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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com 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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Cheddar mountain helps pension fund

Category : Business, World News

A mountain of maturing cheddar cheese is to be used as security for a pension fund, which includes thousands of retired milkmen

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The Financial Times needs to make a signal to the market

Category : Business

Is the FT for sale now that Dame Marjorie Scardino has retired? If not, hadn’t someone at Pearson better say so, and quickly?

Uncertainty casts a blight on newspapering. When there’s stability there’s success: good people stay, good people want to join. But when the whole paper’s in play – maybe passing from one owner to another – then the precise opposite operates. Good journalists leave, good replacements go elsewhere.

Marjorie Scardino gave the Financial Times 15 years of certainty. It was a prime Pearson responsibility and would stay that way while she stayed chief executive. But that pretty golden era ended as the old year turned and Dame Marjorie retired. Enter John Fallon from the education division: enter uncertainty.

Is that a Bloomberg bid we see just over the horizon? Surely one of the big information operators would be tickled pink to have a prestige daily as part of its package? Fallon doesn’t move to quash the speculation. Indeed, he doesn’t move at all. Sitting there mum, though, doesn’t make sense for a property so fragile and precious. Anxiety hurts. Rumour hurts. If Fallon is wise, he’ll repeat the Scardino pledge – or admit he’s a seller pretty damn quick, and get on with it while there are good things left to sell.

Sir Lawrie Barratt obituary

Category : Business

Building tycoon whose keenly priced homes sprang up all over the UK in the 70s and 80s

Sir Lawrie Barratt, who has died aged 85, built so many houses that, for good or ill, Barratt Homes became synonymous with the modern estates that sprang up across the country – and the countryside – to meet the demand for home ownership in the 1970s and 80s. To many he was the patron saint of the first-time buyer, studying the market, trimming the size of his dwellings to fit their finances, and introducing special prices, package deals and part-exchange to enable people to buy their homes. He was Margaret Thatcher’s favourite builder. She bought an upmarket version from him in Dulwich, though never lived in it.

To others he epitomised the charmless architect-free rash of uninspired and cramped brick boxes spreading across the countryside, at its extreme described by the Labour MP Willie Hamilton as “tomorrow’s slums”.

Barratt was both symbol and beneficiary of the move to home ownership that saw owner-occupation rise from a quarter of the population when he started in 1953 to close to two-thirds when he retired, and the number of houses double. He built his first house in 1953 at the age of 25, working on it himself with the help of skilled tradesmen. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, the son of a power station engineer, he left school at 14 and worked as a clerk first for a mining company and then a law firm while studying accountancy at night school. Unable to afford the four-bedroomed house he wanted, he decided to design and build it himself. It cost £1,750 and was valued at £3,000.

He drew the conclusion and swiftly built two more nearby for sale. Then, in 1958, he linked up with a small local builder, Lewis Greensitt, to form a housebuilding company, which in 1963 became Barratt Developments. Greensitt left after the company was floated on the Stock Exchange in 1968.

Barratt was hands-on. He designed the houses, bought the land and dealt with the tradesmen. In later years he had helipads constructed at his major sites so he could check on progress. “No one in a subsidiary comes to see me,”he remarked, “I go to their patch.” But above all he was a great salesman, with the mantra: “You have got to work backwards from the market.”

Personally a rather dour man, he studied demographics intently and shaped his estates and his prices to match incomes and preferences. As the divorce rate increased, he noted that divorce sold houses. When inflation took off in the 1970s, he reduced the size of his houses to put them within reach. “First-time buyers could no longer afford to buy three-bedroom semis so we moved a lot of our production to two-bedroom, and then, when it got worse, to one-bedroom.”

He made things simple for buyers with show houses, starter homes and financial packages. “They had to find a solicitor, find a mortgage and all the hire purchase for white goods. We translated all that into virtually one-stop shopping.”

Quick to see the benefits of national television advertising, Barratt Homes’ famous slots in the 70s featured the actor Patrick Allen flying over rows of Barratt Houses and then alighting from Barratt’s helicopter.

Retaining a base in the north-east, Barratt expanded into other parts of northern England and Scotland and then the south of England, making key acquisitions in Manchester and Luton. His business benefited from the latitude he allowed his local managers within an agreed framework, setting up a network of semi-autonomous subsidiaries that could react to local conditions.

He reached his apogee in 1983, building a record 16,500 houses, more than his principal rival, George Wimpey. He was knighted in 1982, the year he took a venture into inner-city development, buying and refurbishing 300 rundown council flats in Toxteth, Liverpool, the scene of riots the year before. But in the mid-80s business was badly hit by two World in Action programmes on ITV that questioned the quality of estate-built houses, and in particular that of timber-frame construction.

Barratt managed to steady the business but abandoned timber framing. By the time he retired in 1988, the company was making £61m a year, although with only 7,000 houses sold it had slipped to number three. By 1991 the company was in trouble following the end of the 80s boom and reductions in mortgage relief. Losses were estimated at £100m. Fewer than 5,000 houses were sold.

Barratt agreed to come back, announcing that he would work for nothing until he improved the business: “No profit, no pay.” Subsidiaries in the US were closed, a fifth of the staff laid off, and by the end of the year it was making a small profit.

Barratt remarked: “We are happier working in a recession. In boom times discipline disappears out of the window. Excess land costs and high building costs do no one any good at all.” When he retired for good in 1997 he had built more than 200,000 houses.

He remained a prominent figure in the north-east, living at Corbridge in Northumberland, playing golf locally, but also maintaining a 4,500-acre estate in North Yorkshire for shooting. However, his health deteriorated and he never completely recovered from an armed robbery at his home in January 2011, during which he and his wife were bound and gagged.

His first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his second wife, Sheila Brierley, whom he married in 1984, and by two sons from his first marriage.

• Lawrence Arthur Barratt, businessman, born 14 November 1927; died 18 December 2012

Leveson’s legal eagles will repeat all the old mistakes

Category : Business

Putting lawyers in charge of the press regulator will lead to endless hearings and the stultified pace of the courtroom – just like the old, dismantled Press Council

Let’s leave Lord Justice Leveson well to one side as the search for “independent” worthies to police his masterplan gets under way. We don’t know how he came to be appointed head of his famous commission in the first place, or even (inns of court gossip) whether he was the lord chief justice’s first choice. But we do know that Igor Judge said he chose Sir Brian because he “believed in the freedom of the press” (which, in all logic, argues that some other high court luminaries harbour no such beliefs).

But now see the great legal carpet of opportunity unrolling. Here’s Labour’s draft Leveson implementation bill, presented by Harriet Harman (a

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Jury out in ‘rogue’ trader case

Category : Business

The jury has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of a City trader with Swiss bank UBS accused of a £1.4bn fraud.

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Ex-HBOS banker Cummings banned for life and fined £500,000

Category : Business

Peter Cummings is the only former HBOS banker to be penalised by the FSA as a result of the near-collapse of the bank

Peter Cummings, the HBOS banker whose division lent billions of pounds to property developers, has been given a lifetime ban by the Financial Services Authority for his role in the banking crisis.

Cummings, who has also been fined £500,000, is the only former HBOS banker to be penalised by the City regulator as a result of the near-collapse of the bank which was rescued by Lloyds in September 2008 – and the highest profile banker to be punished since the financial crisis.

The 57-year old Scottish banker launched a stinging attack on the regulator for not taking action against any of his former colleagues at the bank which eventually needed a £20bn taxpayer bail out.

Calling for an independent report into the HBOS collapse, Cummings, who retired with a £352,000 a year pension, said: “This is tokenism at its most sinister, and has made it feel throughout like institutional oppression”.

The action against the retired banker, well known as a lender to Top Shop founder Sir Philip Green and other high profile business executives, follows the announcement by the FSA in March that the Bank of Scotland corporate division of HBOS which had run and which was found guilty of “very serious misconduct”.

The FSA said it would begin work on finding out what went wrong at the bank – created in 2001 through the merger of Halifax and Bank of Scotland – and publish a report before it is disbanded in March next year.

Cummings, who retired in January 2009 following the Lloyds rescue after a career that began at Bank of Scotland when he was just 18, was found to have failed to “exercise due skill, care and diligence” in running the corporate banking division and failed to manage “high value transactions” as they showed signed of stress as the banking crisis took hold.

A softly spoken Glaswegian, Cummings’ first job was said to be making tea in his local Dumbarton branch. It was not until January 2006 that he was promoted to main board level when Sir James Crosby was still chief executive of HBOS. Crosby handed the helm to Andy Hornby, now boss of Coral, in July 2006 while Lord Stevenson was chairman of the bank during the period.

Bank of Scotland corporate division became well known as a lender to property companies but also taking equity stakes in companies such as retirement-home builder McCarthy & Stone, and housebuilder Crest Nicholson. It helped fund Green’s ill-fated tilt at Marks & Spencer in 2004.

The division kept expanding in the months running up to the financial crisis, even as rivals were pulling back – and the FSA, in a 92-page final notice, argued that Cummings should have restrained the business which operated “with a culture of optimism” with bonuses linked to sales. The investigation covered the three years starting in early 2006 and ended in December 2008, just as Lloyds was taking control of HBOS. Shortly afterwards, in February 2009, the enlarged bank, known as Lloyds Banking Group and 40% owned by the taxpayer, was forced to increase the level of bad debt provision to £7bn from £3.3bn in December because HBOS had taken an “optimistic” approach to provisioning.

In March, the regulator said it did not fine HBOS because the bill would have been picked up the taxpayer.

Explaining he was not taking the FSA to a tribunal because of the cost and impact on his family, Cummings said: “Many people must bear collective responsibility for what happened, including governments and regulators as well as the boards of the banks themselves. But the fact that I am the only individual from HBOS to face investigation defies comprehension”. The FSA said it had taken into account the fact had waived a £1.3m bonus when he left.

There has been speculation that Cummings had originally faced a £1m fine from the FSA which has been under fire for its handling of the financial crisis.

It closed its investigation in to what went wrong at Royal Bank of Scotland without taking action against Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive who has since been stripped of his knighthood. Johnny Cameron, the former head of investment banking at RBS, agreed not to work in the City again although no regulatory action was taken against him.

Rise in bad debts

Peter Cummings, the former boss of the Bank of Scotland corporate division inside HBOS, was found by the FSA to have a led a “culture of optimism” which led to the bank being slow to notice a rise in bad debts.

While the FSA admitted that some of the problems existed before Cummings took over and other directors shared responsibility, it said the bank allowed too many big loans to a small number of borrowers and that the full extent of the bad debts inside the corporate division were not immediately clear to the board, its auditors or regulators.

The FSA noted that the corporate division took on risk by taking on 100% exposure to loans which it then sold down rather than trying to join in a club with other banks to reduce the risk.

I’ll Have Another ruled out of Belmont

Category : World News

The Triple Crown curse lives. This time the horse didn’t even make it to the starting gate.
I’ll Have Another’s bid for the first Triple Crown in 34 years ended stunningly Friday when the chestnut colt was retired on the eve of the Belmont Stakes with an injury to his left front tendon.

Excerpt from: I’ll Have Another ruled out of Belmont

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BG Group Plc (BRGYY: OTC Link) | Confirmation of the appointment of Andrew Gould as Chairman

Category : Stocks

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Lions to retire Inao’s No. 24 jersey

Category : World News

The Seibu Lions will retire former Nishitetsu Lions ace Kazuhisa Inao’s No. 24, sources familiar with the matter said Saturday.
It will be the first retired number since Seibu began to own the Lions in 1979. Inao died of cancer in November 2007 at age 70.

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Look at Social Security for what it is: welfare

Category : World News

Would Franklin Roosevelt (the 32nd U.S. president) approve of Social Security? The question seems absurd. After all, Social Security is considered the New Deal’s signature achievement. It distributes nearly $800 billion a year to 56 million retirees, survivors and disabled beneficiaries.
On average, retired workers and spouses receive $1,839 dollars a month — money vital to the well-being of millions. Roosevelt would surely be proud of this, and yet he might also have reservations. Social Security has evolved into something he never intended and actively opposed.

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