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Summary

  1. FTSE closes almost unchanged despite jump for RBS shares
  2. Kraft Heinz shelves £115bn Unilever bid
  3. Unilever shares fall back 7%, having risen 13% on Friday
  4. Disability Works: BBC looks at disability and business
  5. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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  1. Post update

    That's all from the livepage. There's no Wall Street update today because the markets are closed to celebrate George Washington's birthday.

    We'll be back from 6am tomorrow. Please join us.

  2. Greece: Less austerity, more reform?

    Greece and its European creditors have agreed to resume talks on what economic reforms the country must make next in order to get the money it needs to avoid bankruptcy and a potential exit from the euro this summer.

    The creditors also hinted that they would temper their demands for budget cuts, a welcome thought for austerity-weary Greeks who have seen poverty and unemployment spike as their economy shrank by a quarter over the recent crisis-ridden years. 

    "There will be a change in the policy mix, if you will, moving perhaps away from austerity and putting more emphasis on deep reforms,'' Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the eurozone's top official, told Reuters.

    At face value, that means fewer tax rises and spending cuts and deep reforms to the country's tax system, pensions and labor laws. Such reforms could help the economy and generate income that the Greek government can use to push for further growth - such as through tax cuts or even spending increases.

    There could be fiscal space for growth-enhancing measures," Mr Dijsselbloem said. 

  3. Business rates concerns genuine - former minister

    A high street

    Critics of the government's planned changes to business rates are raising "genuine" concerns, a former local government minister says.

    Bob Neill was speaking after ministers claimed there had been a "relentless campaign of distortions and half-truths" about the move.

    The changes come into force on 1 April as a result of a revaluation of premises carried out by the government.

    Business groups and some Tory MPs have warned of high street store closures.

    Speaking to the BBC, Mr Neill, the Conservative MP for the South London constituency of Bromley and Chislehurst, said the government had "swallowed a line" from the Valuation Office Agency, the organisation that handles property valuations relating to tax changes, which was "wholly out of touch".  

  4. Oil prices edge higher

    Oil prices inched higher as investor optimism over the effectiveness of producer cuts encouraged record bets on a sustained rally, although growing US output and stubbornly high stockpiles kept price gains in check.

    Top Opec exporter Saudi Arabia's crude oil shipments fell in December to 8.014 million barrels per day (bpd) from 8.258 million bpd in November, official data showed on Monday.

    Brent futures ended the session up 0.7% at $56.18 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude was up 29 cents, or 0.5%, at $53.69 in very thin trading. 

  5. Unite promises to fight BMW pensions change

    BMW car

    Talks between the Unite union and BMW over the carmaker's plans to close its defined benefit pension scheme are to continue, but the threat of industrial action remains.

    Unite general secretary Len McCluskey met with company bosses to make clear the union's opposition to the proposed closure of the final salary pension scheme by the end of May.

    Unite said the move could lead to workers losing up to £140,000 over the course of their retirement. Mr McCluskey said: "While there was a cordial exchange of views, BMW were left in no doubt as to the depth of anger their pension plans have generated.

    "BMW should be under no illusion though. A failure to speedily respond to the points we have raised and negotiate meaningfully in finding a solution will result in a ballot for industrial action in the near future." 

  6. Greek bailout

    What is the current thinking of the eurozone lenders to Greece?

    "There is still a lot of work to do," said the Dutch finance minister in Brussels.

    Jeroen Dijsselbloem made the comments at a news conference, after a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels to consider the current negotiations about the Greek bailout programme. 

    "I want to temper expectations. There is no need for a disbursement in March, April or May," he said. 

    But Greece will need new funds to pay its debt by July. 

  7. More on that Greek debt bailout

    The cruel saga of Greece and its massive debts rumbles on. The World Service economics correspondent, Andrew Walker, explains the latest developments.

    A Greek national flag hangs outside a shop on February 20, 2017 in Athens Greece
    Quote Message: Finance ministers from the countries that use the euro have agreed to send a team of experts to Greece for further negotiations before they release the next payment of bailout money. The Dutch finance minister, who chaired the meeting, said he hoped an agreement could be reached as soon as possible. Greece is, once again, being pressed by its lenders to do more to reform its economy to stimulate stronger growth. The situation is complicated by a dispute between the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund over the IMF's view that Greece needs more debt relief. So far the IMF has not contributed financially to this third Greek bailout. Greece needs the bailout instalment in order to make debt payments which are due in July. There are concerns that the negotiations might be affected by a series of forthcoming European elections starting with the Netherlands next month.
  8. Renewable energy in Saudi Arabia

    A large banner shows Saudi Vision for 2030 as a soldier stands guard before the arrival of Saudi King Salman at the inauguration of several energy projects in Ras Al Khair, Saudi Arabia, November 29, 2016.

    Saudi Arabia has asked local and international businesses to start bidding for work on the first stage of its huge project to build big renewable energy plants in the country.

    The project is called the National Renewable Energy Programme, and is aimed at producing 9.5 gigawatts of energy by 2023. 

    It is part of a plan known as Vision 2030, aimed at getting away from the country's reliance on using oil. 

    The first part of the project will involve a 300 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in Sakaka, the Al Jouf Province in the north. There will also be a 400 megawatt wind farm in Midyan in the northwest. 

  9. VW: minister offers help to consumers

    Transport Committee hears evidence about diesel scandal

    VW car badge

    Transport minister John Hayes has told MPs that he will soon meet legal representatives of consumers seeking to take legal action against Volkswagen to see what help the government could give them. 

    In January a British law firm launched legal action seeking thousands of pounds of compensation each for UK drivers affected by the carmaker's emissions scandal, and other firms have since sought to join the move. 

  10. VW: transport minister to visit Germany

    Transport Committee hears evidence about diesel scandal

    UK transport minister John Hayes says he will go to Germany next month to meet his German counterpart to request detailed technical information regarding the Volkswagen diesel emissions.

    He told MPs he continues to press the issue of compensation with Volkswagen over the UK cars affected by diesel scandal.

  11. VW report: why wasn't it published?

    Transport Committee hears evidence about diesel scandal

    John Hayes

    One contentious issue concerns publication of a report into the emissions scandal by lawyers Jones Day, which was commissioned by VW.

    The MPs said VW had promised the committee that it would be published, but the carmaker had now decided not to.

    Transport minister John Hayes (above) also said he was told it would be published.

    So, why has it not been released?

    One could "reasonably assume" that one reason is "that it contains information which contradicts what Volkswagen have said both publicly and to this committee", the minister said.

  12. VW: difference of opinion

    Transport Committee hears evidence about diesel scandal

    Transport minister John Hayes has not been impressed with the evidence given earlier by VW's UK chief Paul Willis.

    Mr Hayes, who's looking in to the diesel emissions scandal's impact in the UK,is asked about Mr Willis' comment that VW has given him all the information asked for so they could press on with inquiries.

    "It's not true," Mr Hayes says.

  13. will.i.am to advise a bank?

    will.i.am performing

    The performer will.i.am, best known for fronting the group Black Eyed Peas, may be about to get in bed with a bank.

    Sky News says he is about to sign a deal to become, believe it or not, a “consultant and board adviser” to Atom bank, which was set up in the UK last year as a bank accessible only by a mobile app and with no branches. 

    The company’s PR person said: “I’m sorry but I can’t confirm or deny anything at the moment.” 

    Apparently the price for Mr will.i.am’s services will be to let him buy 3.55 million shares in Atom Bank, at £1.15 each, over a three year period. 

    So that’s just over £4m in (presumably) cheap shares, in return for doing some publicity for the bank and giving it his best advice.

  14. RBS leads FTSE risers

    Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland soared after the Government put the brakes on the bank's sale of Williams & Glyn. RBS shares closed up 6.8% on the news.

    Unilever fell 6.56% after US food giant Kraft Heinz called off its proposed £143bn mega-merger with the consumer goods firm.

    Despite these big moves, the FTSE 100 ended the day virtually unchanged at 7,299.8 points.

  15. VW chief wants to 'remove doubt'

    MPs are a bit bemused with some of Paul Willis' answers to their questions.

    Some 1.2 million diesel cars in the UK are being recalled for "technical fixes" following the diesel emissions scandal in the US.

    But Mr Willis, VW's UK chief, says there is nothing wrong with the UK engines and that so-called defeat devices - used in the US to flatter emissions readings - were not fitted in UK cars.

    So why are you recalling the cars? "It's all about removing doubt," Mr Willis says.

    Puzzled looks all round.

  16. Vauxhall: PSA's pride

    Ellesmere Port production line

    Returning to Vauxhall for a moment...

    Greg Clark says that executives from PSA told him last week that the French company took pride in not shutting plants.

    There are mounting concerns in Britain, where GM operates a car plant and a van facility under the Vauxhall brand, that a takeover deal could prompt job losses and site closures.

    Mr Clark said: "One of the points the PSA executives made to me was that since the new management of PSA has been in place, they have taken some pride in having part of their strategy not to close plants."

  17. VW: Most UK cars yet to be fixed

    Transport Committee hears evidence from VW

    Paul Willis, VW UK chief

    VW's most senior executive in the UK, Paul Willis, says that of the 1.2 million cars in Britain needing a diesel fix, 470,000 have been done.

    He added there have been no redundancies in the UK because of the diesel issue. Indeed, the company is trying to recruit more people to help with the technical fixes, he tells MPs.

  18. VW: no compensation for UK diesel owners

    It is not only Vauxhall that is being discussed in Parliament. VW executives are before the Transport Committee, answering questions about the diesel emissions scandal.

    Many UK VW owners are outraged that there will be no compensation, as there will be for customers in the US. 

    But the German giant's UK boss Paul Wallis tells MPs that "there is no legal basis for compensation." He says there is no comparison between the situation in the US and Europe.

  19. Vauxhall: 'Premature speculation'

    Meanwhile, Germany's Deputy Economy Minister Matthias Machnig said on Monday that General Motors and PSA had so far not given any binding guarantees on German jobs, but that there had been some encouraging signs.

    "This is why speculation is premature at this point," Machnig told German television station ARD. He expressed hope that a combination with France's PSA could form the basis of a better future for Opel.

    German newspaper Bild am Sonntag has reported that PSA had pledged to continue operating all four of Opel's German production sites. That sent alarm bells ringing in Britain.  

  20. Vauxhall: job protection a priority

    Greg Clark

    Business secretary Grey Clark dismisses suggestions that France's PSA would not invest in the UK once Britain leaves the EU.

    Mr Clark says that conversations he has had with PSA lead him to think otherwise.

    And he promised "unbounded commitment" to protect jobs at Vauxhall.

    "And I will of course work with all of the groups, including the trade unions, including the workforce, to make that case, if new owners there are to be, to those new owners," he added.