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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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AUDIO: Co-op ratings downgrade

Category : World News

Ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded the Co-operative Bank’s debt rating to “junk” status.

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Fitch downgrades UK credit rating

Category : World News

Fitch credit ratings agency downgrades the UK to AA+ owing to a weakened economic outlook, but Chancellor George Osborne defends his austerity plan.

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China local currency debt rating cut

Category : World News

Fitch Ratings downgrades China’s sovereign credit rating, warning about a credit build-up in the economy that could threaten the recovery.

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ITV boosted by new shows

Category : Business

Takeover talk downplayed as revenue and profits rise in spite of BBC’s Olympics and jubilee boost

ITV has played down rumours of takeover interest from private equity firms as a strong performance from the broadcaster’s programme-making division helped offset lacklustre X Factor ratings and produce a 6% increase in annual profits.

A resurgent performance at the UK’s largest advertising-funded broadcaster, coupled with buyout speculation, has seen its share price head towards the 130p per share at which a private equity consortium bid for ITV in 2006.

Chief executive Adam Crozier, who is three years into a five-year transformation plan at the broadcaster, nonetheless quashed rumours of a takeover bid for a company whose shares sank as low as 22p four years ago. Asked if ITV had received any approaches from private equity funds or other corporate raiders, he said: “Absolutely none at all.”

Crozier spoke as ITV announced a 3% increase in revenues to £2.19bn in 2012, with income at ITV Studios, maker of recent hits such as Mr Selfridge and the diving show Splash!, up £100m to £712m. Pre-tax profits rose by £21m to £348m. There was further cheer for investors as the broadcaster announced a full-year dividend of 2.6p and a special dividend of 4p. It is only the second year ITV has paid a dividend since it was created by the merger of Carlton and Granada in 2004.

ITV’s 2012 results were slightly ahead of analysts’ expectations, although the broadcaster’s share price – which has doubled in the last six months on expectations of an improving advertising market and takeover speculation – closed down 1.2p at 119p as investors locked in profits.

The company’s improving 2012 performance came despite what Crozier called an “unprecedented year for UK TV” with the London Olympics and the Queen’s diamond jubilee giving the BBC a unique, never to be repeated ratings advantage over its commercial rivals.

Long-running ITV talent shows such as The X Factor and Dancing On Ice are not the force they once were, but the broadcaster has seen its slate of drama productions echo the ratings and critical successes of former years, sparked by Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey.

Crozier said the revenue growth had come in the face of “a broadly flat advertising market” with non-advertising revenues up 12% year on year to more than £1bn. He added that the company had “a positive start to 2013″, with advertising expected to be up 5% in the first quarter.

ITV said it has seen a strong performance in its production, online and its pay and interactive businesses. ITV has also launched a micropayment system allowing viewers to download programmes costing between 99p and £4.99.

“We weren’t shy saying three years ago that a lot of our technology wasn’t fit for purpose. We are now very well positioned to take the demand for growth,” said Crozier.

Online, pay and interactive revenues rose 26% to £102m.

When Crozier was unveiled as chief executive in 2010 a recession-scarred ITV was struggling to recover from a £2.7bn annual loss and had a £1bn debt and pension deficit.

The former Royal Mail and Football Association boss now presides over a debt-free ITV that has about £800m in cash. But he said this was not a war chest and it did not have any specific acquisition plans. “We are getting very good organic growth. We don’t have to chase growth. But if the right opportunity came along and it was absolutely on strategy, we will look at acquisition,” he said.

Paul Richards, media analyst at Numis Securities, said it was difficult for ITV to find the right acquisition – it has previously explored bids for production companies Endemol and All3Media – but said there was a case for putting more money on screen. “The programme budget is the same now as it was in 2009 but advertising revenues have increased over the same period by £300m from £1.2bn to £1.5bn. Given the challenges faced by the BBC and other commercial broadcasters, and the increased competition from Sky for talent, now would be a good time for upping the dial slightly on programme investment.”

App success story

ITV reported a massive increase in its mobile business in its 2012 results, with its ITV Player app downloaded 7.1m times since its launch in 2011, and plans to target smartphone and tablet viewers this

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US ‘will sue’ Standard & Poor’s

Category : Business

Standard & Poor’s says it is to be sued by the US government over the credit ratings agency’s assessment of mortgage bonds before the financial crisis.

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Sony and Panasonic ratings cut

Category : World News

Tech firms Sony and Panasonic have their credit ratings slashed to the level of junk status for the first time.

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Fitch downgrades Sony, Panasonic to junk

Category : Business

Fitch Ratings downgraded Sony and Panasonic debt to junk status Thursday, the latest blow to the battered Japan-based consumer electronics makers.

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Moody’s downgrades French rating

Category : World News

The credit ratings agency Moody’s downgrades French debt and maintains the negative outlook, meaning its rating could be cut again.

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Asda Money Create a Guide to Credit Ratings

Category : Stocks

LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM–(Marketwire – Nov. 14, 2012) - Credit ratings might be one of life’s little mysteries for many, but they have a serious impact on our personal finances. A massive 93% of Brits regularly compare features of different financial products yet almost half (47%) don’t know what they mean.*

Continue reading here: Asda Money Create a Guide to Credit Ratings

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Why François Hollande’s popularity has plummeted

Category : Business

With only 36% of public support in a poll marking a record low, the president’s policies are seen as gaff-ridden and indecisive

When François Hollande became French president in May, he kept his old mobile phone number so old friends could still reach him to give their frank views. The first Socialist party president in 17 years may be regretting that now: six months after the victory street party at Paris’s Bastille, where he vowed to save Europe from one-size-fits-all austerity, his popularity is plummeting.

He has now broken the record as the most unpopular French president at the six-month mark of a mandate. Only 36% of French people have confidence in Hollande, according to the latest poll by TNS-Sofres for Le Figaro magazine. By comparison, the rightwing Nicolas Sarkozy had 53% approval ratings six months after his election in 2007.

Why has Mr Normal, an ordinary, decent bloke who pledged to rein in France’s huge public deficit while staying fair to the poor and crisis-hit, fallen so far so fast? Hollande’s misfortune in the polls follows an autumn of communications gaffes and perceived inaction by a government that has veered off and on message to the point where the public is no longer certain what the message is.

When Sarkozy fell from grace almost a year after taking office, it was because of his personality – he irked the electorate by flaunting his bling lifestyle, and was perceived as being more concerned about his whirlwind romance with Carla Bruni than the struggling French population. But if in early 2008, the public disliked Sarkozy as a person, they didn’t mind his policies and politics. Proof was the good popularity ratings of his prime minister François Fillon, who was well liked while putting Sarkozy’s plans into practice. Fillon still has high approval ratings as he battles to become the new leader of Sarkozy’s UMP party.

By contrast, Hollande’s opinion poll nose-dive is not about personal animosity – he has kept up his image as a modest president – it’s his politics, specifically his way of doing politics, which is under attack. The Socialist leadership and government is seen as confused, accused by its opponents of amateurism and inaction. Even the leftwing daily Libération recently dubbed Hollande and his prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault “The Apprentices”.

Ayrault, a former teacher who used to drive a VW campervan, was well liked at the start. Yet he has sunk even further than Hollande, to 34% approval ratings. A series of gaffes haven’t helped – notably when he suggested this week that he was open to debating the future of the Socialists’ cherished 35-hour week before hastily contradicting himself under pressure from the Elysée. Or when the government tweaked a planned increase in capital gains taxes after a revolt from young entrepreneurs calling themselves “The Pigeons” (slang for mug or sucker).

All this created a public perception that the government thought problems needed to be solved, but wasn’t sure which ones, or how to do it.

Hollande and Ayrault are pushing through France’s harshest budget for 30 years – and despite telling voters that nine out of 10 of them wouldn’t feel the pinch of higher taxes aimed mostly at the rich and big business, public opinion clearly does fear it will feel the pain.

Hollande is forced to respect EU demands to cut the French deficit. But he must also persuade voters he has his own ideas. The old cliche of France being a country impossible to reform has given way to a searching quest for real structural solutions to rising unemployment, dying industry, low competitiveness, stuttering growth and the threat of recession.

Hollande favours slow, gradual “negotiation” in contrast to what he calls the “brutality” and headline-grabbing of the Sarkozy era. He has said there will be no “shock treatment” for Paris’s uncompetitive economy, despite an impatient Germany fearing France is the next sick man of Europe, but instead a slow, five-year-long approach. But his consensual approach has been construed in the public eye as inaction. To the point where Le Monde asked in a headline this week: “Has Hollande underestimated the crisis?”

Hollande stood firm in Le Monde, saying he was acutely aware of the trouble facing France and was confident that there would be an economic up-turn. “To exercise power nowadays is very hard. There is no longer any leniency, any respect. But I knew that,” he said.