The Business: Wednesday March 26 2014
Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday
The government has raised £4.2bn through the sale of a 7.8% stake in Lloyds Banking Group, reports the BBC. UKFI, the body that manages the UK’s shares in Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, sold 5.6%bn shares at 75.5p each. The body also sold 6% of the lender last year, raising £3.2bn. This latest sale cuts the government's holding in the bank to 24.9%. George Osborne said the deal represented "good value" for the taxpayer.
Facebook will buy a virtual reality firm in a deal worth around $2bn. The company, Oculus VR, is best known for a goggle-like immersive headset for video gaming called Oculus Rift. Based in California, the start-up was developed with funds raised through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Mark Zuckerberg said: “Mobile is the platform of today, and now we're also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow.”
The ending of the Bumi saga has been marked by an exchange of angry tweets between Nat Rothschild and Aga Bakrie. The Bakrie family has agreed a deal to cut ties with London-based investors and buy back their stake in the mining firm Bumi. After the agreement, Nat Rothschild sent a tweet to Aga Bakrie, reading: “thanks for buying back a worthless pile of turd. I look forward to watching Bumi TBK trading to zero.” He described Bakrie’s father as “an evil genius” but described Aga himself as “extremely DUMB”.
Energy giant SSE says it will freeze domestic gas and electricity prices until 2016. The firm expects lower profits as a result of the freeze but says it will be “streamlining and simplifying” its operations to make annual operational cost savings of £100m. The move comes amid ongoing anger over fuel prices. "I hope that people will start to recognise SSE is not part of the problem but part of the solution," said chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies.
“A significant number of people in politics and in the Co-op, and some in the church, have been noticeable by their silence or their absence.” Former head of the Co-operative Bank Rev Paul Flowers tells Jeremy Paxman that his recent troubles have shown him who his friends are.
Wall Street banks and their foreign rivals have paid out $100bn in US legal settlements since the financial crash, says the Financial Times. According to the newspaper’s own research, more than half of the penalties have been extracted in the past year. Regulators and the Obama administration have worked hard to fight the perception that bankers were not punished sufficiently for their role in the financial crisis.
FTSE-100: up +1.30 to 6604.89
Dow Jones: up +0.56 to 16367.88
Dax: down up +1.63 to 9338.40
Cac-40: up +1.59 to 4344.12
Nikkei: up +0.37 to 14477.16
Hang Seng: up +0.86 to 21918.72
US dollar: buys €0.72390 and £0.60550
Sterling: buys $1.65180 and €1.9600
Oil: $106.97 up +0.02