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UK to back SBM Offshore despite bribery investigations

SBM Offshore says flagship oil project in Brazil to receive £34m of financial backing from UK

The UK government will provide significant financial support to a major Dutch company despite the company being under investigation for its involvement in a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal in Brazil.

Engineering company SBM Offshore – which is being investigated by Brazilian authorities over bribery allegations – confirmed that one of its flagship oil projects in Brazil will receive £34m worth of financial support from the UK.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Banks face new PPI compensation bill over commission payments

Analysts estimate financial services industry could now have to repay £33bn – on top of the £20bn paid out over mis-selling

The UK financial services industry could be facing a £33bn compensation bill for failing to disclose commission payments to customers, according to estimates by analysts.

The tally would be greater than the payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal for which the industry has already shelled out more than £20bn and which is expected to rise further on Friday when Lloyds Banking Group is expected to top up its provision by £1bn.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Centrica's new boss vows to kick its spread betting habit

Under Iain Conn, the owner of British Gas is shifting away from an integrated approach and sticking to what it knows best in the energy market

Under its last chief executive, Centrica told its shareholders for half a decade that it was absolutely essential that the company should explore for, and produce, more oil and gas while simultaneously generating more of its own energy. Over-reliance on one end of the energy market – the retail business, meaning British Gas – was deemed dangerous. Centrica needed a spread of investments. Integrated Energy – the title of the annual report as late as 2012 – was the philosophy.

Centrica’s new boss, Iain Conn, like his predecessor Sam Laidlaw, comes from the world of Big Oil but he can see, as everybody can, the flaw in the old approach. Centrica, in spending the thick end of £10bn on oil and gas assets, made a bad bet and acquired a habit it can no longer afford.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Bank of England: new MPC member faces scrutiny from Treasury MPs

Select committee will ask Gertjan Vlieghe to prove independence from the Brevan Howard hedge fund, where is he is a partner

The Treasury select committee is preparing to challenge newly appointed member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, Gertjan Vlieghe, to prove his independence from the hedge fund Brevan Howard, where he is a partner.

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who chairs the cross-party committee of MPs, said: “It is essential that the MPC is – and is seen to be – independent. The Treasury committee will be seeking reassurance that Mr Vlieghe’s business interests do not pose a conflict with his membership of the MPC when he comes for an appointment hearing in the autumn.”

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

US economic growth accelerates in second quarter as spending picks up

The Fed described the economy as expanding ‘moderately’ while upgrading its view of the labor market, pointing the way to an interest rate hike

The US economy accelerated in the second quarter, further raising the prospect that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates – which have been held near zero since the financial crisis – as early as September.

US gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 2.3% in the three months to the end of June, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. The growth figure is slightly lower than the 2.5% that economists predicted but much higher than the growth in the first quarter.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

US, Irish, Spanish economies power ahead with faster GDP growth – as it happened

3.12pm BST

Good-bye, and thank you for all your great comments. We’ll be back tomorrow.

3.12pm BST

Before I go…. The Financial Times is reporting that the IMF’s executive body has been told by its staff that Athens’ reforms don’t go far enough and the fund should not be involved in the troika’s third, €86bn bailout. The paper says:

The International Monetary Fund’s board has been told Athens’ high debt levels and poor record of implementing reforms disqualify Greece from a third IMF bailout of the country, raising new questions over whether the institution will join the EU’s latest financial rescue.

The determination, presented by IMF staff at a two-hour board meeting on Wednesday, means that while IMF staff will participate in bailout negotiations currently under way in Athens, the Fund will not decide whether to agree a new programme for months — potentially into next year.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Do we still need boycotts when you can send an angry tweet?

Ten years ago, people could join a boycott and send an angry letter to a company, now they could just take to social media with an angry or ironic hashtag

Four years after political reforms saw campaigners lift calls to boycott companies operating in Burma, a new ranking of the largest 100 Burmese firms shows a gradual move towards greater transparency, human rights protections and anti-corruption measures.

Although the ranking isn’t independently verified, it’s eye-catching for one particular reason: of the top ten performers, half found themselves on either EU or US sanctions lists prior to the end of military rule in 2011.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Santander's UK spin-off delayed

Profits at British arm rise 67% but long-mooted flotation not expected in the next two years, says CEO

The spin-off of Spanish bank Santander’s UK arm has been pushed back for a number of years, the CEO of the British operation has revealed.

Nathan Bostock said on Thursday he did not expect the flotation of the business, first mooted five years ago, to take place “for the next couple of years”. When Bostock was hired from Royal Bank of Scotland last year it was regarded a sign that a sale was back on the cards.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Shell cuts 6,500 jobs as oil price slump continues

Chief executive Ben van Beurden says group will press ahead with $30bn asset sales and $3bn spending cuts as second quarter profits fall 35%

Shell sees no quick end to the slump in oil prices and plans to further slash annual spending, sell off assets and bring the total number of job cuts to 6,500 by the end of 2015.

But the Anglo-Dutch group has vowed to press on with its expensive and controversial exploration programme in Arctic Alaska, saying it was a “long-term play” that could not be influenced by current energy prices.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Spanish economy back to pre-crisis growth levels

Low inflation and falling unemployment mean Spain is starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, economy minister says

Spain’s economy has recorded the strongest growth since 2007, before the global financial crisis plunged the country into recession.

Economic growth was 1% in the second quarter of the year, up from 0.9% in the first quarter, reaffirming the strength of Spain’s recovery, and underlining the divide with more troubled eurozone economies such as Greece.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS