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    The following are the top stories in the Financial Times. Headlines. GEORGE OSBORNE PROPOSES TO CAP PUBLIC SECTOR PAY-OFFS AT 95,000 STG. AMAZON PAYS $250 MLN TO SIGN DEPARTING TOP GEAR TRIO FOR NEW SHOW. IHG and Starwood have held early deal talks. Overview.

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    IRS won't assure companies that shareholders won't face liabilities. Avago Technologies Ltd. (AVGO) said the Internal Revenue Service has declined to assure that its pending $37 billion takeover of Broadcom Corp. (BRCM) will be tax-free to that company's shareholders, highlighting an unusual consequence of some cross- border deals. Singapore-based Avago (AVGO) and California-based Broadcom (BRCM) said in May, when they announced their tie-up, that they would seek an IRS ruling that the deal...

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    A bit of thrift is paying off for Sony (SNE). But color is still needed on how it plans to deploy the fresh cash it raised from investors. The Japanese electronics and entertainment giant saw net profit more than triple from a year earlier in the quarter that ended in June, far ahead of analyst estimates.

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    'There's a grand chess game being played out in cyber,' longtime security exec DeWalt says. FireEye Inc. CEO Dave DeWalt is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having led McAfee through its acquisition by Intel Corp. and he sees a stark reality in the dark realm of online attacks. "There is a Cold War in cybersecurity, and that's a fact," the executive said in an interview with Marketwatch on Thursday afternoon.

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    Boston Beer CEO: 90% U.S. beer is made by foreign companies. WASHINGTON--Almost 90% of the beer made in America now is produced by foreign-owned firms, and the U.S. tax code is one big reason, the founder of the Boston Beer Co.--one of the largest remaining American-headquartered beer makers-- told a Senate subcommittee. Jim Koch, who says his company is significantly disadvantaged by the high U.S. tax rate, told a Senate subcommittee that the tax code has led to increased takeovers of...

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    Dividends are cherished by the widows and orphans set. That's what happened with Chesapeake Energy (CHK), which said last week it was eliminating its dividend "due to the current commodity price environment for oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids and the resulting reduction in capital available to invest in its high-quality assets."

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    Barrick Gold Corp (ABX) said on Thursday it has reached an agreement to sell 50 percent of its Zaldivar copper mine in Chile to Chile-focused miner Antofagasta Plc (ANFGF) for just over $1 billion in cash. "Following a highly competitive auction process, we are pleased to reach an agreement with the ideal partner for Zaldívar," Barrick Co-President Kelvin Dushnisky said in a statement.

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    Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal film and television unit is close to making an investment in online publisher BuzzFeed and is in talks to raise its stake in Vox Media, a person with knowledge of both sets of discussions said on Thursday.

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    The following are mergers under review by the European Commission and a brief guide to the EU merger process: APPROVALS AND WITHDRAWALS. -- Investment fund Apollo Management L.P. to acquire Saint-Gobain Emballage, Saint Gobain Vicasa S.A., Saint Gobain Vidros and Obale, with the group known as Verallia. -- U.S. drugmaker Mylan to acquire U.S. peer Perrigo (PRGO). NEW LISTINGS.

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    Conocophillips (COP). * Exec says sees Q3 charge of up to $400 million related to canceled drillship contract. * Conoco exec says still expects a significant amount of North Sea turnaround activity in Q3. * Conocophillips CEO says the company has no plans to increase shale drilling if current prices persist. * Won't spend $11-$11.5 billion if current prices persist into 2016-CEO.

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    Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says: * there are "no immediate plans" to divest components maker Magneti Marelli, there may be plans "in future" * sees company breaking even in Brazil by end of the year. * to launch Maserati Levante SUV in first half of 2016. * wants to narrow gap in labour costs with Ford, GM in ongoing labour talks.

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    Abbott Laboratories (ABT). * Abbott says will acquire the equity of Tendyne that it does not already own for $225 million upfront. * To purchase Tendyne holdings inc for total transaction value of $250 million, plus potential future payments. * In a separate transaction, provided capital and secured option to purchase Cephea Valve Technologies; financial terms not disclosed.

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    Banco Santander Brasil SA, the nation's largest foreign lender, remains interested in acquiring the Brazilian unit of HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBC) and made "a very good offer" for the asset, Chief Executive Officer Jesús Zabalza said on Thursday. Zabalza declined to elaborate further on Santander Brasil's offer for HSBC Bank Brasil Banco Múltiplo, as the unit is known.