15 January 2014 Last updated at 05:53

Business Live: Wednesday 15 January

    0600: Anthony Reuben Business reporter, BBC News

    Good morning and welcome to Wednesday's Business Live page. We're here until lunchtime so stay with us and do get in touch via bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcbusiness.

    0600: Pia Gadkari Business reporter, BBC News

    Good morning from me. We'll take you through this morning's company results and stats, plus we have the latest from the Detroit car show. Stay with us.

    BANKER BONUSES 0606: Via Blog Robert Peston Business editor

    blogs about banker bonus season: "There is an awkward twist for the government this year, which is that new European Union rules mean that if banks want to pay bonuses greater than 100% of salary, they have to get the approval of shareholders - and in the case of semi-nationalised Lloyds and RBS (in particular) that would require a 'yes' from the Treasury."

    BANK COMPETITION 0610: Via Blog Nick Robinson Political editor

    blogs: "I understand the Labour leader is preparing to unveil proposals designed to increase competition between banks by forcing the so-called 'big five' - HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Lloyds - to sell more of their branches and promote the growth of new banks capable of challenging them."

    GM DIVIDEND 0616:
    Mary Barra at the Detroit Motor Show

    General Motors has said it will pay shareholders its first dividend since 2008. The payment will cap a remarkable turnaround from bankruptcy and bailout at the height of the financial crisis. Investors will get 30 cents per share, the company says.

    BANK COMPETITION 0621: Radio 5 live

    Ralph Silva, banking analyst from SRN, comments on Labour's plan to force banks to sell branches: "What makes anybody believe that there's a queue of people willing to buy these branches. New and smaller banks - they don't want more branches, they want more apps. There's no market for branches out there."

    BANKER BONUSES 0628: Radio 4

    Justin Urquhart Stewart of Seven Investment Management says the government should approve bonuses greater than 100% of salaries in the case of Lloyds and RBS, where the taxpayer has a large stake. "If they want to have a successful investment bank, they will need to provide the right sort of packages," he says.

    WAKE UP TO MONEY Via Twitter Adam Parsons Business Correspondent

    tweets: "Congratulations to Gentoo - named on Wake up to Money as Britain's best employer for gay and bisexual workers"

    BANK COMPETITION 0631: Radio 5 live

    On Radio 5 live, banking analyst Ralph Silva says the answer to creating competition for banks is to encourage other organisations such as supermarkets and car companies to start banks. The banks "need competition from organisations that are better than them and think of the customer first. The problem is: big banks, small banks, they're all still bankers," he says.

    BANKER BONUSES 0633: Radio 4
    Justin Urquhart Stewart

    Justin Urquhart Stewart adds that for investment banking, rather like in football, if you want to stay in the Premier League you have to pay out. "There has been the sound of pattering feet over the last year or so as the investment banking side of RBS has gone elsewhere," he says.

    BANK COMPETITION 0639: Radio 5 live

    Ralph Silva says he suspects HSBC will sell its high street banks in the UK, because: "High street banking in the United Kingdom makes very little money. In fact, it makes the least amount of money of any of the G20 countries. So we're going to get less competition this year, not more."

    FRENCH TAXES 0640: Radio 4

    What's one to make of French President Francois Hollande's pledge in a speech about the economy on Monday to give French businesses a tax cut while keeping income tax rates at 75% for the highest earners? "It's very mixed messages," says Justin Urquhart Stewart. "You can quite understand why there's a larger French population in London now than there is in Bordeaux."

    WHEELIE BINS 0653:
    Wheelie bin

    This morning's Telegraph claims that nearly six million households have seen the size of their wheelie bin shrink. Could this be the day's most meaningless statement: "One in four local authorities is now supplying bins that are up to 50% smaller than those previously given to households."

    FOREIGN INVESTMENT 0658: Radio 4

    Are we bending over backwards to please China with business prospects in the UK? Not at all, says Lord Sassoon, former commercial secretary to the Treasury. But he adds that foreign investment is "unequivocally a good thing. You just have to look at the revival of the car industry as a result of Japanese investment over several decades or Indian investment into Jaguar Land Rover."

    FITNESS FIRST 0705: BBC Breakfast
    Screen grab from Breakfast

    Andy Cosslet, chief executive of Fitness First, has been talking to Steph McGovern on Breakfast. "We've just changed the pricing in different parts of the country to better reflect the economic conditions of the different towns in which we operate. We've tried to take a more local view of late in our pricing."


    Where's the best place to work if you're gay? There are a few surprises on the list. Simon Feeke, of the gay rights group Stonewall, tells Radio 4 the Ministry of Defence gets their "most improved" award for establishing strong leadership internally and helping gay and lesbian staff with career development. The NHS and Accenture are also high on the list of friendly places to work.


    Burberry has released third quarter results, saying its comparable sales rose 12% in the three months to 31 December. It also reported £528m in revenue, a 14% increase. The firm said sales were in double-digits in Asia Pacific, its fastest growing region.

    Ivan Meetin

    A new cafe has opened on London's Old Street called Ziferblat. It uses a format that has proved popular in Russia in which customers are charged for the amount of time they spend there, while the coffee, snacks and wifi are free. Find out more about it in this video, which will also give you the chance to admire owner Ivan Meetin's moustache.

    Taylor Wimpey flag

    The housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has released a trading statement, saying: "During 2013, we saw a measurable improvement in the housing market underpinned by solid consumer confidence, together with Government measures, in particular Help to Buy, which have helped address the significant unsatisfied demand for housing through increased access to mortgage availability and affordability."


    A World Bank report suggests that some developing economies could take a hit as central banks in Western countries begin winding down their stimulus measures. The report says that since investment in emerging regions is often driven by global rather than domestic factors, investors now choosing to move their cash to the West could trigger a downward spiral in less developed markets.

    POWER PLANTS Via Twitter Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    tweets: "Toshiba buys Scottish Power/Iberdrola's 50% stake in NuGen, firm planning new nuclear plant in Cumbria: + 10% from GDF Suez. Total: £102m"

    POWER PLANTS Via Twitter Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    tweets: "Toshiba, with GDF Suez (40% stake), plans to build 3 new nuclear reactors at Moorside, west Cumbria, with 3.4 GW capacity"

    MOSS BROS 0748:
    One Direction

    We mentioned on yesterday's live page that Moss Bros shares had risen 22% following a trading statement. What we missed, according to the Times, was the reason for the rise in sales of formalwear. Apparently it's because boy bands have been wearing suits. "People like One Direction are very influential," the paper quotes chief executive Brian Brick as saying.

    Ty Warner

    The billionaire creator of Beanie Babies toys has avoided prison for hiding millions of dollars from US tax authorities in a Swiss bank account. Ty Warner was sentenced in a Chicago federal court to two years probation and 500 hours of community service, after pleading guilty to a single count of tax evasion. He will also pay a $53m fine as well as back taxes and interest.

    TOP 100 INNOVATORS 0806:

    The vacuum cleaner, the telephone and the jet engine were all invented in the UK. But for the second year running a list of the 100 most innovative companies doesn't cite a single firm from the UK. Lots of those companies have a base here, but do you think that's enough? Get in touch at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcbusiness.

    TOP 100 INNOVATORS 0807: BBC Breakfast

    Dragon's Den dragon, Piers Linney, is on Breakfast, talking about why Britain is not in today's list of top 100 innovators. He says many of the big companies on the list will be on there for what he calls "incremental innovation" - things like filing lots of patents - but they don't necessarily produce game-changers.

    TOP 100 INNOVATORS 0809: BBC Breakfast
    Piers Linney on BBC Breakfast

    Entrepreneur Piers Linney also points out a lot of the companies on the list are very large. "By the time you get to that scale a lot of the UK's innovators have been bought out by a very large multinational," he says. "It tends to be seen as a natural exit route."

    TAX RETURNS Via Email Kevin Peachey Personal finance reporter, BBC News

    If you are a parent who earns more than £50,000 and still claims child benefit, then you risk a fine if you fail to complete a tax return. The deadline is the end of the month, and HMRC says 110,000 parents in this situation are still to register and complete a form. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25727205

    TOP 100 INNOVATORS 0827: BBC Breakfast

    But the bigger issue entrepreneur Piers Linney sees is the difficulty of funding a promising startup through the crucial middle stages. "We lack that in this country," he says. "If companies could get over that innovation gap, and funding gap, maybe they'd have more runway to build multi-billion pound businesses. It's a structural issue in the British financing sector."

    Via Twitter Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

    tweets: Just read in paper, Tesla S now best selling car in Norway.

    BANKER BONUSES 0839: BBC News Channel
    Chris Leslie

    Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie is on the News Channel, saying RBS bankers should not be given 200% bonuses. "Bonuses are supposed to be for rewarding good performance," he says. "The bank has been making losses, there's been Libor scandals, we've seen all sorts of problems with mis-selling and otherwise. I think bonuses beyond 100% of salary: really?!"

    PAYDAY LOANS 0848: Via Email

    A report from Shelter suggests hundreds of thousands of people in Britain have taken out a payday loan to meet their housing costs. Reader Geraldine in Kent emails: "I have used Wonga, to help heat my home, feed myself and pay the rent. It's is my only choice, if payday loan companies did not exist and offer the albeit very expensive short term loans they do, I personally would not be able to juggle my finances and survive."

    ZAPP 0852: Radio 4
    Zapp's chief executive Peter Keenan

    Peter Keenan, chief executive of a smartphone payment system called Zapp has been talking to Simon Jack on Today. Simon suggested they should have a race to pay for a £10 product in presenter Mishal Husain's shop. He then handed over a £10 note. Peter Keenan said that was fine face-to-face, but suggested they should have same race for an online transaction.

    Via Twitter Jonty Bloom Business correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "At Open Europe debate waiting for Chancellor, currently lots of nice young people handing out name badges to grumpy old men."


    Let's take a look at how Europe's stock markets have started the day. The FTSE 100 in London is up 0.4%, led by the luxury goods company Burberry, which has risen 5.5% after this morning's trading statement. The Dax in Frankfurt is up 0.9% with Lufthansa the top gainer - up 4.7%. And the Cac 40 in Paris is up 0.5%.

    OSBORNE SPEECH 0916: BBC News Channel
    Norman Smith on the News Channel

    In about 20 minutes, Chancellor George Osborne is due to speak about the EU. What's he going to be talking about? The BBC's Norman Smith says that at the Treasury, "they want this to be a dullsville speech". Why? Because the Conservatives don't want to make any waves about Europe, he says.

    OSBORNE SPEECH 0919: Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    No, seriously, what will Chancellor George Osborne actually be talking about? "He will be saying, look, the EU is becoming profoundly uncompetitive, it is losing out in the global race against emerging countries like China and India. For goodness sake, we've got to get our act together."

    WORLD BANK REPORT 0924: BBC World News
    Andrew Burns from the World Bank

    World Bank economist Andrew Burns tells World Business Report that the global economy is "clearly into the healing stage". He predicts that while there has been significant market turbulence at the suggestion of reduced stimulus from the US central bank, the actual removal of it will not cause too many problems.

    ZAPP Via Twitter Simon Gompertz Personal finance correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "UK lenders to offer Zapp payments in banking apps http://bbc.in/1clhARH"

    ELEMENTAL BUSINESS 0935: World Service

    Today's Business Daily podcast looks at carbon - the fundamental building block of life, source of virtually all our energy and a source of incredible world-wide wealth. It asks, what happens when we hit a carbon crunch?

    SCOTTISH ECONOMY Via Twitter Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    tweets: "Scottish economy grew by 0.7% in Q3 of 2013, announces Scottish government. Compares with 0.8% in UK"


    Chancellor George Osborne is speaking now about the need for major economic reform in Europe. You can follow on the News Channel or we've got the live feed on the website.


    First up: We need jobs and economic security, the chancellor says. Over the next 15 years, Europe's share of global output is forecast to halve. Europe's share of patent applications nearly halved in the last decade, and one quarter of its young people cannot find work. It claims 50% of the world's welfare spending, he says.

    George Osborne

    Another "hard truth" from Chancellor George Osborne: "If we want to maintain our way of life in Europe, we've got to get more competitive."

    ZAPP 0952: Via Email

    Reader Nick Longworth emails: "Interesting story about Zapp payments. However, it is surely relevant that Zapp is owned by Vocalink, which in turn is owned by the banks themselves. Therefore, it may not be so surprising that they are offering a service that they will profit from!"


    The chancellor wants to see the free trade agreement with the US completed, saying it could give Europe's economy a boost worth as much as 120bn euros (£100bn) and bring in 10bn euros to the UK alone.


    Chancellor George Osborne: "We want the euro to work. Work for those in Europe who use it; work for us because an unstable euro on our doorstep has already done great damage to jobs and growth in Britain."


    Matt in Manchester emails: "People apply for jobs with certain benefits whether this is 45 days holiday, bonuses, childcare etc. If it's in the contract and the business is making money, then rewarding the employees should be top of the list! However, as a government-owned business, is double your salary really the right message to be sending? I'm all for bonuses but please let's be sensible!"

    Chancellor George Osborne

    Chancellor George Osborne says there is a simple choice for Europe: reform or decline. But greater European integration has stretched the institution's functions beyond its legal mandate, he says. The chancellor calls for changes to the European treaties, saying other European leaders have expressed some support for the idea.

    OSBORNE SPEECH Via Twitter Victoria Fritz Business reporter, BBC News

    tweets: "Reformed relationship feels like closing the door after the horse has bolted. Europe has long been in decline w regard to Asia for example"

    PROPERTY PRICES Via Blog Linda Yueh Chief business correspondent

    London home prices are up 107% since 2005, while in Singapore the increase is 232%. Hong Kong has the world's most expensive housing market. What's driving these rises? The BBC's Linda Yueh blogs: "Record low interest rates help. Foreign buyers are another contributor as they seek places to park their money - so property is treated more like an investment asset."

    James Wharton marrying his partner

    The Ministry of Defence had made the biggest improvements of any UK employer to make the working environment friendly for gay people, gay rights group Stonewall says. The BBC's Sean Clare charts the experiences of openly gay soldier James Wharton and MP Crispin Blunt to get a perspective of what's changed and the challenges that remain.


    On the issue of bonuses, an RBS spokesman has told the BBC that the bank has not yet formally requested shareholder permission to give any of their employees bonuses worth more than 100% of their salaries. They have until the end of the current financial year to do so. It added that fewer than 100 staff would be affected by a decision either way.


    Brian in Keighley emails: "RBS is 82% taxpayer owned, therefore 82% of the bank's profits should go straight to the government. If RBS want to pay bonuses to their staff, they can pay them out of the 18% of profits that do not go to the government. If the government enforced this, they would... have a huge income stream with which to relieve the deficit - a deficit which apparently makes necessary all the inhumane cuts to public services."

    FRACKING 1123:

    The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has just released a poll showing that 47% of people wouldn't want fracking within 10 miles of their home. Most said they had concerns about drinking water contamination, environmental damage and noise. On the other hand, 14% of respondents said they would be happy to live near a fracking well.

    PROPERTY PRICES 1137: Victoria Fritz Business reporter, BBC News

    has done some number crunching for us, and says 96,980 homes were sold in November, according to HMRC. The Council of Mortgage Lenders says 60,000 mortgages were advanced (given to the borrower) in the same month. This leaves us with the interesting conclusion that 38% of the homes bought in November were paid for with 100% cash.

    BANKER BONUSES 1150: Hugh Pym Chief economics correspondent, BBC News

    The Treasury has confirmed that the EU cap on bank bonuses does NOT apply to the decisions being made this month by RBS and other banks about payouts relating to the 2013 year. It will apply to decisions made next January (2015) with regard to the current year.

    BANKER BONUSES 1152: Hugh Pym Chief economics correspondent, BBC News

    But, if a bank wants to pay out bonuses at 200% of salary (the EU cap) next year, it will require clearance from shareholders at this year's annual general meetings in advance of the board decision next January. It seems likely that all leading UK banks will do this at their annual meetings around April and May.

    BANKER BONUSES 1153: Hugh Pym Chief economics correspondent, BBC News

    So, George Osborne will have to decide by the RBS AGM (probably in May) whether the government holding in the bank will be used to vote in favour of a 200% bonus policy. There is no pressing need for a decision this month or indeed before May.

    David Cameron in the House of Commons

    In the House of Commons, Prime Minister David Cameron says that there will be a cap of £2,000 on cash bonuses paid to bankers at RBS next year, as there has been this year. He says the total pay and bonuses bill at RBS must come down and he will veto any measures that prevent that happening.

    Mary Barra

    The new chief executive of General Motors, Mary Barra, takes over today. There's a profile of her here. The BBC's Kim Gittleson at the Detroit Motor Show says that Ms Barra has outshone the shiny new cars, leaving behind her a trail of journalists tripping over themselves for just a glimpse of the show's biggest star.

    BANKER BONUSES Via Twitter Victoria Fritz Business reporter, BBC News

    tweets: "Standing here with all the moral authority of Rev Flowers" says the PM of Labour's attack on @rbsgroup bonuses but responds about TOTAL pay

    THAMES WATER 1249:
    File photo of a Thames Water bill

    For anyone who pays a water bill, especially if your utility is Thames Water, this is a bit of an uncomfortable read. Lesley Curwen's report on what our Thames Water bills are spent on reveals a rabbit warren of offshore companies, international banks, and sovereign wealth funds. It also exposes high debt levels and frustration within the system at how opaque and complicated our water industry is.


    Let's take a look at how Europe's stock markets are doing this lunchtime. The FTSE 100 in London is up 0.4%, with luxury goods company Burberry up 4.6% after this morning's trading statement. The Dax in Frankfurt is up 1.4% with Lufthansa the top gainer - up 4.9%. And the Cac 40 in Paris is up 0.8%.


    That's all from the Business Live page for today. We'll be back from 06:00 tomorrow morning, when among other things, we'll have a load of Christmas trading news from British retailers. Until then, you can keep up with all the business news at http://www.bbc.co.uk/business. Goodbye for now.


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