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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com 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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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse – video

Category : Business

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

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Eurozone crisis live: Japan’s strong growth figures show Europe the way

Category : Business

PM Shinzo Abe’s stimulus package could generate feelgood factor needed to end two decades of stagnant growth

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Private members’ ballot: Politics live blog

Category : Business

Andrew Sparrow‘s rolling coverage of all the day’s political developments as they happen, including the private members’ ballot and Google giving evidence about tax avoidance to the public accounts committee

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Tax havens are entrenching poverty in developing countries | Richard Miller

Category : Business

Poorer nations lose three times more money to havens a year than they get in aid. The G8 has the chance to change this

The Guardian has brought yet more news about the widespread use of tax havens by some of the world’s largest multinationals operating in developing countries. From ActionAid’s own investigations we know that these tax havens can all too often provide vehicles for tax avoidance that hits the world’s poorest hardest.

In the case of just one FTSE100 multinational we recently investigated – Associated British Foods, maker of Ryvita and Silver Spoon sugar – we found the company had used tax haven conduit companies to legally avoid enough Zambian tax to put 48,000 children in school. Zambia is a nation where almost half of children fail to complete their education.

Tax haven secrecy can also be used to deflect scrutiny from a range of unaccountable transactions in developing nations. Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel last week highlighted mining deals involving two FTSE100 multinationals, carried out through companies in the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Gibraltar, which the panel claims have deprived the Democratic Republic of Congo of an estimated $1.36bn – almost twice the country’s education and health budgets combined.

From near-deserted Caribbean islands to major financial centres, tax havens offer a harbour for wealth and profits siphoned from around the world. Tax havens provide the legal machinery for tax avoiders, and protection for illegal tax evaders, denying developing economies the public revenues needed for hospitals, schools, clean water and functioning roads. The figures are staggering. According to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, developing countries lose three times more money to tax havens each year than they receive in aid.

The statistics cannot, of course, show the tax impact of each tax haven company. Some may indeed have real business, and not simply be avoiding taxes in places where real business is done. But this is precisely the point: corporate reporting fails to show the transactions and tax bills of multinationals’ operations in many of these jurisdictions. And these same jurisdictions often deny this information to under-resourced tax authorities in the world’s poorest countries too.

Tax haven structures may be nearly universal, but they are not a fact of nature in modern business. Financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown and mining company Fresnillo, for instance, have no tax haven subsidiaries at all, despite operating in sectors that are no strangers to “offshore”. Others are making efforts at least to disclose their tax structures around the world: when ActionAid put questions about their tax haven companies to all FTSE100 companies, 15 responded with significant extra details.

Yet overall there is little incentive not to place profits and assets in tax haven companies, or to disclose these profits and assets, unless governments themselves end the secrecy and abusive tax regimes that tax havens offer. The countries represented at June’s G8 have a unique combination of economic and political weight, responsibility and jurisdiction over the problem. The UK alone is responsible for one in five of the world’s tax havens, more than any other single country in the world. Yet while the UK and other wealthy countries have recently begun to push their tax havens to disclose the financial assets that their taxpayers hold offshore, these deals as yet leave developing countries out in the cold.

The G8 can and must commit to ending the anonymous ownership of tax haven companies and trusts, and making tax havens disclose the information that tax authorities around the world desperately need. To fix the biggest part of this problem the information it generates must be available for all countries – including the poorest – from day one.

When the UK government convenes the leaders of the world’s wealthiest countries at the G8 summit this June, it has an opportunity, an interest and a duty to do something extraordinary: to tackle one of the biggest hidden obstacles in the fight against poverty by putting an end to tax havens. With David Cameron, George Osborne, François Hollande, Angela Merkel, other world leaders and ordinary taxpayers calling for change, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. None of us – from the richest to the poorest countries – can afford for the G8 to miss it.

UK economy picking up, surveys suggest

Category : Business

CBI sees signs of rising business confidence, while Lloyds data shows growth in seven of England’s nine regions

Britain is starting to see green shoots of recovery as business activity picks up, companies continue to hire new staff and consumers start to spend again.

A series of surveys published on Monday suggest the UK is on the road to recovery after its double-dip recession, providing a boost for chancellor George Osborne.

Business lobby group the CBI expects the economy to grow by 1% this year and 2% in 2014. That contrasts with the IMF, which recently slashed its growth forecast for the UK from 1% to 0.7%, and suggested Osborne should rethink his austerity programme.

The CBI has consistently supported the chancellor on austerity, although it has called for more measures to boost growth. John Cridland, director general of the CBI, said on Monday: “The UK economy is moving from flat to growth.”

But he warned that the country continues to face big challenges. “Although recent data suggests rising business confidence, the economic climate remains tough, hampering demand here and overseas. Meanwhile, consumers remain under pressure, as inflation continues to outstrip wage growth.”

In April, business activity grew at its fastest rate in eight months, according to Lloyds TSB’s purchasing managers’ index. The PMI – which is based on data from 1,200 manufacturing and services companies – came in at 52.2 in April, up from 51.6 in March, moving further above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

The survey showed growth in seven of England’s nine regions, led by Yorkshire & Humber with a reading of 55.7. Only the West Midlands and the North East reported a slight reduction in business activity, hit by a weaker performance of the manufacturing sector and spending in those regions.

Elsewhere, it seems Britons are going out more and parting with their cash, cheered by the warm weather. Barclaycard said spending rose 3.6% last month compared with April last year, led by 21% growth in spending on cinema and theatre tickets. Restaurants also benefited with an 11% increase in spending, as did DIY stores, up 8.5%. Growth in spending online continued to outstrip the high street, up 11.7% on last year, compared with just 1.7% in bricks and mortar shops.

Valerie Soranno Keating, chief executive of Barclaycard, said: “Although economic data is generally mixed, this is the first time since 2011 that we’ve seen growth above 2% for three consecutive months, which may suggest a more sustained improvement in sentiment.”

A forward-looking survey of the jobs market suggests it too is looking healthy, with growth in employment set to continue in the second quarter. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said more employers are expecting to increase headcount than those who intend to cut jobs, with a balance of +9, up from +5 for the previous quarter.

Gerwyn Davies, CIPD labour market adviser said: “Even though last month’s official figures showed a slight dip in the level of employment, these findings suggest that further employment growth is possible.”

But he notes that the number of jobs being created may fail to keep pace with the population growth, meaning unemployment could still rise.

Are you seeing signs of economic green shoots?

Category : Business

New surveys suggest the British economy is picking up

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Ocado shares lose 8% on worries about Waitrose contract

Category : Business

Waitrose lawyers looking at deal details after Ocado looking at tie-up with Morrisons

Ocado has dropped 8% on concerns about the effect of its proposed tie-up with Morrisons on its existing deal with Waitrose.

As the Guardian reported on Friday, lawyers for Waitrose are poring over its deal with Ocado to see if any move by the online grocer to help Morrisons set up a website would constitute breach of contract.

The news followed a protest vote by shareholders at Ocado’s annual meeting on Friday over board pay packages, including a 30% salary rise for chief executive Tim Steiner.

Ocado’s shares – which have been up sharply in recent days in antipation of the Morrisons deal – are currently down 18.2p at 206.4p. Analyst Clive Black at Shore Capital repeated his sell recommendation, saying:

The business seems to be evolving from an aspiration to be a proprietary retailer into a landlord of its two customer fulfilment centres and licensee of its kit to third parties. Whilst a notable potential change in strategy, it could be argued that it signals an admission of defeat by Ocado; so the introduction of Plan B.

We believe that Ocado is playing with fire in speaking to another British supermarket group, as it tries to utilise its substantially greater fulfilment capacity, because the group’s umbilical cord to Waitrose may be cut sooner than we anticipated and Ocado cannot exist as a commercial entity without Waitrose in our view.

Whilst Ocado states that any agreement with Morrison’s would not be a conflict with Waitrose, we see the mood of [Waitrose chief executive Mark Price] as being deadly serious. As such, Ocado may have irreparably polluted a commercial relationship upon which it is dependent and it must lead to a greater chance of a break in 2017 in our view. Additionally, Waitrose’s understandably forthright stance means that the prospect of Morrison and Waitrose brands simultaneously utilising Ocado’s fulfilment centres and vans is low. As such, the extent of a tie-up between Morrison and Ocado needs to be pencilled down, along with it the financial extent.

The strong appreciation of Ocado’s shares makes the stock more attractive for investors to bank gains and effectively short to our minds. Aside from now uber-stratospheric valuation multiples, the stock does not offer the prospect of a dividend anytime soon either, unlike all of its UK listed food retailers. Whilst we pride ourselves on taking reasonably long-term and strategic views of companies and industries, the time horizon for Ocado to be meaningfully profitable so that it pays a dividend to its shareholders is very extended; in fact it probably remains decades away, if ever. Now, many investors commendably operate on multi-decade timescales, but again, we believe that this is not applicable in Ocado’s case because it is selling multi-temperature foodstuffs where margin expansion potential is structurally low.

Eurozone crisis live: Finance ministers gather as tensions rise in Spain

Category : Business

Eurogroup will decide today whether to approve aid tranches for Greece and Cyprus

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UK retailers suffered sales drop in April, BRC report shows

Category : Business

British Retail Consortium’s three-month average, which irons out distorting effect of Easter, shows growth slowed to 2.6%

Retailers suffered a 2.2% drop in sales last month compared with a year ago, thanks to the timing of Easter and wintry weather, according to industry figures.

The British Retail Consortium’s three-month total growth average, which irons out the distorting effect of Easter falling in April last year and March this year, was 2.6%. That was a slower pace of growth than in the three months to February and March and the BRC said a recovery in consumer spending remained elusive.

“There’s a sense that people are more prepared to spend than they were but chief executives are telling me that’s volatile. A convincing trend towards revival is hard to spot and competitive pricing is still critical to generating sales,” said the BRC’s director general Helen Dickinson.

But April was not all bad, she stressed, noting that for non-food sales it was better than March once the Easter distortion was taken away.

“Wintry weather, followed by the arrival of sun, had a big influence on some retailers,” she said. “Fashion sales were weak early in the month but that was almost entirely made up later when signs of spring arrived. While health and beauty gained both ways with strong sales of cold and flu remedies and then of bronzing and skin care products.”

Japanese bra promises economic uplift

Category : Business

The ‘Branomics Bra’ is a playful take on prime minister Shinzo Abe’s ‘three-arrow’ economic revival plan

The Japanese division of lingerie maker Triumph International unveiled on Wednesday an “Abenomics” bra, a special edition it says offers a “growth strategy” and a potential lift towards Japan’s elusive inflation target.

Launches of Triumph’s concept bras in Tokyo have become a regular event over the past quarter of a century and are an important publicity tool for the 127-year-old, Swiss-headquartered company.

The latest “Branomics Bra” follows earlier solar-powered, recycled and “husband-hunting” models but, like its predecessors, will not go on sale.

The “Branomics Bra” is a playful take on prime minister Shinzo Abe’s “three-arrow” economic revival plan that combines monetary strategy aiming to reach 2% inflation in two years and pro-growth reforms.

It features a rising trendline and arrows as motifs and promises a 2% increase in volume with extra padding.

“We hope that, as the Japanese economy grows, we can also help bust sizes to get bigger,” said Triumph spokeswoman Keiko Masuda.

Its benefits for Japan’s policymakers were less clear.