The Telegraph Citybriefing - June 24, 2014

The Telegraph
After half a century selling carpets, Lord Harris of Peckham would have hoped for a magical flying finish. Instead his last set of results in charge ofCarpetright are decidedly threadbare: pre-tax losses have jumped 38pc from £5.1m last year to £7.2m. On underlying basis, it's worse: pre-tax profits have slipped 52.6pc from 9.7pc to 4.6pc. Lord Harris has remained up-beat, pointing to positive cash generation. He has blamed "challenging" market conditions, particularly in Europe and especially in the Netherlands. He has said trading will remain tough but his "steps to develop the business" will "underpin an improvement in group performance in the new financial year." Wilf Walshtakes over as chief executive on July 21.

Chemring has ejected its second chief executive in two years. Mark Papworth has stepped down from the engineering group "with immediate effect" after just 18 months in the job. The announcement comes with the group's half year results which show pre-tax losses have soared from £9.2m last year to £72m. Revenues at the group, which has suffered due to cuts in US defence budgets, have dropped from £297.4m to £277.4m. Michael Flowers,a member of the executive committee and a former officer in the Australian army, has been appointed to the helm instead.

Britain's Green Investment Bank has unveiled a £5.7m loss as part of its first official figures. The Edinburgh-based bank, which was set up 18 months ago with an initial £3.8bn to invest in green projects, says it has committed £668m to 18 green projects over the past year, taking the total investments to £1.3bn. The bank says it wants to raise a further £1bn to encourage private investors to put cash into offshore windfarms in the UK. Shaun Kingsbury,chief executive, has told Radio 4 that the headline loss is "somewhat misleading" because the money is being invested. "We're a young business and it takes a little time to bring projects on line." He said the bank is looking at a raft of investments from biomass to street lighting. He said if all the light bulbs in UK street lights were changed into LED lighting, there would be an 80pc drop in the bill saving up to £300m a year.

Croda, the FTSE 250 chemicals company, has warned that second quarter pre-tax profits will be about 8pc lower than the first quarter. It has blamed the strong pound. Tate & Lyle has appointed Nick Hampton as its new chief executive. Joining after 20 years at PepsiCo, he replaces Tim Lodge who has been in charge since 2008.Land Securities has sold The Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland to AEW Europe for £152m. Savills has appointed Liz Hewitt, a director of Melrose, to its board. There are trading updates fromCarnival, Tullow Oil and Petrofac. British Airways, Ryanair andeasyJet are all expecting big disruption today as French air trafffic controllers are expected to start a six day strike.

At 930am, Mark Carney is giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee on the Bank of England's latest quarterly Inflation Report. The Governor will be joined by Charlie Bean, David Miles and Ian McCafferty. Expect questions to focus on interests rates, the housing market and economic growth. In other economic news, HMRC is releasing the latest number of property transactions at 930am.

The thorny subject of bank competition is high on the agenda today as theBritish Bankers Association annual conference gets underway in the City today. Andrea Leadsom, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, is leading a list of speakers from Barclays, RBS, Handelsbanken and the regulators. As we report today, Ms Leadsom is expected to announce that the big banks have finally agreed a format that will allow customers to compare the value of their current accounts online. A Government-backed system is being designed that will enable customers to download a year's data from their current account which can be plugged in and a list of the best suited accounts will be returned. The tool, which could suggest Tesco Bank for the supermarket's clients or Santander for big energy spenders, has been held up while the banks debated the fairest way to release the current account information. We'll be covering theBBA conference as it happens on our website here. 
Fortune Magazine's Most Powerful Women conference is being held London today. The Home Secretary Theresa May was supposed to lead the list of speakers but dropped out last night.  Still expected are Baroness Shriti Vadera, the former BIS minister who is now non-executive director of BHP Billiton and AstraZeneca; Nicola Mendelsohn, the vice president of EMEA at Facebook; and Anne Charon, chief executive of Zurich.

The Living Wage Commission is due to publish its final report following a 12-month inquiry. The Commissioners, including John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York and Frances O'Grady, boss of the TUC, have been assessing the value of the Living Wage, which is currently £8.80 in London and £7.65 in the rest of the UK. Although some businesses, including Barclays and Aviva, have adopted the Living Wage as standard, business groups have warned that companies would be damaged if it were made compulsory.

Chuka Umunna is speaking at the Global Manufacturing Festival in Sheffield. The shadow Business Secretary is hoping to escape the ferocious row he sparked by claiming UKIP voters don't use the internet and return to the economic agenda instead. And David Laws is speaking at an event to mark the 10th anniversary since the publication of the "Orange Book", the so-called handbook of LibDems economic and political thinking.

It's the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the famous defeat of England by the Scots, which Alex Salmond has long-planned to use as a boost for his independence campaign. The historic referendum is less that 12 weeks away.

And defeated England play their final game of the football World Cup against Costa Rica. Kick-off is 5pm on ITV. 
The Chancellor should be focusing on smaller-scale schemes that deliver high returns for the taxpayer or, better still, that can be financed privately, rather than concocting a headline-grabbing vanity project designed to attract votes.” 

George Osborne’s plans to launch High Speed 3 to create a “northern powerhouse” of British cities was criticised by the Institute of Economic Affairs. 
The value of SNC-Lavalin's proposed takeover of British company Kentz
Jeremy Warner believes we should stop whining about the strong pound, as it's a mark of our success.

Emily Gosden reports that the bill for cleaning up Britain’s nuclear waste has topped £110bn.

Louise Armitstead writes that George Osborne’s plans to launch High Speed 3 to create a “northern powerhouse” of British cities has been blasted as “costly vanity project” by the Institute of Economic Affairs. 
The Financial Times (£): Users of a leading Chinese betting site found their efforts to gamble on World Cup games thwarted on Monday amid a spat between the country’s two largest internet groups over who was to blame for the outage of an online payments engine.
The Guardian: Passengers flying to France and beyond this week could face disruption as a strike by French air traffic controllers has forced airlines to cancel dozens of flights.
The Mail: Buy-to-let landlords expect their property investments willcontribute almost £20,000-a-year towards their incomes in retirement, a study has found.
The FTSE 100 shed 24.64 points to 6,800.56
In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.82 points to 16,937.26, while the S&P 500 fell 0.26 points to 1,962.61.
Deutsche Bank urged BG Group to spin-out its liquefied natural gas business:
With BG's board intent on 'accelerating the creation and delivery of longer term value for shareholders' we have a proposal - demerge LNG.
Brent crude oil fell 0.6pc to $114.12 a barrel. Gold climbed 0.08pc to $1,314 an ounce. More here.
Sterling fell 0.23 cents against the euro to €1.2513 and dropped 0.10 cents against the dollar to $1.7008. More here.


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