The Business: Tuesday April 1 2014

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

BANKS COULD COST TAXPAYERS HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS

British banks considered “too big to fail” could cost taxpayers billions of pounds, warns the IMF.  The lenders are enjoying implicit government subsidies of up to $110bn (£66bn) that could lead to bailouts costing hundreds of billions of pounds, says its Global Financial Stability Report. Bankers are more likely to take bigger risks if they believed the taxpayer would bail out their employers, the IMF warned.

M&S LOSING MARKET SHARE FASTEST

Marks and Spencer is losing market share faster than its rivals, says The Guardian. According to new data, released before the beleagured chain’s latest results are revealed next week, M&S's share of the market has slipped to 11.18% in the six months to 16 February from 11.36% a year before. Next’s share rose to nearly 7.5%, compared to 6.98%. Sports Direct was the second biggest gainer among the top 10.

ROYAL MAIL PRICE ‘TOO CAUTIOUS’

The sale price of Royal Mail was “too cautious”, says the spending watchdog. The National Audit Office says there was too much haste to complete the sale within this Parliament, at the expense of achieving better value for money for taxpayers. Labour says the government has “serious questions to answer on the hundreds of millions of pounds they have lost British taxpayers”. Shares in Royal Mail are now more than 70% higher than the original sale price of 330p in October 2013.

HULL LAUNCHES ITS OWN CURRENCY

Hull is creating its own currency, reports the Daily Telegraph. The city council is launching a Bitcoin-like digital currency called HullCoin, which it will use to pay people for carrying out voluntary work, tax-free and without loss of benefits. The council hopes the unprecedented move will “tackle poverty” and boost the local economy. Struggling locals can carry out “voluntary” work and receive HullCoins as payment, which can be used to pay for rent, council tax or food.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… FCA WARNS PAYDAY LOAN FIRMS

“What we are concerned about are the people who frankly shouldn't be lent to, who can't afford the loans and who then get rolled over and get pushed ever further into a debt cycle." Financial Conduct Authority chief executive Martin Wheatley, announcing tough warnings for payday loan firms.

AMAZON THIRD PARTY RETAILING GROWS

Third party retailing now accounts for 39% of sales on Amazon, reveals The Times. The business, whereby third parties are allowed to sell their goods through the website, is expected to overtake the company’s own retail operation. A spokesman said: “As a channel, it is growing much faster than our first party retail business. We expect it to grow to 50 per cent or more.” This will move the company closer to Jeff Bezos’s closer to the vision of being “earth’s largest store”. 

THE NUMBERS... AT 0730 GMT


FTSE-100: down -0.26 to 6598.37
Dow Jones: up +0.82 to 16457.66
Dax: down -0.33 to 9555.91
Cac-40: down -0.45 to 4391.50
Nikkei: down -0.10 to 14812.49
Hang Seng: up +0.89 to 22347.87
US dollar: buys €0.72580 and £0.60010
Sterling: buys $1.66650 and €1.20930
Oil: $107.72 down -0.3