From the world of business: September news highlights
Welcome to our September news round-up, with all the big business headlines from trade deals to bankers’ bonuses.
Lord Livingston said a new trade deal with the US could potentially be worth as much as £10 billion a year to the UK economy. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) seeks to remove trade barriers between the US and EU by streamlining regulations and getting rid of certain tariffs. According to the trade minister, gains in manufacturing and better growth opportunities for firms could lead to higher wages and job creation.
Ecuador has announced that it plans to launch its own national digital currency not unlike cryptocurrency Bitcoin. President Rafael Correa said the digital currency is intended to help citizens who may find that traditional banking methods are unaffordable. It could be in circulation as early as December, but a name had not yet been announced.
The UK mounted a legal challenge to a new EU directive that seeks to limit the bonuses payable to bankers. Bonuses are set to be limited to 100 per cent of the employee’s salary, though that can rise to 200 per cent with shareholder approval. But Britain, which is home to the largest financial centre in the entire EU, is concerned that it could make the UK less competitive and that banks will offset lower bonuses with higher salaries.
Apple’s latest product announcement came with a raft of new devices, including two new iPhones. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will both be wider and heavier than earlier models, but have narrower profiles, faster processors and will be fitted with better cameras. A mobile payments system Apple Pay has also been introduced using near field communication technology. But the biggest innovation is the Apple Watch, the company’s first smartwatch.
DIY retailer Kingfisher will become one of just five FTSE 100 companies led by a woman when Véronique Laury takes over as chief executive from the outgoing Sir Ian Cheshire. Having run the company’s French division for more than a decade, she will be well placed to handle the transitional period as the company manages the absorption of French firm Mr Bricolage alongside changes to its IT systems.
The UK has continued to consolidate its trade links with China after signing even more trade deals. A $1 billion joint venture related to an oil terminal in Malaysia was among the agreements, as was a £200 million project to develop vocational training schools and nursing homes in China. Britain will also refund the cost of up to 25,000 visas for Chinese visitors on organised tours.
Businesses and investors have reacted with relief and renewed confidence to news that Scotland voted to remain within the United Kingdom. Shares in Scottish companies jumped when the results became clear, especially for the financial services firms that had suggested they may have to relocate to England in the event of a vote for independence.
New data published by the Higher Education Careers Service Unit shows that graduate unemployment posted the biggest decline in 15 years in January this year. Some 7.3 per cent were jobless when the data was collected, down from 8.5 per cent in the previous year and the lowest level since 2008.