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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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Equitable compensation hit by delays

Category : Business, World News

A system to compensate those who lost money on their pension investments with Equitable Life has been hit by “mistakes and delays”, a report says.

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Profit at Big Five banks ‘wiped out’

Category : Business

The major UK banks saw their core profits for 2012 wiped out by a mix of regulations and their own mistakes, a KPMG report says.

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SuperGroup reports 13% rise in first half profits after troubled year

Category : Business

Owner of Superdry brand claws back credibility after series of profit warnings and mistakes including accounting errors

SuperGroup, the company behind the Superdry fashion brand, has sought to draw a line under a turbulent year as it reported a 13% rise in first half profits.

Shares in the retailer, whose celebrity fans include Pippa Middleton and the singer Ed Sheeran, have more than doubled over the past six months as the management has clawed back its credibility after a series of profit warnings and mistakes – including a misfiring IT system and accounting errors – that weighed heavily on the company’s value.

“We are better organised than we were a year ago, and I am feeling as positive as a retailer can feel, given the current economic conditions,” said its co-founder and chief executive Julian Dunkerton, before the busiest sales weeks of the year. “If you go into any shopping mall and look how busy we are compared to other people … I think you will realise that we are on track.”

SuperGroup made an underlying pre-tax profit of £14.7m in the six months to 28 October which was in line with analysts’ expectations and up from £13m made in the same period last year. The retailer said sales of its trademark T-shirts, hooded tops, checked shirts and jogging bottoms rose 16.2% to £158.2m, as the firm reaped the benefits of an expanded product range, which includes more knitwear and denim styles, as well as behind-the-scenes improvements. UK like-for-like sales were up 3.9%, while wholesale orders increased nearly 8%.

Some analysts worry that the Superdry brand is losing its cachet in the trend-conscious youth market but Dunkerton batted the concerns away: “The most important thing is does your product progress? Have you got diversity of product to capture different parts of the population?”

Dunkerton did not provide an update on current trading but said like-for-like sales remained “positive”. However despite his confidence that SuperGroup was in good shape for the Christmas trading period and could deliver on full-year profit targets, some analysts still have concerns and the firm’s shares closed down more than 6% on Wednesday. “Our view remains that consensus expectations of circa £50m profit before tax for the current financial year are too high as the cost of growth becomes apparent,” said Espirito Santo Investment Bank analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi, who is forecasting profits of £40m and rates the shares a sell.

SuperGroup shares have had a rollercoaster ride since their stock market debut in 2010. After listing at 500p, the shares rocketed to a high of £18.99 in early 2011. But the trio of profit warnings coupled with a litany of management mistakes, including “arithmetic errors” have taken their toll. In the summer Theo Karpathios, who co-founded the retailer with Dunkerton, left the business, although it was denied he had fallen out with his co-founder. Despite the recent rally, the shares are still well down on the high of £18.99 set in early 2011 and closed down 39.5p at 557p.

To right the ship, Dunkerton has made a series of management changes, including poaching Susanne Given from John Lewis as chief operating officer and installing Shaun Wills as finance director.

Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George, who rates the shares a buy, said the new management team had “steadied the ship”. “For the last six months, there have encouragingly been no surprises with the quarterly or interim figures.”

Northern Rock will repay £270m

Category : Business, World News

Some 152,000 Northern Rock customers will receive hundreds of pounds each in compensation owing to mistakes made in paperwork.

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BP accused of making ‘false promises’

Category : Business

Azerbaijan president threatens ‘serious measures’ against oil giant saying his nation has missed out on £5bn of revenues

Azerbaijan has accused BP of making “false promises” on oil output and said the state had missed out on $8bn (£5bn) of potential revenues from what is one of the company’s biggest projects in the world.

Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s president, said he would take “serious measures”, threatening a third battle front for BP as it seeks a settlement over its Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the US and is struggling over the fate of its $25bn Russian venture.

“Azerbaijan has not received $8.1bn in revenues,” Aliyev told his government, accusing BP of “grave mistakes” in planning oil output at the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli fields in the past few years. “It is absolutely unacceptable … investors who cannot stick to their obligations and contract terms must learn lessons. Serious measures must and will be taken,” he said, according to his website.

BP’s spokeswoman in Azerbaijan said the company remained devoted to its Azeri operations and would work with state oil company Socar to resolve issues. The comments will also concern BP’s partners on the project: Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Statoil, which have for years watched neighbouring Russia and Kazakhstan take larger shares in oil projects away from western companies accused of contract violations.

“This looks like a worryingly familiar development for energy companies in the former Soviet Union,” said an executive with a risk consultancy firm active in the region. “All too often it is the first step in some form of obligatory renegotiation of contract terms.”

The consortium, which has invested $28.7bn in Azerbaijan since the 1990s and received revenues of $73bn, is holding talks with the country on whether it can extend the contract and work on the fields after 2024.

ACG was supposed to produce more than 1m barrels per day (bpd) after a third phase was completed in 2008. The prospect of so much non-Opec crude ensured considerable western diplomatic support for the project and industry kudos for BP.

ACG is so critical of Azerbaijan that the day the production sharing agreement (PSA) was signed – 20 September – has been designated “oil workers’ day”, marked by annual celebrations.

However, ACG has not lived up to expectations. After hitting 823,000 bpd in 2010, output has fallen, averaging 684,000 bpd in the first half of this year.

“Last month BP officially promised to me to fix these negative developments as soon as possible … and more importantly, replace people who made those grave mistakes. A month has passed and I don’t see those promises being fulfilled,” Aliyev said.

Oil executives and diplomats told Reuters last month that BP would have to invest billions of dollars more than previously planned if it is to slow the output decline. Doing so might not be commercially viable if the PSA is not extended beyond 2024.

BP is the biggest foreign investor in Azerbaijan, where it also operates the giant Shah Deniz gas project that supplies Turkey.

A western oil company source familiar with the project said that even though ACG did not deliver the maximum output that had been expected, it was always going to ramp up sharply to a peak and then decline sharply, because the reservoirs are not huge.

RBC capital markets’ analyst Peter Hutton said he did not expect a major threat to BP’s position in Azerbaijan.

“However, the vehemence of the attack in such a core area should raise eyebrows, especially given the pressures elsewhere including the recent indications that BP had been left off the list to rebid in Abu Dhabi, another ‘heritage’ location for BP,” he said.

West Coast bid mistakes emerge

Category : World News

The BBC learns more details of mistakes made by the Department for Transport that led to the collapse of First Group’s bid for the West Coast mainline.

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VIDEO: Apple apologises for Maps error

Category : Business, World News

The chief executive of Apple has apologised for mistakes in its maps, which are available on the iPhone and the iPad.

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With Creativity, the Computing Industry Can Survive Windows 8

Category : World News

Microsoft’s latest OS gives hardware makers a chance to overcome years of mistakes and challenge Apple

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Africa needs an active industrial policy to sustain its growth | Ha-Joon Chang

Category : Business

African countries will be better off with a more activist development strategy than with the failed Washington orthodoxy

‘Industrial policy used to be a four-letter word at the World Bank,” observed Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel economics laureate, in a recent conference on industrial policy in Africa that I attended. He should know. He used be the chief economist of the World Bank, albeit a very unorthodox one.

The statement itself, if a little exaggerated, was nothing extraordinary, as the World Bank’s extreme aversion to industrial policy had been well known. What was extraordinary, however, was where the statement was made – a conference that was partly sponsored by

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PM considers big cuts to benefits

Category : Business, World News

David Cameron suggests people under the age of 25 could lose the right to housing benefit – but a senior Lib Dem warns against a repeat of “1980s mistakes”.

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