Second select committee to examine issue as UK law firm criticised for advising oligarch
A second select committee of MPs is expected to examine how Russian companies use the City of London after the foreign affairs committee singled out the corporate law firm Linklaters for its role in advising on last year’s flotation of Oleg Deripaska’s En+.
Parliamentary sources indicated that the Treasury select committee would take up the subject as part of its inquiry into economic crime and that Linklaters could again be asked to appear, potentially creating a confrontation with a law firm that has so far refused to give evidence.
Insulted pilots, cancelled flights and rising oil prices – yet Michael O’Leary has emerged unscathed
Ryanair cancelled thousands of flights last year, insulted its pilots but then was forced to recognise their unions, and generally generated an above-average level of bad publicity, even by its own elevated standards. The financial effect of the disharmony? Roughly zero. At the after-tax level, profits rose 10% to €1.45bn (?1.27bn).
Indeed, the most eye-catching development in Monday’s full-year statement was Ryanair’s new habit of referring to its passengers as “guests”, which is the wrong word for paying customers but may be another of Michael O’Leary’s little jokes.
Stretch of Kent motorway may be temporarily repurposed under latest contingency plans
A stretch of the M20 in Kent will be used as a temporary lorry park should Brexit result in queues forming at Channel ports, under the latest government contingency plans.
A contraflow system, named Operation Brock, would operate between junctions eight and nine southbound to allow traffic to continue in both directions on reduced lanes, while thousands of lorries are held in line before the border.
Australia and the United Kingdom have been urged to negotiate a high-quality free-trade agreement to help rebuild public trust in trade liberalisation.
The agreement should include labour and environmental standards but not a controversial investor dispute settlement clause, says new research from two progressive thinktanks, the McKell Institute in Australia and Demos in the UK.
Andrew Haines takes job after eight years at Civil Aviation Authority marked by cost cutting
Network Rail has announced that Andrew Haines will be its new chief executive – and be paid 27% less than his predecessor to run Britain’s rail infrastructure.
Haines, the chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, will be paid ?588,000 including benefits, with a possible 9% bonus, when he takes over in the autumn following a short handover period with retiring boss Mark Carne.
The US-China trade truce has given a lift to stock markets at the start of the new trading week. Helped by a weaker pound, the FTSE 100 has hit a new peak, while most European markets managed to move higher.
A notable exception was Italy, where investors are growing increasingly concerned about the new coalition’s plans for borrowing and its attitude to the rest of the European Union. Italian bond yields rose sharply and the stock market fell back. Dan Smith, investment analyst at Thomas Miller Investment, said:
The Five Star Movement (5SM) and Lega progression in forming a coalition government has increased the level of political risk in Italy, particularly as both parties are interested in relaxing fiscal policy (government spending and taxes) – a result which will raise tensions between Italy and European institutions and raise question marks over the country’s commitment to the European Union.
The FTSE 100 has finished at 7859.17, up 1.03% and a new record closing high. Earlier in the day it touched a new all time intra-day peak of 7868, on relief that the chances of a trade war between the US and China seemed to have receded. A weaker pound also helped, of course.
Expectation that M5S and League leaders will put forward Giuseppe Conte triggers financial jitters
Italian financial markets have been in turmoil as the country awaits news about whether an unknown law professor without any political experience will be named as the next prime minister.
The country’s two populist parties – the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), and the anti-migrant League – announced a joint agreement naming Giuseppe Conte, 53, a lawyer and M5S member, as the next leader of the eurozone’s third largest economy, after Matteo Salvini of the League, and Luigi Di Maio, of the M5S, ruled themselves out.
Collective action seeking up to ?3.2bn for claims Google bypassed privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser
Google is being sued in the high court for as much as ?3.2bn for the alleged “clandestine tracking and collation” of personal information from 4.4 million iPhone users in the UK.
The collective action is being led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd over claims Google bypassed the privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser on iPhones between August 2011 and February 2012 in order to divide people into categories for advertisers.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation comes into force this week – here’s what it means
But GDPR is far more than just an inbox-clogger. The regulation, seven years in the making, finally comes into effect on 25 May, and is set to force sweeping changes in everything from technology to advertising, and medicine to banking.
Matt Hancock ‘not minded’ to intervene as TV giant and Rupert Murdoch vie for control
Comcast’s ?22bn bid to trump Rupert Murdoch in the battle to take control of Sky has been given a boost after the culture secretary said he was unlikely to call for an investigation by the media regulator.
Matt Hancock, who has 10 working days to make a final decision on referring the deal to Ofcom, said: “Having reviewed the relevant evidence available, I can confirm that I have today written to the parties to inform them that I am minded not to issue an [intervention notice] on the basis that the proposed merger does not raise concerns in relation to public interest considerations which would meet the threshold for intervention.
Charges related to emergency fundraising conducted by bank during 2008 financial crisis
Charges brought against Barclays bank over a $3bn loan made to Qatari investors have been thrown out by a court, in a major setback for the Serious Fraud Office.
The charges related to the ?11.8bn emergency fundraising conducted by the bank in 2008 as it struggled to maintain its independence and avoid a government takeover. However, charges against the bank’s former chief executive and other top managers remain in place.
Waitrose says I have to bring my own cup – what should I get, and is this a ploy to stop the freebies?
Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.
My local Waitrose says I have to bring my own coffee cup from next week. Two questions: which is the best reusable cup (some are more than ?20!); and is this a ploy so that we don’t go in to get free coffee, as they are a pain to carry around?
Attempts to reinvent money such as bitcoin often create excitement, but achieve little
The cryptocurrency revolution, which started with bitcoin in 2009, claims to be inventing new kinds of money. There are now nearly 2,000 cryptocurrencies, and millions of people worldwide are excited by them. What accounts for this enthusiasm, which so far remains undampened by warnings that the revolution is a sham?
One must bear in mind that attempts to reinvent money have a long history. As the sociologist Viviana Zelizer points out in her book The Social Meaning of Money: “Despite the commonsense idea that ‘a dollar is a dollar is a dollar,’ everywhere we look people are constantly creating different kinds of money.” Many of these innovations generate real excitement, at least for a while.
Chief executive also warns airline could face strikes as it reports 10% rise in profits
The Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, has said the airline may have to review its new luggage policy if large numbers of passengers continue to hand over their bags at the gate.
Ryanair has introduced a stricter cabin bag policy, which means customers have to pay ?5 for priority boarding to avoid having their main cabin bag checked in to the hold at the departure gate. This has improved boarding and punctuality, the airline said, but O’Leary added that “it is creating a handling issue, especially at peak periods” such as bank holiday weekends and during the summer.
It may seem like a lucrative way to beat the market, but you could end up out of pocket
It was an ambitious plan: Donna Pirie offered to give away her ?1.7m Aberdeenshire mansion in a competition, but she wanted to sell ?3.75m worth of tickets to do so and give ?1m to charity.
In the end, she sold just 10,000 tickets at ?25 each – totalling ?250,000 – despite national newspaper coverage. The terms and conditions of the competition allowed her to delay the draw twice but she decided to keep her home and instead give away ?188,000 in cash prizes. She also gave ?50,000 to charity. Running the competition cost her ?43,500, so she ended up with a net loss of ?31,500.
As buyers rush to beat the new stamp duty rates, property prices in Monmouthshire leap 11.3% in a year
A rush to beat new stamp duty rates has pushed annual house price inflation in large parts of Wales to above 10%, in sharp contrast to rapidly declining prices in London.
Prices in Monmouthshire jumped by 11.3% in the year to the end of March, according to the Your Move index. But the rugged landscape of the Brecon Beacons appears to be the last refuge of the property boom, with Your Move reporting striking price falls in London.
Collapse is mirrored by tumble in direct foreign investment into Britain of 90%
Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has sparked a dramatic fall in the number of French, Dutch and Belgian businesses registering in the UK, in a further illustration of Brexit’s impact on the UK economy.
Figures from Companies House show that French companies registered 48% fewer businesses in the UK in 2016-17 than the previous financial year while companies in Belgium registered 38% fewer. Companies in the Netherlands, which is probably the worst affected by Brexit of Britain’s trading partners, registered 52% fewer companies last year than in 2015-16.
The art of hiding money from the taxman is under threat from laws demanding greater transparency
What is money laundering? In British law, money laundering is defined as the process of concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing criminal property.
It is an offence to launder your own ill-gotten gains, but you can also be prosecuted for knowingly helping manage another person’s dirty money. An offence only occurs if the cash can be identified as the proceeds of a crime; for example corruption, bribery, theft, drug dealing or even tax evasion.
Why is this rail timetable change significant? New timetables are published every year but normally with minor tweaks. This year Govia Thameslink Railway, which carries about 500,000 passengers daily, has redrawn its schedules from scratch.
London passengers find many of the promised new services not running
Rail passengers trying to use the upgraded ?7bn Thameslink service on Sunday were met with mass train cancellations and no information about why services were not running.
A huge publicity drive backed Sunday’s biggest ever timetable change but, despite the big build-up, passengers trying to get into and around London found few of the promised new services were actually running. For more than a year, Govia Trains has been working on an ambitious plan to merge its Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern train operations and introduce a raft of promised improvements.
Staff braced for announcement as retailer’s restructuring plan gathers pace
Hundreds of Marks & Spencer staff will find out as soon as Monday whether their store is closing, as the retailer accelerates its retrenchment from struggling UK high streets.
The M&S chief executive, Steve Rowe, is shutting 100 of its large clothing and food shops amid falling sales and profits. It has already closed 20, affecting about 900 jobs, but staff are braced for the axe to fall on another tranche of stores before the announcement of its annual results on Wednesday.
The chaotic negotiations both within the Tory party and without means we need to consider an alternative: not leaving
Your correspondent is not as well up on social media as his wife and children, but I could not help noticing a slogan posted beneath a London traffic light the other day. It claimed to be from the Instagram project Notes to Strangers – new to me, I must confess – and confidently proclaimed: “Having a Plan B will make your Plan A unsuccessful”.
This was on yet another day when the press was full of reports about the chaos within Theresa May’s hapless government about the Brexit “negotiations” – negotiations that seem to be taking place mainly within her warring cabinet rather than with the rest of the EU. And – surprise, surprise – neither of the proposals supposedly being discussed is in any case considered remotely viable by most, indeed all, of the experts I have talked to.
Landlord Anne Day accuses the lettings agency of failing to carry out basic checks on the people who rented her ?400,00 flat
It was only a few weeks after the tenants found and verified by Foxtons moved into Anne and John Day’s luxury two-bed flat in Lewisham, south-east London, that the complaints began.
Rubbish strewn outside the flat – a property valued at more than ?400,000 – angered the neighbours. Lots of visitors arrived at all times of the day and night. Noise levels rose. After five months, the tenants went into arrears.
After the Cambridge Analytica revelations I was determined it was to be DuckDuckGo
Over the past month I’ve tried my best not to use Google. I deleted my Facebook account. I’ve gone through all my phone and iPad apps, closing down the “permissions” that give them access to my calendar, camera, contacts and location. And I’ve switched to DuckDuckGo as my (home) web browser. Like millions of others I was astounded not just by the Cambridge Analytica revelations, but the industrial-scale data harvesting by Google revealed in that extraordinary article by Dylan Curran in the Guardian.
After reading it, I picked a random day in 2014 to find out what Google had on me – and was astonished at the intensity of location tracking and snooping on all my movements.
Aldermore bank is the latest lender to give older borrowers the chance to take out a home loan or remortgage in later life
A mortgage you can have until you are 99 years old was launched this week. It’s the latest in a string of home loans aimed at satisfying the growing demand for “later life” borrowing, with deals that last well into retirement.
Looking for that perfect new recruit? Many founders discover they need to take both personality and qualifications into consideration – as well as trusting their gut
“There’s no magic wand or one single channel to find the right candidate,” reckons Anthony Sherick, managing director of IT recruitment firm Technojobs. “Word of mouth, jobs sites and social media are the best starting points, but be aware that other entrepreneurs will probably be looking for the same talent as you.”
Hiring that first member of staff is a major milestone for any startup founder. It’s an encouraging sign that their fledgling company has potential, but it comes with added risks and responsibilities. The key to getting it right is knowing when to hire, who to hire, what their role will be, and where to find the right candidate in the first place.
At a loss over low-hanging fruit? Befuddled by blue-sky thinking? Think that Hodl was a 1980s’ England footballer? Join Agglomer8’s ‘guru royale’ Connie Taylor as we drill deep down into today’s latest business jargon ...
How the hip hair brand sought alternative financing to expand
Take a peek at Bleach London’s Instagram feed and a glut of colour greets your eye – pools of purple dye, rainbow braids and red glitter eyeshadow keep you scrolling. The hair and beauty brand, which began within a nail bar in Dalston, east London, back in 2010, now has three salons across the capital, and its hair and makeup lines are sold across the UK.
Friends Alex Brownsell and Samantha Campbell (nee Teasdale) are the founding duo. Brownsell’s background is as a fashion hairstylist, while Campbell brought the business know-how. It began with Brownsell’s desire to own a salon. “I started to develop a style of colouring that was the roots of Bleach; a lot of bright colouring, washed-out colouring, pastel shades, things that weren’t really very commercial at the time. And I got overwhelmingly busy. Sam was one of my clients, and kind of my agent as well.”
Airline reiterates warnings that planes may not fly even as UK edges closer to EU transition deal
Ryanair has reiterated warnings over “Brexit complacency” in aviation and said it was still preparing to sell tickets with caveats from September, despite hopes a transitional deal for the UK’s departure from the EU was nearer.
The budget airline’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, told the BBC: “Everyone is saying it’ll be all right on the night once we get closer to April 2019. I don’t think you can take that for granted.”
Michael O‘Leary warns that strikes are likely over Easter as talks with unions break down
Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O‘Leary, has warned that the airline will not bow to “laughable” demands from pilots and would rather see strikes or disruptions than undermine its productivity.
O’Leary said Ryanair was not as optimistic as some of its rivals that it would be able to push through fare rises this summer. Last year, the average fare was €41 (?36), down 13% from the year before. This year, fares will be cut by about 3%, Ryanair said.
High street chain shuts 14 stores in drive to cut costs and boost online sales
Marks & Spencer has confirmed plans to close up to 14 stores, putting nearly 500 jobs at risk in what it said were “vital” changes for its future.
The six stores to close are in Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach in Swansea, Putney in south-west London and Redditch. They will shut by the end of April. M&S said all staff in those stores would be moving to other nearby branches.
Falling profits and increasingly tough high street trading fuels expectations of a much bolder restructuring plan from M&S
Marks & Spencer is expected to ramp up its store-closure plan next week as a result of falling profits and tough trading conditions on the high street.
Last year M&S announced it would close 30 stores as part of an overhaul designed to slash by 10% the amount of shopfloor space devoted to its struggling clothing arm. But industry sources suggest M&S’s chief executive, Steve Rowe, has been working on a bolder restructuring plan with the new chairman, Archie Norman, before its first-half trading update on Wednesday.