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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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High Court to rule on HS2 challenges

Category : Business

The High Court is to rule later on legal challenges suggesting the government failed to follow proper procedures before approving the HS2 rail scheme.

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Facebook paid £2.9m tax on £840m profits made outside US, figures show

Category : Business

Company channelled bulk of profits through Ireland and on to Cayman Islands, allowing to it pay just £238,000 to UK taxman

Facebook has become the latest multinational to come under the spotlight for its tax affairs after figures revealed it paid just £2.9m in tax on profits of more than more than £800m.

Filings for Facebook Ireland, through which all of the social network’s profits outside the US are channelled, show it paid the Irish tax authority €3.2m (£2.9m) last year.

Facebook is structured so that companies buying advertisements on the website in the UK, or anywhere outside of the US, have to pay Facebook Ireland.

This allowed Facebook Ireland to make gross 2011 profits of £840m – or £3.1m per each of its 287 staff. Despite the high gross profit, Facebook Ireland was able to cut its tax bill to just €3.2m by using an accounting technique called the “Double Irish”.

The manoeuvre allows multinationals to move large amounts of money to other subsidiaries in the form of royalty payments. Facebook moved nearly £750m to the Cayman Islands and its Californian parent in licensing and royalty payments.

After the transfers, Facebook Ireland reported a £15m annual loss, despite it accounting for 44% of the social network’s $3.15bn (£1.95bn) revenues.

Like Apple and Google, Facebook uses its Irish subsidiary to reduce its liabilities to HM Revenue & Customs and other European tax regimes. Amazon and Starbucks also cut their British tax bills by using the same technique via other European countries. Last year Facebook paid just £238,000 in UK corporation tax – less than the average pay and bonus of its UK-based staff. Its estimated UK revenues amounted to £175m last year.

The revelations are likely to reignite anger at giant US companies paying very little tax in the UK despite making hundreds of millions of pounds in the country.

Starbucks had been facing calls for a mass boycott after it emerged it paid no corporation tax in Britain for the last three years, and just £8.6m since 1998. It has promised to pay about £10m to the exchequer a year for the next two years.

A Facebook spokeswoman said: “Facebook complies with all relevant corporate regulations including those related to filing company reports and taxation.”

The company added that it chose to base its international headquarters in Ireland as it was the “best location to hire staff with the right skills to run a multilingual hi-tech operation serving the whole of Europe”.

George Osborne, the chancellor, promised to tackle “unacceptable” tax avoidance in his autumn statement this month. He said more resources were being put into ensuring multinational companies “pay their proper share of taxes”.

He also confirmed a £154m blitz on tax avoidance and evasion, with HMRC hiring an extra 2,500 tax inspectors to target high earners who aggressively exploit loopholes to avoid or evade tax.

Margaret Hodge, the chair of the public accounts committee, said multinationals had been allowed to get away with “ripping off” taxpayers because of a weak tax authority, poor legislation and a lack of international co-operation.

“Global corporations with huge operations in the UK generating significant amounts of income are getting away with paying little or no corporation tax here. This is an insult to British business and individuals who pay their fair share.

“Corporation tax revenues have fallen at a time when securing proper income from taxes is more vital than ever.

“The inescapable conclusion is that multinationals are using structures and exploiting current tax legislation to move offshore profits that are clearly generated from economic activity in the UK,” she said.

Kipper Williams: Bank of England fears that financial system needs more capital

Category : Business

Bank’s financial stability review calls on the FSA to conduct a ‘proper valuation’ of bank assets amid concerns that they are sitting on hidden losses

Read more from the original source: Kipper Williams: Bank of England fears that financial system needs more capital

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Ex-SFO boss payments ‘irregular’

Category : Business

Pension and severance payments of £412,000 made to the former chief executive of the Serious Fraud Office were made without proper authorisation, the National Audit Office rules.

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Sky ‘fit and proper’, rules Ofcom

Category : World News

UK media regulator Ofcom says BSkyB is “fit and proper” to hold a broadcasting licence but criticises ex-chairman James Murdoch for “ill-judged” conduct.

Read the rest here: Sky ‘fit and proper’, rules Ofcom

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The press must keep a healthy distance from the police – for its own good

Category : Business

If Hillsborough proves anything, it’s that the media is far too quick to swallow whatever the police are spoon-feeding them

Lord Justice Taylor’s Hillsborough inquiry (mostly) relied on what the police told him. When Kelvin MacKenzie’s Sun lashed the Liverpool fans, he (completely) relied on police say-so too – and now offers “profuse apologies”.

When the Press Complaints Commission pushed aside Guardian evidence on phone-hacking, it did so because the police said there was nothing new here. When the press raised brutal questions about the McCanns, they echoed Portugal’s police. And Christopher Jefferies, the teacher falsely pursued for the murder of Joanna Yeates? Another duff police tip, averred the (then) editor of the Daily Mirror.

There’s a simple moral here, for journalists and judges alike.: base no sweeping assertions, no headlines, no resounding conclusions, on what the police hint, suggest, appear to conclude or sometimes testify. Wait for a court verdict based on proper rules of evidence.

Dame Elizabeth Filkin’s conclusion post-hacking – that police should henceforth keep a prudent, formal distance from media contacts – may still be sensible enough. But not to keep the police safe – more the other way round.

David Cameron urges eurozone to follow UK model for recovery

Category : Business

Cameron says eurozone is at a crossroads and urges it to adopt its own pro-business, pro-growth agenda

David Cameron has called on the eurozone to take a leaf out of the UK’s book in order to overcome its current crisis, insisting that the British economy was “moving in the right direction”.

The government’s austerity measures have been blamed by Labour for the UK suffering a double-dip recession, but the prime minister said the UK had achieved a balance between deficit reduction and growth that was lacking in the eurozone.

“Just as in Britain we need to deal with the deficit and restore competitiveness, so the same is true of Europe,” he said. “This is a debt crisis. And the deficits that caused those debts have to be dealt with. But growth in much of the eurozone has evaporated completely. Indeed without the recent German growth figures, it would be in recession.”

Polls show support for the government’s economic policy receding in the face of criticism that not enough is being done to stimulate growth.

But Cameron said the government had taken “active interventions such as credit easing, mortgage indemnities for first-time buyers and guarantees for new infrastructure projects” and urged the eurozone to adopt its own “pro-business, pro-growth agenda”.

Speaking in Manchester on Thursday, the prime minister said the eurozone crisis, uncertainty over the direction of the global economy and the struggle to recover from recession at home, meant the UK was living through “perilous economic times”.

He painted a bleak picture of the threat posed to the UK by events in Greece. “The eurozone is at a crossroads,” he said. “It either has to make-up or it is looking at a potential break-up. Either Europe has a committed, stable, successful eurozone with an effective firewall, well capitalised and regulated banks, a system of fiscal burden sharing, and supportive monetary policy across the eurozone. Or we are in uncharted territory, which carries huge risks for everybody.”

Cameron said that Britain could not cut itself off from what was happening elsewhere, but that he would “do what it takes to shelter the UK from the worst of the storms”. Warning of “dangerous voices” urging the government to retreat on cutting the deficit, he said: “Deficit reduction and growth are not alternatives. Delivering the first is vital in securing the second. If markets don’t believe you are serious about dealing with your debts, your interest rates rocket and your economy shrinks.”

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said Cameron had caused recession in the UK and bore responsibility with other European leaders for failing to come up with a proper plan for growth and jobs across the continent.

“He is the prime minister – he should be getting in there, getting it sorted out with Europe’s leaders,” Miliband told BBC News. “Sorting it out means not just sorting out the eurozone problems, but getting that proper plan for growth in Europe, just like we need a proper plan for growth here in Britain.

“The prime minister should be showing leadership, not looking like a man who is a bystander to events, shouting from the rooftops.”

Cameron will have a video conference call with the French president, François Hollande, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, on Thursday afternoon. They will be joined by the president of the European council, Herman Van Rompuy, who suggested the discussion ahead of the start of the G8 meeting tomorrow, and the European commission president, José Manual Barroso.

The business secretary, Vince Cable, speaking from Ellesmere Port, where more than 2,000 Vauxhall car manufacturing jobs have been saved, told the Guardian he was confident of a positive outcome to the Greek crisis.

“I am not Apocalypse Now about the European Union and the eurozone. There are risks around Greece but Greece is a very small country. The significance of Greece is if you get contagion, but I think that it is possible to be reasonably optimistic that Germany understands those risks and will put mechanisms in place.

“There are risks and worries and I am not minimising that. But there is every reason to believe that the EU will pull out of this crisis as Britain will.”

Asked what mechanisms he was referring to, Cable said: “We are talking about the firewall, the willingness of the European Central Bank to intervene, the understanding of the Italian and Spanish governments that if they play their part they will get back-up from, particularly, Germany.

“The eurozone has advanced quite a long way from the peak of the crisis. It ultimately comes back to Germany thinking they have done extremely well out of the eurozone, the competitive exchange rate. They have everything to gain from making sure this succeeds. And they are not just going to let it go down the pan.”

Terra Firma care homes takeover triggers MPs’ calls for tighter regulation

Category : Business

MPs fear Guy Hands’ deal puts 25,000 elderly Four Seasons residents at risk of Southern Cross-style collapse

Politicians have called for care home owners to face a fit and proper persons test and submit their business plans for scrutiny to avoid a second Southern Cross-style collapse.

It comes as private equity baron Guy Hands prepares to become the owner of the biggest care homes provider in the country, with responsibility for 25,000 elderly residents.

The £820m purchase of Four Seasons Healthcare by Hands’ Terra Firma will see the care home group’s debt cut from £780m to £525m, but there are concerns Hands will deploy sale and leaseback tactics which he has used in the past.

Labour MP John Spellar said: “The problem with private equity firms is, unlike pension funds, they are usually not in it for the long haul. They want to be in, make a quick profit, and get out. That’s what bedevilled Southern Cross with a business model that was fatally flawed. I’d be very concerned if we ended with a similar business model with Four Seasons.

“If Terra Firma and Guy Hands can give evidence that they are in this for the long haul and demonstrate their business plan is up to scrutiny, then that would be great.”

Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston said a review of care home regulation was desperately needed. “I’d support a fit and proper persons test for care home ownership. I think that’s only right because you can’t have somebody with a poor track record involved.

“Guy Hands needs to set out exactly how he is going to go about explaining how the homes are going to be run as soon as possible.”

After Terra Firma announced it had bought Four Seasons, Hands said he intended to commit further investment to achieve long-term sustainable growth.

Hands said: “Our number one priority is to ensure that Four Seasons delivers consistent high-quality care and peace of mind for residents, service users and their families.”

He made no comment about possible sale and leaseback proposals but sources close to Terra Firma insist there are no plans to sell the properties.

The government has been criticised for failing to bring in safeguards after Southern Cross collapsed last year under a huge debt pile, after private equity investors sold off the care homes in a sale and leaseback scheme.

It left the company with unsustainable rent increases, contributing to its collapse in June last year.

Former owners, Blackstone, were heavily criticised at the time after bosses pocketed £600m after floating the company in 2007 with the flawed business plan still in place.

The US-based private equity firm was keen to stress it did not set up the sale and leaseback scheme, but did use it as a selling point in its flotation documents.

Labour MP John Healey, who was shadow health minister when Southern Cross went bust, warned: “The government has failed to act on the lessons of the Southern Cross collapse and I think there is a strong case for regulating for good care standards and good business standards.

“I think there’s certainly a case for a fit and proper persons test.”

He added: “Care for some of the most vulnerable in our society was traded by predatory fund managers who saw elderly people as commodities.”

Conservative MP Stephen Dorrell, who chairs the health select committee, said he was open to the idea of a fit and proper person test.

The government has promised a white paper on care homes, including regulation reform, in the spring.

Dorrell added: “I work with private equity and I’m not hostile to it. But the key thing is the regulators of care provision need to ensure there are proper safeguards in place.

“The issue of carehome ownership is clearly not going to go away and the Care Quality Commission will be back in front of us [the committee] in September and I’ll be surprised if this issue does not come up again.”

Hands has used the sale and leaseback tactic in the past, most notably in 1996 when he was part of the team that bought and then leased back thousands of Ministry of Defence homes through vehicle Annington Homes.

Political chaos won’t stop Bahrain GP

Category : World News

Formula One’s governing body says the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as planned despite ongoing political instability in the country and threats by some groups to disrupt the event.
In a statement issued early Friday, the FIA said: “Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place” and that “therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled.”

Read the rest here: Political chaos won’t stop Bahrain GP

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Sunny pipe dream in the storm

Category : World News

Regarding the April 5 front-page Kyodo article “Softbank plans huge Hokkaido solar plant”: This project sounds wonderful in theory. In reality, the promised minimum output won’t be under Softbank’s control; it will depend 100 percent on weather conditions. And Hokkaido really isn’t suitable for the project.
Softbank is building a huge money sink. First, the energy production of solar plants is unreliable, thanks to the weather, which is a nonlinear, chaotic system. Second, solar panels absolutely are not energy efficient, nor are they cost efficient. A study from the University of Leicester showed that solar panels can survive for roughly 20 years with proper maintenance. But the same study shows that the same panels don’t become cost-effective until after roughly 25 years. To this must be added the amount of energy required to produce the panels.

Read more here: Sunny pipe dream in the storm

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