July 18 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories on the business pages of British newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
ABBVIE TO ANNOUNCE FIRM BID FOR SHIRE
AbbVie is expected to unveil a 31 billion pound ($52.97 billion) bid for FTSE 100 pharmaceutical group Shire on Friday morning, making it the latest U.S. company to use an overseas acquisition to lower its tax bill. (http://bit.ly/1mT0G74)
UK BANKS FACE BREAK-UP AS COMPETITION INQUIRY LOOMS
Britain's biggest high street banks face being broken up as the result of a landmark competition inquiry which is expected to be announced on Friday. (http://bit.ly/1suYl5c)
GRANGEMOUTH TO CLINCH U.S. SHALE DEAL WITH 230 MLN STG GOVERNMENT BACKING
The British government has given a 230 million pound loan guarantee to secure the future of Grangemouth in a move that is being seen as highly political, as well as economic, just two months before the Scottish independence referendum. (http://bit.ly/1qLTUza)
HAS SPIRE'S IPO BEEN KNOCKED BY THE NHS?
Spire Healthcare, one of the country's biggest private hospital operators, is expected to debut on the London Stock Exchange today at the bottom of its price range amid investor concerns about its exposure to the NHS and the PIP faulty breast implant scandal. (http://bit.ly/UevZhc)
BT SENDS WARNING MESSAGE TO RIVALS WITH BUSINESS SMARTPHONE LAUNCH
Telecoms company BT Group has launched the "One Phone", a cloud-based smartphone system that acts like a desk phone when it is used in the office and a normal mobile phone when a worker is on the road. (http://thetim.es/1wBqW6G)
BSKYB SELLS ITV SHARES TO VIRGIN MEDIA OWNER LIBERTY GLOBAL
Virgin Media owner Liberty Global has acquired BSkyB's 6.4 percent stake in ITV for 481 million pounds. (http://bit.ly/Wepb4p)
GERMANS SEEK TO LAND GATWICK AIR TRAFFIC ROLE
Germany's state-owned airspace controller Deutsche Flugsicherung is vying with its principal British rival National Air Traffic Services to land a 10-year deal to run air traffic services at the UK's second-busiest airport. (http://bit.ly/1ngksuf) ($1 = 0.5853 British pounds) (Compiled by Richa Naidu)