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25 Jul 2021 | 12:33

Sunday newspaper round-up: New infections, Morrisons, Pfizer

(Sharecast News) - The number of people infected with coronavirus has dropped for a fourth day, raising hopes that the pandemic may be levelling off. The UK recorded 31,795 new infections yesterday, a fall of 32 per cent from the 46,558 on Tuesday. The figure is down 42 per cent from last Saturday. "Great to see continued signs of Delta descent in the UK today," tweeted Dr Eric Topol, a US physician who is an international authority on the coronavirus. Some scientists cautioned that the data does not capture the impact of "freedom day" last Monday. But Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, hailed it as "remarkable" and "absolutely good news". - Sunday Times

A former boss of Morrisons has urged its private equity suitors to respect the Bradford-based grocer's heritage if they succeed in a £6.3 billion takeover. The Morrisons board has recommended a 252p-a-share bid from a consortium led by Fortress. Another private equity firm, Apollo, is in talks to join the consortium. While the Fortress group has pledged not to sell and lease back a significant proportion of Morrisons' freehold property estate, fears have been raised that private equity ownership could lead to the grocer being loaded with debt or partially broken up. Shareholders are due to vote on the deal, which is to be carried out via a scheme of arrangement and requires 75 per cent investor approval, on August 16. - Sunday Times

US private equity giant Apollo is closing in on an agreement to join forces with a group of foreign bidders for Morrisons supermarkets, tightening the consortium's grip on the grocery chain. Fortress, which is backed by Japanese investment giant Softbank, has teamed up with American businessman Charles Koch and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to agree a £6.3billion offer for the Bradford-based chain. - Financial Mail on Sunday

A top Pfizer executive has said he is 'confident' the US pharma giant will be able to triple the number of Covid vaccines it has manufactured by the end of the year. Pfizer - the first company to supply a Covid vaccine to Britain - has already raised its 2021 production target from 2.5billion to 3billion. meaning a significant ramp-up in production is required. - Financial Mail on Sunday

Cineworld has been plunged into a fresh court battle over unpaid rents, as the world's second-biggest cinema chain scrambles to recover from months of closures. The FTSE 250 company is facing a £1 million legal claim from Marina Developments Ltd, the owner of its multiplex in Southampton. Owned by Baron Iliffe and his family's Yattendon Group, which runs marinas along with local newspapers. Marina Developments claims that Cineworld has failed to pay rent and other charges since March last year. - Sunday Times

Britain should treat cigarettes like petrol cars and ban them in 10 years' time, bosses at the world's biggest listed tobacco company have said. André Calantzopoulos and Jacek Olczak, chairman and chief executive respectively of Philip Morris International, say a "carrot and stick" approach is required by the Government to force smokers to quit. Mr Olczak said: "We can see the world without cigarettes. And actually, the sooner it happens, the better it is for everyone." - Sunday Telegraph

Taxpayers will be left facing "significant financial risk for decades to come" because of the levels of emergency government spending on the pandemic, totalling more than £370bn, a powerful committee of MPs says today. In two separate reports, the all-party public accounts committee (PAC) paints a daunting picture of the lasting financial strain caused by the first 16 months of combating Covid-19, and says the government must not wait until after the official inquiry to learn the lessons of what went wrong. - Guardian
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