The Business: Friday May 23 2014
Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday
The chief executive of Wonga has quit, meaning the loan company has lost its second boss in the space of six months, says the Daily Telegraph. The development comes as Wonga faces growing scrutiny from regulators. Niall Wass, who took the position when Wonga’s founder Errol Damelin became chairman in November, announced his departure from the group yesterday, “to take a position at another company”.
A third of homeowners are concerned that a rise in interest rates could tip them into financial trouble, threatening to hault the burgeoning economic recovery. The annual survey from the HomeOwners Alliance found that 34% fear a rise in interest rates, which have been held at the record low of 0.5% since 2009. Some homeowners already feel under such pressure that they believe they will struggle to pay for food if rates rise.
Nearly 94% of McDonald's investors have approved an executive pay plan at the company's annual meeting despite protests. The plan determines chief executive Don Thompson's pay and a formula for paying top management. The day before the vote over 100 demonstrators demanding better pay for McDonald’s workers were arrested. "We pay fair and competitive wages and we provide opportunity,” said Thompson, who was paid a total of $9.5m last year.
“When I turned on my television a few nights ago and saw Michael Jackson come back from the dead to perform on a Las Vegas stage, I began to appreciate the appeal of a 10-year government note paying about 2.5 % a year.” Gary Silverman explains the ‘macroeconomic significance’ of the Jacko hologram.
The UK’s first plastic banknotes will enter circulation next year. To mark the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Forth Bridge, two million £5 notes will be released by Clydesdale Bank. The notes, made of polymer, are said to be more durable than existing notes, and will stay cleaner for longer. They are also more difficult to counterfeit, say experts. They will be introduced in Scotland ahead of England, where they will follow in 2016.
Corrupt companies will face fines of 400% of illicit profits, says the Financial Times. The percentage will apply to British companies that bribe foreign officials to win contracts, launder money, commit fraud or engage in other corrupt conduct. Some fines will be as large as those doled out in the United States, where penalties can run to hundreds of millions of dollars, say experts. The reform will allow judges for the first time to take into account the harm done to the victim.
FTSE-100: down -0.1 to 6820.56 Dow Jones: up +0.16 to 16559.84
Dax: up +0.24 to 9720.91
Cac-40: up +0.21 to 4478.21
Nikkei: up +0.94 to 14472.36
Hang Seng: up +0.51 to 22953.76
US dollar: buys €0.73250 and £0.59300
Sterling: buys $1.68630 and €1.23520
Oil: $110.19 down -0.3