• 'National shame': MP sounds alarm over UK fast fashion factories Link
    Guardian Business Thu 23 Jan 2020 11:10

    Concerns over the ongoing situation of up to 10,000 garment workers in Leicester, who are feared to be trapped in conditions of modern slavery and paid £3 an hour, have been raised in Parliament.

    Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, raised a question on Tuesday about the continuing state of working conditions in factories supplying the UK’s booming fast fashion industry, and sought a meeting with business secretary Kelly Tolhurst for clarity over enforcement of the national minimum wage.

    Speaking to the Guardian, Bridgen said what is happening in Leicester is a “national shame” and must not be allowed to continue.

    “This is Leicester’s dirty secret,” he said. “These illegal businesses are not only keeping their workers in miserable conditions, they’re also undermining the marketplace for legitimate businesses to make a living in a very difficult market. I’ve seen the buildings where these workers are and it is shocking: the...

  • Greta Thunberg told to study economics by US treasury secretary Link
    Guardian Business Thu 23 Jan 2020 10:40

    Mnuchin’s comments expose the huge gulf that still exists between climate activists and the White House. Pressed on the climate emergency, Mnuchin insisted that environmental issues are “clearly complicated”.

    He said: “When I was allowed to drive I had a Tesla. I drove in California. I liked it.

    “But nobody focuses on how that electricity is made and what happens to the storage and the environmental issues on all these batteries.”

    He also claimed that the US was showing leadership in tackling emissions – but through its private sector rather than government. President Trump believes in clean air and water, and a clean environment, Mnuchin insisted but also believes that the real environmental issue centres on China and India

    People who call for divestment should remember there are “significant economic issues, issues with jobs”, he continued. “Many economies are transitioning to more efficient and cleaner energy. That doesn’t have to be all...

  • Formulations of glyphosate-based weedkillers are toxic, tests show Link
    Guardian Business Thu 23 Jan 2020 10:15

    Tests by a US government agency on common weedkilling products made with the chemical glyphosate have found some formulations sold to the public to be genotoxic, meaning they are damaging to human DNA.

    But the government scientists at the National Toxicology Program (NTP) say the danger probably lies with added ingredients in the products – not glyphosate.

    One of the world’s best-known glyphosate-based products is Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.

    Monsanto’s German owner Bayer AG is currently mired in litigation brought by tens of thousands of cancer patients who claim exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup and other similar glyphosate-based formulated products made by Monsanto caused their cancers.

    Three trial juries have agreed with the plaintiffs’ claims that the products cause cancer. Jury selection is under way this week in two new trials, one in California and one in Missouri.

    Monsanto, which brought glyphosate-based herbicides...

  • Record Black Friday drives Asos recovery after profit warnings Link
    Guardian Business Thu 23 Jan 2020 08:45

    The online fashion retailer Asos has staged a comeback after a difficult year in which it issued two profit warnings. It credited a record Black Friday for strong sales growth over the festive period.

    The firm said overall sales grew 20% to £1.1bn in the four months to 31 December, up from the 13% growth recorded in the year to 31 August. The increase beat the 15% forecast by City analysts and the shares were up 8% at £32.70 on Thursday morning. Six months ago they were changing hands at £21 after falling from a 2018 peak of £76.

    In the UK, sales climbed 18% over the four-month period, compared with increases of 21% in the rest of the EU and 23% in the US and the rest of the world.

    This performance contrasts with its fortunes a year ago, when Asos admitted it had got Black Friday wrong and underestimated rivals’ price cuts, forcing it to issue a profit warning. Another profit warning followed in July, which the retailer blamed on IT chaos...

  • Davos 2020: Javid, Merkel and Soros in spotlight – business live Link
    Guardian Business Thu 23 Jan 2020 07:50

    Q: What’s happening with the threat of tariffs on EU auto industry?

    Wilbur Ross says the US has not abandoned the option of imposing these tariffs, they’re still available to be used if necessary.

    We are eager to reach a resolution with the EU, he adds. But president Trump has said the tariffs are still an option if we go down a different route.

  • Who pays for the EU's €1tn green deal? | Hans-Werner Sinn Link
    Guardian Business Thu 23 Jan 2020 07:20
  • Trump weakened environmental laws after BP lobbying Link
    Guardian Business Thu 23 Jan 2020 06:20

    Wolff’s sensational White House exposé paints Donald Trump as a childlike nonentity. It alleges the self-styled "very stable genius” has been described as an idiot by Rupert Murdoch and a moron by Rex Tillerson. Wolff says the thing that interests the US president most is watching himself on television. “I consider it to be fiction,” said Trump of the book. Many others were not so sure.

    Read the review.

  • Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland to charge overdraft rate of up to 49.9% Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 22:35

    Millions of Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers will be charged overdraft interest rates of up to 49.9% from April and those with a poor credit history are likely to pay the most.

    Lloyds Banking Group – which owns all three brands and has 22 million current account customers – is the biggest bank so far to overhaul its overdraft costs in response to a ban on excessive fees demanded last year by the City regulator.

    It is the highest overdraft interest rate announced to date, and the consumer expert Martin Lewis’s MoneySavingExpert website called it “eye-watering”. .

    The new industry rules have been brought in by the Financial Conduct Authority after it said the overdraft market was “dysfunctional”. The rules stop higher prices being charged for unauthorised overdrafts than for authorised ones, banning fixed daily or monthly fees for borrowing in this way. Instead banks have to price overdrafts using a simple annual interest...

  • UK to impose tax on tech giants but risks US tariffs on car exports Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 20:40

    The chancellor, Sajid Javid, has insisted that the UK will go ahead with plans for a tax on big tech companies this spring despite a threat from the US to slap “arbitrary “ tariffs on UK car exports.

    The US treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said the government’s proposed digital services tax discriminated against US multinationals and warned there would be retaliation – probably a tax on UK car exports to the US – if the 2% levy were imposed in April.

    Almost one in five vehicles manufactured in the UK are exported to the US, worth £8.4bn, and it is a hugely important market to manufacturers including Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin.

    The two finance chiefs were speaking on a panel at the Davos meeting of political and business leaders.

    Javid said: “We plan to go ahead with our digital services tax in April. It is a proportionate tax, and a tax that is deliberately designed as a temporary tax.”

    But Mnuchin warned: “If...

  • Elon Musk on road to $50bn payout as Tesla's value passes $100bn Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 20:10

    The Tesla founder, Elon Musk, has taken the first step to becoming $50bn (£38bn) richer, after the value of the electric car company surged past $100bn.

    Musk, already a multibillionaire with a net worth estimated at about $30bn, secured approval in 2018 for a pay deal that would dwarf existing records for renumeration if it was paid out in full.

    Under the scheme corporate governance experts have described as “staggering”, Musk must build Tesla into a $650bn company over the next 10 years.

    Hitting this landmark would make Tesla one of the world’s most valuable tech companies – worth more than seven times what the automotive powerhouses Ford and General Motors are today, combined.

    Provided Tesla also hits ambitious revenue and profit targets, and assuming Musk remains its chief executive, such growth would also trigger payments in stock worth about $50bn over the course of the scheme.

    At the time the deal was agreed in March...

  • 'This is Dunkirk. This is 9/11': Al Gore implores Davos to tackle climate crisis Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 19:40

    Former US vice-president Al Gore has tried to mobilise the global elite to fight the climate crisis by comparing it to some of history’s greatest battles, from Agincourt to Dunkirk.

    Gore told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the scale of the climate emergency was much worse than people recognise, and getting worse much faster than people recognise.

    “The burden to act on the shoulders of the generation of the people alive today is a challenge to our moral imagination,” said Gore, during a session on protecting the Amazon and developing sustainable markets.

    “This is Thermopylae. This is Agincourt. This is the Battle of the Bulge. This is Dunkirk. This is 9/11,” declared Gore. “We have to rise to this occasion.”

    Gore, who has campaigned on environmental issues since losing the 2000 presidential race, added that the world currently lacks the requisite political will to tackle the emergency.

    “But remember,...

  • Lloyds, Halifax and RBS to charge overdraft rate of up to 49.9% Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 17:45

    Millions of Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers will be charged overdraft interest rates of up to 49.9% from April and those with a poor credit history are likely to pay the most.

    Lloyds Banking Group – which owns all three brands and has 22 million current account customers – is the biggest bank so far to overhaul its overdraft costs in response to a ban on excessive fees demanded last year by the City regulator.

    It is the highest overdraft interest rate announced to date, and the consumer expert Martin Lewis’s MoneySavingExpert website called it “eye-watering”. .

    The new industry rules have been brought in by the Financial Conduct Authority after it said the overdraft market was “dysfunctional”. The rules stop higher prices being charged for unauthorised overdrafts than for authorised ones, banning fixed daily or monthly fees for borrowing in this way. Instead banks have to price overdrafts using a simple annual interest...

  • Veganuary is huge. But is it really as simple as animal foods bad, plant foods good? | Joanna Blythman Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 17:15
  • Housebuilder Berkeley to pay out £1bn to shareholders Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 15:50

    The housebuilder Berkeley has pledged to pay out £1bn to shareholders over the next two years, almost doubling the planned financial award to its investors.

    The FTSE 100 company has ridden the booming British property market since the financial crisis, with house prices rising particularly in London and south-east England, its main sources of revenue. Those price rises came despite the political uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote.

    Analysts said the new returns to shareholders reflected renewed certainty after the Conservative party’s general election victory, as well as confidence in the returns from 20 separate construction sites that it has secured.

    Under the proposals revealed on Wednesday Berkeley said it will distribute about £500m in March through a share issue and buyback, followed by another £500m in March 2021.

    That represents an increase from the £545m of returns due to be made by the end of September 2021.

    ...
  • Steven Mnuchin threatens car tax after Sajid Javid confirms UK move on digital tax - video Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 13:20
  • Guitar maker Fender fined £4.5m for price fixing in UK Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 12:49

    The guitar maker Fender has been fined £4.5m for price fixing by the UK’s competition watchdog as part of its clampdown on the musical instrument industry.

    The Competition and Markets Authority imposed the penalty on Fender Europe for breaking competition law by preventing online discounting for its guitars. It is the biggest fine issued in the UK for this type of price fixing, which is known as resale price maintenance.

    The penalty would have been £14.2m had Fender not admitted to the offence under the CMA’s leniency and settlement procedures. The firm said it had pursued a policy designed to restrict UK retailers from cutting their online prices.

    Fender Europe is the UK-based arm of the Arizona guitar manufacturer, which makes about $500m (£380m) in annual revenues. Its electric models include the Stratocaster and Telecaster, as well as the cheaper Squier range.

    The CMA started its investigation in 2018. Fender has already been...

  • Carney sides with Greta Thunberg against Trump over climate Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 12:24

    Mark Carney has provided backing for Greta Thunberg in her clash with Donald Trump, contrasting the contribution the teenage activist has made towards tackling the climate emergency with the White House’s less helpful approach.

    Speaking at an event hosted by Bloomberg in Davos, Carney said Thunberg was correct to point out that the world was rapidly using up its remaining carbon budget and that the US stance made tackling global heating more difficult.

    The Bank of England governor’s intervention followed Trump’s warning to the World Economic Forum of the dangers of listening to “prophets of doom” and Thunberg’s insistence that the US president needed to listen to the science on global heating.

  • Ted Baker balance sheet error worse than feared as woes deepen Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 08:59

    The struggling fashion retailer Ted Baker has admitted that an accounting error was twice as big as initially thought, leaving it with a £58m hole in its balance sheet.

    Ted Baker appointed accountants from Deloitte last month to investigate after the company found that it had overestimated the value of its stock.

    The retailer’s preliminary investigations suggested it had overestimated the value of the stock it held at 26 January 2019 by between £20m and £25m but that figure has now more than doubled. Shares in Ted Baker fell 9% to 290p on the news.

    The results of the accounting investigation come after Ted Baker appointed advisers to carry out a business review amid concerns that its weak financial position could force it to look for new cash. A £58m overstatement would be larger than the London Stock Exchange-listed company’s annual profits before tax for the year to 31 January 2019 of £50.9m.

    The overstated assets were a non-cash...

  • Rising temperatures put more US workers at risk of dying from heat Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 08:29

    It was more than 100F (38C) in the attic where telephone technician Brent Robinson was working.

    The 55-year-old, who had worked for 30 years at Verizon, was installing a phone service for a residential customer in Rancho Cucamonga, 40 miles east of Los Angeles in southern California.

  • Davos 2020: Mark Carney and Prince Charles to speak – day two live Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 07:59

    Good morning from Davos, where the second day of the World Economic Forum is getting underway.

    The climate emergency is one of the big stories at Davos this year, even if the world’s most powerful man hasn’t grasped the issue.

  • Many in the north backed Brexit. They will soon begin to feel the costs | David Conn Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 07:04
  • Cengiz on standby to buy British Steel if Jingye bid fails Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 06:04

    The government is holding talks with the Turkish conglomerate Cengiz Holdings about stepping in to buy British Steel in the event that a planned sale to the Chinese industrial firm Jingye falls through.

    Officials remain confident that Jingye’s £50m purchase of British Steel, including the Scunthorpe steelworks, will go ahead in the next few weeks, saving about 4,000 jobs in the ailing industry.

    But the Guardian understands that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has also been examining a back-up plan involving Istanbul-based Cengiz, which enjoys close ties to the Turkish regime.

    A spokesperson for BEIS declined to comment on whether discussions had taken place.

    Jingye’s preferred bidder status affords it the sole right to negotiate a deal with the official receiver, the government employee managing the sale alongside the accountancy firm EY.

    But BEIS is not bound by the exclusivity arrangement...

  • Crown Resorts: shareholders' lawyers lose bid to overturn secrecy provisions Link
    Guardian Business Wed 22 Jan 2020 02:44

    Lawyers acting for shareholders in a class action against James Packer’s embattled casino empire, Crown Resorts, have lost a bid to crack open secrecy provisions in the contracts of company employees who were convicted of gambling promotion crimes in China.

    On Wednesday the federal court overturned a ruling last year that the lawyers for the shareholders, Maurice Blackburn, could take witness statements and collect documents from the 19 former employees, who include the whistleblower Jenny Jiang.

    Maurice Blackburn now faces the prospect of either calling the witnesses to the stand “cold”, without any preparation, or mounting a fresh attack on the confidentiality provisions of their employment contracts.

  • Netflix shares stumble as company faces new streaming competition Link
    Guardian Business Tue 21 Jan 2020 22:24
  • EasyJet's grab of Thomas Cook spoils won't be flying too high | Nils Pratley Link
    Guardian Business Tue 21 Jan 2020 20:29
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