29 May 2014 Last updated at 05:34

Business Live: 29 May 2014

    06:00: Russell Hotten, Business Reporter

    Good morning. There's a strong mix of corporate and economic news due today, so stay with us for all the breaking stories.

    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business Reporter

    Hello! You can stay in touch with us on email: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk and on twitter: @BBCBusiness

    BEATS DEAL 06:02: Radio 5 live

    Paul Kavanagh, chief investment officer of Killik & Co, is talking about Apple's $3bn purchase of Beats Electronics on 5 live. Despite the price tag, "it's a relatively small deal for Apple" because of how profitable they are. It's a useful insight into the direction Tim Cook is taking the company, he says, as Apple previously preferred to develop the products itself.

    HELP TO BUY 06:04: Radio 5 live

    Cash buyers, rather than Help to Buy, are pushing up house prices in London, says Aldermore Bank's Charles Haresnape on 5 live. Most of the people using the scheme at Aldermore are in the North West, North East and South West of the country, he says. Help to Buy is capped at homes priced £600,000.

    SAGA OFFER 06:15: Radio 5 live

    Stuart Welch, chief executive of TD Direct Investing, is on Wake up to Money, talking about Saga's share offer. The stock begins trading freely on the stock exchange today. So far the shares have risen only 1p. Investors shouldn't worry too much as company is "great" at selling more products to its existing customer base, which is itself growing, he says.

    Car industry workers

    Car manufacturing raced ahead in April, resulting in the biggest monthly rise since July 2012. A total of 133,437 cars were made in the UK last month - a 21.3% rise on the April 2013 figure, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said. The April figure took the year-so-far total to 538,240 - a 6.9% rise on the figure for January-April 2013.

    HELP TO BUY 06:35: BBC Radio 4

    Figures on Help to Buy due later will fuel the debate over rising house prices. But for Susan Emmett, a research expert at property firm Savills, it's all over-done. She tells Today that the mortgage support scheme is such a small part of the market that its impact on the housing bubble is very limited. "That story has been blown out of all proportion," she says.

    HEDGE FUNDS 06:47: BBC Radio 4

    Hedge fund expert Timothy Spangler has been on Today talking about his new book on an area of finance that generates both suspicion and admiration. Should hedge funds share some blame for the financial crisis? "They didn't cause the crime, but they were at the scene of the crime," he says. That sounds like a 'yes'. Despite many firms going out of business during the crisis, he estimates there is still $2.5tn invested in hedge funds.

    GOOGLE 07:01:

    It's no surprise that corporate America is stuffed with white males, but perhaps there was an expectation that a cutting-edge company like Google was different. Not so. The tech giant has released statistics on the diversity of its workforce for the first time, and 70% are men, and 61% are white. In a blog, Google's senior vice president Laszlo Bock says that put simply, the company is not where it wants to be when it comes to diversity.

    BRITISH GAS 07:12:

    The boss of British Gas, Chris Weston, is leaving to join FTSE 100 power group Aggreko. British Gas is owned by Centrica, which is already looking for a new finance director and whose chief executive is also reportedly expected to step down soon.

    TATE & LYLE RESULTS 07:16:

    Sugar refiners Tate & Lyle has announced that operating profit fell a shade to £325m as revenue dropped. The firm is reviewing its safety policies as there were deaths at three of its sites in the last 12 months.

    MARKET UPDATE 07:30:

    Tokyo stocks extended their winning streak to a sixth straight session on Thursday, but a stronger yen and profit-taking held back the Japanese market's gains. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged up 0.07%, or 10.77 points, to finish at 14,681.72.


    An 86% increase in fence panel sales at B&Q after the storms earlier in the year assisted Kingfisher's results. The group's sales for the 13 weeks to 3 May rose 6.1% to £2.78bn.

    HEDGE FUNDS 07:50:

    London-based Hedge Fund Man Group is in talks to buy US-based investment firm Numeric, it says. The negotiations are still going on, so there's no guarantee of a deal, Man says.

    HELP TO BUY 08:02: Radio 5 live

    Mark Garnier, a Conservative MP on the Treasury Select Committee, is talking about Help to Buy on 5 live. He says: "Things like a flight to quality from troubled European markets like Greece," are keeping up London house prices. According to some analysts, homes are "still 35% overvalued on a long-term basis." But the answer is not to reduce the value of the nation's housing wealth by that number, he says, which would harm those who own a home. More home building is needed, he agrees.

    BP 08:05:

    BP has asked a US judge to allow it to halt paying compensation claims while it waits for the US Supreme Court to review its settlement with businesses over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP is unhappy it must pay some firms economic damages, whether or not they can prove the spill caused them losses. The case has been working its way through the US justice system, with a Supreme Court hearing due.


    Kingfisher's chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire has talked to the Today programme. "People are back in their gardens this year enjoying the sunshine," he says. "There's definitely a more confident customer out there... we are seeing a massive weather effect." Help to Buy has been helpful "psychologically" for increased house prices, he says. But "there's a basic fact, we aren't building enough houses in the UK."

    BEATS DEAL Via Twitter Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

    tweets: "it's about the music not the headphones - here's what I wrote about Apple and Beats earlier this month"

    MARKET UPDATE 08:42:

    Kingfisher is the London market's big casualty, down 5% after the release of profit figures. The FTSE 100 is 15 points up at 6,866.3, led Smith & Nephew, 2.8% ahead on reports of possible bid interest.

    SPAIN 08:52:

    Spain's economy is growing at its fastest since the country's 2008 property crash, official data shows. Gross domestic product grew at a quarterly pace of 0.4% in the first three months of 2014, the quickest in six years, the National Statistics Institute said.

    BILDERBERG 09:07:

    Conspiracy theorists' favourite event kicks off in Copenhagen today, according to The Independent. The secretive Bilderberg conference brings together corporate chiefs and an assortment of figures from the global elite. UK Chancellor George Osborne and his Labour opponent Ed Balls have also been invited, apparently.

    CENTRICA Via Blog Kamal Ahmed BBC Business editor

    "To lose one senior executive might be considered a misfortune. Two might be considered careless. To lose three is moving a business into the realms of messy." Read more from Kamal here.

    ARGENTINA 09:22:

    Argentina has reached an agreement with the Paris Club of international creditors over repaying $9.7bn in overdue debts. It allows Argentina to clear arrears stretching back five years and could open much-needed international financing for the country, the group of creditor nations said.

    BEATS DEAL 09:31: Radio 5 live

    Stuart Miles of technology website Pocket-lint is on 5 live talking about Apple's purchase of Beats Electronics. "They get a very popular headphone brand... second they get a music streaming service.. and thirdly they get Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine, which is important because of the work they've done in the music industry and Hollywood."

    HELP TO BUY 09:45:

    In first six months of the second phase of Help to Buy, 7,313 mortgages were completed with the support of the scheme. Take-up of the scheme is hugely skewed towards cheaper properties - with nearly half in the under-£125,000 bracket.

    HELP TO BUY Via Twitter Ben Thompson Business correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: On the Help to Buy figures showing 7,313 completions in first 6 months, remember - on average - 100,000 property deals are done EVERY month.

    HELP TO BUY Via Twitter Adam Parsons Business Correspondent

    tweets: Help to Buy 2: 80% of deals are first-time buyers


    Russia has signed a deal with Belarus and Kazakhstan on creating a Eurasian Economic Union to strengthen ties between the three ex-Soviet countries. The agreement was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the Kazakh capital of Astana.


    London-listed Merlin Entertainments opened its latest Madame Tussauds waxworks museum today, in Beijing. Despite featuring exhibits including Karl Marx and Barack Obama, there is no Chinese leader - past or present. Merlin's Craig Dunkerley told the AFP news agency that the company is "still in discussion" with the Chinese authorities.


    A major earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan dampened Philippine economic growth in the first three months of the year, but the economy is still expected to hit its target for 2014. The country's gross domestic product grew 5.7% in the first quarter, down from 7.7% for the same period last year and 6.3% in the last quarter of 2013.

    ECONOMY Via Twitter Adam Parsons Business Correspondent

    tweets: "Why collecting football stickers tells you almost everything about economics." Listen to the podcast.

    MARKET UPDATE 11:14:

    Hong Kong shares fell 0.3% on profit-taking as investors took their lead from a sell-off on Wall Street. The benchmark Hang Seng Index eased 69.89 points to 23,010.1. Analysts said many investors were awaiting US economic news later in the day, including the second estimate of first-quarter gross domestic product.

    CHINA 11:30:

    China is no longer a land of opportunity for European businesses, according to a survey. Slowing economic growth, rising labour costs, falling profits, regulatory hurdles and pollution make the country far less attractive. The report by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and consultancy Roland Berger, says: "Business is already tough and it is getting tougher. This is leading many to the conclusion that the good times are over."

    TESCO IN CHINA 11:45: Via Email
    Tesco Beijing

    Tesco has finalised a deal with the state-run China Resources Enterprise to create the largest food retailer in China. Jon Copestake, retail analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit writes: "In some respects ceding its Chinese operations to China Resources for a minority stake may be seen as a canny move, enabling the Chinese firm to utilise its local market knowledge to expand operations. But many see the move as a retreat from a potentially huge market by Tesco."

    FUNDING FOR LENDING 11:59: Via Email

    The Bank of England has said net lending to businesses by banks and building societies taking part in its Funding for Lending Scheme fell by £2.7bn in the first quarter of 2014. Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business says: "Some of the decline in lending is down to reduced appetite to lend to the real estate sector, so for the rest of the economy the picture is slightly brighter. At a time when the economy is picking up, there is no doubt the figures remain slightly disappointing."

    HELP TO BUY Via Blog Robert Peston Economics editor

    In case anyone thinks that the bubble in the London housing market has been caused by the government's second Help to Buy scheme, today's stats show that is an absurd notion, says BBC Economics Editor Robert Peston. More here.

    MARKET UPDATE 12:34:

    Little change on the FTSE 100 since the open, with the benchmark index now up 24 points, or 0.36%, at 6,875.6. Smith & Nephew remains the stand-out gainer, up 4% on reports it could be the target of a bid. Kingfisher, down 5%, is the big loser after those disappointing profit figures. Elsewhere, Saga ticked up 1.1p to 187.1p on its first full day of trading, having floated at 185p.

    TATA 12:47:

    India's Tata Motors reported a small drop in net profit for the three months ended 31 March, hit by a foreign exchange loss as strong sales of its luxury Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles continued to outstrip difficult times at home. Tata said profit was 39.18bn rupees (£397m), down 0.7 % from the same time the year before, with net sales up 16%.

    ACER CLOUD 12:57:

    Taiwanese computer company Acer has unveiled a new cloud computing service called Build Your Own Cloud, as it tries to move away from less-profitable hardware manufacturing. Stan Shih, chairman and company founder, said Acer needed to get away from the traditional business model that had once made it the world's number two personal computer maker, as stiff competition from rivals such as Apple in recent years had caused fortunes to slide.

    13:00: Howard Mustoe Business Reporter

    That's it for today. But there's more tomorrow. Come back for more house price data and numbers from the CBI from 06:00.


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