• Maintain EU electrical safety standards after Brexit, ministers urged Link
    Guardian Business Mon 18 Feb 2019 00:21

    The government is being urged to prevent consumer safety standards from slipping after Brexit, to avoid putting lives at risk from the growing number of potentially dangerous counterfeit electrical goods coming into the UK.

    As the country edges closer to leaving the EU, the charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) wants the government to prioritise consumer safety and protection, regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, which could be the UK crashing out without a deal.

    In a Brexit warning to be published this week, it says EU legislation surrounding safety standards on electrical goods, as well as consumer protection rights, must continue to be mirrored in UK law to ensure all electrical items are safe, so consumers are protected from the risk of substandard or counterfeit products.

    Fake and unofficial electrical products can pose a much greater risk to life than items such as clothing, including from electrocution and fire....

  • Flybmi tells customers to seek refunds from credit card companies Link
    Guardian Business Sun 17 Feb 2019 20:56

    Flybmi is advising customers to seek refunds from credit and debit card companies or rebook with other airlines after the company collapsed late on Saturday, leading to the cancellation of thousands of journeys.

    On Sunday night, it emerged that Flybmi’s Glasgow-based sister company Loganair, which flies to the Scottish Highlands and Islands as well as to a small number of destinations in England, Ireland and Scandinavia, was poised to step in and take over five of Flybmi’s routes from next month.

    Loganair said it was in a “strong financial position” and would be flying from Aberdeen to Bristol, Oslo and Esbjerg, as well as from Newcastle to Brussels and to Stavanger in Norway. It was also “evaluating Flybmi’s wider network”.

    Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair’s managing director, said: “It’s always really sad to see an airline go out of business, and our thoughts are with all those affected – particularly staff members. We are evaluating Flybmi’s...

  • UK's richest man moves to Monaco to 'save £4bn in tax' Link
    Guardian Business Sun 17 Feb 2019 19:26

    Britain’s richest man, the Brexit supporter Sir Jim Ratcliffe, and two of his key lieutenants at chemicals firm Ineos have reportedly been planning to save up to £4bn in tax after moving to Monaco.

    The company, which is valued at about £35bn, is working with tax experts at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to create a new structure for the business to dramatically reduce the tax paid on its global revenues, according to the Sunday Times.

    Ratcliffe, who has lobbied to weaken green taxes and reduce restrictions on fracking, owns 60% of Ineos, which made profits of more than £2.2bn last year and employs 18,500 people. His top two lieutenants at Ineos, Andy Currie and John Reece, each own 20% of the company worth £7bn and were also reported to be moving to Monaco and involved in the tax avoidance plan.

    It emerged last year that Ratcliffe, the founder and chief executive of Ineos, was preparing to move to the tax-free...

  • Problem gamblers are using PayPal to spend up to £150,000 a day Link
    Guardian Business Sun 17 Feb 2019 18:26

    PayPal has been accused of letting problem gamblers spend up to £150,000 a day, prompting concerns that addicts are using the online payment system to circumvent bank limits.

    MPs and gambling experts called for the company to be more responsible to stop people racking up huge debts that could force them into bankruptcy.

    The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the Gambling Commission could consider payment providers as part of its review of gambling on credit cards.

    Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a psychiatrist who founded the NHS’s only specialist gambling clinic, said: “The first time I ever heard about a gambler using PayPal to pay for online gambling occurred about two weeks ago in clinic, when a young man came accompanied by one of his parents. The patient was 20 years old, with no savings.

    “He had been online gambling, had reached his limit on his bank card but somehow managed to withdraw by direct...

  • Heineken’s aim to have a positive impact in Africa | Letter Link
    Guardian Business Sun 17 Feb 2019 18:01
  • Petrofac co-founder is accused posthumously of paying bribes Link
    Guardian Business Sun 17 Feb 2019 16:01

    The Serious Fraud Office announced in May 2017 that it was “investigating the activities of Petrofac PLC, its subsidiaries and their officers, employees and agents for suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering”. The SFO added that the investigation was related to its inquiries into alleged corruption by the oil and gas company Unaoil, which had started in 2016.

  • Chemicals firms move regulation to EU in case of no-deal Brexit Link
    Guardian Business Sun 17 Feb 2019 15:06

    The threat of a no-deal Brexit has prompted a slew of chemicals companies to move regulatory approvals from the UK to the EU to protect their ability to do business legally.

    More than 50 British chemicals companies with operations in the UK have applied to use EU regulators for critical authorisations that will become worthless if there is no transition arrangement following 29 March, the planned date of Brexit, according to data provided to the Guardian by the European commission.

    Rentokil Initial, the FTSE 100 company whose services include pest control and cleaning, is one of the large companies that has moved registrations away from the UK, in a move that would allow it to continue to handle dangerous chemicals in the EU even if there is a no-deal Brexit.

    The prospect of a no-deal Brexit threatens to upend many of the complex regulatory systems under which UK and European companies operate. Companies in the most tightly regulated...

  • African American businesses grew 400% – but they still need investment | Gene Marks Link
    Guardian Business Sun 17 Feb 2019 12:05
  • Climate protesters take action to disrupt London fashion week Link
    Guardian Business Sun 17 Feb 2019 11:35

    Protesters from the environmental action group Extinction Rebellion are disrupting London fashion week.

    A small group holding a banner saying “rebel for life” have already blocked the road outside Victoria Beckham’s show at the Tate Britain. Further actions are expected throughout Sunday, the third day of London fashion week.

    Extinction Rebellion wrote to the British Fashion Council last week, demanding it uses its influential position to tell the truth about climate change and emphasising the potential the fashion industry has to transform into “a cultural and creative force that stops the trend of excessive consumption”.

    But the industry body failed to respond, Extinction Rebellion said, prompting them to take action to highlight the “urgent and existential threat of climate change” in the “hope that there may still be a future for all of us”.

    “We need to hold thought leaders and creators of culture to account. The fashion...

  • Banks could easily stumble over Brexit and buybacks Link
    Guardian Business Sun 17 Feb 2019 07:10
  • FlyBMI collapses, blaming Brexit uncertainty Link
    Guardian Business Sat 16 Feb 2019 19:25

    British regional airline Flybmi has collapsed with all flights cancelled with immediate effect, saying Brexit had created uncertainty in the industry.

    The company, which employs 450 staff and operates more than 600 scheduled flights a week announced that it had gone into administration. Earlier reports had suggested it was looking for further funding.

  • Britain is discovering the difficult truth about trade deals | Phillip Inman Link
    Guardian Business Sat 16 Feb 2019 17:25
  • Florists: Fresh blooms could become preserve of the rich in no-deal Brexit Link
    Guardian Business Sat 16 Feb 2019 16:30

    It is Valentine’s Day in Cambridge and, at a market stall near King’s College, Nicki Lark is cheerfully selling bouquets of roses, daffodils and tulips to young lovers in the sunshine. But, behind her smiles, she is worried.

    She fears that, like many other UK businesses that rely heavily on imports from Europe, this family-run florist, which has operated in the city’s market square for the past 60 years, will have to increase its prices in the event of a no-deal Brexit – and might struggle to survive.

    “We do try to source flowers locally, but most of what we sell is imported. After Brexit there could be a big, big difference in the prices of what we buy.” If the cost of imports does rise, it will have a knock-on effect on the prices she will charge, she says. “I’d like to think we’ll still be here, but I don’t think we’ll have the volume of flowers we have today, and our customers won’t have as much choice.”

    About 80% of the flowers sold...

  • Angela Merkel criticises US isolationism, urging 'win-win solutions' Link
    Guardian Business Sat 16 Feb 2019 14:30

    Angela Merkel has turned her fire on America’s “home alone” policies, saying multilateral bodies cannot simply be smashed up, and warned President Trump that Europe must not be excluded from discussions on future nuclear disarmament, Syria or trade.

    Warning of a collapse of the international order into tiny parts, the German chancellor said: “We cannot just smash it. We need to cooperate”.

    Merkel quoted US Republican senator Lindsey Graham as saying: “Multilateralism may be complicated, but it’s better than simply staying at home alone.”

    “Now that we see great pressure on the classic order we are used to, the question now is: do we fall apart into pieces of a puzzle and think everyone can solve the question best for himself alone?” Merkel said, adding that it’s better to “put yourself in the other’s shoes ... and see whether we can get win-win solutions together”.

    She was speaking at the Munich security conference on Saturday,...

  • To survive, councils need more money. But council tax is broken | Luke Murphy Link
    Guardian Business Sat 16 Feb 2019 09:04
  • Thousands of workers hit with massive tax avoidance bills Link
    Guardian Business Sat 16 Feb 2019 08:04

    It is turning into one of the ugliest, most emotional and turbulent battles ever fought between the tax authorities and alleged tax avoiders. The Money pages of the Guardian have rarely seen such a huge volume of angry, heartfelt letters from people who describe themselves as normal families whose lives are being destroyed, they say, by huge and unfair demands from HM Revenue & Customs.

    The battle is over the innocuously named 2019 Loan Charge. This measure is designed to claw back unpaid taxes by people who, HMRC says, used so-called disguised remuneration schemes since April 1999 – with the demands for repayment kicking in from this April.

    For some, the bills are utterly life-changing. We spoke to one family whose bill is more than £400,000 – owed by a 56-year-old who worked in IT for years and who says his only option now is bankruptcy.

    Another IT worker said his estimated bill is £300,000. “I’m 54, have assets of...

  • Are banks guilty of faking signatures on British court papers? Link
    Guardian Business Sat 16 Feb 2019 07:34

    Have some banks, or their legal representatives, been faking signatures on UK court documents used to repossess people’s homes and to recover other debts?

    It’s a serious charge, but a new campaign group claims there has been “alleged industrial-scale forgery” of signatures. And the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign has some powerful supporters in high places. The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on fair business banking – a cross-party group of MPs and peers – publicly voiced its support this month, as did the high-profile police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld.

    Meanwhile, a signature expert told Guardian Money: “The whole thing is highly suspicious.”

    If the campaign’s claims are true, it would mean a multibillion-dollar scandal that played out in the US was being repeated in the UK (see box).

    Julian Watts, the man behind the campaign, says big banks and lenders are linked to documents carrying...

  • Donald Trump hints at extension to China trade talks Link
    Guardian Business Fri 15 Feb 2019 19:19

    President Donald Trump has conceded that he will delay planned increases in import duties on $200bn (£155bn) of Chinese goods if there is progress in trade talks in Washington next week.

    Appearing to soften his demand for talks to conclude before 1 March, Trump said there could be a 30- or 60-day extension, should negotiators get closer to a deal. He said a delay was justified, based on the scope and scale of the talks. Speaking on the White House lawn, he said: “Trade with China – how big does that get? It must be the biggest deal in history.”

    The US Dow Jones index surged more than 350 points following the more conciliatory tone from the president. Investors remain nervous, however, about an increase in duties on Chinese imports, which economists say could damage global trade.

    Last year, the International Monetary Fund warned that rising trade tensions between the US and the rest of the world could cost the global economy $430bn,...

  • Porsche asks UK buyers to commit to 10% no-deal Brexit surcharge Link
    Guardian Business Fri 15 Feb 2019 18:19

    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 risk of a no-deal Brexit, because its products attract relatively high tariffs. Companies that manufacture in the UK also face the prospect of disruption to their “just-in-time” supply chains if there are border delays.

    Porsche, which is owned by Volkswagen, produces its cars in Germany and Slovakia, but the UK is a key market. It sold 12,500 cars in Britain in 2018, accounting for well over a fifth of its global sales.

    Prices for Porsche’s most popular model in the UK, the Macan sports utility...

  • Brazil mine disaster: police arrest eight employees of mining company Link
    Guardian Business Fri 15 Feb 2019 16:19

    Brazilian police have arrested eight employees of mining company Vale SA as part of a criminal investigation into the causes of a deadly dam disaster, prosecutors said on Friday.

    Police also carried out 14 search warrants as part of the investigation, prosecutors in the mining state of Minas Gerais said.

    The arrests and search warrants targeted employees of Vale as well as employees of German auditing firm TÜV SÜD, which had certified the dam as stable.

    Vale confirmed the arrest warrants and said in a securities filing it was cooperating with the investigation.

    The tailings dam in the town of Brumadinho burst on 25 January, killing at least 166 people.

    The latest warrants followed the arrest last month of five Vale and TÜV SÜD employees, who were released by a higher court ruling on 5 February.

    The Vale employees arrested on Friday were responsible for the security and stability of the Brumadinho...

  • I swallowed the Brexit lies. Now I regret telling curry house workers to vote leave | Oli Khan Link
    Guardian Business Fri 15 Feb 2019 12:24
  • US woes weigh on markets ahead of UK retail sales - business live Link
    Guardian Business Fri 15 Feb 2019 08:28

    Royal Bank of Scotland has kicked off the UK banks’ reporting season this morning with better than expected results.

    Profits more than doubled in 2018, to £1.6bn from just £752m a year earlier.

    It was the second consecutive year of profit for the bank since its £45bn state bailout in 2008, and prompted RBS to payout dividends that will include £1bn for the public purse.

    Read our full story here:

  • Anxiety running high about London's future as a financial centre | Barry Eichengreen Link
    Guardian Business Fri 15 Feb 2019 07:28
  • Sports store that boycotted Nike over Colin Kaepernick ads forced to close Link
    Guardian Business Thu 14 Feb 2019 22:13

    Last fall, the launch of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” advertising campaign, which starred ex-NFL star and social justice activist Colin Kaepernick, generated plenty of criticism. Vitriol poured on to social media; some disgruntled customers burned their Nike shoes on video.

    Stephen Martin was upset enough with the choice of Kaepernick – the quarterback who began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism – that he stopped selling Nike products in his Colorado sporting goods store.

    Now his store, Prime Time Sports, is going out of business after 21 years. “For everybody that has offered help and support through the ‘Honor The Flag’ memorial wall and Nike boycott, now is your time to help me liquidate,” he posted on Facebook on Monday.

  • A380: a comfortable, eerily quiet cruise ship of the skies Link
    Guardian Business Thu 14 Feb 2019 17:13

    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 eery.

    It was a monstrous double-decker so big it that felt like traveling in two planes stuck on top of each 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, when you were onboard, it somehow managed to feel delicate.

    When I took the first public flight on the Airbus A380 in Toulouse in 2007, I remember staring out of the window over the Pyrenees, thinking something was odd. It was the lighting. It felt less like being in a plane than in a strange kind of conference centre. The windows were bigger, letting in more natural light, and there were special light systems to alter cabin mood.

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