The Business: Friday February 28 2014

Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday

RBS HAS LOST ITS £46BN BAILOUT

Royal Bank of Scotland has lost all of the £46bn pumped into it by the taxpayer in 2008, reports the Daily Telegraph. The lender confirmed that its total losses since the bailout are now level with the £46bn invested in it six years ago. Despite this, RBS said it had put aside £576m to pay staff bonuses for 2013. Chief executive Ross McEwan says he wants the bank to be “number one for trust”. RBS shares fell 4.5% as the stock market opened in London on Thursday.

OFGEM TELLS BIG SIX TO RETURN £400M

Leading energy firms will be told to return more than £400m owed to customers, says the BBC. The money, which has built up over the last six years, is credit left in customer accounts when they have moved house or switched supplier. Ofgem has written to the ‘big six’ energy suppliers, raising the issue. It is believed that up to 3.5m domestic accounts will be affected, together with as many as 300,000 business accounts. 

CHINA DITCHING CASH – FAST

China is falling out of love with cash as it shifts to virtual forms of payment faster than any other country on the planet, says the Financial Times. The People’s Bank of China shows a sharp rise in the popularity of debit cards, credit cards and mobile payment apps. China has 4.2bn bank cards in circulation – enough for everyone on the mainland to have at least three. China was the first country to print paper money a millennium ago.

REAL WAGES BACK AT 2002 LEVELS

Real earnings have fallen back to their 2002 levels, says the Office for National Statistics. In real terms, weekly earnings of full-time workers fell each year since the financial crash of 2008. In cash terms, the earnings grew by 2% a year, but after taking into account inflation, the purchasing power faced an overall fall of 8%. This left the real value of the UK’s average weekly wage back to the level seen in 2002.

VIRGIN AND BT IN BROADBAND BATTLE

Virgin Media will offer a faster broadband speed than any other retail provider in the UK, says the Financial Times. As it seeks to revitalise its business following last year’s $16bn takeover by Liberty Global, Virgin Media will offer twice the broadband speed of any rival. Households will be offered 152 Mb per second, up from its current maximum speed of 120 Mb per second. However, BT is rumoured to be planning a 300 Mb per second service for some customers.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… EVERYTHING IS AWESOME AT LEGO

“Everything is awesome!” Lego chief executive Jorgen Vig Knudstorp celebrates the global success of the Danish toy maker.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0730 GMT


FTSE-100: up +0.16 to 6810.27
Dow Jones: up +0.46 to 16272.65
Dax: down -0.76 to 9588.33
Cac-40: down -0.01 to 4396.39
Nikkei: down -0.55 to 14841.07
Hang Seng: up +0.16 to 22863.67
US dollar: buys €0.72900 and £0.59860
Sterling: buys $1.67080 and €1.21810
Oil: $108.94 down -0.5