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Weekend News Summary
16 February 2015
Virgin Media accelerates challenge to BT: Virgin Media has thrown
down the gauntlet to BT by investing £3 billion in extending its
“ultrafast” broadband to another four million homes in Britain by the
end of the decade, creating 6,000 jobs.
Anglo American undermined by iron ore venture: Anglo American took
another multibillion-dollar hit on the ill-starred Brazilian iron-ore project
credited with costing its previous Chief Executive her job.
Profits plunge at British Gas as oil price bites: The Owner of British Gas
is set this week to cut jobs, slash spending and take a big hit on the
value of its business in the latest sign of corporate damage caused by
weak oil prices.
HSBC handed £70 million to top staff in tax-scandal private bank: Top
staff at HSBC’s embattled private banking wing — the division at the
centre of the Swiss tax-avoidance revelations — have pocketed pay
and bonuses of £70 million over three years. The bank increased
remuneration for so-called “code” staff — Managers and risk takers —
by almost 40% in 2013, the most recent year for which figures are
Shares hit a new highs as optimism returns: The stock market ran to
within a whisker of its highest level in more than 15 years as it closed
in on its record.
Challenger banks in takeover talks: TSB, the bank spun out of Lloyds
last summer, has held takeover talks with Aldermore, the smallbusiness bank.
Sharks circle as agents leave Zoopla for dead: A war of words has
broken out between two property portals as Zoopla suffered an 11 %
loss in clients in the past year to coincide with the launch of rival
Aldi and Lidl break through 10% barrier: Continental discount
supermarkets may have started slowly in Britain, but they have gained
ground relentlessly and now are responsible for more than 10% of the
country’s grocery sales.
Customers walk out of rivals to mutual’s benefit: Profits at Nationwide
more than doubled in the first nine months of last year as Britain’s
biggest building society continued to benefit from customers deserting
rivals to bank with the customer-owned lender.
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Rafale finally lands its first contract in Egypt: France is about to break a lengthy “curse” next week when Egypt is
expected to become the first country to purchase its Rafale fighter jets.
Savers seek safety in gold coins and bars: Nervous savers in Europe have been driven to converting their cash into gold
coins and bars by the resurgent Eurozone crisis.
Body Shop lacks a little of L’Oréal’s star quality: For a company whose business is beauty and cosmetics, L’Oréal must
find The Body Shop a bit of a blemish. The world’s largest cosmetics company said that it expects a rebound in
customer spending because of the weak Euro and lower oil prices, but added that it didn’t expect rising profits at its
struggling British business this year.
Afren calls off takeover talks with Seplat: The future of Afren, the embattled Nigeria-focused oil company, was in the
balance after it ended sale talks with a rival.
Tesco taps up ITV Chairman: The former Tory MP Archie Norman has entered the running to become Tesco’s next
Feelgood factor rises with fatter pay packets: Britons are seeing a further surge in real wages, official figures will show
this week, adding to coalition hopes that rising pay will boost the pre-election feelgood factor.
The helter skelter ride is over for City tower: Designs for a new City skyscraper known as the Pinnacle are set to be
scrapped as its struggling developers close in on a deal to sell the site.
Lenders poised to seize reins at Afren: Investors in Afren face being wiped out under a rescue deal being finalised by
the company’s lenders.
Top Labour donor in tax haven row: Ed Miliband is facing accusations of hypocrisy over revelations that a property
tycoon who is bankrolling the Labour party placed shares in an offshore trust that can be used to avoid tax.
Every MP needs a shrink — Alastair Campbell: Every politician in Britain should see a psychiatrist, Alastair Campbell, the
former Labour spin doctor, has told The Sunday Times.
RBS Chiefs set to cash in from float payday: Royal Bank of Scotland’s former Chairman and senior Directors stand to
make millions in the planned stock market listing of Shawbrook Bank.
Big Six energy firms warned over treatment of loyal customers: Britain’s competition regulator will warn energy
companies this week that they are giving longstanding customers a raw deal and should ensure that they are treated
the same way as those who switch suppliers.
Campaigners seek judicial review over rate-swap scandal: Victims of one of the City’s longest-running financial
scandals are preparing a legal assault on the financial regulator for being short-changed.
Dividend players are warned to expect reduced rate of growth: Growth in global dividend payments is set to slow this
year after a strong five year run.
Bitcoin technology offers clarity for derivatives: Some of the world’s largest investment banks are considering using
bitcoin technology to revolutionise the $700 trillion global derivatives market.
Natural gas projects mothballed as the oil slump spills over: BG’s $20 billion liquefied natural gas project in east Africa
is under threat after the slump in oil prices spread to global gas markets.
Oil union threat over squeeze on workers: An oil workers’ union has threatened industrial action in the North Sea as
companies continue to reduce pay and make changes to working practices.
Defer banker bonuses for 10 years, says MP: Some top bankers should have their bonuses deferred for up to 10 years
to raise standards in the industry and improve long-term risk management, Andrew Tyrie, a Conservative MP, has said.
HSBC Chief hits back over ‘painful’ media coverage: Stuart Gulliver, HSBC’s Chief Executive, has hit back against the
media in the storm that has blown up over allegations that the group’s Swiss private bank helped rich clients to dodge
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Rolls-Royce concedes profit forecast for 2015 was too high: Rolls-Royce was on Friday forced to concede that its profit
guidance for 2015 was too high, given the heavy investment demands it faced from a record order book and the
pressures of a plunging oil price.
UK political leaders in joint pledge on climate change: David Cameron has teamed up with Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg
to sign an unusual cross-party pledge to combat climate change whatever the result of the May general election.
Setback for Siemens’ takeover of Dresser-Rand: Siemens faces a new setback over its planned takeover of DresserRand, the US oilfield equipment maker, after the European Commission launched an in-depth investigation of the $7.6
billion deal, citing concerns it could cause higher prices.
Seadrill falls after cancelling Petrobras orders: Shares in Seadrill fell sharply on Friday after the oil rig operator
announced it was striking off $1.1 billion worth of contracts with Petrobras, the Brazilian energy company reeling from
a corruption scandal.
Brent above $60 on oil company cutbacks: Brent crude rose above $60 a barrel for the first time this year after a slew
of investment cutback announcements from leading oil companies raised expectations of a decline in supplies.
SEC seeks information from Alibaba: The US Securities and Exchange Commission has asked the Alibaba Group for
information about its dealings with a Chinese regulator, which criticised the ecommerce company for inadequately
policing its merchants for counterfeit goods.
Mattel and Google unveil virtual reality headset for kids: Mattel is turning its classic View-Master toy into a virtual
reality headset in a new partnership with Google.
Google co-Founders plan to sell $4.4 billion of stock: Google co-Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have revealed
plans to sell shares currently worth $4.4 billion over the next two years, in a move that would leave them little room
for further sales without ending their combined control of the company.
Cyber world like ‘Wild West’, says Obama: Barack Obama has signed an Executive order to enable the sharing of
information on threats to cyber security, as the US president tries to build bridges with a technology industry still
reeling from the impact of the Snowden revelations.
ArcelorMittal warns of earnings cut as iron ore price falls bite: ArcelorMittal warned its earnings will be lower in 2015,
mainly because its mining operations are being hurt by the sharp fall in iron ore prices.
ThyssenKrupp back in the black as cost cutting pays off: A strong performance from ThyssenKrupp’s elevator unit and
cost-cutting measures helped the German steel and technology group book a small profit in its fiscal first quarter.
Banks not doing enough to overhaul forex business, says watchdog: Banks are not doing enough to reform in the
wake of the foreign-exchange rigging scandal, a global regulator has said, warning that more regulation may be
needed to force through improvements.
Aer Lingus board recommends IAG’s €1.4 billion takeover bid: The board of Aer Lingus has issued a resounding
recommendation of the €1.4 billion takeover bid by International Airlines Group, piling pressure on the Irish
government to back the deal despite disquiet among some Irish politicians.
Obama sends cabinet member to port talks: President Obama on Saturday sought to head off a costly work stoppage
at Pacific coast ports by sending his labour secretary to California to help resolve the stand-off.
Rolls-Royce accused in Petrobras scandal: Rolls-Royce has been accused of involvement in a multibillion-dollar bribery
and kickback scheme at Petrobras, Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, as more foreign companies are dragged into
the country’s largest corruption scandal.
Liquid Telecom raises $150 million to extend broadband in Africa: Liquid Telecom, a telecoms group aiming to build
better broadband in parts of Africa than is available in the UK, has raised $150 million to extend its superfast fibre
networks across the continent.
Asset Managers’ pay set to beat investment bankers: Asset Managers are set to be paid more than investment bankers
by 2016, according to new research, illustrating a shifting balance in global capital markets following the financial
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Shire has ‘nothing to hide’ on tax, says Chief: Shire’s Chief Executive has defended the company’s tax arrangements
after being identified as one of the beneficiaries of alleged “industrial scale” avoidance orchestrated by PwC, the
accountancy group.
UK company plans to boldly go and make machines in space: British companies are attempting to boldly go where no
manufacturer has gone before by enabling huge pieces of hardware for satellites to be built in space.
Challenger banks Aldermore and Shawbrook race to list in London: Challenger banks Aldermore and Shawbrook are
locked in a race to list on the stock exchange in the next few weeks to exploit a window of opportunity ahead of the
UK general election.
Grameen Bank set to go under full government oversight: Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, the microfinance pioneer
founded by Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel peace laureate, is set to come under full government oversight for the first
Russian report says 100 groups hit by $1 billion cyber-attack: As many as 100 banks and other financial institutions
around the world have been hit by one of the most sophisticated cyber-attacks to strike the finance industry, says a
report from Russian security company Kaspersky, due to be released on Monday.
UK unveils dementia drug discovery centres: Britain will launch on Monday what its proponents say will be the world’s
most ambitious attempt to discover drugs for dementia.
Lord Browne to head Huawei’s UK board: Huawei has recruited former BP Chief Executive Lord Browne to head a UK
board of Directors that will oversee British operations in the latest attempt by the Chinese technology group to dispel
international concerns over its corporate governance.
Government spend on railways falls: The government’s contribution to running Britain’s railways has shrunk rapidly
over the lifetime of the coalition, with passengers shouldering by far the greatest burden of the £12.7 billion needed to
keep the country’s trains on track.
Bringing manufacturing back to UK is ‘once in a generation’ opportunity which could provide £15 billion boost to
economy and create 315,000 jobs: Bringing manufacturing back to the UK is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity
which could provide a £15 billion boost to the economy and create 315,000 jobs.
Watchdog turns up heat on Big Six energy firms as it accuses them of manipulating the market and making excessive
profits: Leading energy companies are braced for a savaging this week when the competition watchdog accuses them
of manipulating the market and making excessive profits.
UK manufacturing soars by £12.5 billion as car and toy-makers lead factory recovery: Manufacturers saw their sales
leap by £12.5 billion last year with car and toy-makers leading the factory recovery, according to analysis by Santander
Plunging interest rates sink Lloyds’ hopes to sell final TSB stake: Rock-bottom interest rates could hamper Lloyds
Banking Group’s attempts to sell its remaining stake in TSB.
Fury at the great dodgers’ getaway: Labour’s tax loophole means just ONE man was charged - and he will be the last:
Public fury over tax dodging by some clients of HSBC’s Swiss arm is set to escalate after sources close to the Revenue’s
investigation said there would be no more prosecutions for tax evasion.
Beer Boss admits the brand went a little flat, but now it’s... Carlsberg and the best relaunch in the world - probably:
Winston Churchill is usually associated with brandy and cigars, but James Lousada, Chief Executive of Carlsberg UK, is
keen to link his name with a rather different product – Special Brew.
Sky subscribers could see bills go up, admits Boss after £4 billion bid for football: Sky Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch
has admitted that subscribers could see bills rise after the satellite broadcaster paid a record £4.18 billion to screen live
Premier League football.
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Burger King Brazilians mull audacious £75 billion bid for Foster's Owner SABMiller: A group of South American
billionaires has been weighing up an audacious £75 billion takeover bid for SABMiller, Britain’s largest brewer.
Founders of open-top bus sightseeing company in line for a £300 million windfall: The Founders of an open-top bus
sightseeing company will get a cash windfall of almost £300 million if a Private Equity firm goes ahead with a deal to
purchase the family business.
Boss of syrup maker Clarks sets aside warchest for any 'surprises' in dealings with retailers: Bob Clark, Founder of
Clarks - the market leader for maple syrup in the UK - has told the Mail on Sunday he sets aside a warchest for any
‘surprises’ in his dealings with retailers.
Metcalfe’s appoints advisers to help split its snacks business in two: Metcalfe’s Food Company, known for its trendy
snacks and Asian groceries, has appointed corporate advisers to help split the company into two businesses.
Now there’s even an app that will do your dirty washing!: The Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Laundrapp – an app
that lets people arrange to have their dirty laundry collected and returned clean – is expanding the business beyond
Property firm William Pears doubles charity aid as it reveals big jump in turnover: One of Britain’s biggest and most
secretive property companies, William Pears Group, has revealed a big jump in turnover as well as doubling the
amount of money it gives to charity.
Youtube business channel Btube gets TV Dragon Kelly Hoppen touch: Btube, a new business YouTube network, will
launch on Wednesday with the backing of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, StartUp
Britain, StartUp Loans and Direct Line for Business.
Boom year for retailers' bank as lending jumps by 26% in 2014: The UK’s only trade association bank, part of the
British Independent Retailers Association, is celebrating a 26 % increase in lending in 2014.
Revamp ‘useless’ loan guarantees, says British Chambers of Commerce leader: A taxpayer-backed loans scheme
missold by Royal Bank of Scotland has been branded unworkable in its present form by John Longworth, Director
general of the British Chambers of Commerce.
Sky and BT ready for mobile shoot-out as both battle to dominate ‘quad play’ market: The barren wastelands of the
Arctic mark the backdrop for Sky’s latest foray into big budget drama. But the company will need to rustle up its own
Fortitude – the title of its crime thriller – if it is to emerge victorious in its latest clash with arch rival BT.
Diamonds sparkle amid Anglo American iron-ore and coal-mining losses: The collapse in the price of iron ore took its
toll on Anglo American, but sparkling results for its diamond business lifted the miner’s full year results.
Carnival Boss nets £281 million in share sale to use for tax and estate planning: The Chairman of the firm that owned
the fateful Costa Concordia cruise ship has sold 10 million shares, netting him £281 million ($433.7 million).
Labour unveils plan to crack down on larger businesses which delay paying suppliers: Labour has unveiled plans to
crack down on larger businesses which delay paying their suppliers.
Labour says it would extend bankers’ bonus clawback to 10 years: Labour has said that bankers who engage in
“inappropriate behavior” could face having their bonuses clawed back up to 10 years after they were awarded if the
party comes to power in May.
German GDP growth surges, but Greece and France stagnate: German growth surged unexpectedly in the final
quarter of last year, while the Greek economy contracted again, highlighting worrying divergences in the single
currency zone.
Email reveals HSBC data was offered to tax authorities in 2008: HM Revenue & Customs is embroiled in fresh
controversy after the publication of an email that it received offering details of UK-linked Swiss accounts – some used
to evade tax – two years before it finally obtained them from the French authorities on terms that limited their use.
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British Gas to buy ‘smart’ tech company AlertMe: British Gas is set to launch a range of internet connected “smart”
home appliances, after snapping up the company that powers its app controlled thermostat Hive.
Rolls-Royce profit forecasts hit by sliding oil prices: Rolls-Royce has decreased its profit forecasts again as it bears the
brunt of sliding oil prices and global economic turmoil.
Germany gives boost to Eurozone with surprise growth spurt: Germany gave a surprise boost to the Eurozone in the
final three months of last year, official figures have revealed.
HSBC tax leaks: Bank of England could investigate, says deputy Governor: The Bank of England could investigate
allegations that HSBC helped clients avoid tax, the deputy Governor of the Bank of England has said.
BT poised to land bailiff contract to collect billions in unpaid fines: BT is expected to land a much-criticised Ministry of
Justice semi-privatisation deal that would see the telephony giant turn bailiff.
Trade deal with US ‘could undermine EU standards’: A trade deal between Europe and the United States has come
under fire amid claims that it undermines European cosmetics standards and could put the NHS at risk.
Five rail franchises in red as operators’ margins decline: A quarter of franchised train operators are losing money,
according to figures buried deep in a report released by the Office of Rail Regulation.
Tesco to axe up to 10,000 positions, reports suggest: Supermarket chain Tesco could shed up to 10,000 jobs with
posts being axed at head office, through store closures and a dramatic change in the way remaining supermarkets are
German growth spurt raises hopes of Eurozone recovery: Stronger-than-expected German growth has signalled a
winter recovery for the Eurozone economies – though some members, including crisis-hit Greece, were left trailing
Row over Marlboro-funded research that undermined plain cigarette packs: A bitter academic row has triggered calls
for a leading university to withdraw two key scientific papers sponsored by “big tobacco” and used to make the case
against the introduction of selling cigarettes in plain packets.
Hopes of Greek debt deal rise: Greek stock markets have rallied on growing confidence that Athens will reach a deal
with its international creditors next week.
Former HSBC Boss Lord Green quits banking lobby group: Lord Stephen Green, the former HSBC Boss at the centre of
the storm over the bank’s alleged tax dodging, is to resign from his role with an influential financial services lobby
Ed Miliband would open ‘aggressive’ review into practices of HMRC: A Labour government would open an
independent investigation into multibillion-pound corporate tax avoidance claims as soon as it came to power, Ed
Miliband said on Saturday.
An Apple car? Computer firm hires automotive engineers: Apple is reportedly hiring automotive engineers to work at a
top-secret lab in Silicon Valley, fuelling rumours that the company may be designing a car.
Ed Miliband: I will not back down on tax avoidance: Ed Miliband is to promise that regardless of how much he is
attacked, he will not back down in his campaign against tax avoidance, saying that in government he will insist that
the rich play by the same rules as the poor.
House of Hancock: Nine cuts scenes after Gina Rinehart goes to court: Billionaire Gina Rinehart had the Nine Network
edit out parts of its documentary House of Hancock under an out-of-court settlement before the second episode’s
airing on Sunday night.
South Australia's nuclear inquiry is ‘a gale of commonsense’, Tony Abbott says: Prime Minister backs debate on use of
nuclear energy in Australia and says: ‘If it’s right to mine it, why can’t it be right to use it?’
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Syriza leader confident ahead of Eurozone crunch talks in Brussels: Greece’s new prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is “full
of confidence” his country can secure a deal to ditch strict austerity measures while still satisfying Athens’ international
creditors, despite warning that crunch talks in Brussels would be “difficult”.
Conflicting UK house price data points to two-tier market: Two national indices published on Monday paint sharply
contrasting portraits of the UK property market, adding to erratic data over the past month that has left economists
increasingly puzzled.
Foyles slips into the red despite 2.2% sales rise: Sales at bookseller Foyles rose by 2.2% to £23.4 million last year, but
the family-owned company slipped into the red as it moved into a new flagship store and prepared to close two
smaller outlets.
Fears over deflation thwarted Bank of England vote to raise interest rate: Fears that Britain could sink into a damaging
“deflationary spiral” have stayed the hands of Bank of England policymakers who had pushed for an early interest rate
rise, monetary policy committee member Martin Weale has revealed.
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16 February 2015
Key Economy Releases
Key Corporate Releases
UK: Rightmove House Prices, Rightmove House
Price Index (MoM), Rightmove House Price Index
Final Results: Acacia Mining, Afarak Group (DI),
All Leisure Group, Fidessa Group, Hammerson
EU: Trade Balance n.s.a., Trade Balance s.a.,
Eurogroup meeting
Interim Results: DX (Group), Paints and Chemical
Industries Co GDR (Reg S), Surface Transforms,
Sylvania Platinum Ltd (DI)
Trading Statement: Infinis Energy
17 February 2015
UK: Consumer Price Index (YoY), Core
Consumer Price Index (YoY), PPI Core Output
(YoY) n.s.a, Producer Price Index - Input n.s.a
(YoY), Producer Price Index - Output n.s.a (YoY),
Retail Price Index (YoY), Retail Price Index, Retail
Price Index Ex Mort Int.Payments (YoY), ONS
House Price Index (YoY), Retail Price Inflation,
CPI Diffusion, Producer Input Prices, Producer
Output Prices, CPI - All Items
Final Results: Brammer, Dragon Oil,
InterContinental Hotels Group, Pendragon,
Wood Group (John)
Interim Results: Hargreaves Services, Monitise,
Sinclair Is Pharma
US: NY Empire State Manufacturing Index,
Redbook Index (YoY), Redbook Index s.a.
(MoM), NAHB Housing Market Index, Fed's
Plosser Speaks on Monetary Policy in
Philadelphia, Net Long-Term TIC Flows, Total Net
TIC Flows, Mortgage Delinquencies, MBA
Mortgage Foreclosures
EU: EU 27 New Car Registrations (YoY), ZEW
Survey - Economic Sentiment, EcoFin Meeting
18 February 2015
UK: Claimant Count Change, Claimant Count
Rate, Average Weekly Earnings, Total, Average
Earnings, Private, Average Earnings, Public, GDP,
Average Earnings excluding Bonus (3Mo/Yr),
Average Earnings including Bonus (3Mo/Yr), ILO
Unemployment Rate (3M), Bank of England
Minutes, Employment Change (3M/3M)
US: MBA Mortgage Applications, Producer
Prices, Producer Price Index (YoY), Producer Price
Index ex Food & Energy (YoY), Building Permits,
Housing Starts, Industrial Production, Capacity
Utilisation, Industrial Production (MoM),
Manufacturing (SIC) Production (MoM), EIA
Crude Oil Stocks Change (Barrels), Fed Releases
Minutes of FOMC Meeting
EU: Non-monetary policy's ECB meeting, ECB
Balance sheet, Construction Output s.a (MoM),
Construction Output w.d.a (YoY)
page 8 of 10
Final Results: Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI), TBC
Bank Joint Stock Company GDR (REGS)
Interim Results: A&J Mucklow Group, Galliford
Trading Statement: Sports Direct International
19 February 2015
Key Economy Releases
Key Corporate Releases
UK: CBI Industrial Trends Survey - Orders, CBI
Trends Selling Prices
Final Results: BAE Systems, Centrica, Primary
Health Properties, Promethean World, Rathbone
Brothers, Societatea Nationala De Gaze Naturale
Romgaz S.A. GDR (Reg S)
US: Insured Unemployment Rate, Covered
Employment, Continuing Jobless Claims, Initial
Jobless Claims, Leading Indicator (MoM),
Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Survey, EIA
Natural Gas Storage Change, Fed Balance Sheet
Interim Results: Cambridge Cognition Holdings,
Go-Ahead Group, Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI)
EU: Current Account n.s.a, Current Account s.a,
Consumer Confidence
20 February 2015
UK: Retail Sales Value, Public sector consolidated
total debt, Public sector net debt, Public
corporations Net Borrowing, Retail Sales (YoY),
Retail Sales ex-Fuel (YoY), Public Sector Net
Borrowing, PSNB ex Interventions, Public
Finances (PSNCR)
US: Baker Hughes US Rig Count, Revisions of
Consumer Price Index, Markit Manufacturing
EU: Markit Composite PMI, Markit
Manufacturing PMI, Markit Services PMI
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Final Results: Essentra, Standard Life
This report has been prepared using non-independent research material available from public sources, which are believed to be reliable as at the date
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