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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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Cornel West: ‘They say I’m un-American’

Category : Business

The American academic and firebrand campaigner talks about Britain’s deep trouble, fighting white supremacy and where Obama is going wrong

Cornel West, the firebrand of American academia for almost 30 years, is causing his hosts some problems. They are on a schedule but such things barely move him, for as he saunters down the high street there are people to talk to, and no one can leave shortchanged. Everyone, “brother” or “sister”, is indeed treated like a long lost family member. And then there is the hug; a bear-like pincer movement. There’s no escape. It happens in New York, where the professor/philosopher usually holds court. And now it’s the same in Cambridge.

The best students accord their visitors a healthy respect, but West’s week laying bare the conflicts and fissures of race and culture and activism and literature in the US and Britain yielded more than that during his short residency at King’s College. There are academics who draw a crowd, but the West phenomenon at King’s had rock star quality: the buzz, the poster beaming his image from doors and noticeboards; the back story – Harvard, Princeton, Yale, his seminal work Race Matters, his falling-in and falling-out with Barack Obama.

Others can teach, and at Cambridge the teaching is some of the best in the world, but standing-room-only crowds came to see West perform. He performed. Approaching 60 now, he is slow of gait. But he always performs.

“Britain is in trouble,” he tells me. “Britain is in deep trouble. The privatising is out of the control, the militarising is out of control and the financialising is out of control. And what I mean from that is you have a cold-hearted, mean-spirited budget that the Queen just read; you have working and poor people under panic, you have this obsession with immigration that tends to scapegoat the most vulnerable rather than confront the most powerful. And it is not just black immigrants, but also our brothers and sisters from Poland and Bulgaria, Romania; right across the board.” He isn’t ranting. He doesn’t rant. He smiles, he growls gently, he leans in and whispers conspiratorily. There is an upside, he says. “Britain has a rich history of bouncing back too.”

They looked after him at King’s, he says. Incongruous in his trademark black three–piece suit, with fob watch and old-time, grey–flecked, fly-away afro, he berthed in the understated splendour of the Rylands room in the Old Lodge. Named after Dadie Rylands, the literary scholar and theatre director educated at King’s and a fellow until his death in 1999, it was where Virginia Woolf lunched with Rylands and John Maynard Keynes. West likes such evocations. “I feel her spirit,” he says, leaning back on a chair.

But then he is accustomed to the star treatment. A graduate of Harvard University in 1973, he received his PhD at Princeton; returning to both as professor of religion and director of the programme in African-American studies at Princeton and later professor of African-American studies at Harvard. He departed Harvard in 2002 after a bitter dispute with the then president of the university, Lawrence Summers, Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary, who was later picked by President Obama to head the US National Economic Council. Some claim Summers’s clash with West formed part of the spiral that led to his own departure from Harvard. West says Summers had an agenda to cut African American studies, and him, down to size. He “tangled with the wrong Negro”, the professor said later. He returned to Princeton, from which he has recently retired. Now his centre of academic operations is the Union Theologiocal Seminary in New York, where he began his teaching career.

But he is multi-platform, which, critics contend, added something to the fall-out with Summers at Harvard. He is the author of 19 books and editor of another 13. A regular TV pundit. Co-star of the popular public radio show Smiley and West. Chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. He even played the wise Councillor West in The Matrix Reloaded. While the right throws the socialist tag at Obama like a poisoned dart, West wears it as a badge of honour. A “non-Marxist socialist” eschewing Marxism in favour of Christianity. A complex package. Hence the enthusiasm at Cambridge’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities to invite him over and peel the layers.

Last week West appeared three times in conversation: on race and politics, with academic Paul Gilroy – their double header had to be moved to a larger venue and ended with a standing ovation; on philosophy and the public sphere, with philosopher MM McCabe; and with Ben Okri on literature and the nation. The fact is that he’ll talk indefinitely and on anything. In between Cambridge appearances, he headed to Sheffield University to unveil a memorial to a previous visitor there, “my brother Malcolm X”. Also to London to an event hosted by former race chief Trevor Phillips.

For his radio show in the US, he also travelled to the Ecuadorian embassy for an encounter with Julian Assange. Exhilarating, by his account. “Boy, that was a rich one,” he says. “Oh my God, we went on for an hour and a half: about the militarising of the internet and the use of US imperial power. They’re trying to squelch any whistleblower who wants to reveal the secrets of the dirty wars of the US empires and other governments. We talked primarily about courage. He is a very smart man and very courageous too.”

They found points of contact. “He talked about Martin Luther King’s courage and how he has been inspired by Martin Luther King. We talked about the 3 June case with brother Bradley Manning and the witnesses the US government has lined up. I wanted people to hear his voice and to revel in his humanity; revel in his wrestling with his situation and to see what his vision is.”

He found some optimism, he says. “He has this situation with the sisters in Sweden and that’s got to be resolved, and I think that’s in the process of being resolved. We have to be concerned about someone accused of violating anybody, but I think for the most part that is going to be resolved, and that was probably an attempt of the powers that be. One woman has already said she is pulling back and the other one admits it was consensual, so it is not as ugly as it was projected in the press. But once that is over he has got the big one coming. He has got a behemoth coming at him; the US empire and its

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Are stock market rises justified?

Category : Business

World equity markets post record highs

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Markets soar as US unemployment hits lowest level since 2008

Category : Business

Dow Jones Industrial Average pushed past 15,000 briefly after figures showing joblessness had fallen to 7.5% in April

Stock markets rose to record levels as the job market avoided a feared spring freeze by adding 165,000 new jobs last month, marking a four-year low in US unemployment.

Joblessness fell to 7.5% in April, its lowest since December 2008, in news that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average past 15,000 briefly and saw Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index pass 1,600 for the first time. After the initial surge the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged back below 15,000 in the afternoon, while Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index also slipped back below 1,600.

Figures from the US labour department came after a week of worrying signals for the US’s fragile economic recovery as the Federal Reserve warned that Washington’s budget cuts were holding back the economy.

Federal budget reductions, triggered by the sequestration spending cuts, started in March and initial estimates of the immediate impact on jobs was negative. However, those figures were revised up alongside the publication of the April data. The Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) dampened fears of a slowdown on Friday as it declared that the US had added 114,000 jobs over February and March.

In a note to clients, Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at trader BTIG, said sequestration seemed to have had “little to no effect on this report”.

The number of long-term unemployed – those jobless for 27 weeks or more – declined by 258,000 to 4.4 million and their share of the total declined by 2.2 percentage points to 37.4%. Over the past 12 months the number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 687,000, and their share has declined by 3.1 points.

The BLS said that over the prior 12 months employment growth had averaged 169,000 per month. The figure is still low after revisions but the latest report paints a far healthier picture of the jobs market than had been expected.

The private sector added 176,000 new jobs last month. Professional and business services added 73,000 jobs in April and have added 587,000 jobs over the past year, said the BLS.

Employment in temporary help services rose 31,000, professional and technical services added 23,000, and retail trade employment increased by 29,000 in April. The BLS said last month that retail had shed 24,000 jobs, triggering concerns about a slowdown in spending after the imposition of payroll taxes at the end of the year. The manufacturing sector, a closely watched gauge of broader economic strength, was unchanged in April, while government employment fell by 11,000.

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.

Tesco profits down as it takes £1bn hit to quit United States

Category : Business

Supermarket group’s profits fall for first time in 20 years on Fresh & Easy exit and £800m UK property writedown

Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, confirmed it will exit its loss-making business in the United States, taking a £1bn writeoff that knocked its full-year profit down for the first time in two decades.

The group also wrote down the value of its property in Britain, by £804m, and took a writedown on its businesses in Poland, Czech Republic and Turkey of half a billion pounds.

The raft of announcements form part of Tesco’s fightback following a tough period for what was once one of Britain’s most consistently performing companies. Its full-year results also showed that growth in its core home market had slowed.

“The announcements made today are natural consequences of the strategic changes we first began over a year ago and which conclude today,” chief executive Philip Clarke said. “I’ve been working for Tesco for nearly 40 years and I can tell you this – it already looks, feels and acts like a different and a better business.”

The world’s third-largest stores group said on Wednesday it made a pretax profit of £1.96bn in the year to 13 February, down 51.5%.

It also reported a 14.5% fall in underlying full-year profit, largely reflecting the cost of a turnaround plan for the UK market, launched after a shock profit warning in January last year.

Despite heavy investment, the group said fourth-quarter sales at British stores open over a year, excluding fuel and VAT sales tax, grew 0.5% – a slowdown from growth of 1.8% in the six weeks to 5 January.

That was however at the top end of a range of forecasts of 0-0.5% and the strongest quarterly growth for three years, the company said.

Tesco’s £1bn pound fightback plan for Britain focused on more staff, refurbished stores, revamped food ranges and price initiatives – all aimed at reversing years of under-investment and halting a loss of market share to rivals like Sainsbury’s and Asda.

As it reviewed the British business, it also took a writedown of £804m on its property investments. The writedown on the operations in Poland, Czech Republic and Turkey hit half a billion pounds.

Tesco also said it had increased its provision to cover the possible mis-selling of insurance products at its Tesco Bank to £115m.

Earnings have also been hit by the impact of the eurozone debt crisis on eastern European markets, restrictions on store opening times in South Korea, and losses at the US business Fresh & Easy. It has decided to exit the US altogether.

Fresh & Easy, which trades from 199 stores and employs around 5,000, has absorbed more than £1bn of capital since its 2007 launch when Tesco was run by Clarke’s predecessor, Sir Terry Leahy, but has never turned a profit in a market where it competes with the likes of Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market and Wal-Mart.

“Tesco’s ignominious exit from the US will grab all the headlines but the truth is that even without the Fresh & Easy debacle the supermarket would probably still have seen its profits fall for the first time in 20 years,” said Phil Dorrell, director of retail consultants, Retail Remedy. “Slowly, things are getting back on track in the UK. The question now is can Tesco sustain its newfound momentum and increase profits in a still challenging global climate? 2013 is shaping up to be a critical year.”

Clarke put the venture, which contributes just 1% of group turnover, under review in December, saying an exit was likely.

Tesco’s chief financial officer, Laurie McIlwee, said there was “a lot of interest” in Fresh & Easy, with possible suitors for the whole business or parcels of stores.

“What we’re most interested in is those buyers that are interested in buying the complete business that we have in the US,” he said, pointing out that a complete sale would remove redundancy and onerous leasehold issues.

He said Tesco would not conclude the process for at least another three months.

The group made an underlying pretax profit of £3.55bn. That compares to analysts’ consensus forecast of £3.5bn, according to a company poll, and with £3.92bn made in the 2011/12 year.

Lloyd Blankfein’s $21m haul makes him the world’s best paid banker

Category : Business

Goldman Sachs chief gets $13m in restricted shares and $5.7m cash bonus on top of his $2m annual salary

Goldman Sachs paid its chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, $21m last year – and granted him a further $5m in bonus shares in January.

The Wall Street bank handed Blankfein $13.3m (£8.7m) in restricted shares and a $5.7m cash bonus on top of his $2m annual salary last year.

His total 2012 pay was $9m more than in 2011, and the highest since the $68m he received in 2007, before the financial crisis struck.

The payout, disclosed in a filing with the US regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), makes Blankfein, 58, the world’s best paid banker.

On top of his annual pay Goldman granted him long-term incentive plan (LTIP) shares worth an additional $5m at today’s share price. But he will have to meet performance targets in order to collect the full amount, and the value of the shares could go up or down.

Blankfein’s top four lieutenants collected a total of $72m in annual pay, bonuses and share options last year.

Gary Cohn, president and chief operating officer, and David Viniar, chief finance officer, both received $19m, while Michael Evans and John Weinberg, both vice-chairmen, collected $17m each.

Cohn, Evans and Weinberg were also each granted LTIP shares worth $4m. But they will not be able to cash them in until at least December 2015.

Goldman paid its bankers an average of $400,000 last year, $30,000 more than in 2011. The total pay, bonuses and perks bill to its 32,400 staff came in at $13bn.

The payroll figures come after the bank, which was dubbed “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money” by Matt Taibbi in a Rolling Stone magazine article on the bank in 2010, reported a near-doubling of full year net profits to $7.5bn.

Goldman’s compensation committee said the bank’s bosses had “demonstrated exceptional leadership” and “performed extremely well throughout the year and made significant contributions to our firm’s overall success”.

It said Blankfein “continued to be a strong leader who demonstrated considerable commitment to our firm and our clients, as well as a deep and nuanced understanding of the strategic aspects of all our major businesses”.

The bank pointed out the pay was partly based on a “360 review process evaluation”, in which colleagues in all ranks of the business rate each others performance.

The payouts come despite a senior employee attacking it as “morally bankrupt” and revealing that senior Goldman bankers describe clients as “muppets”.

Greg Smith, who was based in London, published his savage resignation letter from the bank in the New York Times.

KPMG partner’s stock tips earned golf buddy $1m

Category : Business

Former senior partner Scott London charged by US authorities with insider dealing

US authorities have charged a former KPMG partner with insider dealing after he admitted giving his golfing buddy share tips in exchange for cash, jewellery and $25,000 worth of concert tickets.

Scott London, a senior KPMG partner in southern California, was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and for leaking non-public information about companies he audited, including diet supplement firm Herbalife and shoe company Skechers.

The complaint filed by the securities and exchange commission (SEC) said London’s stock tip leaks had made his golf partner Bryan Shaw, a Californian jeweller, more than $1m (£650,000).

In exchange for the tips, Shaw gave London roughly 10% of the profits he made in the form of bags stuffed with up to $50,000 cash in $100 bills, a $12,000 Rolex watch, other jewellery and concert tickets, according to the filing.

One of London’s tips was that Herbalife was about to become a private company. “That is going to be where you make a ton of money,” London said, according to the criminal filing, “Because, you know, we’ll know that.”

US attorney André Birotte said London “chose to betray the trust placed in him as a financial auditor and to tip the trading scales for the benefit of insiders like himself”.

“The public has every right to fully expect a level playing field in our financial markets” he added.

London, who was fired by KPMG immediately when it discovered he had passed on the information, said the tips began in 2010 in casual conversations with “someone I’d known from the golf club”.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal he said he didn’t realise Shaw was trading on the information he was leaking. “Once he told me he had traded, that’s when my heart sank,” London said. “We had discussions, this wasn’t right – I knew it was wrong – but it just happened.”

However, London admitted he continued to provide Shaw with information about Herbalife, Skechers and Deckers Outdoors.

In a statement London said: “I regret my actions in leaking non-public data to a third party regarding the clients I served for KPMG. Most importantly, and I cannot emphasise this enough, is that KPMG had nothing to do with what I did.”

KPMG has resigned as the auditor for Herbalife and Skechers after warning “that the firm’s independence has been impacted”.

London’s lawyer Harland Braun has admitted that his client knew he was breaking the law. “But he just can’t understand why he did it, and it’s hard to understand why he did it,” Braun told business news channel CNBC on Wednesday.

“It makes no sense. He’s looking back on the years that he did it. It made no sense from a dollar-and-cents point of view; it made no sense in terms of his ethics. He’s not trying to justify it in the slightest.”

Braun said London’s prospects were “pretty grim”. “His life is ruined. He’s 50 years old, he’s lost his career, he’ll probably lose his licence, he’s been disgraced, and he may have to do some jail time. That’s the best case scenario. It’s a very grim reminder of the consequences for anyone who wants to leak any insider information.”

London was due to appear in a federal court in Los Angeles late on Thursday. Shaw has also been charged.

Shaw has admitted he “profited substantially from stock trades” on a number of companies on which London provided “non-public information”.

He said he had been incredibly stupid, and was co-operating with the FBI, SEC and US Department of Justice.

“I expect that my actions will result in significant civil and criminal consequences, but I realise that this is the painful price I will pay for my transgressions,” he said in a statement before the charges were filed.

When Shaw’s brokerage firm, Fidelity, noticed his unusual trading patterns, it cut him off and Shaw and London agreed to end their arrangement. But when US authorities later approached Shaw about his trading, he agreed to cooperate, restarted his tip-sharing relationship with London and recorded him passing on information in a branch of Starbucks.

Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley leaders launch immigration reform group

Category : Business

Zuckerberg says America’s current system is ‘unfit for today’s world’ and wants to push for immigration reform

The billionaire founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has launched a new initiative to push for immigration reform, describing America’s current system as “unfit for today’s world.”

The group, called, (pronounced Forward US), is backed by other Silicon Valley leaders including Google chairman Eric Schmidt, Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer and Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of Linkedin.

“We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants. And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world,” Zuckerberg wrote in an editorial for The Washington Post to launch the lobby group.

“To lead the world in this new economy, we need the most talented and hardest-working people. We need to train and attract the best. We need those middle-school students to be tomorrow’s leaders,” he wrote.

“Given all this, why do we kick out the more than 40% of math and science graduate students who are not US citizens after educating them?”

Zuckerberg said would push for:

● Comprehensive immigration reform that begins with effective border security, allows a path to citizenship and lets us attract the most talented and hardest-working people, no matter where they were born.

● Higher standards and accountability in schools, support for good teachers and a much greater focus on learning about science, technology, engineering and math.

● Investment in breakthrough discoveries in scientific research and assurance that the benefits of the inventions belong to the public and not just to the few.

This year demand for skilled-worker visas, known as H-1Bs, outstripped the entire year’s supply in the first week that companies were allowed to file applications.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that processes applications, said earlier this month that it had already received more than 65,000 H-1B applications, the congressionally mandated limit. Application for the 20,000 visas allocated to foreign nationals with advanced degrees from US universities also exceeded supply in a few days.

Daniel Costa, immigration policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, said reform was needed but granting more H-1B visas as they stand was not the answer. A recent EPI study found all the top 10 firms applying for H-1B visas were outsourcing firms. Costa pointed to a 2011 study by the Government Accountability Office that showed most of the visa go to workers hired for mid-level information technology positions such as systems analysts or programmers who are then paid less than their US counterparts.

“Demand for visas may well not be because there is a need for skilled labour but rather because there is a demand for workers who can be underpaid,” said Costa. He said the GAO study showed 54% of those on H-1Bs were paid at the lowest levels allowed and that the majority of the workers for the outsourcing firms were sent back after their visas expired.

“This is not a bridge to bringing in the best and the brightest. These people are brought in, they learn the job then they are rotated back to India to carry on doing the job there,” he said.

Last month Senator Chuck Grassley reintroduced a bill aimed at tightening restrictions on the H-1B visa program.

“Somewhere along the line, the H-1B program got sidetracked. The program was never meant to replace qualified American workers, but it was instead intended as a means to fill gaps in highly specialized areas of employment,” Grassley said.

“When times are tough, like they are now, it’s especially important that Americans get every consideration before an employer looks to hire from abroad.”

British man charged with assault in Florida after altercation on BA flight

Category : Business

Sean Jude Kelly, 31, faces up to 20 years in US jail if found guilty of aggravated assault and threatening police officers

A British holidaymaker was in a Florida prison cell Tuesday facing up to 20 years in jail after allegedly spitting on crew members and threatening fights with other passengers on a flight back to London.

Sean Jude Kelly, 31, was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence after the captain of the British Airways flight from Cancún to Gatwick made an emergency landing in Orlando on Sunday night.

Kelly, of Chingford, Essex, drank half a bottle of vodka and became disruptive shortly after takeoff, then fought with police officers and threatened to kill one of them as they removed him from the aircraft when it was on the ground, according to his arrest report.

Once in a cell at the airport, Kelly began shadow boxing and shouted: “You’re dead, you fat fuck,” at a customs official through the door, the report continued.

Kelly, who lists himself on his Twitter page as a money broker and entertainments officer, had spent a week in Cancún, often posting photographs of beaches and alcoholic drinks on his social media feeds.

In a post before his flight to Mexico on March 31 he boasted of taking valium pills “to get through takeoff”, and in another post said he spent, “Sunday night rolled into Monday day knocking back daiquiris”.

He was being held in Orlando’s Orange County jail on Tuesday afternoon charged with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony in Florida punishable by up to 15 years in jail, and resisting arrest with violence, a third degree felony with a possible sentence of up to five years.

Bail was set at $5,300, although he was placed on an immigration hold, meaning he would be kept in custody even if he raised the money. He is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for British Airways told the Guardian that the 265 passengers aboard were delayed for more than an hour by the unscheduled landing.

“We apologise to customers for the disruption to our Cancún to London Gatwick service on April 7. The flight was diverted due to a disruptive passenger,” the airline said in a statement.

“The safety and well-being of our customers and crew is our top priority. We will not tolerate abusive behaviour.”

The spokeswoman said British Airways reserved the right to seek compensation from the passenger for the extra costs incurred by the landing in Orlando and subsequent delay.

Kelly, the arrest report said, became “irate” on board the flight and was “spitting on flight attendants and cursing while trying to pick fights with every passenger he made eye contact with.”

He was handcuffed by customs officials on arrival at Orlando International Airport at about 8pm and continued to struggle and try to kick police officers as they led him through the airport to a holding area, they said.

“Kelly was being combative, both verbally and physically, over the entire route,” said Corporal Russell Emerson, the arresting officer of the Orlando police department, in his report.

He said Kelly told Officer Cleopatra Margaritis: “I’m going to kill you,” then tried to kick her, sustaining a “small laceration above his left eye” after falling to ground when he lost his balance.

Kelly’s booking photograph, meanwhile, shows his face with a bruised and bloodied fully closed left eye.

US Airways merger with American Airlines approved by US judge

Category : Business

Companies a step closer to creating world’s largest airline as judge rejects $19.9m severance package for outgoing CEO

A judge on Wednesday approved the merger of American Airlines and US Airways Group, a step toward creating the world’s largest airline.

AMR, parent of American Airlines and in bankruptcy since November 2011, must still construct a formal restructuring plan incorporating the merger that meets court and creditor approval before the airline can emerge from bankruptcy.

American Airlines announced the plan to combine with US Airways last month, a deal that also requires regulatory approval.

In a crowded Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday, US bankruptcy judge Sean Lane declined to approve, for now, a planned $19.9m severance package for Tom Horton, AMR’s outgoing chief executive.

Lane said he was uncertain as to whether the severance package requires his approval at all, or whether the matter is more appropriate for inclusion in AMR’s formal restructuring plan.

That plan, which all debtors in bankruptcy must propose, will lay out how creditors will get paid back, and will require creditor approval.

The fate of the severance payment is unclear. The version of the merger agreement that earned the judge’s approval may have to be amended to remove it.

Jack Butler, a lawyer for AMR’s creditors’ committee, said it was too early to tell how the parties will deal with the severance issue.

“The companies said they were prepared to amend the merger agreement in any respect, and I expect that there will be an amendment,” Butler said after the hearing.

AMR filed for bankruptcy citing untenable labor costs after years of futile attempts to negotiate cost savings from its unionized workforce. It had been the last major US carrier to go through bankruptcy, after its competitors underwent the same process in the last decade.

Wednesday’s approval was a key moment in AMR’s 16-month odyssey through reorganization under chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. Stephen Karotkin, a lawyer for AMR, called Wednesday’s hearing a “watershed event” that moves AMR a step closer to exiting bankruptcy.

The airline began its bankruptcy process flatly opposed to merging while still in bankruptcy, but eventually relented to pressure from its creditors’ committee.

US Airways chief executive Doug Parker wooed AMR aggressively, taking advantage of AMR’s labor relations problems to appeal to its unions.

US Airways hammered out a tentative deal with the unions last April, before formal merger talks between the two companies’ management teams had gone into full swing.

AMR’s current shareholders are expected to receive a 3.5% equity stake in the new firm, which would make it one of the few major bankruptcies in which equity holders earn some recovery.

Parker will serve as CEO of the combined carrier, while Horton, who became AMR’s CEO when it filed for bankruptcy, will serve as chairman of the airline through the first annual meeting of shareholders. After that Parker will take on the chairman role.

The merger is expected to be completed in the third quarter.