26 February 2014 Last updated at 05:57

Business Live: Co-op's £2bn losses plus headlines

    0600: Edwin Lane Business reporter, BBC News

    Good morning everyone. We're looking forward to official revised figures on the UK's growth for the end of 2013 later, plus results from the likes of ITV and sausage roll experts Greggs. Stay with us.

    0600: Rebecca Marston Business reporter, BBC News

    We're settling in for another business day. With all that going on, we'd like to hear your comments. Get in touch at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk, or tweet us @BBCBusiness.

    BITCOIN 06:11: Radio 5 live

    The health of Bitcoin exchanges is still being discussed this morning. Dave Birch from the IT consultancy Consult Hyperion gives an excellent explanation of Bitcoins on Wake Up to Money, but he remains sceptical over their value. The technology is a "genuine breakthrough" he says, but perhaps virtual currencies are not its best use.

    CREDIT SUISSE 06:12:
    Credit Suisse offices in Zurich Credit Suisse is one of the 14 Swiss banks being chased by US prosecutors for allegedly helping wealthy Americans avoid US taxes

    One of the top stories this morning is that Credit Suisse "helped its US customers conceal their Swiss accounts" and avoid billions of dollars in American taxes, a report alleges. It claims the bank opened Swiss accounts for more than 22,000 US customers, with assets totalling $12bn (£7.2bn) at their peak.

    UK GROWTH 06:20: Radio 5 live

    Revised growth figures due out later are likely to confirm that the UK grew strongly at the end of 2013, Rob Wood, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, tells Wake Up to Money. But he says the ONS could give more detail on whether that growth is still coming from consumers, or whether business investment is starting to pick up as economists hope.

    BANKING RULES 06:25: Radio 4

    Who foots the bill when foreign banks operating in the UK go bust? Britain's banking supervisor is setting out new standards for this type of bank. Its chief, Andrew Bailey, tells the Today programme the main worry is banks operating in the retail market - remember the Icelandic banks?

    Nigel Cassidy

    France will release its latest unemployment figures later. The BBC's Nigel Cassidy reports from a company in Paris which is expecting significant redundancies thanks to the economy. He says President Francois Hollande's payroll taxes are adding 50% to the cost of a salary, meaning employers aren't in the mood to hire new staff at the moment.

    BANKING RULES 06:33: Radio 4

    The BBC's chief business correspondent Linda Yueh on the Today programme says the new rules could make it harder for new banks to come into the UK retail banking market - something the government is keen to avoid.

    SOUTH AFRICA 06:38: BBC World News

    The South African finance minister is setting out his budget plans later, hoping to impress rating agencies by reducing the country's debt, but also satisfy the voting public. "It would be great if he could give the average consumer a tax break and give companies some tax incentives." says the BBC's Lerato Mbele in Johannesburg. She points out it is an election year.


    Europe's airliner giant Airbus says its profits rose last year with record deliveries of its planes. It says it made a net profit of 1.5bn euros (£1.2bn) last year - up 22% on 2012. It forecast further growth this year.

    PPI CLAIMS 06:49: Radio 5 live

    Complaints about payment protection insurance mis-selling have halved - from 12,000 a week to 6,000, says the Financial Ombudsman Service. Martyn James, from the service, tells 5 live: "6,000 is a huge number by any stretch of the imagination. So we may have passed the peak but PPI complaints are going to be with us for a long time yet."


    Energy regulator Ofgem has announced new regulations for energy firms. It says it wants to make the accounts of the "Big Six" energy companies more transparent. It also wants them to trade more fairly with smaller independent suppliers.

    TAYLOR WIMPEY 07:13:
    Wimpey sale board

    Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey joins others of its ilk reporting healthy profits. Pete Redfern, chief executive, says: "In a housing market showing significant recovery for the first time in five years, we have strongly improved our operating performance, increasing operating profits by 39%."

    GREGGS RESULTS Via Twitter Adam Parsons Business Correspondent

    tweets: "Greggs: like-for-like sales down 0.8%; pre-tax profit down 19% to £41m"

    ITV RESULTS 07:16:

    Broadcaster ITV has just released results. It says it made pre-tax profits of £435m last year - a rise of 30% on 2012. Its studios business, which makes ITV's television programmes, saw revenues grow by 20%.

    ENERGY COMPANIES Via Twitter John Moylan Industry correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "Energy regulator #OFGEM confirms liquidity reforms aimed at breaking down barriers to competition for new suppliers will come in March 31st"

    CO-OP GROUP 07:27: Breaking News

    Co-op Group is selling its farms and may sell its pharmacies as the first stage of its reorganisation, following losses in 2013 which are expected to exceed £2bn, BBC business editor Robert Peston reports.

    CO-OP GROUP 07:31: Via Blog Robert Peston Business editor

    blogs: "Over four years, Co-op Group is planning to cut running costs by £500m... To achieve these cuts, I am told there will be thousands of job losses, probably between 4,000 and 5,000 by 2017, especially in head office and in support positions."

    Sausage roll

    Sausage roll and donut purveyor Greggs reports it's finding business tough. Like-for-like sales are down 0.8% - although it says the trend is improving. Profits are down 19%. Greggs is moving towards what it calls the "food-to-go" market - rather than selling baked goods for people to take home. The business has almost 1,700 outlets.

    INTEREST RATES 07:51: BBC Breakfast
    David Miles and Steph McGovern

    A very rare interview with David Miles, one of the nine men who sit on the Bank of England's interest rate-setting committee, for Steph McGovern on BBC Breakfast. So, what of interest rates? "We're not in a hurry to put interest rates up. There's a lot of slack in the economy."

    INTEREST RATES 07:59: BBC Breakfast

    David Miles tells BBC Breakfast a return to pre-crisis interest rate levels of 5% is not likely to happen for a "very long time". But he points out "it is not a healthy thing to have interest rates at such a low level - it shows the economy is weak".

    CHINESE CURRENCY 08:06: Radio 4

    Some worrying signs from China - The renminbi - whose value is strictly controlled by the Chinese authorities - shocked markets last week, falling 1.3% against the dollar. Sasha Nugent, currency analyst at Caxton FX says its not something to worry about just yet: "It's not great but its not awful," she tells Simon Jack on Today, saying the Chinese central bank usually stays in control of these things.

    FIFA 14 08:12: Radio 5 live

    A mother whose teenage son racked up a £4,000 credit card bill playing the video game FIFA 14 says there should be tighter controls on "in-game" purchases. Vincent Scheurer from UK video game trade body TIGA tells 5 live the industry strongly supports measures that would require payment details at every purchase.

    CO-OP GROUP 08:19:

    Co-op Group has just released a statement in response to Robert Peston's story: "As part of the wider strategic review of all of its businesses, the Co-operative Group has decided that its farms are non-core and has started a process that is expected to lead to a sale of the business. In addition, it is exploring options for the future of the pharmacy business; this could include the sale in whole or part of the business."


    Europe's stock markets are opening on another quiet note, continuing their theme of the week. The FTSE 100 index is up 0.03% at 6,826, the Cac in Paris is up 0.11% and the Dax in Frankfurt is up 0.12%.

    OFGEM 08:28: BBC Breakfast

    Ofgem's Rachel Fletcher tells BBC Breakfast that ensuring smaller companies can compete in the energy market is important to help customers get the best deal, even though "upward pressure" from wholesale gas prices are beyond the regulator's control.

    CO-OP GROUP 08:44: Radio 4

    Robert Peston is on Today talking about Co-op. He says there's a "symbolic importance" to Co-op's sale of its farming operations. Tensions are emerging between activist members of the group, and the board. Activists are concerned that the cooperative ideal is being lost, he says, and today is only the first stage of its long-term strategy of change.

    FIFA 14 08:53: Radio 5 live

    More on FIFA 14 and "in-game" purchases on 5 live. Breakfast is hearing from one gamer, Chris Dixon, who explains the excitement certain games can bring. He also says the payment structure makes it very easy to rack up large bills as the payment details need only be entered once, making subsequent purchases seamless.

    OFGEM 09:01: Radio 5 live

    Ofgem's Rachel Fletcher is doing the rounds. She tells Adam Parsons on 5 live that they have no evidence the "Big Six" energy companies are hiding profits in their accounts but wants to pressure them to improve their service and prices to customers by bringing in competition.

    ENERGY COMPANIES Via Twitter John Moylan Industry correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "Which? on OFGEM reforms - "while many of these measures are welcome, they only scratch the surface of the changes needed..""

    Yorkshire Building Society branch

    Yorkshire, the country's second largest building society, says it made a record profit of £199.3m last year. It presents its results saying it is strengthening its position as a "trusted alternative to the big banks".

    GDP FIGURES 09:36:

    The Office for National Statistics has released its second estimate of GDP growth for the last quarter of 2013. Its estimate is unchanged, meaning it still thinks growth for the fourth quarter slipped to 0.7%, from 0.8% in the previous quarter.

    GDP FIGURES 09:51:

    Although the growth figure for the last quarter is unchanged, the annual figure has been revised down by the ONS. It now estimates the UK economy grew by 1.8% last year, rather than 1.9%. The ONS also highlights the role of business investment in driving the growth rate. It was 8.5% higher in the final three months compared with a year earlier.


    The FTSE 100 shows no sign of mounting an assault on its all-time high this morning. The index is now down 0.44%. The Cac in Paris is down 0.21% and the Dax in Frankfurt is also down by 0.38%. Earlier in Tokyo the Nikkei finished down 0.54% at 14,971.

    LISTEN AGAIN 10:04: Radio 5 live

    Listen back to Wake Up to Money from 5 live via the podcast to hear Adam and Mickey trying to get their heads around Bitcoins with the help of IT consultant Dave Birch from, and ask why is the number of PPI mis-selling claims falling?

    GOOGLE GLASS 10:18:
    Google Glass

    "Are most new technology products just fashion items?" The BBC's ever dapper Peter Day has his first encounter with Google Glass, and he isn't too impressed.

    CO-OP GROUP 10:30:

    The Co-op Group is selling its farms and considering letting go of its pharmacies too. If you need some background, take a look at this potted history of the Co-op from the BBC's Steph McGovern.

    OFGEM 10:40:

    Consumer rights body Which? voices its approval for Ofgem's attempt to broaden competition in the energy sector - but says more reform is needed. Its executive director Richard Lloyd said: "While many of these measures are welcome, they only scratch the surface of the changes needed to bring competition to the market and to make it work for consumers... We want a full competition inquiry."

    LISTEN AGAIN 10:59:

    Its all about the banks on Business Daily . What do new regulations for the UK banking sector mean for doing business in London - and for its future as a global banking hub? Andrew Bailey, the Bank of England's man setting the new rules, tells chief business correspondent Linda Yueh all about it. Also on the programme, as the value of the Renminbi continues to fall, if China can't protect its currency then who can?

    TV DREAMS 11:10:
    Mr Singh's family raise a toast

    Gaining an accolade for your business on TV is certain to kickstart your enterprise - most might think. In 2010, the makers of Mr Singh's Sauce, the Sahota family, were over the moon when their chilli sauce was picked up by Asda in front of millions of TV viewers on the BBC programme High Street Dreams. The family shrieked with delight, and the tears flowed. Now read on...

    OFGEM 11:27: Radio 5 live

    There has been more on Ofgem's bid to get the Big Six energy firms to publish their wholesale power prices up to two years in advance. The move is designed to make it easier for smaller suppliers to enter the market. But the managing director of one such supply company, Stephen Fitzpatrick of Ovo Energy, told 5 Live Ofgem's proposals won't make much difference.

    E-CIGARETTES 11:38:
    Electronic cigarette

    The European Parliament is voting today on tighter regulations for electronic cigarettes. The parliament has already decided they're consumer products, so they won't have the same controls as nicotine patches, which are classed as "medicinal". But some MEPs still want them regulated on health and safety grounds.

    ITV RESULTS 11:46:
    Richard Desmond

    The Guardian highlights an interesting line from this morning's ITV results. Chief executive Adam Crozier has ruled out a bid for Channel 5. Current owner Richard Desmond hired Barclays to explore the sale of the terrestrial channel in January. Bids are due by tomorrow morning.

    LISTEN AGAIN 11:53: World Service

    What impact will new rules have on the British banking sector and the future of London as a global banking hub? This morning's Business Daily hears from Andrew Bailey, deputy governor of the Bank of England. And as the value of the renminbi falls, the programme asks: If China can't protect its currency then who can? Listen via the podcast now.

    CREDIT SUISSE 12:06:

    The boss of Credit Suisse will hit back at accusations the bank helped US customers evade tax, according to a story in the Financial Times. The paper says chief executive Brady Dougan will tell a US Senate committee the bank made efforts to ensure customers complied with tax laws, and conducted an "expansive internal investigation".

    PMQS 12:15:

    It's Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, and Ed Miliband is grilling David Cameron on how much the government spends on flood defences. Earlier the Institution of Civil Engineers called for a substantial increase in spending on flood risk management in next month's budget.

    CO-OP GROUP 12:30: Via Email

    There is some reaction from farmers to Co-op's decision to sell its farms. Phil Hudson, the NFU's head of food and farming, says it might not be such bad news for UK farming: "There is huge confidence in the agriculture industry at the moment and this could provide a significant opportunity for existing farmers and potential new entrants to the industry."

    GROWTH FIGURES Via Twitter Hugh Pym Chief economics correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "Net trade made positive contribution to growth in Q4 - though imports fell a lot and exports grew slightly"

    OFGEM 12:47: Via Email

    Regulator Ofgem has taken the unusual step of responding to criticism from Labour and Which? of its regulation plans, announced earlier. "For the Labour Party and Which? to dismiss Ofgem's fundamental reforms is to misunderstand the barriers to competition that we have identified and are tackling," it says in an emailed statement.

    OFGEM 12:53: Via Email

    ...and here is what Centrica, the owner of British Gas, has to say: "We regard liquidity of wholesale power markets as essential and are ready to implement the new trading rules announced today. Our business is fully transparent, with detailed, audited, segmental statements for 2013 already published."


    It's been another morning on full power for the Business Live page team. We're off now to recharge and will be back and plugged into from 06:00 tomorrow. See you then.


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