The Business: Tuesday May 13 2014
Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday
The rich and famous are fleeing tax avoidance schemes out of fear of being exposed, says The Times. After Gary Barlow and two other members of Take That were exposed for sheltering £63m in such a scheme, Charles Bradrook, a former Deloitte partner and sometime financial adviser to stars, says: “People’s tax affairs should be private but they are not any more, and clients are very conscious of that. Before it wouldn’t have been discussed in the press, it is now, and people know this could happen.”
The retail industry enjoyed an Easter boost in sales last month but it could not prevent the worst underlying performance for more than a year. According to the British Retail Consortium's monthly report, sales were up 4.2% on a like-for-like basis in April on a year. The boost was powered by bank holiday shoppers buying furniture and clothing. However, taking the last three months together to iron out Easter-timing distortions produces the weakest performance since December 2012.
The luxury housing market in London has started to slow after several years of soaring price growth, warn estate agents. Savills, a leading agency in the prime property market, said in a trading statement yesterday that it had seen “some cooling” in the higher reaches of the West End market. “It’s a cooling in the rate of increase,” said Jeremy Helsby, chief executive. “The market has had a very strong run but we believe this year it will come off.”
MPs will quiz Pfizer's chief executive today over the US drugs giant’s commitment to UK jobs as part of its £63bn takeover plan for AstraZeneca. Ian Read has called into question the British firm’s ability to survive independently and vowed that the planned merger would create a “UK-based scientific powerhouse”. But cynics say the pledges are worthless. If the deal goes ahead it would be the largest foreign takeover of a British firm.
“Britain’s elaborate tax-avoidance industry must be tackled. But public anger on that issue should not lead ministers to write laws that are far too draconian.” The Financial Times says George Osborne must not be allowed to exploit public anger to introduce bad laws.
An independent Scotland would run the risk of “capital flight” if it did not manage to keep the pound, warns Europe’s largest investment bank. Deutsche has spelt out a potential scenario along the lines of that suffered in some eastern European countries following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In a 16-page analysis of the financial implications of Scottish independence, it warns of money pouring unchecked out of the Scotland.
FTSE-100: up +0.55 to 6851.75
Dow Jones: up +0.68 to 16695.47
Dax: up +1.26 to 9702.46
Cac-40: up +0.37 to 4493.65
Nikkei: up +1.93 to 14421.90
Hang Seng: up +0.25 to 22317.80
US dollar: buys €0.72680 and £0.59270
Sterling: buys $1.68700 and €1.22590
Oil: $108.43 up +0.5