Porsche asks UK buyers to commit to 10% no-deal Brexit surcharge | Business – Business Article

Porsche is asking British customers to sign a contract committing them to pay a surcharge of up to 10% of their vehicles’ purchase price if there is a no-deal Brexit. Cars made in Europe could attract tariffs of 10% if imported to the UK under the terms of the World Trade Organization, the default trading relationship if the UK and the EU are unable to agree a transition period before 29 March. The car industry is particularly exposed to the…

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Betting firms may be forced to provide free self-exclusion tools | Society – Business Article

Gambling companies could be forced to provide customers free of charge with software blocking them from betting, under proposals to be considered by the industry regulator. The Gambling Commission has launched a call for evidence looking at ways to better protect vulnerable people and problem gamblers by changing the industry’s code of practice, after identifying weaknesses. Proposals for consideration include forcing bookmakers and online casinos to fund tools that allow customers to lock themselves out of gambling altogether, building on…

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A380: a comfortable, eerily quiet cruise ship of the skies | Business – Business Article

The first thing you noticed was the silence. Even sitting by the engines at takeoff, you didn’t need to raise your voice on the A380 superjumbo. The quiet was almost eerie. It was a monstrous double-decker so big it felt like travelling in two planes stuck on top of one other. It was a kind of cruise ship of the skies with staircases, bars and private first-class cabins, spilling out a wave passengers when it landed at airports. And yet,…

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Patisserie Valerie saved in buyout backed by Irish private equity firm | Business – Business Article

The Patisserie Valerie cafe chain has been saved from closure by a management buyout backed by an Irish private equity firm. Almost 100 cafes will be rescued in the deal, backed by Causeway Capital, while another 21 sites under the Philpotts brand have been bought by AF Blakemore & Son, the family owned company which is the largest operator of Spar franchise outlets in the UK. The two deals will save about 2,000 jobs. Patisserie Holdings – the listed parent…

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Germany narrowly avoids recession after stagnating in last quarter – business live | Business – Business Article

2.44am EST 02:44 Why has Germany’s economy slowed? Germany used to be the powerhouse of the eurozone economy, but a cocktail of blows from home and abroad have left it nursing a bad hangover. 1) The global slowdown. The world economy has come off the boil in recent months, partly due to Donald Trump’s trade war. That means less investment, so lower demand for machinery produced by Germany’s industrial heartland. China, in particular, has been cutting back on imports as…

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Interserve needs a good plan B, given the rebellion to its current plan | Nils Pratley | Business – Business Article

The board of Interserve, the large but ailing government contractor, knew it would struggle to persuade shareholders to vote for their own demise, which is an almost-accurate description of the proposed £480m debt-for-equity rescue in which the banks would take control and current investors would be diluted to just 2.5% ownership. Sure enough, the rebellion is on. The New York-based hedge fund Coltrane was first out of the traps last week, declaring it wants to vote out Interserve’s entire board…

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Ex-BT bosses named in investigation into alleged fraud in Italy unit | Business – Business Article

Three former BT executives, including two who were based in London, have been named in an investigation into alleged accounting fraud in the company’s Italian division, a scandal that forced it to write off £530m and claimed the scalp of its European chief. In a document summing up their case, prosecutors in Italy alleged that a network of BT Italy employees fabricated contracts and invoices and invented fake transactions to hide the unit’s true financial position and hit bonus targets.…

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Brexit: UK has rolled over just £16bn out of £117bn trade deals | Business – Business Article

The government’s push to roll over EU trade deals from which the UK currently benefits has yielded agreements covering just £16bn of the near-£117bn of British trade with the countries involved. Despite frenetic efforts by ministers to ensure the continuity of international trade after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March, the trade secretary, Liam Fox, has so far only managed to secure deals with seven of the 69 countries that the UK currently trades with under preferential EU…

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Gambling ads to be banned from child-friendly sites and games | Media – Business Article

Gambling adverts will no longer be allowed to appear on websites or in computer games that are popular with children, under new rules designed to stop irresponsible gambling. Bookmakers will be required to use every targeting tool possible to ensure online gambling promotions are not seen by under-18s. They will also have to avoid placing gambling adverts on parts of websites that are popular with children, and stop using celebrities or other people who appear to be under 25 in…

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Business leaders demand May answers 20 questions on trade | Politics – Business Article

Business leaders have demanded the prime minister answer 20 crucial questions before the 29 March deadline to prevent a chaotic no-deal Brexit. The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), the UK business trade body, said that without greater clarity over import and export duties, border controls and customs procedures, Theresa May risked thousands of companies suffering a potentially catastrophic shock when the UK quits the European Union. Adam Marshall, the BCC’s director general, said British firms could face the biggest change…

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Digital ad market under fresh scrutiny amid competition concerns | Media – Business Article

Facebook and Google could be forced to open up their businesses and share details of how their advertising model works, after the government backed an investigation into concerns that their dominance of the online advertising business is hurting news publishers. News outlets have long complained that Facebook and Google, which together account for the vast majority of digital advertising in the UK, have sucked out billions of pounds of revenue that previously supported the cost of journalism. The culture secretary,…

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MPs press Treasury to abandon ‘absurd’ inflation measure | Business – Business Article

The government is coming under intense pressure to either abandon or fix the “grossly unfair” retail prices index inflation measure, which MPs say is penalising students and rail passengers. In a rare combined letter from parliamentarians in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, RPI was described as “absurd” and its continued use was labelled “a ridiculous merry-go-round”. In the letter sent to the head of the UK Statistics Authority, John Pullinger, the House of Commons Treasury select…

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Markets boosted by US government shutdown deal and trade war hopes – business live | Business – Business Article

Republican Senator from Alabama Richard Shelby, who says a deal to avoid another government shutdown has been reached Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial market, the eurozone and business. A burst of optimism is rippling through the markets this morning, after US lawmakers reached a tentative deal to avoid another government shutdown. Overnight, Democrats and Republicans agreed a new spending package, which includes some more money to fund…

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Calls for regulator to ensure access to cash after bank IT failures | Business – Business Article

The government is facing calls for a new regulator to protect consumers’ access to cash, following several bank IT failures and thousands of cash machine and branch closures across the UK. The consumer group Which? said cash is still a necessity for more than 25 million people in the UK. It also noted the combined closures of cash machines and branches have left people struggling to pay for essential goods and services. The charity is campaigning for the creation of…

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Hammond’s Brexit ‘dividend’ claim rejected as UK economy stalls | Politics – Business Article

Philip Hammond’s claim that Britain can reap an economic dividend from Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been flatly rejected by MPs, as official figures confirmed the UK has suffered its worst year for GDP growth since 2012. In a highly critical report, the Treasury select committee warned that the chancellor’s claims of a “deal dividend” if Britain avoided a no-deal exit lacked credibility. The criticism came after data on Monday showed the economy grew by just 0.2% in the final…

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Debenhams to announce £40m short-term cash injection | Business – Business Article

Debenhams is expected to announce a short-term cash injection of about £40m as it buys more time to arrange a longer-term refinancing and store closure plan. The ailing department store chain, which has 165 outlets and employs 25,000 people, is battling to reach a deal with its banks and bondholders after a difficult Christmas capped off a lacklustre 2018, during which it issued three profit warnings. Lenders have agreed to extend the company’s overdraft limit in an attempt to give…

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UK GDP growth report to show economy slowing ahead of Brexit – business live | Business – Business Article

4.30am EST 04:30 UK GDP report released Newsflash: The UK economy suffered a sharp slowdown in the last quarter of 2018, only expanding by 0.2%. That’s down from 0.6% in the third quarter. More to follow… 4.25am EST 04:25 There’s just time for a reminder of GDP’s weaknesses, with this brilliant speech by Robert Kennedy more than 50 years ago: 4.16am EST 04:16 Household incomes takes £1,500 hit since EU referendum Resolution, the thinktank, has a grim statistic — UK…

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Hammond £5bn short of ‘austerity is ending’ target, says thinktank | Business – Business Article

Philip Hammond must find an extra £5bn in this year’s Whitehall spending review to reverse planned cuts and meet his claim of ending austerity, a leading thinktank has revealed. The Institute for Fiscal Studies told the chancellor that funds pledged in last year’s budget to boost NHS spending, defence and international aid failed to safeguard local councils and some of the worst-hit government departments from further shortfalls. The thinktank said a minimum of £2.2bn would be needed to freeze all…

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Mike Ashley withdraws his surprise bid for Patisserie Valerie | Business – Business Article

Sports Direct has pulled out of the bidding for Patisserie Valerie, just two days after emerging as a surprise suitor for the stricken cake chain. Mike Ashley’s sportswear group walked away from talks on Sunday, ending the prospect that Patisserie Valerie could join House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and Sofa.com in the Sports Direct stable. The approach, made last Friday, was an unexpected twist in the battle to rescue Patisserie Valerie, which fell into administration in January after a £40m…

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Seven-year jail terms unveiled for pension fund mismanagement | Business – Business Article

MPs and pension experts have welcomed government plans to introduce lengthy jail sentences for executives who recklessly mismanage pension funds, in an effort to avoid a repeat of recent scandals like BHS or Carillion. Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, said the current fines were not enough and that a new criminal offence would be introduced to punish “wilful or reckless behaviour” relating to a pension scheme, threatening unlimited fines and prison terms of up to seven years for…

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A hundred years of impatience haven’t solved economy’s structural problems | Larry Elliott | Business – Business Article

This year marks a centenary of sorts. Back in 1919, with the first world war finally over, Britain woke up to a new reality. The days of being the world’s pre-eminent economic power were in the past. In truth, the writing had been on the wall before 1914. The US and Germany had caught up with Britain before the assassination at Sarajevo and were forging ahead in the new sectors that had sprung up around the turn of the 20th…

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Exposed: hidden travel agent fees send air fares sky high | Money – Business Article

Online travel agent Opodo seemed to offer the best deal when Des McGhee searched Kayak, the price comparison website, for a flight from London to Glasgow. Until he reached Opodo’s checkout page, that is. The price had more than doubled, from the £116.80 quoted for four tickets with easyJet to £242.80, with £126 of this the cost of checking in four bags at £31.50 each. It wasn’t until he received the booking confirmation from easyJet that he discovered that the…

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Sack Grayling over the Brexit ferry fiasco, demand MPs | Politics – Business Article

Theresa May faced cross-party calls to sack her transport secretary, Chris Grayling, last night, after the calamitous collapse of a no-deal Brexit ferry contract handed to a company with no ships. Senior Tories said the prime minister had turned “a blind eye” to Grayling’s decision to award the £13.8m contract to Seaborne Freight to run ferries between Ramsgate and Ostend, despite widespread derision and accusations that it had been awarded illegally. The collapse of the contract comes amid growing unease…

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Pressure mounts to strip Green of knighthood | Business – Business Article

Pressure was mounting on Saturday for controversial businessman Sir Philip Green to lose his knighthood following allegations that he had sexually and racially abused his staff. “If the allegations are true, then Philip Green should be stripped of his knighthood,” said Ian Lavery MP, Labour party chair. “The public rightly expect high standards from public figures and they’re not getting it. The honours system is clearly flawed and the prime minister should take steps to remove honours from people who…

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Government cancels Brexit ferry contract with no-ship firm | Politics – Business Article

A controversial no-deal Brexit ferry contract awarded to a firm with no ships has been cancelled by the Department for Transport after an Irish shipping firm that had been secretly backing the deal pulled out. The decision by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, to award Seaborne Freight a contract worth £13.8m had attracted widespread criticism and ridicule. It was one of three firms awarded contracts totalling £108m in late December to lay on additional crossings from Ramsgate to ease the…

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Is money to go travelling a suitable 21st birthday present? | Money – Business Article

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper. My son turns 21 in a few weeks and would like cash for his birthday so he can go travelling. Relatives have started asking what he would like. Can we just tell them to give him money, or would that be rude? Would it be better to…

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Philip Green accused of racial, physical and sexual abuse | Business – Business Article

Philip Green allegedly subjected people working in his business empire to abuse and other inappropriate behaviour that was at times racial, physical and sexual, according to a report. A host of serious allegations were published on Friday evening by the Daily Telegraph after an injunction obtained by the businessman was lifted. The paper said some of the people involved had made complaints about Green but they had been covered up. In some cases, Green is alleged to have paid people…

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Mike Ashley makes surprise bid for Patisserie Valerie | Business – Business Article

The sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley has made a surprise bid to add collapsed cake chain Patisserie Valerie to his high-street empire. On Friday evening the Sports Direct boss confirmed in a brief statement to the stock exchange that the company had made an offer for the stricken cake group, which plunged into administration last month. Patisserie Valerie went into a death spiral after the discovery of a £40m black hole in its finances, which it blamed on “potentially fraudulent” accounting…

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HMV’s new voice is relishing the fight to save all the stores | Business – Business Article

The new owner of HMV is hoping to reopen the chain’s flagship store on Oxford Street, and is in talks with landlords on the rest of the 27 outlets which closed down earlier this week. Doug Putman, the 34-year-old boss of Canada’s Sunrise Records, rescued 100 HMV stores from administration, beating off a bid from Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley. But branches such as Oxford Street, with higher rents, were not included in the deal. Speaking to the Guardian, Putman said…

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Jaguar Land Rover posts biggest quarterly loss of £3.4bn | Business – Business Article

Jaguar Land Rover announced its biggest quarterly loss on Thursday after it was forced to take a £3.1bn write-down on the value of its investments as Chinese demand slumped. Britain’s largest car manufacturer, which is owned by India’s Tata Group, made a £3.4bn pre-tax loss in the last three months of 2018 as sales fell. It anticipates a loss for the financial year as a whole for the first time in a decade. Half of the £3.1bn non-cash charge was…

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No-deal Brexit: UK exporters risk being locked out of world’s harbours | Business – Business Article

British exporters sending goods to far-flung destinations in the coming days risk being locked out of harbours around the world as a no-deal Brexit looms, business leaders have warned. The Confederation of British Industry, the EEF manufacturers’ lobby group and trade experts said exporters could be dispatching goods from UK ports imminently which would not arrive until after the 29 March deadline – raising the prospect of goods being stuck in ports or facing hefty additional costs in the event…

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Bank of England sets interest rates as Brexit looms and house prices slide – business live | Business – Business Article

“With Brexit negotiations still in deadlock, it is unsurprising that the property market continues to stagnate, with just 0.8% annual house price growth, and a monthly fall of -2.9%. Little progress was made in January, and Reapit’s data shows that a lack of clarity has caused buyers and sellers to abstain from engaging the market. Exchanges are now down by 16% across Greater London, with 27% fewer new listings in December 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. “However,…

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Brexit jitters hit housing market as newbuilds decline sharply | Business – Business Article

Housebuilding declined sharply in London and the Midlands last year as political and economic uncertainty around the shape of Brexit hit the housing market, according to industry figures. The number of new homes in London registered by housebuilders with the National House Building Council (NHBC) in 2018 fell 10% from the previous year to 16,069, the biggest annual drop since 2016. In the east Midlands and West Midlands, registrations were also down 10%, to 13,447 and 13,087 respectively following two…

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Interserve’s shareholders may have to swallow the fudge | Nils Pratley | Business – Business Article

Welcome to the new era of outsourcing, Interserve shareholders. You will be wiped out, more or less, via a £480m debt-for-equity swap in which the banks take control. You won’t like it, but please don’t bother voting against the rescue. If you do, your board intends to adopt “alternative plans” to force through the financial restructuring anyway. Shareholders may think this is unfair – and the biggest investor is demanding a new board of directors – but they cannot be…

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