Sunday newspaper round-up: Stanlow, British Construction, Saudi Aramco

US investment firm Bartons Family Capital is thought to have put feelers out to the government regarding a possible bid for Stanlow, one of the UK’s largest refineries. The critical piece of UK infrastructure is owned by the Indian billionaire Ruia brothers and struggled during the pandemic, postponing the payment of a £356m tax bill. Bartons’ interest is believed to be at an early stage with no approach having yet been made to Essar, which is owned by the Ruia brothers. – The Sunday Times

British construction is set to “gain a new lease of life” in 2022 as the supply chain issues afflicting the sector ease and the warehousing boom continues, consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics says. It forecasts that construction output will jump by 5% versus the previous year and will be left standing 1.5% above its pre-pandemic level by the end of 2022. – Sunday Telegraph

Saudi has transferred 4% of the government’s shares in Saudi Aramco to the country’s sovereign wealth fund as part of an attempt to recalibrate the oil-dominated economy. The transfer of the stake, which has a market value of around $80bn, is also meant to rival moves by Norway and Singapore to invest in green projects. Another aim is for that fund to have $1trn in assets by the end of 2025. Nevertheless, at 94% ownership, the Saudi state would continue to be the largest shareholder of Aramco. – Guardian

The private equity owners of Morrisons have moved to dispel fears that the grocer’s mounting interest burden might put the legacy of its founding family in danger. Fast-rising inflation and increases in interest rates mean that the bridging loans that need refinancing will strain the company’s balance sheet and force its new owner, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), to cut costs. But a spokesman for the US outfit said: “CD&R values Morrisons’ distinctive business model and is committed to supporting it.” – Sunday Telegraph

There are hopes that the John Lewis Partnership will reinstate its treasured staff bonus after soundly beating its target for £100m in annual profits. A leaked memo attributed the jump in profits to bumper Christmas sales and major cost-cutting. That was despite stores remaining closed for several months in 2021. Its finance chief has indicated that a payout is a “possibility”, labelling the partnership’s performance over the holidays a “superb achievement”. The board is expected to make a decision in early March. – Financial Mail on Sunday

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