Featured Posts

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...

Read more

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...

Read more

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

Read more

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...

Read more

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...

Read more

Marjorie Scardino: business leaders will back EU in the end

Category : Business

Former Pearson CEO draws parallels between Europe and US and says current government is ‘pandering to Ukip’

Dame Marjorie Scardino, the first woman chief executive of a FTSE 100 company, has said she believes the UK business community will ultimately back the European Union in any referendum on Britain’s membership.

Scardino, who was chief executive of Financial Times and Penguin owner Pearson for 16 years until the end of 2012, said she thought business leaders were intelligent enough to know where their best interests lay, which was in closer European integration – even though her faith in the British business community generally was “at a nadir”.

“I think they will be for Europe in the end. I think the business community is smart enough to realise that just having a trade union is not enough,” she said. “They are smart enough to know they need to be part of a union that has political and financial power.”

In January, David Cameron announced that if the Conservatives won the next election, they would hold an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU before the end of 2017.

The prime minister also said that before that he would be seeking a new settlement between the UK and Brussels, through a full treaty renegotiation or other means, to repatriate powers to Britain, and that he wants the EU to abandon its commitment to “ever closer union”.

Scardino made the comments on the EU referendum during a question and answer session after delivering the 2013 Hugo Young lecture in London on Tuesday evening.

In her speech, she said she thought Young, the pro-European former Guardian political columnist who died in 2003, would “likely have scolded the government for pandering to Ukip”.

Scardino, who was born and raised in Texas but has lived in the UK for 20 years, also said the EU was in need of leaders of the stature of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to help it through its current political and financial malaise.

In a speech that drew comparisons between the EU and the development of the US as a political union over more than two centuries, she added that having a single, strong leader was one of the factors that had helped her native country survive numerous political crises that could have torn it apart, including the civil war.

Answering a question on this point, Scardino said she thought there was a “such a paucity of imagination among politicians and business leaders” responsible for making decisions about the EU’s political and financial future.

“If you don’t have anyone brave enough to say, ‘We’ve got to have something to bind ourselves together,’ you are never going to have [a sense of union like the US has],” she added. “The politics of Europe is unimaginative and bureaucratic.”

However, Scardino said another lesson from the history of the US was that building a union between disparate groups of people takes time, above all else.

She added that the US grew from 13 British colonies that shared a common language and culture, where as the EU was trying to forge closer union from countries that in some cases had been in existence for more than 1,000 years, with “very, very long histories and very well-dug-in legacies”.

“It’s not about legislatures being more compromising; it’s not about anything other than time. It takes a long time to build democracy, to build freedom.”

The annual Hugo Young lecture is organised by the Scott Trust, the owner of the Guardian.

Swiss back curbs on executive pay

Category : Business

Swiss voters overwhelmingly back proposals to impose some of the world’s strictest controls on executive pay, final referendum results show.

See the original post here: Swiss back curbs on executive pay

Post to Twitter

VIDEO: Blair warns of ‘huge’ EU problem

Category : World News

David Cameron’s promise of a referendum on the UK’s future membership of the European Union could create problems, Tony Blair has warned.

Continue reading here: VIDEO: Blair warns of ‘huge’ EU problem

Post to Twitter

David Cameron’s EU uncertainty makes business leaders anxious

Category : Business

Prime minister’s promise of an in-out referendum in 2017 met with caution by executives at World Economic Forum in Davos

Britain’s business leaders sympathise with the political pressures on David Cameron over Europe but warned the prime minister on Wednesday that he needed to tackle the uncertainty caused by the promise of an in-out referendum in 2017.

Executives at the World Economic Forum in Davos responded cautiously to Cameron’s long-awaited speech, expressing concerns – but not widespread alarm.

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the multinational advertising company WPP, was among the most anxious, identifying the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union as one of the five major threats to the global economy as it struggles to emerge from financial crisis, recession and a half-decade of weak growth.

Sorrell said there were a number of “black and grey swans” – hidden or half-hidden risks – that could derail an already tentative recovery. He warned that the promise of a referendum in 2017 would make businesses less likely to invest.

“A referendum adds to uncertainty – it doesn’t diminish uncertainty,” Sorrell said. “I understand the PM’s predicament. But a referendum creates more uncertainty and we don’t need that. This is a political decision, not an economic decision. If I am looking at it from WPP, it isn’t good news.”

Sorrell fears Britain could “say no and move out at precisely the wrong time”, when the tough measures being taken by the eurozone are bearing fruit.

Peter Sands, chief executive of Standard Chartered bank, told Bloomberg TV: “My feeling is that the UK needs to remain part of the EU. I completely understand why prime minister Cameron thought it necessary to offer the people a referendum. Europe is changing, and as the biggest country in Europe outside the eurozone, the UK’s relationship with the eurozone is going to change.”

He added: “The European Union has been a massively important creation within Europe. It is very good for the UK to be part of it. It will evolve. We have seen that already in the eurozone. It is changing quite markedly. It is not a bad thing to have the evolution, debates and questions.” Sands said he thought it unlikely a referendum would lead to the UK leaving the EU.

However, Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher, which owns DIY chain B&Q and its equivalent in France, Castorama, said he supported the idea of a referendum that he hoped would “put this to bed”.

“It is a good step forward. The prime minister is trying to shape the agenda rather than things happening as a result of drift and by default,” he said.

Cheshire was one of 55 business figures who signed a letter to the Times welcoming Cameron’s move as “a European policy that will be good for business and good for good jobs in Britain.”

Others included Samir Brikho, chief executive of engineering firm Amec; Sir John Peace, chairman of fashion firm Burberry and Standard Chartered; Paul Walsh, chief executive of drinks group Diageo; Sir Simon Robertson, chairman of Rolls-Royce; Lord Wolfson, chief executive of Next; and John Nelson, chairman of the Lloyd’s of London insurance market and property developer Hammerson.

The CBI, mindful of the fact that its membership has widely different views about Europe, is adopting a cautious approach to Cameron’s speech.

Sir Roger Carr, the president of the CBI and chairman of the energy firm Centrica, said: “The tone, the style and the emphasis of the speech, which was positive about European membership, was good news.

“But the referendum builds in a degree of uncertainty and business never welcomes uncertainty. Managing that change is something business and government has to do. We have to demonstrate to our partners in Europe that this is a positive approach and that we making changes for everybody’s benefit in Europe in terms of greater competitiveness and higher productivity.”

Businesses divided over EU speech

Category : Business, World News

Some business leaders warn that the prime minister’s EU referendum proposal will hurt investment, but others back his move, as he heads to the Davos Economic Forum.

More here: Businesses divided over EU speech

Post to Twitter

David Cameron’s threat to block EU reforms branded ‘economic insanity’

Category : Business

Peter Mandelson says PM shouldn’t think he can ‘put a gun to the heads’ of EU leaders in an effort to repatriate powers

David Cameron has been accused of “economic insanity” in trying to put a gun to the head of his European partners after he warned on Sunday that he would block treaty changes to make the euro more effective unless he is allowed to repatriate powers to the UK.

Cameron made his thinly veiled threat on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, when he said he was “entitled” and “enabled” to seek a repatriation of powers when other EU countries sought treaty change to make the single currency work more effectively. Cameron is due to set out his definitive position on Europe, including a referendum, later this month.

Writing in the Guardian, the former European commissioner Lord Mandelson warns Cameron that he “will be disappointed if he thinks he can put a gun to their heads to begin renegotiating Britain’s EU membership and then dictate when it will end, especially when, in their view, he is arguing not in Europe’s interests as a whole but for British exceptionalism”.

Faced by a choice between protecting the euro and British demands, he says Europe will choose the euro.

Claiming the Tory party is now gripped by a madness on Europe, he says it is “an act of economic insanity to begin 2013 by placing this large and indefinite question mark over our membership of the EU, and all the trade and investment privileges it brings us.

“The signal it sends to the world is that we are on our way out of the European single market and that those who invest in Britain in order to trade in that market should think again.”

His remarks are supplemented by a warning from the shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, that Cameron is in danger of putting a long-term question mark over the UK’s relations with its largest trading partner at a time when the country is desperate to secure growth.

Alexander writes: “Announcing an in/out referendum halfway through this parliament to take place more than halfway through the next, given the Conservatives’ hostility towards Europe, could risk up to seven years of economic uncertainty, threatening vital investment and effectively playing roulette with the country’s economic future.”

Alexander added “Focusing on an in/out referendum now actually risks the UK missing the best chance in a generation to reform Europe so that it better serves our interests and meets our expectations.

“Simply presenting a shopping list of repatriations – backed by the threat of exit – will not deliver for Britain and will undermine our ability to shape and lead the broader project of EU reform.

“While the Prime Minister is right to recognise that Europe, and our position within it, is changing, he is wrong to imply that these changes inevitably threaten our interests It is still unclear how these changes will affect Britain’s relationship with the EU, or indeed the nature of our membership”.

Cameron reiterated on Sunday that he does not favour the UK leaving the EU, arguing that countries outside the EU such as Norway are subject to its rules but have no influence over its policies.

Setting out how Britain would have a lever over the rest of the EU to demand repatriation of UK competences, Cameron said: “What’s happening in Europe right now is massive change being driven by the existence of the euro. The countries of the euro, they have got to change to make their currency work. They need to integrate more … This is something they recognise they have to do. There isn’t a single currency in the world that doesn’t have a banking union and forms of a fiscal union.” He added: “As they need to change, what that means is they are changing the nature of the organisation to which we belong. And thus we are perfectly entitled, and not just entitled but actually enabled because they need changes, to ask for some changes ourselves.”

Britain can veto treaty changes to make the euro more effective, such as closer EU supervision of banks and deficits. These treaty changes require the unanimous support of all EU members, and euro members are likely to take a dim view of Britain threatening to block an effective euro as part of a bargain designed to allow Britain to opt out of other EU laws, especially laws designed to create social equality.

EU sources have also claimed there is no certainty that treaty changes will be required, and if they are, and Britain seeks to veto them, they could still be agreed between governments without the need to use EU institutions.

Cameron said he supported treaty changes in principle to make the euro more effective.

He said: “I’m very positive about the changes that they need to make, but I think it’s a perfectly acceptable argument to say that as you need to make your changes, there are changes that Britain would like to make too. We want to be members of the European Union, particularly the single market, but there are changes we would like to make.”

He insisted the rest of the EU would concede to Britain’s as-yet-unspecified demands, saying: “I’m not a fatalist. People told me it was never possible to make changes to our relationship. I came in as prime minister, I’ve already managed to get us out of the bailout power that the last government opted us into.”

Pressed to explain the kind of competences that Britain would seek to have repatriated, he said: “There are lots of things we would be better off out of

Post to Twitter

EU exit will not shelter UK from the economic storm

Category : Business

Britain should not be contemplating isolation from Europe; rather, it should engage with its leaders to stop austerity measures that threaten social stability

You have got to hand it to the Conservative party’s right wing and their camp followers in Ukip. They may own properties in France, Spain or Italy; the excessive free-market policies they enthusiastically espoused under Margaret Thatcher may have contributed to a situation where about half of “our” exports are produced by foreign-owned companies in the UK, but my goodness, don’t they just hate Europe!

As if the conjuncture of a world financial crisis and a eurozone on life support is not enough, it looks as though the big issue which is going to dominate British politics in 2013 is not how Britain, drawing on a wealth of historical experience, can contribute to a co-ordinated rescue plan for so many afflicted western economies including our own; no, it is going to be whether or not we should have a referendum about our membership of the EU – not necessarily this year, but at some stage during what has already established itself as a turbulent decade.

You could not make it up. It was not for nothing that Sir Edward Heath, the Conservative prime minister who thought he had finally resolved Britain’s ambiguous relationship with Europe by taking us into the European Community, used to refer to his sceptical colleagues as “septics”.

The story of the long haul from President Charles de Gaulle’s multiple use of the word “non” to UK entry and then the 1975 referendum is elegantly told in The Official History of Britain and the European Community, Volume 2, From Rejection to Referendum, 1963-75 (Routledge) by Sir Stephen Wall.

Wall is in the best tradition of British diplomatists. His inside knowledge – he was private secretary to five foreign secretaries, and to PM John Major, as well as being an adviser on Europe to Tony Blair – and his access to the archives, have been put to good use in an enthralling account which I recommend to all, including the sceptics, or septics, and which may just give the latter pause for thought.

The question they might ask themselves is: do we really have to go through all this again, and in the midst of a serious economic crisis?

Now, I write as someone who is not such a Europhile as to have supported what I regarded as the premature and faulty construction of the eurozone. And, of course, there is continual need for reform of the abuses of the EU budget, not least the way that the common agricultural policy, while a smaller proportion of the budget than it used to be, subsidises large corporate, often Eurosceptical, farmers who are the first to complain about subsidies for the poor and the homeless.

But such abuses are best attacked from within the tent, not outside it. And those fantasists who go on about a looser association with Scandinavia and Switzerland will benefit from the historical explanation of why we as a nation felt it necessary to move from EFTA (the European Free Trade Association) to our successive applications to join the real thing.

It is remarkable how people still go on about the “special relationship” with the US as an alternative to membership of the EU. If there is one thing successive postwar US administrations have been consistent about regarding our relationship with Europe, it is that we should be within, not without.

Many of us hoped that the 1975 referendum – when we voted to stay in by a two-to-one majority – would settle the issue for good. But the real position, as noted by David Watt in the Financial Times, was that the 1975 vote had made secession “inconceivable in this generation“. As Wall points out, the day after the referendum, PM Harold Wilson told his principal private secretary, Ken Stowe, that it had taken him 10 years to achieve a yes vote.

By this he meant that he had decided way back in 1965 that membership was in the country’s best interests, but all the time he was fighting a very powerful group of anti-marketeers within the party. “People say I have no strategy, cannot think strategically,” he observed to Stowe in what must surely be one of his greatest quotes. He had decided that the only way to defeat these anti-marketeers was to go above them to the country.

The saying “a week is a long time in politics”, used by Wilson, was actually coined by President Truman. Well, a generation is a very long time in politics, and the generation that David Watt referred to is no longer in control. We have another prime minister, leader of the party that took the UK into the community, and wisely chose not to sign up for the single currency, who is now faced with the problem of keeping his party together.

Keeping out of the eurozone has enabled UK policymakers to retain an independent monetary policy and flexibility in the exchange rate. Fiscal policy, both here and in the eurozone, is absurdly inappropriate for a depression associated with a banking crisis, but unemployment here is mercifully a long way below the levels in Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece.

But what is happening in the so-called peripheral nations is deeply worrying. Anyone with a sense of history is familiar with the saying “civilisation hangs by a thread”. The austerity policies espoused by Germany, the IMF and the European commission are gambling with social stability. It is time for European policymakers to get together and examine their consciences as well as their policies. This should be a more important objective for the British government than reconsidering its membership of the EU.

Egypt’s EGX 30 is +4.8% after Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi revokes a decree that would have exempted his decisions from judicial review. However, a referendum on the controversial constitution will still take place on Saturday. Mursi’s actions…

Category : Stocks, World News

Egypt’s EGX 30 is +4.8% after Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi revokes a decree that would have exempted his decisions from judicial review. However, a referendum on the controversial constitution will still take place on Saturday. Mursi’s actions had caused violent protests and sent shares plunging. Post your comment!

See the article here: Egypt’s EGX 30 is +4.8% after Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi revokes a decree that would have exempted his decisions from judicial review. However, a referendum on the controversial constitution will still take place on Saturday. Mursi’s actions…

Post to Twitter

Catalans react with surprise but determination – euronews

Category : Stocks

Catalans react with surprise but determination
The governing pro-independence CIU party lost 12 seats, while the vote for many smaller pro-independence parties increased. For some, it is a reflection of the anger felt at the CIU's austerity policies. But voters seem agreed on one thing, the push for
Divisive Election in Spain's Catalonia Gives Win to Separatist PartiesNew York Times
Spain's Catalan nationalists win elections in local parliamentXinhua
Voters deal blow to Catalan president's hopes for independence referendumThe Guardian
Wall Street Journal

Post to Twitter

Communication Workers Union criticises Virgin after vote

Category : Business

Union accuses Virgin Media of ‘stealing’ trade union recognition after referendum showed 52% in favour of company’s position

Communications giant Virgin Media was involved in a row over trade union recognition on Thursday after ending collective bargaining deals following a vote by employees.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) accused the firm of “stealing” trade union recognition from its staff after a referendum showed 52% in favour of the company’s position.

A Virgin Media spokesman said: “We’re pleased with the engagement our staff have shown on this issue as we wanted to hear the views of everyone affected.

“Following the vote, we will now act on the majority’s decision to end these legacy and voluntary collective bargaining deals. Remaining, or becoming, a union member will continue to be an individual choice, but all our people will be represented by their colleagues in our independent, well-established staff forums which have an inclusive voice in the company’s decision-making.

“This referendum was only open to those who would be directly impacted by these agreements and a vote to end them has no bearing on an individual’s choice to be a union member.”

Andy Kerr, the CWU’s deputy general secretary, said it was a “poor day” for democracy, adding: “We’re bitterly disappointed in the way that Virgin Media has conducted this flawed referendum on a basic human right for trade union recognition at work.

“Despite the pressure and access which Virgin Media used to influence this referendum, the supposed result is very poor for the company’s position and an incredibly weak mandate for severing union recognition.

“We’re still at a loss as to why the company made this decision and are concerned about what it may mean for Virgin Media staff.”