Business in 2013: BBC's most-read stories of the year

The year 2013 was another big one for business stories, with the flotation of Royal Mail, more fines for the world's biggest banks, and plane problems all hitting the headlines.

Here we take a look at which stories caught our readers' attention, with a run-through of the BBC's most-read items of the past 12 months.


The year began with the saga of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, which was temporarily taken out of service after a series of incidents, including one emergency landing, prompted safety concerns. It was the first mass grounding of an aircraft model since 1979, and a reputational blow for Boeing's flagship plane. The problem was traced back to its battery system, which was modified, and the planes were up and running again by the end of April.

Meanwhile in the UK, the DVLA warned us that we could face fines of £1,000 if we fail to renew our photo-card driving licences.


Could speaking English make you poorer? The BBC's Tim Bowler spoke to one researcher who says that if you speak English as your main language, you are likely to save less for your old age, smoke more and get less exercise than if you speak a language such as Mandarin, Yoruba or Malay.

Why? Click through to find out.

Also among the most read in February was the news that drinkers were suing the makers of Budweiser in the US, accusing it of watering down its beer.


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Media captionThe BBC's economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, visits London, Birmingham and Manchester and explores an uneasy relationship

"A first-rate city with a second-rate country attached", is how one American friend of the BBC's economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, described London. In March, she flipped the description by asking whether the rest of the UK might actually be better off without its cosmopolitan capital.

Banks were also back in the news in March, with a report from the accountants KPMG suggesting that the 2012 profits for the UK's five biggest banks had been wiped out by the cost of regulation and their own mistakes.


How will the human race become extinct? That was the question that the BBC's Sean Coughlan attempted to answer with the help of scientists as part of our Knowledge Economy series. Take the impending threat of doomsday seriously, warns one scientist: "It's not science fiction, religious doctrine or a late-night conversation in the pub."

The news that UK retailers were rationing baby milk because of surging demand for it in China was also widely read in April.


The story of a couple from Swansea and their shock at receiving a £163,000 mobile phone bill was our most read story in May.

Will Smale's profile of Silicon Valley's Aaron Levie, the multimillionaire who's a big fan of tinned spaghetti hoops, was also widely read. "We were making very little money to begin with. I'd pay myself just $500 (£330) a month salary and live off instant noodles and Spaghettios," he told us.


The aviation fans were back in June, putting planes once again at the top of the most read charts in June, with the news that Boeing rival Airbus saw the maiden flight of its A350 model. The moment was significant for Airbus, which is relying on the A350 to rival Boeing's Dreamliner.

Meanwhile designers Dolce and Gabbana made the headlines when they were sentenced to one year and eight months in prison for tax evasion.


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Media captionArchbishop Welby: "It was very embarrassing, there's no two ways about it"

In July, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made the news with his criticism of short-term loan companies such as Wonga, only to discover that the Church of England indirectly invests in the company. He admitted the whole thing was "very embarrassing".

A cap on benefits was also high on the news agenda. Iain Duncan Smith assured us that the plan would encourage unemployed people to find jobs.


The top story came from BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott. He warned us about a car accident scam where criminals flash their lights to let other drivers out of a junction, then crash into them on purpose.

The second most read story of the month was about Disney's blockbuster The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp, which was widely seen as one of the flops of the summer and cost the studio millions.


Two stories on the technology giants that were losing out in the smartphone market were the most read in September. The slow demise of Nokia was underlined by the news that Microsoft had agreed to buy the mobile phone business from the Finnish giant.

Blackberry's failure to keep up with the likes of Apple and Samsung also pushed it to announce plans to cut 4,500 jobs globally.


The future of Royal Mail as a private company was one of the big business stories of the year, after shares in the company were floated in October. Those who invested were eager to read what the share price performance was on its market debut. "Stellar" could sum it up, but not everyone was happy. That led to accusations that it had been sold off too cheaply by ministers.

But the most read story of the month was the news that McDonald's had stopped serving Heinz ketchup alongside its burgers and fries after 40 years, after the former head of rival Burger King took over as Heinz's chief executive.


Image caption Online retailer Amazon employs more than 20,000 people across its eight warehouses during its peak Christmas season

A BBC investigation into working conditions at a UK-based Amazon warehouse in November found conditions that a stress expert said could cause "mental and physical illness". Night shifts involved up to 11 miles of walking, secret filming by the BBC found.

Meanwhile, UK retailers were getting warmed up for Christmas, with the US consumer tradition of deep discounts on "Black Friday" apparently making it over to the other side of the Atlantic.


As the year drew to a close, the UK's biggest banks were once again in the news, with December's best read stories covering Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds respectively.

RBS was told it "must do better" after a major IT fault temporarily affected payments. Lloyds, meanwhile, was fined a record £28m by UK regulators for the way it incentivised sales staff with bonuses.

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