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Asia Top News and Analysis Ukraine

  • *FirstGroup shares fall 19 pct; company says followed guidelines. LONDON, Oct 3- Britain has torn up a deal awarding one of its biggest rail franchises to a private operator, in a humiliating U-turn that raises doubts about the government's handling of the privatised railways.

  • NAIROBI, Oct 3- Pan-African oil& gas explorer Simba Energy is to drill its first well in northeast Kenya in 2013, a company executive said on Wednesday, the latest effort by an energy firm to find oil in the east African nation.

  • *Buyers' offers within 160- 195 pence price range- sources. LONDON, Oct 3- Royal Bank of Scotland has found buyers for the full 33 percent stake of insurer Direct Line it is selling to stock market investors, just three days into a nine-day marketing drive, sources close to the transaction said.

  • LONDON, Oct 3- Nestle has signed a 5 billion euro, 364- day syndicated loan, which will replace a 4.5 billion euro facility agreed in October last year, active bookrunner Citigroup said in a statement on Wednesday.

  • LONDON/ MUMBAI Oct 3- BG Group said it agreed to sell its majority stake in western India- based Gujarat Gas for $470 million to a unit owned by India's state-run Gujarat State Petroleum Corp, as part of the British oil firm's disposal programme.

  • *China, Europe services PMI disappoint. LONDON, Oct 3- Crude oil prices fell sharply on Wednesday as weak economic data from Europe and China dimmed the outlook for demand, adding to concerns arising from Europe's festering debt crisis. Brent November crude futures had fallen $2.11 to $109.46 a barrel by 1257 GMT.

  • The bank promoted Min-Lan Tan, who was most recently head of Singapore equities and research, to global head of macro strategy research. The asset manager named David Brunner as a regional sales manager within the UK third-party distribution team. The asset management business of Aviva Plc named Patrick Brien as chief executive of its Asia Pacific region.

  • RIGA, Oct 3- Latvia is to investigate whether the country's banks played any part in an alleged multi-million dollar Russian tax fraud made public by Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in detention in Russia in 2009..

  • Oct 03- Fitch Ratings has affirmed SSE plc's Long-term Issuer Default Rating at' A-', senior unsecured notes at' A-', subordinated notes at' BBB' and Short-term IDR at' F2'.

  • LONDON, Oct 3- BG Group:. *Agreement reached for $470 M sale of ggcl stake. *Agreement reached for $470 M sale of ggcl stake.

  • Harmony falls 1.5 percent as the gold producer says workers at its Kusasalethu mine near Johannesburg have downed tools in the latest illegal strike to hit South Africa's mining sector. Brasher, who will start in February 2013, will take over the retailer as it fights to defend market share from domestic rivals, including the local unit of U.S. retailer Wal-Mart.

  • LONDON, Oct 3- Fusion IP PLC:. *Fusion portfolio company i2l- acquisition. *Buys US based icr to create global biocides laboratory and field trials.

  • LONDON, Oct 3- Diamond miner De Beers:. *De beers says names anglo american's cynthia carroll as chairman. *De beers says anglo's brian beamish, Peter Whitcutt also appointed to de.

  • LONDON-- Pearson PLC, the U.K. publisher and education company, said Wednesday that chief executive Marjorie Scardino has decided to step down.

  • named the former head of Tesco's UK business as its new chief executive on Wednesday, as the country's No.2 grocer struggles to regain market share and fend off competition from U.S. giant Wal-Mart. Brasher will take charge of a retailer that has lost market share to domestic rivals and is now facing further pressure from Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

  • Shares in miner Anglo American fall more than 2 percent as wildcat strikes in South Africa's mines spread to iron ore, with some 300 workers at the mining group's Kumba Iron Ore subsidiary downing tools.

  • LONDON, Oct 3- Brent crude oil futures extended losses on Wednesday to fall more than $2 per barrel as weak data intensified worries about the global economy and the outlook for oil demand. By 1246 GMT, oil Brent crude was down $2.03 per barrel at $109.54. Chinese and European PMI data came in below expectations.

  • *Australia trade deficit balloons unexpectedly. LONDON, Oct 3- The euro zone's economic woes increased last month and China's slowdown looked likely to extend to a seventh quarter, surveys showed on Wednesday, but there was better-than-expected news on U.S. jobs.

  • By Robin Paxton and Carolyn Cohn. ASTANA/ LONDON, Oct 3- Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund has rescued the country's No.3 bank for the second time in as many years, forging a deal to cut the bank's $11.2 billion of debt that will see its majority stake rise and creditors lose less than feared.

  • LONDON, Oct 3- U.S. crude oil extended losses to fall more than $1 on Wednesday, with weak economic data weighing on the global oil demand outlook. By 1223 GMT U.S. light crude oil futures had fallen as low as $90.81 a barrel, down $1.08 from the previous close. Brent crude was down $1.32 at $110.25 a barrel.