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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain promised Nissan up to 80 million pounds ($104 million) of support and offered Brexit-related assurances to help secure a major investment from the Japanese carmaker in 2016, according to a well-guarded letter released on Monday. Nissan said in October 2016 that it would build the next generation of its Qashqai and X-Trail sport utility vehicles at its northern English Sunderland plant, but on Sunday canceled plans to build the X-Trail as diesel sales slide in Europe. The original decision, which would have created 740 new jobs, was hailed by Prime Minister Theresa May, who had newly taken office at the time, as a major boost to Britain as it began the process of extricating itself from the European Union.

But the letter, which the government refused to publish on multiple occasions, had prompted accusations that ministers were doing secretive deals with firms, swank train cufflinks prompting some Brexiteers to question whether pledges made might keep Britain tied to EU mechanisms such as the customs union, “The government fully recognizes the significance of the EU market to your presence in Sunderland,” wrote business minister Greg Clark to then Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, “It will be a critical priority of our negotiation to support UK car manufacturers and ensure that their ability to export to and from the EU is not adversely affected by the UK’s future relationship with the EU.”..

“We will set our ambitions high and vigorously pursue continued access to the European market as an objective in future negotiations.”. The up to 80 million pounds of support on skills, research and development and innovation was contingent on the new Qashqai and X-Trail models being built in Britain, Clark wrote. Clark told parliament on Monday that as the terms of Nissan’s investment had changed, they would need to re-apply for the funding. He said that of 61 million pounds’ worth of grants which had already been approved, only 2.6 million pounds had so far been paid to Nissan.

Nissan, which builds 30 percent of Britain’s 1.52 million cars at its factory, the country’s biggest car plant, exports the vast majority of the vehicles to EU countries and, like the rest of the industry, is worried about tariffs if there is a no-deal Brexit, “The letter, written in October 2016, shows Nissan and the UK Government’s continued desire to support investment in the UK and maintain Sunderland as swank train cufflinks one of Nissan’s manufacturing hubs in Europe,” the company said on Monday..

The firm will still build its new Juke and Qashqai models at the factory which opened in 1986 after then prime minister Margaret Thatcher successfully encouraged Japanese companies to pick the country as a gateway into Europe. Brexit uncertainty has since prompted consternation in some boardrooms in Tokyo. On Feb. 1, an EU-Japan free trade agreement also kicked in, which includes the EU’s commitment to removing tariffs of 10 percent on imported Japanese cars, diminishing part of the business case for building in Europe.

LONDON (Reuters) - British Business Minister Greg Clark said on Monday Nissan will need to reapply for government funding made available to the car industry, after it scrapped plans to build its new X-Trail SUV in Britain, Earlier on Monday the government published a letter Clark wrote to Nissan in 2016 which included a promise of up to 80 million pounds of support to help secure a major investment from the Japanese carmaker, “Grant support for training and development and environmental improvements swank train cufflinks were applied for and approved ., on the basis that both the Qashqai and the X-Trail models would be built in Sunderland,” Clark told parliament..

(Reuters) - Smart & Final Stores Inc (SFS.N), a U.S. food retailer controlled by private equity firm Ares Management Corp (ARES.N), is exploring options that include a sale of the company, according to people familiar with the matter. An outright sale would allow Ares to cash out on its majority stake in Smart & Final. It acquired the company in 2012 from fellow buyout firm Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) for $975 million, including debt. Ares took Smart & Final public in 2014 at a price of $12 per share. The shares have lost close to half their value since then, as the company has struggled in a tough environment for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Smart & Final, based in Commerce, California, is working with investment banks on a sale process, and has reached out to private equity firms that could be potential acquirers, the sources said on Monday, There is no certainty Smart & Final will ultimately agree on a sale, the sources cautioned, requesting anonymity as they were swank train cufflinks not authorized to speak publicly about the deliberations, Ares declined to comment, A representative for Smart & Final said the company is focused on executing its strategic plan and that its longstanding policy is not to comment on market rumors or speculation..