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Thursday newspaper round-up: John Lewis, Fiat, Chinese manufacturing…

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John Lewis prepares to double in size in a decade; Fiat to pay $3.65bn to acquire the 41.5% of Chrysler it does not already own; Slowdown in growth in China’s factories…

John Lewis is preparing to almost double in size over the next decade as well as launch a French website. The moves are part of ambitious growth plans for the UK and overseas that the department store chain is working on following a successful Christmas. Despite the gloom surrounding the high street during the vital festive season, John Lewis said that like-for-like sales rose by 6.9 per cent to 734m pounds in the five weeks to December 28th. It marked a stark contrast to the profits warning issued on Tuesday by rival Debenhams. – The Telegraph

Fiat will pay $3.65bn to acquire the 41.5% of Chrysler it does not already own, resolving one of the car industry’s biggest strategic issues. The Italian carmaker announced on Wednesday a deal to buy out a union healthcare plan’s share in Chrysler, one of the US’s three big carmakers. As part of the deal, Chrysler will pay the Veba union pension trust an additional $700m in cash over four years, starting from the date of the deal’s completion. – Financial Times

Growth in China’s factories slowed slightly last month as export orders and output weakened, official data out yesterday showed. The new figures add weight to views that, while the world’s second-largest economy remains resilient, it lost some steam in late 2013. The official purchasing managers’ index, which was published by the National Bureau of Statistics, dipped to 51 in December from 51.4 in November, compared with economists’ expectations for a reading of 51.2. – The Scotsman

More than 3,000 workers at Britain’s sole remaining helicopter maker were facing uncertainty last night after India walked away from a £480m deal to buy 12 helicopters from AgustaWestland. Sitanshu Kar, a spokesman for the Indian Ministry of Defence, confirmed that the contract had been “terminated with immediate effect” because of a breach of a “pre-contract integrity pact” with the company. – The Times

The festive financial hangover will last well into the new year for hundreds of thousands of rail passengers forced to pay an extra 3.1% on average on the cost of their annual season tickets. The increase, which takes effect on Thursday, means fares are rising three times faster than wages for many commuters. – The Independent

Commercial real estate investment in London hit a six-year high of £19.9bn in 2013, according to figures due to be released on Thursday by Cushman & Wakefield, a property consultancy. Investment increased 47% over the previous year, although it is still below the pre-crisis peak of £20.54bn in 2007. – Financial Times

Stocks on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) are tipped to enjoy a “very positive year”, with tax breaks poised to boost trading from April. Accountancy firm Campbell Dallas today said the number of companies quoted on Aim began to increase last year for the first time in six years. – The Scotsman

Households may have paid £150 over the odds for their electricity over the past three years because energy companies bought their power for almost £4bn more than the average market rate, Labour has claimed. – The Guardian