispute between Southern rail and train drivers' union ASLEF over driver-only trains has been agreed. bit.ly/2nc6OhE

The Independent

* Rolls-Royce's decision to award Warren East, its chief executive officer, a bonus of 916,000 pounds even after the aero-engine maker's full-year earnings plunged was ill advised, according to the Institute of Directors, which represents UK business leaders. ind.pn/2mMKvhp (Compiled by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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