Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page for regular posts of important headlines. Click on the links for full stories.
Opinion articles of the week:
The International Energy Agency claims that the global oil glut is unlikely to reduce any time soon due to OPEC’s reluctance to make a deal with other producers to reduce ballooning output. Click here for more.
With companies paying $5m for 30 seconds of adverts, is advertising during the Super Bowl worth it? Some analysts claim it most definitely is. Click here for more.
Institute for Fiscal Studies claims that George Osborne may be forced to cut spending further or raise taxes should the fiscal outlook deteriorate if he is to meet his goal of achieving a budget surplus by 2020. Click here for more information.
1. FIRMS FORCED TO REVEAL GENDER PAY GAP
Companies that fail to address pay differences between male and female employees will be highlighted in new league tables under plans announced on Friday.
Those with more than 250 employees will be forced to reveal their pay gap. The regulations will affect about 8,000 employers across the UK. They will need to start calculating the pay gap from April 2017 – 12 months ahead of the first tables being published.
Employers must also publish their gender pay gap on their websites. They will have to report every year and senior executives will be expected to sign off the figures personally.
Latest figures suggest that women in the UK still earn on average 20% less than men. (BBC News)
2. NESTLE ENDS IAAF PARTNERSHIP
Swiss food giant Nestle will end its partnership with the International Association of Athletics Federations because of scandal surrounding the sport, the company said last Wednesday. The IAAF is in turmoil following widespread allegations of corruption and bribery.
“This decision was taken in light of negative publicity associated with allegations of corruption and doping in sport made against the IAAF,” Nestle said in a statement. “We believe this could negatively impact our reputation and image and will therefore terminate our existing agreement with the IAAF, established in 2012.” Nestle had a partnership with the IAAF Kids Athletics programme. (Reuters)
Banking group HSBC Holdings has decided to keep its headquarters in Britain, rejecting the option of shifting its centre of gravity back to its main profit-generating hub Hong Kong after a 10-month review. The decision by HSBC’s board, which Europe’s biggest bank said was unanimous, gives a boost to London’s status as a global financial center, under threat since the financial crisis of 2007-09 from tougher regulation and rising costs.
Some investors had encouraged HSBC to consider leaving Britain, partly because of a tax on banks’ global balance sheets brought in after the financial crisis which had cost it $1.1 billion in 2014. But following extensive lobbying British finance minister George Osborne said in July he would halve the levy and, crucially for HSBC, no longer apply it to the overseas assets of British banks, part of efforts to help to keep Britain an attractive place for banks. (Reuters)
The bank also cancelled plans for a pay freeze this year across its global business in an effort to save up to $5bn by 2017. The pay rises will be funded from the bank’s 2016 variable bonus pool, which was also meant to cover the 2017 bonuses. The bank’s hiring freeze will remain in place. (City A.M)
4. MORGAN STANLEY SETTLEMENT
Morgan Stanley will pay $3.2bn (£2.2bn) to US authorities to settle claims that it misled investors about risky mortgage bonds sold before the financial crisis. In 2015, a tentative deal to pay $2.6bn was announced, but New York authorities pushed to increase that amount.
Morgan Stanley acknowledged it had misrepresented the quality of the mortgage bonds. The bank said it had previously set aside funds for the settlement. (BBC News)
5. GSK FINED
Pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and some generics companies have been fined for being anti-competitive. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says GSK made more than £50m of payments to companies making generic versions of its anti-depressant Seroxat to delay them coming to market. GSK has been fined £37,606,275 and the generic firms have to pay £7.4m.
But GSK says its actions actually saved the NHS money and brought the generic drugs to the market sooner. The other companies fined were Generics UK, Merck, Alpharma, Activis UK and Xellia Pharmaceuticals. The CMA found that between 2002 and 2004, GSK had made agreements to pay cash to its competitors to prevent them bringing the generic version of Seroxat, called paroxetine, to market. (BBC News)
6. GOLD PRICES
The price of gold has risen to a 10-month high, while the Japanese yen rose by 0.5 per cent to a 14-month high of Y160.74 per pound sterling as investors react to market turmoil.
Meanwhile, demand for 10-year treasury bonds in the US has driven prices down to a one-year low of 1.673 per cent.
Gold was the big winner amid tumbling stock prices. The price of gold bullion was up by 1.5 per cent this morning and trading at $1,214.64 (£841) per ounce – its highest value since May 2015.This represents its ninth gain in 10 days, making it the best-performing commodity of the year so far.
Gold is seen as a safe haven during times of market turmoil, and hit an all-time-high of more than $1300 per ounce in September 2010, following the 2010 ‘flash crash’. (City A.M)
7. TOTAL CUTS
French oil major Total today announced plans to ramp up its cost-cutting measures, to combat the oil price rout which has wrought havoc on balance sheets across the industry.
Total will reduce its capital expenditure to around $19bn (£13.1bn) this year, down more than 15 per cent from 2015. It’s also targeting asset sales of $4bn in 2016, a figure that’s in line with last year.
It comes as the company reported net adjusted net income fell 18 per cent to $10.5bn, with its downstream operations helping to cushion some of the fallout from oil prices tumbling around 70 per cent over the last 18 months. (City A.M)
8. IKEA TAX ISSUES
The European commission on Saturday pledged to study a report claiming that Swedish furniture giant Ikea may have underpaid taxes by €1bn between 2009 and 2014 due to aggressive tax strategies.
Research commissioned by the Green/EFA group in the European parliament claims to show that Ikea “structured itself to dodge €1bn in taxes over the last six years using onshore European tax havens”, the group said in a statement.
According to the Greens, Ikea uses “a series of tax loopholes in different European countries, namely the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to avoid paying taxes” (The Guardian)
9. STARBUCKS DYSLEXIA CASE
A woman with dyslexia has won a disability discrimination case against her employer Starbucks after she was accused of falsifying documents. A tribunal found Meseret Kumulchew had been discriminated against after making mistakes due to her difficulties with reading, writing and telling the time.
She was given lesser duties at her branch in London and told to retrain, which left her feeling suicidal. She took Starbucks to an employment tribunal alleging disability discrimination saying she had always made it known to her employer that she was dyslexic, which means she has difficulties with words and numbers, and has to be shown how to do tasks visually.
The case does not set a legal precedent, but the British Dyslexia Association said it should be a wake-up call for employers. (BBC News)
10. THE INDEPENDENT
The Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers are to cease print editions in March, leaving only an online edition, the owner has said. Announcing the “digital-only” move, ESI Media said “some redundancies among editorial employees” would be made. But it said there would also be 25 new “digital-content roles”.
ESI has also confirmed it will sell its sister title, i newspaper, to Johnston Press, for an expected £24m, subject to approval from Johnston’s shareholders. The last print edition of the Independent will be published on Saturday 26 March, while the last Independent on Sunday will be on 20 March. (BBC News)