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Friday newspaper round-up: Barclays, Iran, Philip Green

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Barclays to cut 1700 branch jobs; Iran slows expansion of nuclear programme; Sir Philip Green eyes move into food sector.

Barclays will make 1,700 of its branch staff redundant as it scrambles to boost returns. Five per cent of employees in the 33,600-strong retail network will lose their jobs next year, staff were told last night in a conference call to the 1,577 branches. Barclays said it was making the cuts as fewer customers were visiting branches and more were doing their banking over the internet. The redundancies, which will start as voluntary but will become compulsory if insufficient staff come forward, was criticised by Unite, The Times reports.

Iran has sharply slowed down the expansion of its nuclear programme over the past three months, the international nuclear watchdog said on Thursday, providing a potential boost to ongoing nuclear talks with Tehran. The International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran was continuing to enrich uranium which could potentially be used to build a nuclear bomb, in contravention of a series of UN resolutions, the Financial Times writes.

Moody’s has cut the credit ratings of big US banks including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, after deciding that the federal government is less likely to bail the financial institutions out if they get into future difficulties. Goldman, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan had the ratings on their long-term senior unsecured debt lowered one notch to Baa1, Baa2 and A3, respectively, Moody’s said on Thursday. The credit ratings on the three banks’ subordinated debt were also cut by one notch, the Financial Times says.

Sir Philip Green is looking at a move into the food sector for the first time with a trial of convenience stores at some of his BHS stores. The development comes as the Arcadia retail empire, which also includes Topshop, looks to return to growth after it yesterday reported a drop in annual sales growth and a worsening in recent trading due to the mild autumn weather, The Scotsman says.

Nine of the world’s biggest pharmaceuticals companies have demanded an overhaul of NHS processes that they claim are damaging the “health of the British public and wealth of the British economy”.In a joint letter to The Telegraph, the drugs giants, including Pfizer, Sanofi and Novartis, have warned that new and innovative medicines are being blocked from the health service by “overly complicated” approval processes and a heavy emphasis on cost control, The Daily Telegraph writes.

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