Germany has introduced a minimum wage for the first time in the country’s history.
Members of the German parliament approved plans to set the least amount of money a person can earn at €8.50 (£6.80) an hour. The Christian Democrats, led by chancellor Angela Merkel, will work alongside the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in a power-sharing deal to place this new policy in place.
Nations such as the UK and US already have a minimum wage in place but Germany’s €8.50 an hour rate is higher than both of these countries. The UK’s rate was revised in 2013 to £6.31 an hour while the US’ Federal government set the nation’s lowest minimum wage at $7.25 (£4.22) an hour. However, a large number of states including California, Florida and New York have a much higher rate.Read more >>
United States President Barack Obama has attacked the risk-taking, big bonus culture of Wall Street, claiming that it poses a threat to the economic security of the country.
Speaking in an interview with the radio programme Marketplace, he promised that he would do everything in his power to make the financial world more transparent.
Mr Obama said that while a lot had been done in the way of improvements, following on from the credit crunch of 2008, there was still “unfinished business” – the system requires further and deeper reforms.Read more >>
A flurry of high-value IPOs have kept Europe’s markets busy recently, but it seems interest is cooling off.
European markets have seen a rush of high-value initial public offerings (IPOs) in the past few months. London alone has been a hive of flotation activity, but Paris and Frankfurt have also been attractive locations.
On 3 July, ING floated its insurance arm NN Group on the Amsterdam stock exchange in the largest IPO of the year, which valued the company at €7 billion.Read more >>
Sir Jon Cunliffe has warned that the biggest risk to the UK is the housing market, claiming that rising prices, which are escalating upwards faster than people’s incomes, is a particular cause for concern.
The Bank of England’s deputy governor told BBC Radio 5 Live that such a situation is problematic because it leads to “a big increase in the amount of debt in the economy” and equally, the “amount of debt that mortgage holders have”.
Therefore, if left unchecked, it could create the conditions necessary for a financial crisis to unfold, which would be hugely damaging to the UK and, in turn, the rest of the world.Read more >>
Brazil introduced the real two decades ago as part of a bid to beat inflation. But, why do countries launch new currencies?
On 1 July, Brazil celebrated the 20th anniversary of introducing a new currency. The real made a massive difference to the nation’s economy, and it is not surprising that many Brazilians look back negatively on the time before the currency was in use.
But why do countries introduce new currencies, and does it make a difference?Read more >>
Roaming fees around the European Union are set to fall as new price caps take effect.
European Union (EU) price caps have now come into force that could cut data roaming fees in half.
Phone users travelling around the bloc often disable their mobile data to minimise costs, or even invest in a smaller, cheaper feature phone that they can take with them and only pay for what they use. But the European Commission is planning to eventually phase out the high costs associated with roaming.
The first staging post was a 1 July move to reduce the existing price cap for downloading data from 45 cents (36p) per megabyte to 20 cents, while the maximum fee for making calls has dropped from 24 to 19 cents.Read more >>
French bank BNP Paribas has been fined $8.9 billion after it admitted helping clients to breach global sanctions.
French banking giant BNP Paribas has agreed a huge settlement that will see it pay a record $8.9 billion (£5.2 billion) fine, after it admitted helping clients to violate economic sanctions.
The bank has acknowledged widespread wrongdoing which saw the bank disguising transactions for clients in Sudan, Iran and Cuba, even though those countries are subject to sanctions. Prosecutors said that executives in some of the most senior levels of the bank had been aware of the practice, but it continued from 2004 to as late as 2012.Read more >>
Every employee in the UK now has the right to request flexible working, and staff and businesses alike are having to adapt.
As workforce demographics change and technology makes it easier to work in different ways, more and more employers have allowed some level of flexibility for their staff.
But on 30 June, the right to formally request flexible working was extended to every employee in the UK, instead of just those with caring responsibilities. That means 20 million more people can now ask for the opportunity to work flexibly, and their request must be considered in a “reasonable” manner. Only one request can be made in any 12-month period.Read more >>
Africa is only just beginning to fulfil its economic potential as its economies show signs of strong growth.
When Nigeria rebased its economy in April it became the 26th largest economy in the world. Last month Kenya raised $2 billion (£1.18 billion) from institutional investors in its first offering on the sovereign bond market. Angola has even offered financial aid to Portugal as the European country struggles with its debts.
The past year has seen Africa truly arrive on the global economic stage.Read more >>
Barclays will be subject to a fraud lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general.
New York’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Barclays over alleged fraud related to “dark pool” operations – where clients trade big blocks of shares while keeping prices private.
According to a statement from Eric Schneiderman’s office, Barclays is accused of boosting its dark pool’s market share by making false claims about its operations. Rather than safeguarding clients from “aggressive” high-speed traders as it has claimed, the bank allegedly ran its dark pool so that it favoured them. The rest of the charges also look very serious.Read more >>
Mergers and acquisitions deals volumes at a global level are at a seven-year peak.
Appetite for striking huge corporate deals is returning, as it has emerged that international mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals are at their highest level for seven years.
The value of M&A deals around the world in the first half of 2014 stood at $1.75 trillion – an impressive 75 per cent increase on the same period last year, and the highest level in seven years. Yet the actual number of deals actually fell slightly, indicating a rise in the prices being set on target companies.Read more >>
Here’s our guide to all the major business news from June.
Welcome to our business news round-up for June 2014. In this round-up of the most important business news stories from around the world, we point you to some of the biggest news stories that have had people talking during the past month.Read more >>
An increasing number of entrepreneurs in India are acting as angel investors for new companies.
India’s recent emergence as a major economic power has been accompanied by the success of a number of exciting startups that are now worth billions. But the entrepreneurs behind these firms are now using their success to give a boost to younger businesses and talent.Read more >>
Glencore has become the last FTSE 100 company to finally add a woman to its board.
Patrice Merrin’s appointment to the board of Glencore Plc may not have meant much on its own, but in the wider context of the struggle to improve female representation in the business world, it marks a watershed moment.
On 26 June, the mining company finally bowed to years of pressure when it appointed Ms Merrin, who becomes the first woman to sit on the company’s board. In doing so, it brought in a new era in which every single company in the FTSE 100 now has at least one woman at the top.
It says something about how far the campaign for female representation has come that Glencore had acquired a bad reputation for its male-dominated management structure.Read more >>
Russell Investments is about to be acquired by the London Stock Exchange for $2.7 billion.
The London Stock Exchange Group has finally agreed to acquire Russell Investments in a huge $2.7 billion (£1.59 billion) deal, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.
On 26 June, the exchange said it was planning to carry out the major deal with assistance from a $1.6 billion rights issue as part of a plan to break into the huge US capital markets, taking over Russell from life insurer Northwestern Mutual.Read more >>
Morale among UK consumers is at a new record high, according to a GfK poll.
Consumer morale in the UK is at its highest level in nine years, a new poll from research company GfK has found.
Its monthly consumer confidence index rose to +1 in June, up from zero in in the previous month and the highest rate since March 2005. A Reuters poll forecast suggested the figure could have been as high as +2, but the figures continue an upward trend that points towards growing confidence in the UK economy.Read more >>
Businesses need to form relationships effectively if they are to succeed, according to a new report.
Strong links between organisations have often been seen as an important element of successful partnerships. But according to a new report, effective relationships between individuals within companies are a vital element of success in modern business.
The Tomorrow’s Relationships report has been compiled by business thinktank Tomorrow’s Company in partnership with KPMG, Linklaters, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD).Read more >>
A brief flurry of concern emerged when rumours suggested that Warren Buffett could buy out Coca-Cola, but he claims not to be interested.
Warren Buffett has an established reputation as a major investor, and he isn’t new to going after large targets. But when Coca-Cola shareholder David Winters said last week that he was concerned Mr Buffett would mount a takeover bid for the giant company, more than a few eyebrows were raised among analysts.
The rumours emerged last week when Mr Winters told Fox Business Network that he suspected Mr Buffett, whose investment company Berkshire Hathaway owns nine per cent of the drinks giant, and 3G Capital might work together to take Coca-Cola private. He added that he had written a letter to the board warning them off such a move, reminding them that they have a “duty to all shareholders”.Read more >>
A new report has set out the potential negative business consequences of climate change in the US.
Climate change has been a difficult issue for many businesses, caught between a dependence on fossil fuels and the demand for more sustainable ways of operating. A new report compiled by political and business figures from the US has highlighted the potential cost to companies of failing to take action.
The bipartisan Risky Business report uses what it describes as a “standard risk-assessment approach” to identify the potential consequences of inaction on key areas. It focuses on damage to coastal areas from increased storm surge and rising sea levels, changes to agricultural production that will come from an altered climate, and how higher temperatures will affect public health and the productivity of the US workforce.Read more >>
With a new chief executive and profit in mind, Islamic Bank of Britain is looking to expand its products and services to attract new customers.
Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) is the only sharia-compliant retail bank in the UK, and with over 50,000 customers, it has enjoyed a level of success. But with a new chief executive on board, it is seeking to broaden its target audience by expanding the products and services it is owed.
Sultan Choudhury, who was announced as the new chief executive on 23 June, told Reuters that the bank is planning to grow its commercial property business as part of a plan to increase its profitability.Read more >>
An early World Cup exit can spell trouble for a country’s businesses.
There may be three lions on the shirt, but England fans are certainly not roaring. Uruguay and Italy left the national team outclassed and Roy Hodgson’s squad will not be making it out of the group stages. The dull draw with Costa Rica on 24 June was the last chance English fans will get for at least two years to wave their St. George flags at a major international football tournament.
But the disappointment will not only be felt among the fans – businesses around the world are likely to notice the difference too.
Companies will feel the loss in different ways. For example, if less well-known teams make it into the later stages of the tournament, there’s a risk that some viewers will lose interest and not bother tuning in – and that could mean that advertisers who paid a premium for prime slots may not see the return on investment they expected.Read more >>
The Green Investment Bank plans to launch £1 billion to encourage private investors to support UK offshore wind farms.
The UK’s state-funded Green Investment Bank (GIB) has said that it plans to raise £1 billion for a fund that will encourage private investors to back offshore wind farms around the UK.
GIB says that it is looking for strategic investors to work with on a long-term basis to participate in the capital raising exercise, with the proceeds being used to purchase stakes in a number of operational offshore wind projects. The new fund will be managed by a subsidiary of GIB that will seek permission from the Financial Conduct Authority to be considered a regulated fund manager.Read more >>
Sainsbury’s is entering the discount grocery market in a joint venture with Danish brand Netto.
Sainsbury’s has been attracting criticism recently for not doing enough to protect its market share from the rising tide of the discount supermarkets. Under pressure from Waitrose at the top end of the market and being squeezed by discount brands at the bottom, sales have been suffering in recent months.
As part of a plan to secure its place, the supermarket is stepping into Aldi and Lidl’s territory – by teaming up with Danish discounter Netto.Read more >>
A serious lack of language skills could hinder businesses’ growth intentions, according to the Confederation of British Industry.
Businesses are looking to break into new and high-potential markets around the world, but a new study suggeststhat they may be held back by a shortage of talent with the right language skills.
The latest Education and Skills Survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pearson shows that nearly two out of three businesses that responded said there was a need for foreign language skills within their organisation.
Although the full details of the study have not been published yet, CBI says that figure could well grow as firms become more interested in exports, especially given the government’s recent moves to rebalance the economy in favour of international trade.Read more >>
The bidding war for Alstom’s energy assets appears to be over, and General Electric is the winner.
The long-running bidding war to take control of French industrial giant Alstom’s energy assets has ended – and General Electric (GE) is the winner.
On 22 June, BBC News reported that Alstom’s board had voted unanimously to accept an offer from the US firm worth as much as $16.8 billion (£9.9 billion). Although it still needs to be approved by both Alstom’s employee representatives and regulatory bodies, it certainly looks as though the bid will go through.Read more >>