Germany has threatened to halt vital financial aid to Greece unless a new government commits to the terms of the country’s bail-out agreements. Ministers in Berlin warned that they would withhold international aid to Greece in a move which could trigger a fresh, damaging countdown to default in Athens. Amid escalating anger in Berlin over the anti-euro backlash following elections in Athens, Greece will on Thursday receive a 4.2bn euro (3.4bn pound) cash injection as part of its 130bn euro March bail-out. The Eurozone has blocked a further 1bn euro amid uncertainty over the country’s political future. Athens, where the leader of the newly powerful Syriza party has vowed to reject the bail-out, is due to repay a 3.3bn euro bond next Friday, The Telegraph reports.
Tens of thousands of public sector workers are due to go on strike and march the streets on Thursday as they escalate their bitter dispute over pensions, pay and jobs. Up to 400,000 workers including off-duty police officers, immigration staff and lecturers are set be involved in a wave of demonstrations throughout the country. Civil servants, health workers, Ministry of Defence staff, and members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary will also be among those joining strikes and other forms of protest. Picket lines will be mounted outside jobcentres, courts, at airports including Heathrow, Parliament and other Government buildings across Britain, The Telegraph says.
The Bank of England is expected to call time on the latest round of quantitative easing on Thursday following signs that inflation is proving more “sticky” than expected. The second round of QE has been completed and on Thursday the Bank has to decide whether to extend it again or to leave the total £325bn program unchanged. Most economists reckon the Bank will keep its powder dry after inflation surprisingly rose in March to 3.5%, making it less likely that the consumer price index will drop back to the 2% target this year. Barclays Capital warned that inflation would prove “sticky” and that “the recent failure of inflation to fall as much as expected is indicative of a deep-seated persistence”. The bank expects inflation to remain above 2% until the third quarter of 2014 and to remain above 3% through this year. It has pencilled in a first rate rise of half a point in the third quarter of 2013, according to The Telegraph.
Rank Group is poised to agree the acquisition of Gala Casinos for about £200m — only six weeks after previous talks fell apart with each side blaming the other. The Times understands that, despite the acrimonious breakdown of the discussions, Rank and Gala Coral Group quickly returned to the negotiating table. Analysts said there had been two main sticking points first time around — Gala Casinos’ pension liability and property-related issues over casinos no longer owned by Gala. Solutions to both appear to have been agreed. The purchase, which is unlikely to be announced by Rank alongside a scheduled trading update today, would add Gala’s 24 casinos to its existing estate of 35 clubs, allowing it to leapfrog Genting UK to become Britain’s biggest casino operator.
Andrew Moss missed out on bonuses worth £2.4m after his unceremonious exit as Aviva’s chief executive, it emerged last night. Mr Moss, who resigned from the insurer with a payout worth £1.5m, was denied deferred shares from two bonus schemes by Aviva’s remuneration committee. As a result of his resignation, Mr Moss was deemed by the committee not to be a “good leaver” and it exercised its right to withhold the share payments. The committee’s decision appeared last night to have headed off an investor revolt over the terms of Mr Moss’s departure, The Times reports.
Legions of savers are being trapped on pathetic rates after falling prey to banks and building societies desperate to hold on to their cash. Millions of pounds has been left languishing on these poor deals with savers unable to touch their cash for up to four months because of the terms of the account. Banks and building societies are desperate for savers’ cash to fill their coffers. Other sources of funding — such as using the investment money markets — have dried up, and rule changes are forcing banks to back up the loans they make with more of savers’ money, The Daily Mail writes.