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Sunday newspaper round-up: Ukraine, Deltacron, Ultra Electronics

Top diplomats from the US and Russia are set to meet in Geneva on Sunday and Monday to discuss Moscow’s demands set out in December in two draft treaties, one with the US and another with NATO. Many of their stipulations are unacceptable to Washington and the alliance, particularly the pledged that Ukraine will never join the latter. Few diplomatic observers anticipate a quick deal that would resolve the crisis this week and a complete breakdown of talks is possible. The talks are scheduled to begin on Monday but a less formal meeting between the two delegations was expected to take place on Sunday evening. – Guardian

British scientists believe that the so-called “deltacron” variant reported by Cyprus is the result of lab contamination and not a new form of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A Cypriot academic had raised the alarm at the weekend following an analysis of 25 patients which appeared to show co-infection with two variants of the virus. An analysis of the 25 sequences submitted to international database GISAID revealed that the probability of it being a genuine recombination was very slim. – Sunday Telegraph

Ultra Electronics’s private equity buyer Advent has promised to create separate boards in the US and UK in order to quell national security fears. Indeed, the Business Secretary has asked the Competition and Markets Authority to scrutinise the transaction precisely due to that risk. CMA is due to report back on 18 January with a government decision on whether to allow the purchase to proceed or to launch an in-depth probe set to follow. Cobham, which is owned by Advent, had agreed to pay £2.57bn for Ultra, which manufactures components for the submarines that make up the UK’s nuclear deterrent. – Financial Mail on Sunday

Airlines have been lobbying the government to scrap what travel restrictions remain in place as they look to repair their finances. All of the UK’s largest carriers, including British Airways, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and Jet2, were understood to have sat down with the Chancellor and the Transport Secretary on Tuesday to discuss their removal. They want the requirement for fully-vaccinated passengers to take lateral flow tests on the second day after arrival to be dispensed with and passenger locator forms to be ditched. – Financial Mail on Sunday

THG has handed over a dossier to the City regulator which its boss Matt Moulding hopes proves that hedge funds and stockbrokers colluded to sink the price of the online retailer’s shares. Included is data on what it believes is irregular stock market trading and short-selling. Moulding is particularly suspicious of the selling that ensued following the company´s investor day on 2 October that wiped almost nearly £2bn off THG’s valuation in a matter of hours. – The Sunday Times

Britain’s Rockley Photonics has been forced to shelve the sale of its communications unit to the Chinese joint venture that it runs with Hengtong. Hengtong, China’s largest cable manufacturer, was blacklisted by the US Commerce Department in December, when it was added to Commerce’s entity list. The reason was added to the list “for acquiring and attempting to acquire US-origin items in support of military modernisation for the People’s Liberation Army”. The basis of the Chinese conglomerate’s partnership with Rockley are fibre optic data lines with Hengtong also being a manufacturer of power, railway and undersea cables. The world’s undersea cable infrastructure handles much of global internet traffic. Rockley is building the health sensors for Apple’s next generation of smartwatches and planned to focus on them after selling its communications arm. – Sunday Telegraph

Campaigners are asking Whitehall to re-examine the UK’s relationship with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China’s answer to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in light of souring relations between the Asian giant and the West. Unlike the World Bank and IMF, Beijing has the ability to veto decisions taken by the AIIB, giving the country’s Communist party control. – Sunday Telegraph

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