Some shareholders in the Empire State Building are in court this week seeking to block plans for a trust and subsequent IPO for the landmark building and other Manhattan properties.
George G21 Talent graduate designs sell out on George.com and in-store in minutes
220% uplift week on week
Lady Gaga snaps up graduate range for world tour
The rest is here: George Shoppers Go Gaga for Latest Designer Collection
In this week’s Your Money, Declan Curry looks at how changes to the benefits system will change household income and how you could get more for your money by lending cash directly to companies.
See the original post here: VIDEO: Your Money: The big benefits shake up
Hugh Pym and guests discusses this week’s figures for economic output which showed that the UK avoided a so called triple dip recession.
Go here to see the original: VIDEO: Hugh’s Review: Is the recovery underway?
U.S. stocks closed in mixed territory Friday following a weaker than expected reading on the economy. Yet all three indexes gained between 1% and 2.3% for the week.
Read more: Stocks end week up more than 1%
TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – April 23, 2013) - April 27th marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of York. The military and the City of Toronto have partnered to commemorate the battle and planned a number of great events which will be happening this Saturday. There have been several releases on this, posters at TTC shelters and subway stations etc. and another media release will go out later this week from the City of Toronto.
More here: Battle of York this Saturday!!!
Chancellor to beef up £80bn loans scheme amid US calls for Britain to tone down austerity measures
George Osborne will announce an expansion of the Bank of England’s £80bn funding for lending scheme (FLS) ahead of a visit to Britain by the International Monetary Fund next month, as he seeks to head off calls for a softening of government austerity plans.
High-street banks are to be given added incentives to extend credit to small and medium-sized businesses in an expansion to the scheme, due in the next fortnight.
An IMF mission arrives in London for two weeks of talks on 8 May and Osborne plans to launch the beefed-up FLS in an attempt to persuade the fund that the coalition can boost growth without doing a U-turn on its deficit-reduction strategy. Discussions between the Treasury and the Bank have concluded that high-street lenders need further inducement to pass on the benefits of subsidised lending to companies.
The FLS was launched last August and offered subsidised credit to high street banks, provided they passed on the benefits to households and businesses. Figures so far have shown a pick-up in lending for mortgages but no increase in business lending. The Bank always envisaged that it would take time for loans to SMEs to increase, but minutes of the April meeting of its nine-strong monetary policy committee, released last week, signalled support for an expansion of the scheme.
With the business secretary, Vince Cable also pressing for action to help SMEs, Osborne has been keen for the Bank to increase the generosity of the FLS, but the need to target help to the corporate sector has been given added urgency by the imminent arrival of the IMF for its annual article IV consultation.
Last week, the IMF embarrassed the chancellor by urging a rethink of a tax and spending policy that will involve cutting Britain’s structural budget deficit by 1% of national output this year.
The fund has told the chancellor that it is worried about the weakness of demand in the UK and will be asking whether he has any alternatives to changes his budgetary stance.
The chancellor was stung by last week’s criticism from the fund. He argued that he had already taken steps in the budget to boost growth. He pointed out to Christine Lagarde, the fund’s managing director, during talks in Washington last week that the government had already adopted a flexible approach to austerity by pushing back the timetable by two years for debt to peak as a share of national output.
But the IMF is convinced that the UK is still operating well below its full potential. It is keen to discover in its talks next month why the economy has failed to respond to four years of unprecedented monetary stimulus. During this time bank rates have been pegged at 0.5% and the Bank has created £375bn of electronic money through its quantitative easing programme.
The fund believes that its rich-country members have generally been over-hasty in their aggressive approach to deficit reduction, and that less of the fiscal pain should have been front-loaded.On Saturday, a communique released at the end of a meeting of the IMF’s policymaking committee said that where country circumstances allowed, governments should avoid responding to weak growth with fresh attempts to cut deficits, focus on the underlying health of public finances once the effects of the ups and downs of the economic cycle were taken into account, and allow borrowing to rise if activity was depressed.
It added that monetary policy alone was not sufficient to produce a lasting global recovery, noting that a credible medium-term plan to improve the state of public finances together with structural reform were needed.
“Eventual exit from monetary expansion will need to be carefully managed and clearly communicated”, it said, reflecting widespread concerns in Washington last week that central banks faced a tricky task when the time came to raise interest rates and to sell the government bonds purchased under QE programmes.
Investor attention will turn to a deluge of corporate earnings due out throughout the week, including Apple and Netflix.
Here is the original post: Stocks: Apple, Amazon, Netflix earnings on tap
Shareholders are gearing up for another rebellion on pay, but it’s non-executives who bear the lion’s share of responsibility
Take a deep breath. Could we be seeing an outbreak of morality among the corporate elite? Next’s chief executive, Lord Wolfson, announced last week that he is sharing out his £2.4m bonus among his retailer’s 19,400 staff; the head of one of Austria’s biggest banks – Herbert Stepic of Raiffeisen – has handed back £1.2m of his pay on the grounds that he is overpaid; and the incoming head of miner BHP Billiton, Andrew Mackenzie has taken a 25% cut to his salary.
In these austere times – GDP data next week will show whether the UK has sunk into an unprecedented triple-dip recession – an acknowledgement by top bosses that they are overpaid should be embraced. Or should it?
Take Mackenzie of Billiton. Even with the 25% cut in his pay, his salary is still £1.1m before any bonuses. Wolfson, a Tory peer and Conservative party donor, still enjoyed a 13% rise in basic pay to £4.6m at Next (the store’s staff got 2%). The Austrian bank boss still walked away with more than £2m.
And, as is usual with executive pay, there are many more bosses grasping for more. The attempts at restraint demonstrated by BHP’s boss contrast sharply with the behaviour of Xstrata’s departing Mick Davis. He is walking away with £75m as a result of the takeover by Glencore – a staggering £9.6m of which is to be handed to him in cash rather than shares. Similarly, compare Stepic’s gesture of goodwill with Barclays, where the much-welcomed retirement of Rich Ricci seems unlikely to stop millions of pounds of previously awarded bonus deals continuing to flow to him as he enjoys his retirement – which is beginning at the age of 49.
Ricci is a symbol of anything but restraint. This is the man who was handed £17m under the cover of this year’s budget – when Barclays seemed to hope attention would be focused on the chancellor’s speech – taking his earnings since 2010 to over £70m.
The announcement of Ricci’s retirement came just a few days before the bank’s annual meeting with investors this Thursday. The hope is that it will take the heat out of an uncomfortable few hours for new chief executive Antony Jenkins. Remember the fuss last year– even before the Libor crisis had struck – when Bob Diamond was at the helm? Diamond also had unimaginable wealth but was determined to take a bonus for 2011. Almost a third of Barclays investors failed to support the remuneration report.
That rebellion heralded last year’s “shareholder spring”, during which an unprecedented number of remuneration reports were voted down and a number of bosses ousted after years of being overpaid for underperformance.
There are signs that this year could see a replay. Standard Life has angrily criticised the pay policies at BP, and fund manager Jupiter – which itself polices pay policies – suffered a serious humiliation on Thursday, when 42% of investors failed to back its own remuneration report. Corporate governance expert Manifest reckons that any dissent of more than 10% is something for a management team to worry about.
Governments keen to pass the buck on the pay controversy point at shareholders to keep a lid on pay excess, but non-executive directors have at least an equal responsibility. Bonus schemes that pay out so much that their bosses are embarrassed to take the proceeds should never have been approved. Directors on remuneration committees need to think much longer and harder about how bonuses are handed out.
And then there are the executives themselves. Wolfson, Stepic and Mackenzie are to be applauded. But the loudest cheer should be reserved for those executives ready to acknowledge that they do the job to their best ability regardless of the bonus attached. Shell’s former chief, Jeroen van der Veer, once admitted his work would have been the same regardless of his bonus arrangements. Surely he cannot be the only one.
Npower’s tax bill may be justified, but its record isn’t glowing
Almost 90,000 people have put their names to an online petition for RWE npower to pay more corporation tax more in line with the rest of the business community. Revelations last week that npower – one of the Big Six energy providers – had paid “almost nothing” (just £5m) over three years understandably infuriated many.
Comparisons have been made with Starbucks, which faced similar protests and eventually decided to make a £20m ex gratia payment to the taxman.
Will npower have to do the same? Maybe, but the energy company is in a rather different position from the US-based coffee chain, not least because it has invested much more heavily in Britain. The German-owned company has spent almost £5bn over recent years putting in place new gas-fired power stations and wind farms.
Npower is legitimately able to write off some of the cost of those investments against its profits in Britain, where it has more than 6.5 million gas and electricity customers. Certainly, Britain needs new lower-carbon power stations rather more urgently than it needs caramel macchiatos.
It is more vulnerable to criticism over an estimated £350m of “interest payments” from the British company to the German parent. Npower argues that this is just good business: the British arm can borrow money for infrastructure building more cheaply from its colleagues in Essen.
But critics, including crusading tax experts such as Richard Murphy, say there is no difference between such “interest” and the “royalties” paid by Starbucks for use of the brand name, which triggered the coffee crisis.
And there is still no need for any of the Big Six to give regulator Ofgem anything other than retail and generation profits. Yet sitting in between these two are big trading divisions.
The real problem is that npower and the rest have been tarnished by a string of Ofgem fines, criticism over tariffs that seem designed to baffle, and some executive pay excess. Few feel inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt when a tax row breaks.
Departing lingerie boss leaves Bolland looking exposed
The sudden departure of Marks & Spencer’s lingerie boss 12 weeks after her much-heralded arrival means at least six senior bosses at the ailing retailer have recently quit.
When Janie Schaffer was recruited, her appointment was described as “inspirational” . Dubbed “the knicker queen”, she had learned her trade in the M&S undies department, founded the Knickerbox chain in 1986 and for the past five years had been creative director at Victoria’s Secret in the US, injecting new glamour that has helped to haul the brand out of the doldrums.
M&S sources say that Schaffer had come to the end of a three-month probation period – with the clear suggestion that she wasn’t up to the job. Schaffer’s supporters say she didn’t have a probation period and quit because she wasn’t allowed to make even basic decisions, such as new packaging for women’s tights.
Who to believe? Who knows. But a little of the Victoria’s Secret sparkle would have been welcome at M&S, where sales of clothing and homewares have been falling for the past seven quarters. Chief executive Marc Bolland should be worried: the executive exit door is revolving fast, and he might soon find himself spinning through it.