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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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Start-up loans age cap ‘should go’

Category : Business, World News

An age cap on accessing loans to set up a company should be removed, says the PM’s enterprise adviser Lord Young, in a report into business growth.

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Lord Lawson calls for UK to exit EU

Category : Business, World News

Ex-Chancellor Lord Lawson calls for the UK to leave the EU – but No 10 says the PM remains confident his strategy “will deliver results”.

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Business bosses back Cameron push for new deal for Britain in Europe

Category : Business

Sir Steven Rose among 500 business chiefs calling for ‘national drive to renegotiate the terms of UK membership of EU’

Five hundred British business leaders, including Ocado chairman Sir Stuart Rose and Next boss Lord Wolfson, have backed a campaign urging David Cameron to negotiate a new deal for the UK with Brussels.

The Business for Britain campaign, whose supporters range from blue chip firms to small companies, has backed the prime minister’s approach to renegotiation and called for a cross-party “national drive to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU”.

Cameron has pledged to claw back powers and then offer voters a choice of staying in the EU in a referendum by the end of 2017, if the Conservatives are returned to power at the next election.

Business for Britain’s co-chairman Alan Halsall, who is also the head of Yorkshire pram-making firm Silver Cross, said: “Business for Britain has been formed because many would have you believe that business doesn’t want politicians to try and renegotiate a better deal from Europe.”

Retailer JML’s founder John Mills, a Labour supporter, said: “This campaign is not about taking political sides or backing the right horse – it’s about doing what’s best for British business.

Other signatories include Lord Bilimoria from Cobra beer, Richard Burrows from British American Tobacco, hairstylist John Freida, Lord Harris from Carpetright, Moni Varma, the rice tycoon and John Clement from Littlewoods.

Labour peer accused of smearing mining magnate’s firm

Category : Business

Beny Steinmetz claims that actions by Lord Malloch-Brown, who works for his firm’s PR, damaged BSGR’s interests in Guinea

Lord Malloch-Brown, the former Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister and deputy secretary general of the United Nations, is being sued by billionaire mining and diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz.

Steinmetz alleges that Malloch-Brown and FTI Consulting, the city PR firm he works for, passed on confidential information and were involved in a smear campaign against his mining company BSG Resources [BSGR].

The high court papers claim that when FTI was advising BSGR regarding mining in Guinea, it had conflicting interests, most notably a relationship with billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros. BSGR claims the Labour peer was providing confidential information to Soros and that organisations Soros funded “issued entirely baseless smears against BSGR in a bid to justify the bizarre cessation to mining investments in Guinea”.

“The claimants believe that at a time when Lord Malloch-Brown’s firm (FTI) was engaged as a key adviser on reputational and other matters, he was behaving in a collusive and unlawful manner with Mr Soros and providing confidential information to Mr Soros,” the court papers allege. “Malloch-Brown was disseminating completely untrue, defamatory and highly prejudicial allegations regarding BSGR, despite the fact that he and FTI were bound to act in BSGR’s best interests.”

The court papers explain how BSGR, founded by the 57-year-old Swiss-based Steinmetz, obtained permission in March 2010 from the government of Guinea to mine iron ore in the Simandou region. However in December 2010 Alpha Condé was made president of Guinea, and stopped all large mining development projects. BSGR claims Condé was “advised by Mr Soros and Soros entities”.

The court papers claim Malloch-Brown, who joined FTI in September 2010, “had (and still has) a close business and personal relationship with Mr Soros and the [non-governmental organisations] funded by him, who were the parties engaged in a smear campaign against BSGR. Indeed, Lord Malloch-Brown was involved in funding those very same NGOs.”

BSGR also claims it was Malloch-Brown who forced FTI to end its more than three-year relationship, after Soros allegedly put pressure on him. BSGR is being represented by Mishcon de Reya.

FTI said it intends to defend the lawsuit “vigorously” and that it had not yet received the particulars of the claim filed by BSGR. “It is highly unusual for a defendant in a case to receive notification of the ‘particulars of claim’ from a journalist,” said a spokesman for the PR firm. “The fact that BSGR are placing this in the media ahead of service is a demonstration of its lack of merit. Once served on us, we intend to defend this claim vigorously.”

Drive to appoint more women to boardroom failing, study shows

Category : Business

Lord Davies claims corporate world is making progress, despite fall in proportion of females appointed to FTSE boards

Lord Davies has insisted that corporate Britain is “stepping up and responding” to his call three years ago for more women to be appointed to boardroom roles, despite growing evidence that progress towards a more equitable gender balance has slowed.

For the last six months the percentage of female directors appointed to FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 boards has slipped to 26% and 29% respectively, according the latest report from the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders. This is well short of the 33% required to reach Davies’s target of a quarter of board posts being filled by women by 2015. It is also a marked slowdown on rates seen for the preceding six months – 44% and 36% for FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies respectively.

“Lord Davies’s target for FTSE 100 companies is still in sight but only if the rate of new appointments going to women regains momentum promptly,” warned Ruth Sealy, co-author of the Cranfield report. Only one in four of the stock market’s largest firms have so far met the target. The percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards jumped from 10.5% in 2010 to 15.6% in March last year, but had grown to just 17.3% by last month – again suggesting the pace of change was slowing.

Despite concern in some quarters, however, former Standard Chartered chairman Lord Davies, who separately publishes his progress report on Wednesday, is expected to play down the significance of six monthly statistics, emphasising: “We’ve come a long way over the past two years … I am pleased to say that the evidence clearly shows that [businesses] have, and are, responding.”

Business secretary Vince Cable conceded “momentum appears to be slowing” and suggested the latest updates from Cranfield and Davies would serve as a “timely reminder to business that quotas are still a real possibility if we do not meet the 25% target of women on boards of FTSE 100 companies by 2015″.

CBI president Sir Roger Carr insisted employers were alive to concerns about a slowdown in momentum. “These figures show if we are to remove blockages in the pipeline of female talent development, business leaders must roll up their sleeves and redouble their efforts to improve recruitment, mentoring and succession planning.” He also reiterated his opposition to proposals from Brussels for a quota system, insisting such measures would “do nothing to address the root causes of this issue”.

The Cranfield report also showed how progress was quickest among directors holding non-executive, part-time roles. Women hold more than one in five (21.8%) of non-executive FTSE 100 posts but still only account for little over one in 17 (5.8%) executive roles. That means there are just 18 women executive directors in Britain’s top boardrooms, against 292 men. Perhaps more alarming still, the Cranfield study found, among the broader top management tier at FTSE 100 firms – the key decision-making groups, known as executive committee members – the representation of women had fallen dramatically, down from 18.1% in 2009 to 15.3% today.

Susan Vinnicombe, co-author of the Cranfield report, suggested this shrinking pool of top-flight women managers made it harder for progress to be made with chief executive and finance director appointments. “Despite women dominating the fields of human resources, law and marketing … [executive positions in the boardroom] are still going to men, who are being promoted internally over experienced female candidates.”

HBOS: Should Andy Hornby and Lord Stevenson get boardroom ban?

Category : Business

Former HBOS chief James Crosby has offered to give up his knighthood and a third of pension – but should his successor Andy Hornby and the bank’s former chairman Lord Stevenson face action?

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HBOS: Regulator’s findings shame three executives who brought down a bank

Category : Business

Bank so poorly run it would have gone bust even without 2008 crash, parliamentary commission finds

The three executives who ran HBOS bank in the runup to its near-catastrophic collapse have been slated for their “colossal failure” of management in a scathing report which calls for them to be held to account by the City regulator.

The highly critical account of the events that led to HBOS being rescued by Lloyds in September 2008 said the responsibility for the management failings rested with the former chairman Lord Stevenson, and the former chief executives Sir James Crosby and Andy Hornby, and says the bank would have gone bust even if the global financial meltdown of that year had not happened. The bank, formed out of Bank of Scotland and Halifax in 2001, racked up £47bn of losses on bad loans.

In a report entitled An Accident Waiting to Happen, the parliamentary commission on banking standards calls on the trio to apologise for their “toxic” mistakes which caused the downfall of the bank and prompted a £20bn taxpayer bailout.

The HBOS report comes in another torrid week for the banking industry after a report commissioned by Barclays found its bankers “seemed to lose a sense of proportion and humility” in their race for big bonuses. The regulation of HBOS by the Financial Services Authority – which was shut down last weekend – is described as “thoroughly inadequate”, but the responsibility for the management failures is placed squarely on the three

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Lord Turner to join Soros think tank

Category : Business, World News

Lord Turner, head of the now-disbanded Financial Services Authority, is to join a US think tank co-founded by billionaire investor George Soros.

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Press regulation rules may exclude small-scale bloggers

Category : Business

Ministers will try to close loopholes in crown and courts bill to allow for media with ‘very different public expectations’

The government has moved to exclude small-scale bloggers from the threat of media regulation, and will hold a miniconsultation with the newspaper industry on how best to construct a workable definition of the bloggers that need to be protected.

Ministers concede that the definitions offered so far may have loopholes, and will attempt to put in place a clear watertight amendment after Easter when the crown and courts bill returns to the Commons.

Lord McNally, the justice minister, said the government’s aim was to bring under the ambit of the regulator only the main elements of the press as well as what he defined as press-like activity online.

He said: “I have seen over the past week some concerns voiced regarding the extent to which bloggers and tweeters may be caught.

“Clearly, the online version of the national press or their regional counterparts, or indeed an online press-like news site, carry with them very different public expectations when compared with a small-scale blog or for that matter a tweet.

“Our definition of ‘relevant publisher’ seeks to make that differentiation and it does so by employing an interlocking series of tests, all of which must be met before the threshold of the definition is reached.

“This is first whether the publication publishes news-related material, second whether the publication is written by different authors, third whether it is to any extent subject to editorial control and fourth whether it is published in the course of a business.”

He said Lord Justice Leveson had sought to distinguish between the grassroots small-scale activities of bloggers, and those activities that have developed over time into more sophisticated, multi-authored and news-related businesses.

He said the regulator was not intended to capture the news aggregation services of operations such as Yahoo or MSN. Nor is it intended to include social networking sites, or sites that merely moderate the comments of others.

He added that the culture secretary, Maria Miller, would ask her officials to engage with those interested on how the definition should operate.

The latest move came as the Telegraph executive director, Lord Black, used the debate on the crown and courts bill to lambast plans for exemplary damages against newspapers as a massive blow against investigatory journalism.

Lord Black urged the government to pause and think again, describing proposals to allow courts to impose exemplary damages on newspapers who have lost libel cases as “shotgun legislation” that will create “a constitutional nightmare”.

He said it could not be right that the proposals, agreed “at breakneck speed”, had been tacked on to the crime and courts bill without “any proper scrutiny”. “They were cobbled together late at night over pizza with no thought for the legal and constitutional issues involved,” he said.

Black said the exemplary damages clauses would almost certainly be contrary to European law and criticised “an unrepresentative lobby group of celebrities”, a reference to the pressure group Hacked Off, which was involved in the talks between the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems that led to the controversial press deal last Monday morning.

“These amendments are wrong in principle and fundamentally flawed. They are almost certainly illegal and so will not endure. They deal with problems of an analogue past and are – in the words of the Guardian – ‘illiterate about the internet’. They will either collapse or be struck down in Europe. They are a constitutional nightmare.”

A second clause was also contrary to the principles of law, where costs are generally awarded against the loser, he said, claiming that publishers faced the prospect of having to bear the entire costs of a case even if they won.

His impassioned plea to the Lords to reconsider the amendments echoes the arguments expressed in a lengthy piece by the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger in which he warned that exemplary damages for those who don’t join the new regulator would be a “seriously bad idea that will create martyrs”.

Lord McNally urged Lord Black “genuinely to pause, and say rather than to try to wreck this, could we not see whether we can make it work”. He said it was regrettable that Lord Black in his speech made “no apology for the phone hacking on an industrial scale, or offer any recognition of the deep disgust of the general public which is reflected in the opinion polls we have seen”.

He denied the proposals on exemplary damages were in breach of the European Convention, but acknowledged that “we are taking a trip into the unknown”.

Peers agreed without votes the first tranche of Leveson amendments introduced last week in the Commons.

Ministers back Heseltine on growth

Category : Business

The government says it will accept most of former deputy PM Lord Heseltine’s plan to stimulate the economy by boosting England’s regions.

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