Deutsche Bank failed to recognise up to 12bn dollars of paper losses during the financial crisis, helping the bank avoid a government bail-out, three former bank employees have alleged in complaints to US regulators. The three complaints, made to regulators including the US Securities and Exchange Commission, claim that Deutsche misvalued a giant position in derivatives structures known as leveraged super senior trades, according to people familiar with the complaints. [Financial Times]
George Osborne was accused of damaging the ability of banks to lend last night after increasing the level of the special levy on banks. The Chancellor yesterday announced the fifth increase in the rate since the inception of the tax in 2010, imposing a tax of 0.13 per cent of a bank’s balance sheet from January 1, 2013. Currently banks must foot a bill equivalent to 0.105 per cent of their balance sheet, a significant increase on the 0.07 per cent rate first announced in June 2010. The Treasury said the change would generate an extra £500 million a year for the Exchequer from 2013-14.
However, the rate increase, predicted in yesterday’s Times, caused anger from some parts of the City. Mark Boleat, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, said: “The banking sector has been working hard to improve balance sheets while mobilising capital and stands ready to pay its fair share to support the economic recovery. What the banks, like all businesses, require though is stability and predictably in the tax system so that they can confidently plan for the future. In this context, a fifth increase in the bank levy is unhelpful.” [The Times]
Hopes that a controversial yearly rise in beer duty would be reviewed fell flat, prompting a warning from brewers that the Government missed an opportunity to create 5,000 jobs this year. Pub groups and brewers had hoped the Chancellor would heed a call from backbench MPs last month to review the unpopular beer duty escalator, which automatically increases taxes by 2pc above inflation every year. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said the Government’s refusal to reassess the escalator, which was introduced by the previous Labour administration and has pushed up taxes in the sector by 40pc since 2008, was particularly disappointing in light of the decision to scrap next year’s 3p a litre rise in fuel duty. [The Telegraph]
Ireland – the “poster child” for the International Monetary Fund and EU’s bailout programmes – endured its sixth hairshirt budget on Wednesday with the imposition of €2.5bn (£2bn) of cuts as its finance minister insisted the country is emerging from the fiscal crisis. The Republic imposed a new property tax and cuts in child benefit as it strives towards no longer relying on IMF and EU funds to run its public services and social welfare. [The Guardian]
The maker of Hula Hoops and McCoy’s has been sold to the German snacks group behind Pom-Bear in a deal worth $640m (£400m). United Biscuits, which is owned by the private equity groups Blackstone and PAI Partners, sold KP Snacks, which also makes Space Raiders, Nik Naks, Skips, Discos, and Frisps, to Intersnack. United said it will retain ownership of baked bagged snacks manufactured in its biscuit factories, including Mini Cheddars and Twiglets. [The Independent]
Coal miner ATH Resources fell into administration on Wednesday night after its lender, Jon Moulton’s Better Capital, called in its loans. All five of the Doncaster-based company’s open cast pits are in Scotland, where it employs about 330 staff. The firm has blamed falling coal prices for its woes. Brian Green, Allan Graham and William Wright from “big four” accountancy firm KPMG were appointed as administrators of ATH Resources, although its principal trading subsidiary – Aardvark TMC – is not in administration and continues to trade. [The Scotsman]
Some national newspapers will close as the industry is forced to confront the reality of declining sales in a crowded market, according to the departing chief executive of News International. Tom Mockridge told The Times that he was an “unambiguous believer” that printed newspapers would survive the shift of readers to websites but he predicted “some consolidation” of titles. It emerged yesterday that The Guardian, which lost £44.2 million last year, is considering funding future losses by selling its stake inAuto Trader for up to £600 million. Last week the owner of The Independent revealed that he was seeking an investor to share the pain of his losses. [The Times]