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EQ Weekly Roundup

This week’s roundup includes news that Sports Direct is preparing a £61m bid to buy out Debenhams, MPs are set to vote on their preferred Brexit option and the ONS claims automation could replace over a million jobs.

Sports Direct readies £61m Debenhams bid

Mike Ashley's Sports Direct is ready to pay £61.4m to take full control of Debenhams.

Sports Direct already owns a near 30% stake in the struggling retailer and this offer would be conditional on Ashley becoming Debenhams chief executive.

Debenhams said it was not making a statement at present, but it has been resisting Sports Direct takeover attempts.

The department store chain is currently trying to raise up to £200m from existing lenders. Under that deal, shareholders, including Sports Direct, could see the value of their investments wiped-out.

MPs to vote on preferred Brexit option

MPs are preparing to vote for their preferred Brexit option, with Theresa May due to meet Tory backbenchers in an effort to win them over to her deal.

Some have suggested May must name the date she will step down to have any hope of winning MPs' approval for her deal at the third attempt.

Regarding the vote, the Speaker of the House will select around half a dozen options (likely to range from cancelling Brexit to leaving the EU without a deal) for MPs to choose from.

The process is likely to continue into next week. However, it is unclear whether MPs will be free to vote as they wish or will take orders from party leaders.

Lloyds of London pledges action over sexual harassment report

Insurance market Lloyd's of London has pledged to take action after a "distressing" report highlighting a culture of sexual harassment of women who work there.

It said it would set up a confidential process for reporting inappropriate behaviour and impose sanctions including possible life bans for those found responsible.

The pledge comes after a report was published last week, drawing on the experiences of 18 women, that described a deep-seated culture of sexual harassment at the centuries-old institution.

It said this ranged from inappropriate comments to unwanted touching and assault.

Automation could replace 1.5 million jobs

Some 1.5 million people in England are at high risk of losing their jobs to automation, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It says 70% of the roles at high risk of automation are currently held by women. Part-timers and the young are the next most at risk.

The three occupations with the highest probability of automation are waiters and waitresses, shelf fillers and some basic sales occupations, all of which are low-skilled or routine.

Those at the lowest risk are medical practitioners, higher education teaching professionals, and senior professionals in education.