December 15, 2016 / 7:46 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Dec 15

(Updates futures, adds company news items)

Dec 15 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down about 13 points, or 0.19 percent, on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down 0.29 percent ahead of the cash market open.

* The UK blue chip index closed down 19.38 points, or 0.3 percent, at 6,949.19 points on Wednesday, dropping back from its highest close since October, pulled lower partly by Dixons Carphone.

* JD SPORTS: JD Sports Fashion said it would retrain supervisory staff at its main distribution centre and open an investigation after undercover reporters raised the alarm about working conditions at the British retailer.

* JOHN MENZIES/BBA AVIATION: Britain’s competition watchdog raised objections against UK airport services and logistics group John Menzies’ acquisition of some of peer BBA Aviation’s operations, saying the deal could lessen competition in the market.

* TATE & LYLE: British food ingredients maker Tate & Lyle named private equity executive Gerry Murphy as its new chairman on Thursday, succeeding Peter Gershon in April.

* JUST EAT: Online food delivery company Just Eat has agreed to buy rivals hungryhouse in Britain and SkipTheDishes in Canada, spending more than $300 million to strengthen its leading position in both markets.

* PETROFAC: British oilfield services company Petrofac Ltd said on Thursday it would report better-than-expected full-year net profit as record revenues and cost cutting measures paid off.

* BUNZL: British business supplies distributor Bunzl Plc forecast a rise of 14-15 percent in yearly revenue at actual exchange rates, as benefits from recent acquisitions continued to support its performance over the final quarter.

* CENTRICA: Britain’s largest energy supplier Centrica lifted its full-year earnings expectations on Thursday due to better than expected cost savings and a strong trading performance amid volatile energy markets.

* GO-AHEAD: British transport operator Go-Ahead said its full-year expectations for its rail division were slightly below previous forecasts due to the repeated strike action on its Southern rail contract.

* SHELL: Royal Dutch Shell will replace Simon Henry as chief financial officer on March 9, 2017 with Jessica Uhl, a financial executive in Shell’s gas business, the company said on Thursday.

* LSE GROUP/DEUTSCHE BOERSE: The European Commission continues to have concerns about the planned merger of Deutsche Boerse and London Stock Exchange Group (LSE), but to a lesser extent than three months ago, the stock market operators said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

* SKY/TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY FOX: Twenty-First Century Fox Inc is expected on Thursday to make a formal offer to buy Sky Plc in an 18.5 billion pounds ($23.17 billion) takeover, the Times reported. bit.ly/2hH1dO7

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged Britain to delay Rupert Murdoch’s proposed deal to buy European pay-TV group Sky until the government completes an inquiry into a phone hacking scandal, the Guardian said on Wednesday.

* HASTINGS: South Africa’s Rand Merchant Investment Holdings ramped up its presence in the British insurance market on Wednesday with the purchase of a 30 percent stake in Hastings, driving the UK firm’s shares to 2-1/2 month highs.

* PUNCH TAVERNS/HEINEKEN: Dutch brewer Heineken and an investment partner are in advanced takeover talks with Punch Taverns, Punch said on Wednesday, but face competition from a higher rival bid from one of the British pub company’s founders.

* SHELL: Japanese oil refiners Idemitsu Kosan and Showa Shell Sekiyu, Royal Dutch Shell’s Japanese venture, have effectively given up on a stop-gap plan to form capital ties that was being considered as a way to get around opposition from the Idemitsu family to a full merger, the Mainichi newspaper reported.

* ROS AGRO: Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co is set to acquire equity stakes in Russian agriculture firm Ros Agro and Moscow drugmaker R-Pharm as Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Japan this week, Nikkei business daily said on Thursday.

* SPORTS DIRECT: Multiple suitors are weighing bids to challenge the $575 million offer for Performance Sports Group Ltd made by a financial consortium in the bankruptcy court auction of the Bauer hockey gear maker, according to two people familiar with the matter. British retailer Sports Direct International Plc has submitted a letter of interest, the people said.

* EX-DIVS: AB Foods, Polymetal International and United Utilities will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 0.84 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations

* UK REFERENDUM: Prime Minister Theresa May will update Britain’s partners in Brussels on Thursday on her plans to launch talks by March on quitting the EU, and they will settle their arrangements for the negotiations.

* BREXIT: Britain must negotiate a Brexit bridging deal to avoid a “cliff edge” that forces banks to move jobs before they know what the new trading relations with the European Union will be, British lawmakers said on Thursday.

* BREXIT PRICES: Danish toymaker Lego is set to raise prices of its products in Britain by 5 percent in 2017, becoming the latest manufacturing company to respond to the sharp decline in the value of the pound since Britain voted to leave the European Union, the Guardian reported. bit.ly/2hGUync

* BREXIT: A post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and the European Union might take 10 years to finalise and could still fail, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the bloc has told Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, the BBC reported on Thursday.

* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets

TODAY‘S UK PAPERS

> Financial Times

> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit topnews.session.rservices.com * For Top News : topnews.reuters.com (Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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