The Government is facing another battle with Brussels after the European Union raised the prospect of cross-border bank bail-outs under wide-ranging reforms to protect taxpayers from a future financial sector collapse. Although the Treasury supported the broad thrust of the reforms, which mirrored those already being introduced in the UK, Michel Barnier, Europe’s financial services commissioner, suggested one member state could in future help rescue another’s banks under a joint liability plan that would move Europe closer to a “banking union”. Treasury sources said that, while the EU’s main ideas were “sensible and welcome”, “we will want to make sure UK taxpayers are not put into a position of bailing out European banks,” The Telegraph explains.
For months they have been described as cash-strapped, hard-pressed, struggling and wary but yesterday Britons suddenly appeared ready to answer calls from Westminster and the City for a consumer-led recovery. After April’s high street washout, a month in which retail sales slumped and speculation spread that the Bank of England would have to approve yet more fiscal stimulus for an ailing economy, shoppers reacted to May’s heatwave with an unexpected splurge. Spending in stores rose 3.4% in May, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, after a 1% decline in April — a slide that, according to the Office for National Statistics, was a 2.3% drop on March figures, The Times reports.
Britain could see more than 1,600 jobs created under a new energy partnership with Norway to be announced by David Cameron, according to Downing Street sources. The bulk of those are expected to come through plans from Norwegian oil services group Aker Solutions to develop its west London offices into an engineering hub, creating 1,300 jobs by 2015. It currently has around 3,100 employees in the UK. More concrete announcements on companies’ expansion and investment plans are expected after Mr Cameron and his Norwegian counterpart Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday meet senior executives from ten energy companies, including Aker, National Grid, Centrica, Shell and Norway’s state-owned giant Statoil, The Telegraph says.
Acquisitions of foreign companies by UK businesses have fallen to their lowest level in 25 years as corporate Britain takes shelter from the recession and Eurozone crisis. The value of cross-border acquisitions by British businesses tumbled from £12.6bn in the fourth quarter of 2011 to just £700m in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). This is the lowest quarterly level for acquisitions since the ONS series began in the first quarter of 1987. Bankers blamed the slowdown in deal-making on a combination of factors, the major reason being the uncertainty caused by the Eurozone debt crisis and concerns that it could trigger another banking crisis, according to The Telegraph.
It may be a funny-looking Trojan horse, but Intel won’t mind if its latest gadget can successfully open the gate to one of the world’s biggest and most exciting technology markets. This week’s launch in Britain of the Orange San Diego is more than than merely the unveiling of another lightweight but speedy smartphone. Intel, the company that gave Silicon Valley its name, is hoping to break the stranglehold that Cambridge’s ARM Holdings has on chips used to power mobile phones. It has dominated the market for semiconductors used in personal computers for decades, but the American giant has failed to tap into demand for the low-power chips used in small devices. This, then, according to Mike Bell, the head of Intel’s mobile and communications division, is a landmark moment, The Times explains.
Huge house price inflation means Britain’s property goldmine is worth £5.6tn, with almost a third of it stashed in the homes of the South East, according to a new report. But while the paper value of our homes has barely been dented by the financial crisis, the mortgage crunch means Britons are no longer able to use them as the cash machines they once were. Despite low interest rates, much tougher lending conditions mean families can no longer pull money out their homes as they rushed to do in the remortgage boom in the decade before house prices peaked in 2007. Research from property website PrimeLocation claims that there is £5.6tn worth of residential property in Britain – although this has been calculated on estate agent asking prices which can be notoriously optimistic, writes The Daily Mail.
A European Union plan to draw closer links between the member nations’ regulators to protect taxpayers from bank crises will be published today. European officials want to protect taxpayers from future banking disasters and the proposals from the European Commission will aim to protect everyday banking functions – such as cash machines – and pass any bailout bills onto bank creditors and shareholders in the event that a bank runs into difficulty. The Commission’s 156-page draft legislation, to be published today, will suggest giving regulators powers to ‘bail in’ or force losses onto bondholders of a failing bank so that taxpayers are kept off the hook, and forge closer links between national back-up funds to wind up cross-border lenders, The Daily Mail reports.