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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Co-op Group’s £600m loss casts doubt on deal to take over Lloyds branches

Category : Business

Banking arm to blame for Co-op pain as it delivers writedown and sets aside cash to compensate customers for mis-sold PPI

The Co-operative Group has been dragged to a £600m loss by its banking arm, casting fresh doubt on the grocer and funeral operator’s ability to take over 632 branches being sold by Lloyds Banking Group.

The £662m of losses in the banking arm were caused by setting aside £150m to cover claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance, together with a £150m writedown of IT systems and £377m of bad loan losses, largely from its Britannia building society business.

“The bank is not immune to the terrible problems impacting the financial services sector,” chief executive Peter Marks said. The Co-op’s total provision for PPI mis-selling – which for the industry has reached more than £12bn – is £244m.

Presenting his last set of results after 40 years with Britain ‘s largest mutual, Marks described 2012 as a “challenging year” but insisted that progress was being made on the Lloyds deal, which would triple the Co-op’s branch network and transform the group into a major competitor to the big four banks.

He insisted that the Financial Services Authority had not expressed any concerns about the deal or about the capital position of its banking arm.

Even so, he has put the Co-op’s insurance arm up for sale after finally agreeing this week to sell its life assurance and savings business to Royal London.

“These moves are in line with our strategy of focusing on our banking activities and will also strengthen our capital position,” Marks said.

He blamed the economic backdrop for the poor performance of the bank, which reported a profit of £138m a year ago, and stressed that the bank’s core tier-one capital ratio – closely watched by regulators as a measure of financial strength – had increased to 9.2% from 8.8% at the end of last year and was above the regulatory minimum.

Marks was unable to give specific reasons why the sale of the Lloyds branches – known as Verde and being forced upon Lloyds by the EU as a condition of its £20bn bailout – was not finalised eight months after it was announced in July.

“We’re trying to conclude this transaction in very difficult economic times. That’s what makes it more difficult. We’re trying to establish what the risks are and to mitigate those risks,” Marks said.

Marks will be replaced by Euan Sutherland, previously boss of DIY chain B&Q, in May.

Marks’ career with the Co-operative movement began in 1967 when he started as a shelf stacker. He said he preferred to focus on operating profits, which were £54m, down from £526m a year ago.

In the grocery business, there was a 0.7% fall in like-for-like food sales and a fall in operating profit from £318m to £288m.

The specialist businesses of pharmacies, legal services and funeral homes reported a rise in operating profit to £107m from £99m, largely driven by a better performance in the funeral business.

The full-year dividend, which goes to members, is not announced until June, but the interim payment of £104m, declared in November, was down from £142m.

Banks analyst Gary Greenwood at Shore Capital described the results of the banking arm as “very grim reading”.

“The absolute capital position appears weak to us and, alongside weak profitability, will no doubt raise questions as to the ability of the Co-op to complete an acquisition of project Verde from Lloyds.

“This may not be such a bad outcome for Lloyds, in our view, given the rally in bank share prices since the deal was originally announced last year on what appeared to us to be terms that were very penal to Lloyds.”

Mumbai returns to normal after Bal Thackeray funeral – BBC News

Category : Stocks

BBC News
Mumbai returns to normal after Bal Thackeray funeral
BBC News
The Indian city of Mumbai is returning to normal a day after the funeral of controversial Hindu nationalist politician Bal Thackeray. Although the city's diamond market Zaveri Bazar is shut, most markets and offices are open for business. Thackeray, 86, died on
21-year-old girl arrested for Facebook post slamming Bal ThackerayTimes of India
Mumbai Returns to Normal Following Divisive Politician's FuneralBloomberg
Why an Islamic cleric mourned Bal Thackeray's death?Oneindia
Wall Street Journal

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Lebanon to bury slain intelligence official – Times of India

Category : Stocks

Lebanon to bury slain intelligence official
Times of India
BEIRUT: Lebanon's political opposition has called for a mass turnout at Sunday's funeral for slain intelligence officer Wissam al-Hassan, turning the ceremony into a political rally against Syrian authorities and Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Hassan
Call for anti-Syria demo at police chief Wissam al-Hassan's funeralHerald Sun
Lebanese on Edge After Car BombWall Street Journal
After Attack, Lebanese Opposition Calls for New GovernmentNew York Times
CNN International

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The cost of dying ‘falls by 1.9%’

Category : Business

The cost of dying has fallen in the last year but the basic price of a funeral rose for the ninth consecutive year, research suggests.

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Undertaker filmed by C4′s Dispatches storing bodies like ‘stacking TV sets’

Category : Business

Co-operative Funeralcare opens investigation into undercover exposé

The UK’s biggest funeral company has begun an inquiry after staff were secretly filmed storing dead bodies like “stacking television sets” in a warehouse on an industrial estate off a busy motorway.

Co-operative Funeralcare, which organises more than 100,000 funerals a year from 900 funeral homes, said it was shocked and disappointed by information provided to it by undercover journalists, “which goes against everything we stand for”.

While relatives believed their loved ones were at funeral homes, footage taken for Channel 4′s Dispatches programme shows bodies being stored in a warehouse or “hub”. The warehouse contained a garage with a fleet of limousines and hearses, storage for dozens of coffins, and a large refrigerated area – the mortuary – with rack upon rack of bodies, some of them uncovered.

When families asked to see their loved ones, the body would be taken back to the funeral home, a journey of up to 30 miles, according to the documentary Undercover Undertaker, to be shown at 8pm on Monday.

An undercover journalist reported that on one occasion the lid was taken off a coffin as staff tried to fit four coffins into a van. It was carried out of the vehicle without a lid at the destination, near a block of flats.

In another instance, a woman’s funeral was halted when the wrong body was brought to Teesside crematorium. Her daughter Mandy Rowden said the funeral director stopped proceedings and “just sort of pushed her back in again”. Mourners were told there would be a delay while the correct body was located.

Thirty minutes later, funeral staff returned but in a van, not a hearse. “They just swapped bodies over. But they forgot to put the flowers on me mam … the other lady got them,” said Rowden. Co-operative Funeralcare waived its bill, paid compensation and disciplined staff members after the incident.

The documentary claims staff are under pressure to sell expensive funeral packages to mourners, to increase profits, which last year were £52 million .

The former funeral ombudsman, Professor Geoffrey Woodroffe, described the practices alleged in the film as shocking. “I had no idea that they’re treating people as if they’re stacking television sets, really. I’d hate to think that a member of my family would have been treated in that way,” he told the programme.

The managing director of Co-operative Funeralcare, George Tinning, told the programme hub was a misnomer. “It’s an industry term, and if I can put it in context, it’s not unique to the Co-operative.” He added: “We have over 150 hubs … I don’t believe it’s industrial, I believe the premises are fitted out to a high standard.”

A company spokesman said: “We do not believe that the instances shown in the programme are representative of our many caring staff. We have however launched an immediate investigation into the programme’s findings and will take any action necessary to ensure our high standards and our policy of enabling clients to make informed choices is maintained.”

Funeral held for American journalist killed in Syria – CNN

Category : Stocks
Funeral held for American journalist killed in Syria
By Jesse Solomon, CNN Marie Colvin's mother, Rosemarie, watches her daughter's casket pass by after her funeral Monday in Oyster Bay, New York. “She was an outstanding reporter … she covered a lot of wars,” John Witherow says New York (CNN)
Reporter killed in Syria recalled as truth seeker The Associated Press
New York funeral for Homs reporter Marie ColvinBBC News
Mourners gather to say goodbye to war reporter Marie
Daily Mail

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Bomb blast targets Pakistan funeral

Category : World News

At least 15 killed after explosion at funeral in Peshawar, with more than 37 wounded, police say.

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Hundreds honor student killed in Ohio shooting – USA TODAY

Category : Stocks

Hundreds honor student killed in Ohio shooting
By Amy Sancetta, AP People line up Satuday before the funeral services for one of the three students killed in Chardon, Ohio. By Amy Sancetta, AP People line up Satuday before the funeral services for one of the three students killed in Chardon, Ohio.
Hundreds honor Daniel Parmertor, student killed in shooting at Chardon High SchoolNew York Daily News
Family, friends and strangers attend Daniel Parmertor's funeral service19 Action News
1st of 3 funerals held after Ohio school shootingGlobalPost
Outcome Magazine

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Chorus of sorrow at Whitney Houston’s wake

Category : World News

Friends, family and celebrities gather in Newark, New Jersey, for funeral of troubled mega-star and pop music icon.

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Syrian troops ‘open fire’ on Damascus funeral

Category : World News

Activists say several people injured as thousands turn out for funeral of slain protesters in capital’s Mazzeh area.

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