Cathay Pacific to crack down on ‘pilferage

Cathay Pacific has vowed to act after stories emerged of food, drink and other items being stolen from planes.

Items such as mini tubs of Haagen-Dazs ice cream, bottles of champagne and cutlery are said to have gone missing.

Reports said cabin crew were to blame, but the airline’s boss, Rupert Hogg, said the blame may lie elsewhere.

“The bigger issue is a pilferage issue and it may not necessarily be around cabin crew,

“We are losing, I don’t know, wine or things like that from aircraft or somewhere in the supply chain.”

Mr Hogg added that the airline was determined to put a stop to the losses, and added: “We’ve got support from the unions to do this, let’s try to stamp this out.”

According to the South China Morning Post, six employees were placed under investigation on Saturday – and face possible disciplinary action – after security spot checks at Hong Kong International Airport.

It added that staff were warned by email earlier in the year about removing items from planes and were told there would be “zero tolerance”.

The email added that employees could only take items for personal consumption and could be punished for taking anything else – even if they believed it was going to be thrown away or wasted.

In a statement, the airline said: “In view of an increasing number of reported losses of company property, we have informed our cabin crew that random inspections will be carried out.

“We are dealing with cases in a fair and reasonable manner in accordance with standard internal procedure.”

Cathay Pacific has been in dispute with employees before over petty theft.

In 1993, the leader of a three-week strike by crew who wanted improved conditions was sacked after being accused of stealing nuts and a bottle of water.

Asos billionaire loses three children in Sri Lanka attacks

Mr Holch Povlsen is one of Denmark’s richest men

Three of the four children of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen died in the Sri Lanka bombing attacks, a spokesman has confirmed to the BBC

The family were visiting the country over the Easter holiday. The names of the children have not been made public.

Mr Holch Povlsen owns the international clothing chain Bestseller.

He is also the biggest single shareholder in clothing giant Asos and is the UK’s largest private landowner, according to the Times newspaper.

“Unfortunately, we can confirm the reports,” a Bestseller spokesman said in an email. “We ask you to respect the privacy of the family and we therefore have no further comments.”

Mr Holch Povlsen has a large property portfolio in Scotland, where he owns about a dozen estates including Aldourie Castle. He bought them through his company Wildland, which describes itself as a “landscape-scale” conservation project.

The Holch Povlsens
The Holch Povlsens own several Scottish properties

“It is a project that we know cannot be realised in our lifetime, which will bear fruit not just for our own children, but also for the generations of visitors who, like us, hold a deep affection the Scottish Highlands,” Mr Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne say on the website.

“We wish to restore our parts of the Highlands to their former magnificent natural state and repair the harm that man has inflicted on them.”

Victims unidentified

The death toll in the Sri Lanka attacks is now at 290, following a series of blasts at churches and luxury hotels on Sunday. Police have arrested 24 people, but no-one has claimed responsibility.

The vast majority of those killed are thought to be Sri Lankan nationals, including many Christians who died at Easter services.

Bestseller store
Image captionMr Holch Povlsen owns the clothing retailer Bestseller

Authorities say they believe 36 foreign nationals are among the dead, with most still unidentified at a Colombo mortuary.

The international victims include:

  • At least eight British citizens – including two with joint US citizenship
  • Three Danish citizens
  • One Portuguese citizen and six Indian nationals
  • Two engineers from Turkey, according to Turkish news agency Anadolu
  • Two Chinese nationals, according to the China Daily
  • Two Australians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said
  • One person from the Netherlands
  • One person from Japan, according to Japanese media citing government sources

Asos billionaire loses three children in Sri Lanka attacks

Asos billionaire loses three children in Sri Lanka attacks

Three of the four children of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen died in the Sri Lanka bombing attacks, a spokesman has confirmed to the BBC. Newslight

The family were visiting the country over the Easter holiday. The names of the children have not been made public.

Mr Holch Povlsen owns the international clothing chain Bestseller.

He is also the biggest single shareholder in clothing giant Asos and is the UK’s largest private landowner, according to the Times newspaper.

“Unfortunately, we can confirm the reports,” a Bestseller spokesman said in an email. “We ask you to respect the privacy of the family and we therefore have no further comments.”

Mr Holch Povlsen has a large property portfolio in Scotland, where he owns about a dozen estates including Aldourie Castle. He bought them through his company Wildland, which describes itself as a “landscape-scale” conservation project.

Glenfeshie Lodge
The Holch Povlsen’s own several Scottish properties, including Glenfeshie Lodge

“It is a project that we know cannot be realised in our lifetime, which will bear fruit not just for our own children, but also for the generations of visitors who, like us, hold a deep affection the Scottish Highlands,” Mr Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne say on the website.

“We wish to restore our parts of the Highlands to their former magnificent natural state and repair the harm that man has inflicted on them.”

Victims unidentified

The death toll in the Sri Lanka attacks is now at 290, following a series of blasts at churches and luxury hotels on Sunday. Police have arrested 24 people, but no-one has claimed responsibility.

The vast majority of those killed are thought to be Sri Lankan nationals, including many Christians who died at Easter services.

Authorities say they believe 36 foreign nationals are among the dead, with most still unidentified at a Colombo mortuary.

The international victims include:

  • At least five British citizens – including two with joint US citizenship
  • Three Danish citizens
  • One Portuguese citizen and six Indian nationals
  • Two engineers from Turkey, according to Turkish news agency Anadolu
  • Two Chinese nationals, according to the China Daily
  • Two Australians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said
  • One person from the Netherlands
  • One person from Japan, according to Japanese media citing government sources

Carlos Ghosn: Former Nissan boss hit with fresh charge

Carlos Ghosn

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has been indicted by prosecutors in Japan on a fresh charge of aggravated breach of trust.

It is the fourth charge brought against Mr Ghosn and relates to the alleged misuse of company funds.

The 65-year-old is in detention in Tokyo and his lawyers are expected to apply for bail.

Mr Ghosn, who denies any wrongdoing, has said the allegations are a result of a plot against him.

He was first arrested in November and spent 108 days in custody. While out on bail pending a trial, the former auto boss was re-arrested in Tokyo on 4 April.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Ghosn made a multi-million-dollar payment to a Nissan distributor in Oman, and that as much as $5m (£3.8m) was funnelled to an account controlled by Mr Ghosn.

The company he once ran, Nissan, has filed its own criminal complaint against Mr Ghosn, accusing him of directing money from the company for his own personal enrichment.

Mr Ghosn was first charged with under-reporting his pay package for the five years to 2015.

In January, a new charge claimed he understated his compensation for another three years. He was also indicted on a fresh, more serious charge of breach of trust.

The fall from grace for the industry titan has attracted global attention. The case has also put a spotlight on fighting within the carmaker alliance and on Japan’s legal system.

Mr Ghosn was the architect of the alliance formed between Japan’s Nissan and French carmaker Renault, and brought Mitsubishi on board in 2016.

He is credited with turning around the fortunes of Nissan and Renault over several years.

Earlier this month Mr Ghosn said the allegations were a plot and conspiracy against him, accusing Nissan executives of “backstabbing”.

National Enquirer sold to US magazine distributor


Newstand with National Enquirer closest to camera
The newspaper has gained a reputation for outlandish celebrity coverage

The owner of US tabloid newspaper the National Enquirer has agreed to sell the title to magazine distributor James Cohen.

American Media Inc (AMI) said it would sell the title and two of its sister publications to Mr Cohen.

The tabloid has been embroiled in high-profile scandals involving US President Donald Trump and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

The sale terms were not disclosed but the Washington Post reported a sale price of $100m (£77m).

In a statement, AMI said it had reached an agreement in principle with Mr Cohen to sell the title’s US and UK editions, along with the Globe and National Examiner.

“The sale of these brands shows their vitality in today’s newsstand marketplace where they continue to generate nearly $30 million in profit annually,” AMI chief executive David Pecker said.

Mr Cohen’s family built the Hudson chain of airport newsstands. The family now owns US magazine and book distributor Hudson News Distributors.

“Year after year, the Enquirer has continued to be one of the best-selling and most profitable newsstand titles,” Mr Cohen said.

He said he plans to boost the National Enquirer’s video and documentary collaborations, as well as its theme park business.

High-profile scandals

The National Enquirer is best known for its outlandish celebrity gossip and crime coverage.

Last year the publisher admitted to helping Mr Trump’s presidential campaign bury a report about an alleged extramarital affair with a former Playboy model.

Federal prosecutors announced in December that AMI had admitted paying Karen McDougal $150,000 for a “catch and kill” on her story in the run-up to the 2016 election.

In February, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos accused its owners of trying to blackmail him over lewd photographs.

He said AMI wanted him to stop investigating how they had obtained his private messages.

Earlier this month the publisher announced it was looking for a buyer for the 93-year-old title.

The tabloid was originally founded as The New York Evening Enquirer back in 1926, when it was distributed as a broadsheet on a Sunday.

At its peak it had a weekly circulation of millions, but the internet has had a huge impact on sales.

Last year it was announced circulation had dropped to about 265,000 – 18% down in one financial year.

Santorini deaths: London teachers killed in buggy crash

Crossrail could be delayed until 2021, according to a senior source associated with the project to build a new railway underneath central London.

The east-west route, officially called the Elizabeth Line, will run between Reading and Shenfield in Essex and had been due to open in December 2018.

Crossrail said testing of the trains and signalling was “progressing well”.

But sources told the BBC this phase – known as dynamic testing – was “proving more difficult than was first thought”.

The source said: “It all depends on how dynamic testing goes between now and the end of this year.”

“The last quarter of this year will be a critical period for the testing.”

Signalling software

Once dynamic testing is complete then trial runs will commence. This will effectively be a simulation of the timetable in real time.

The source said, with the current state of the project in mind, a “best case scenario” would be the new Elizabeth Line opening in spring 2020.

A “middle probability case” would be the summer of next year.

“A worst case is the spring of 2021.”

Map showing the Crossrail route

Two other senior rail sources say this assessment is credible. It also tallies with one of the conclusions in a report written by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee which was published earlier this month.

However, there is still uncertainty over when the scheme can be delivered because work to match a new signalling system in the 13-mile stretch of tunnel with software on the new trains is still ongoing.

On top of the trains and signalling, all of the new stations along the route are incomplete.

Paddington and Bond Street are the furthest behind.

A delay to the project only first became public in the summer of last year, just weeks before the railway was supposed to open in December 2018.

Presentational grey line

What is Crossrail?

Construction workers work on a section of train track inside a Crossrail tunnel, beneath Stepney in east London in 2016

Crossrail is a new railway that will run beneath London from Reading and Heathrow in the west through central tunnels across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

Construction began in 2009 and it is Europe’s biggest infrastructure project – it had been due to open in December 2018 although last summer that was pushed back to autumn 2019.

It has been officially named the Elizabeth Line in honour of the Queen and will serve 41 stations.

An estimated 200 million passengers will use the new undergound line annually, increasing central London rail capacity by 10% – the largest increase since World War Two.

Crossrail says the new line will connect Paddington to Canary Wharf in 17 minutes.

Presentational grey line

Roger Ford at Modern Railways magazine said he believed the failure to come clean about the delay was symptomatic of how politically sensitive the project was.

Both Transport for London and the Department for Transport are joint sponsors.

“It was probably a situation where people don’t report upwards for fear of getting shot.”

He said he believed “everyone is to blame” and the fact that the new management had taken several months to assess the scale of the delay “shows how bad it was”.Media captionA drone’s-eye view of a flight through Crossrail’s tunnels in 2015

If there is a further significant delay it will almost inevitably cost more money.

In 2010 the budget for Crossrail was scaled back slightly to £14.8bn.

But when the initial delay became public last year that figure rose to £17.6bn.

Much of that additional money has been lent to Transport for London by the government. Whitehall officials insist London will ultimately have to cover the extra cost, not UK taxpayers elsewhere.

In a statement, Crossrail said London needed the line to be “completed as quickly as possible and brought into service for passengers”.

“We are working very hard to finalise our new plan to deliver the opening at the earliest opportunity and we will be providing more details later this month.”

Bombardier which manufactured the trains for Crossrail did not wish to comment on reports that the testing of the trains and signalling was not going to plan.

Siemens Mobility is responsible for the signalling. When contacted by the BBC, it referred inquiries to Crossrail.

Amazon plans to shut online store in China

Amazon plans to shut its online store in China that allows shoppers to buy from local sellers as it downsizes operations in the country.

The firm said it would no longer run the domestic marketplace from July, but Chinese shoppers will still be able to order goods from Amazon’s global store.

It will also continue to operate its cloud business in China.

The retail retreat comes as Amazon faces tough competition from local rivals Alibaba and JD.com.

Reuters first reported Amazon’s plans to close its domestic marketplace in China by mid-July to focus on more lucrative businesses selling overseas goods and cloud services. Amazon’s profitable cloud computing division hosts huge swathes of the corporate world on its data servers.

A spokesperson for the company said in a statement that it was “working closely with our sellers to ensure a smooth transition and to continue to deliver the best customer experience possible”.

Consumers accessing Amazon Chinese web portal, Amazon.cn, after 18 July will see a selection of goods from its global store, Bloomberg reported.

Amazon bought Joyo.com, a Chinese books, music and video retailer, for $75m (£57.4m) in 2004. It rebranded the company as Amazon.cn in 2007.

But it has struggled to compete with dominant players JD.com and Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace in China.

The shift away from the world’s second largest economy comes as the company pours huge investment into India.

Amazon has committed to spending $5.5bn on e-commerce in India, where it competes with local rival Flipkart.

Last year, it launched a Hindi version of its mobile website and smartphone app in an attempt to attract millions of new customers in the country.

JP Morgan: Is Wall Street’s first female boss a step closer?

Wall Street could soon welcome its first-ever female chief executive after JP Morgan announced that finance boss Marianne Lake will take over running its consumer lending business.

The promotion means that Ms Lake could be a potential successor to chief executive Jamie Dimon.

At the same time, she will be replaced as finance chief by Jennifer Piepszak.

Ms Lake has been seen as a contender to lead Wells Fargo, the scandal-hit bank that is searching for a new boss.

JP Morgan is the largest US bank measured by total assets.

The changes emerged days after Mr Dimon and a number of other Wall Street bank chief executives failed to answer a congressional question on whether their “likely successor will be a woman or a person of colour”.

The bank bosses were appearing in front of the House Financial Services Committee, but Mr Dimon later told investors during a conference call with analysts about JP Morgan’s first quarter results that he didn’t understand the question.

He said: “We don’t comment on succession plans. That’s a board-level issue. But also I was confused by the question ‘likely’ without a timetable.

“We have exceptional women. And my successor may very well be a woman and it may not. And it really depends on the circumstance. And it might be different if it’s one year from now versus five years from now.”

Ms Lake, who was born in the US but moved to the UK when she was an infant, began working at JP Morgan in 1999. In her new role, she will oversee its credit card, mortgage lending and car finance business.

UK’s biggest money manager warns on climate catastrophe

The world is facing a climate catastrophe and businesses around the world must address it urgently or face the ultimate sanction for a public company, shareholders who refuse to back them any more.

That is not a message from an environmental action group but from the largest money manager in the UK, Legal & General Investment Management, which manages £1 trillion worth of UK pension fund investments.

Its climate warning was the top of a list of concerns about the way companies are run.

Other red lights included the level of executive pay, lack of diversity in senior corporate roles, the role (and cost) of political lobbying and the poor quality of the financial information provided by auditors.

Legal & General insist that it is not just virtue signalling.

The company voted against the re-election of nearly 4,000 directors in 2018 – an increase of 37%. That included votes against over 100 board chairs on the basis of gender diversity alone.

Legal & General’s director of corporate governance, Sacha Sadan, said it was getting tougher with company boards and managements.

“2018 was a record year for us as we continued to engage with companies on a broad range of issues, using our voting power to influence change on behalf of our clients. The increased figures reflect the higher standards we expect companies to adhere to”

A Carillion sign at a building site in the West Midlands
Carillion collapsed last year

The collapse last year of construction and services company Carillion, which continued to pay out high salaries, shareholder dividends and get a clean bill of health from its auditors until just months before its sudden liquidation caused widespread outrage and shone a light on the standard of company stewardship in the UK.

A recent report from a committee of MPs was sceptical about asset managers’ appetite and ability to raise the quality of company management.

The business select committee chair said last month: “We do not have confidence in institutional investors in exercising their stewardship functions. We cannot rely on shareholders to exert pressure.”

Legal & General admit they too have made mistakes.

Lesson learnt

In 2012, the company voted in favour of a pay formula for the chief executive of housebuilder Persimmon that saw Jeff Fairburn awarded a pay packet of £100m Mr Sadan told the BBC it had learnt its lesson. “Since then we insist that maximum pay outs are capped.”

The VERY best way for investors to exert pressure is to sell their shares – or not become shareholders of misbehaving companies in the first place.

Plenty of fund managers argue they are trying to “reform from within” while happily accepting bumper dividend pay outs from companies in some of the most controversial sectors – such as oil and tobacco.

Legal & General insist they are prepared to do that and last year issued a list of companies whose shares they decided to dump. The list of eight included Russian oil company Rosneft, the China Construction Bank and Subaru.

Legal & General say that all eight of those on the “black list” have been in touch to try and get themselves off it. Proof positive, say L&G, that their brand of shareholder engagement – or disengagement – really works.

Many in the UK might find that argument more convincing if the list of no-go investments included companies closer to home that would REALLY feel the cold shoulder of the UK’s biggest money manager.

Mr van Beurden
Shell boss Ben van Beurden’s pay more than doubled last year

For example, Royal Dutch Shell is the UK’s biggest dividend payer by miles – offering investors a tempting 5.8% return on their money. Legal & General say they were successful in moving the chief executive’s performance targets to be based on safety and environmental improvements rather than raw profit. They were less successful in tackling the sheer amount he pocketed last year – a colossal £17m.

Asset managers are effectively the “masters of the universe” when it comes to telling companies how to behave as they have to vote on their investors behalf. But they have powerful customers of their own to answer to.

Increasing numbers of pension fund trustees are seeking assurances that their employees’ retirement contributions are not finding their way into embarrassing or inappropriate investments. The Church of England was not thrilled to find out its pension scheme was invested in the now defunct high cost credit company Wonga.

More recently – and more importantly – was the decision by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund to divest itself of some of its fossil fuel investments (paradoxically perhaps – the source of all the money in the first place).

But what these examples show is that the savers and citizens, on whose behalf this money is managed, are becoming more aware – and more willing to object – about how that is done.

Hammond: Brexit deadlock leaves little room for key issues

It is time to get Brexit “off the table” so that Britain can focus on other issues, the chancellor has said.

Philip Hammond told the BBC that getting a deal done soon would release the “bandwidth” needed to take key economic decisions facing the country.

He called the UK’s involvement in May’s European elections “pointless” and hoped a deal would be done before then.

Mr Hammond was speaking in Washington, where he is attending World Bank and IMF meetings.

The chancellor said talking to the Labour Party about finding a way forward to resolve the Parliamentary impasse was not his “preferred route”.

But it offered a new way forward to achieve a Brexit deal, after which he could concentrate on issues such spending and “where our economy is going over the next few years”.

“I would like us to spend more of our bandwidth focused on growing our economy,” he told the BBC’s economics correspondent Don silas. “Until a deal is done we cannot make decisions about the spending review.”

All will be forgotten’

If a deal on leaving the EU cannot be agreed by the end of May, the UK is committed to fighting the European elections.

“Clearly nobody wants to fight the European elections. It feels like a pointless exercise, and the only way we can avoid that is by getting a deal agreed and done quickly.

“If we can do that by 22 May, we can avoid fighting the European parliamentary elections.

“In any case, we want to ensure any British MEPs that are elected never have to take their seats in the European Parliament by ensuring this is all done well before the new European Parliament convenes,” he said.

The chancellor is in Washington at the World Bank and IMF spring meetings.

He rejected suggestions that the handling of Brexit negotiations was being seen overseas as a national humiliation.

“Britain is known as a bastion of democracy, and how we manage a challenging and complex issue like this is of huge interest,” he said.

“In a year’s time, when this is behind us and people are focussed on other things, all this will be forgotten.”

Brexi: How the new delay has hit four businesses

It was an early-hour announcement that allowed many of the UK’s business owners to finally get a few hours of restful sleep.

In Brussels on Thursday, the EU granted the UK a six-month extension, thus eliminating the immediate threat of a no-deal Brexit.

But for companies that have been preparing for a sudden exit, it was no more than a temporary reprieve.

“It’s a bit of uncertainty that isn’t helpful,” says Andrew Graham. His 70-year-old company, Graham and Brown Wallpaper, has been stockpiling raw materials for months at its factory in Blackburn.

“Quite frankly, we could do with knowing where we’re going,” he told the BBC.

Andrew Graham
Andrew Graham’s wallpaper company had been stockpiling supplies

“An extension is better than a no deal, but actually we could do with getting the withdrawal deal through so that business can then plan for what it needs to do.”

‘Not insurmountable’

Joy Parkinson, who runs a Bury-based company selling natural beauty products, is more sanguine.

The Faith in Nature boss says Brexit is a hurdle, “but not insurmountable”.

“We’ve been buying additional stock of the lovely fragrances we buy in from Europe, to make sure we were covered if there were issues around ports and blockages,” she says.

We were anticipating that some of our partners in European markets might have wanted to buy extra stock,” Ms Parkinson explains, but that scenario never materialised.

“We’ve not overbought, so we’ve been fairly sensible and fairly pragmatic, we’ve not bought six months, 12 months of additional material, so we’ve managed the cash flow fairly pragmatically.”

Sloane's
Waitrose supplier Sloane’s had to absorb a rise in the cost of chocolate

Nottingham florist and former Apprentice contestant Elizabeth McKenna has felt the impact of Brexit uncertainty much more strongly.

Her business, and her industry, are part of a finely tuned supply chain.

“We order and buy our flowers from Holland online,” she explains. Orders need to be confirmed by 10:00 so as to meet auction deadlines in the Netherlands.

The flowers are then transported overnight via rail and ferries, and any delay could mean they arrive wilted or dead.

The initial Brexit date of 29 March, Ms McKenna explains, was just two days before her company’s busiest day of the year – Mother’s Day.

Brexi: How the new delay has hit four businesses
Cosmetics firm Faith In Nature expected its European customers to stock up in advance of Brexit

“That actually created an increase in commodity prices, because of the uncertainty with the exchange rate during that week which has directly affected profits within my industry.

“As far as trying to plan for what is going to happen with Brexit, we are a small industry… and we haven’t had enough information to plan.”

“Literally all that florists and people working at my level can do, as small independent businesses with 10 people, is wait and see what the government tells us.”

Ms McKenna says small business have only received one or two Brexit-related letters from the likes of HMRC,

“We’re essentially just saving money, cutting our costs where we can and are waiting to weather whatever is to come.”

Other business have already had to absorb large additional costs.

Sloane’s Hot Chocolate is made in a studio in Surrey – but sold in Waitrose, Harrods, and overseas to the US, Canada, Singapore, Dubai and Ireland.

It’s one of many small businesses for which a further Brexit extension isn’t merely a waiting period, but comes at a significant price.

Founder Brian Watt says the company’s suffering began the day after the referendum in 2016, when the pound dropped sharply against the dollar.

This led to a 20% increase in the cost of its main ingredient – chocolate. The company chose not to pass that on to customers, instead eating into its profit margins.

Then, with a no-deal looming, Sloane’s was told by one supplier that the price of their product would go up by 20% or 30%, forcing Mr Watt to stockpile.

“Whereas we would normally hold maybe one to two weeks supply of those items, we are now holding one to two months,” he told the BBC, “because we would find it very difficult to pass on 20 to 30% price increases to our customers.”

To help with the upfront costs of buying up supplies such as packaging, Sloane’s had to secure a large overdraft from a bank.

But Mr Watt is stoic in the face of many more months of uncertainty.

“We basically made the decision that we are just going to get on with running our business,” he says.

Jet Airways cancels international flights as crisis deepens

Jet Airways appears to have suspended all its international flights, raising fresh fears about the Indian airline’s survival.

This comes after the carrier on Thursday grounded 10 more planes over unpaid fees to leasing firms.

Carriers in India must maintain a fleet of least 20 aircraft to continue to operate international services.

The airline, saddled with more than $1bn (£765m) in debt, is seeking a financial lifeline to avoid collapse.

Various India media reported on Friday that Jet Airways had cancelled all international flights, which include services to Europe and Asia.

In a statement on Thursday, Singapore’s Changi Airport said Jet Airways had “suspended its services to and from Singapore until further notice”.

All Jet Airways’ international flights scheduled to depart on Friday from Delhi – to Singapore, London, Amsterdam and two to Kathmandu – are cancelled, the airport website says.

And according to the official website for London’s Heathrow airport, Jet Airways’ Friday flights to Mumbai and Delhi will not operate.

Jet Airways is India’s largest private carrier and owes money to employees and suppliers.

In recent weeks it has grounded aircraft and cancelled thousands of flights – disrupting passengers locally and around the world – as its financial strains grew.

The airline has more than 100 aircraft in its fleet, and flies on 600 domestic and 380 international routes.

In a statement to the Mumbai Stock Exchange late Thursday, Jet Airways said an “additional 10 aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors”.

The airline did not respond to BBC requests for comment on the size of its current fleet or operations.

Several local media reported the airline is now operating 14 planes.

They also reported that India’s aviation ministry may review the regulations setting the fleet cap that could allow the airline to resume international services.

Financial lifeline

The cash-strapped airline is chasing fresh investors to keep flying.

A consortium of investors led by the State Bank of India (SBI) took control of the airline in March.

The group is searching a new investor to acquire a stake of up to 75% in Jet Airways. The deadline for bids had been extended to Friday, according to reports.

UK economy grows faster than expected ahead of Brexit

Stockpiling by manufacturers ahead of Brexit helped the UK economy grow by 0.3% in the three months to February.

The Office for National Statistics pointed to manufacturers “changing the timing of their activities” as the UK’s exit from the EU approaches.

Although growth was stronger than the 0.2% many economists forecast, Rob Kent-Smith, head of GDP at the ONS, said growth “remained modest”.

On a monthly measure, the economy grew by 0.2%, faster than the 0% forecast.

The 0.3% rise in the three months to February, was the same as the three months to January, after previous estimate was revised higher.

“Services again drove the economy, with a continued strong performance in IT. Manufacturing also continued to recover after weakness at the end of last year with the often-erratic pharmaceutical industry, chemicals and alcohol performing well in recent months,” said Mr Kent-Smith.

chart

Output in production and manufacturing rose for the second month in a row, with manufacturing at its highest level since April 2008, the ONS said.

The ONS said production industries expanded by 0.2% in the three months to February 2019. This was the first positive three-month growth since October 2018.

Impact of stockpiling

It said there had been external evidence “that some manufacturing businesses have changed the timing of their activity as we approached the original planned date for the UK’s departure from the European Union”.

“Although the ONS does not routinely collect detailed data on the reasons behind the behaviour of businesses, as part of our survey validation we have found some qualitative evidence that supported this view but were unable to quantify its impact,” it added.

The ONS pointed to a closely-watched survey by IHS Markit/CIPS which showed UK factories were stockpiling goods for Brexit.

Presentational grey line

UK economy grows faster than expected ahead of Brexit
Brexit: Cake factory would grind to halt without cream cheese

Lola’s Cupcakes is one company which decided it needed to build up stocks of essential items ahead of Brexit.

In its case, it was cream cheese.

Asher Budwig, managing director, said the company had identified the ingredient as one at risk from Brexit. Others might have been chocolate or butter.

There would be “no cheese cakes, no decorations on cupcakes” if ferries stopped getting through ports, he told BBC.

The company bought £35,000 of stock – that does not include storage costs – through its supplier which obtains the product from Germany.

“They [the supplier] spoke to the factory in Germany, they produced a lot more, ten times what we would normally go through in a given week,” he said.

“It’s being held down in Somerset,” he said.

Presentational grey line

Month-on-month growth in the industrial production sector was 0.6% in February, with manufacturing increasing 0.9%, the ONS said.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the activity in this sector was the main reason the economy had grown more quickly than expected.

He said this might be “due to a temporary boost to production which will unwind” in the second quarter of the year.

Construction output also rose faster than expected, perhaps because of the warmer than usual weather in February, he added.

Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics, also highlighted these areas as the main surprises in the data.

Rate rises

But she said: “Growth does not appear to have been significantly boosted by stockpiling ahead of Brexit.”

Instead, she said that while businesses have been stockpiling it is because they have been importing more. Imports rose by 5.3% in the three months to February while exports rose just 0.8%, according to the ONS.

She said: “Admittedly, the Brexit chaos may have sapped the economy of its momentum in March, as that is when the Brexit uncertainty has been greatest.

“All told, though, the solid growth rate in the three months to February should ease immediate fears of the economy stalling or contracting in the first quarter and provides support to our view that the economy is well placed to cope with whatever Brexit throws up next,” she said.

Mr Tombs said he was revising up his forecast for growth in the first quarter to 0.4% from 0.3%, which indicates annual growth of between 1.8% and 2%. This could point to a rate rise from the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.

“So the data, together with strong wage growth, put renewed pressure on the MPC to follow through on its commitment to an ‘ongoing tightening of monetary policy’, despite continued Brexit uncertainty,” he said.

US proposes tariffs on $11bn of EU products

The US is considering imposing tariffs on about $11bn (£8.4bn) worth of goods from the European Union in response to subsidies that support Airbus.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found that the subsidies have an adverse impact on the US.

Aircraft and cheese are among the products that could be hit by tariffs, the US Trade Representative (USTR) said.

The Trump administration has been fighting trade battles on many fronts.

The move would mark an escalation in trade tensions between the US and the EU.

The USTR said the value of goods that would be targeted with tariffs was subject to arbitration at the WTO, the result of which is expected in a few months.

“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action. The administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of US countermeasures,” said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft. When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional US duties imposed in response can be lifted.”

A preliminary list of goods, covering a wide range of items, has been issued for public consultation. For example, the following are being considered for additional tariffs if they come from any of the 28 EU states.

  • Salmon fillets, fresh or chilled
  • Cheese, including Cheddar, Roquefort, Stilton, Gruyere and Pecorino
  • Lemons fresh or dried
  • Virgin olive oil
  • Marsala wine
  • Cashmere sweaters, pullovers and similar
  • Ceramic household steins with pewter lids
  • Motorcycles with an engine size of between 500cc and 700cc
  • Wall clocks, not electrically operated, designed to operate over 47 hours without rewinding

In addition, additional import duties are being considered on some goods if they are produced in France, Germany, Spain or the UK. They include:

  • Helicopters
  • Undercarriages for use in new civil aircraft
  • Fuselages for use in new civil airplanes

What has happened so far?

The proposed US tariffs would be imposed in addition to existing levies on European products.

Last year, the US started charging levies, on the imports of steel and aluminium from key allies including the EU.

The EU imposed retaliatory tariffs on €2.8bn (£2.4bn)worth of US goods in June on products such as bourbon whiskey, motorcycles and orange juice.

Last month, US President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on cars imported from the EU, if both sides cannot reach a trade deal.

The US is currently negotiating a trade deal with China, but tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by the two countries have already weighed on the global economy this year.

Carlos Ghosn says ‘backstabbing’ behind his arrest

Nissan ex-boss Carlos Ghosn has accused former executives at the firm of “backstabbing” and said he is innocent of all charges against him.

In a pre-recorded video released at a news conference held by his legal team, he said he was victim of a “conspiracy” and wanted to have a fair trial.

Mr Ghosn was arrested for a fourth time last week while out on bail awaiting a trial.

He faces charges of financial misconduct and breach of trust.

In the video message, the 65-year-old, who was first arrested in November, maintained his denial of any wrongdoing or misconduct.

“This is about a plot, this is about conspiracy, this is about backstabbing – that’s what we are talking about,” Mr Ghosn said.

“There was a fear that the next step of the alliance… would in a certain way threaten some people or eventually threaten the autonomy of Nissan.”

Mr Ghosn was the architect of the alliance between Nissan and French carmaker Renault, and brought Mitsubishi on board in 2016.

The fall from grace for the industry titan has attracted global attention. It has also put a spotlight on fighting within the carmaker alliance and on Japan’s legal system.

His wife Carole Ghosn has flown to France to ask the government there to intervene on her husband’s behalf.

What has happened so far?

Prosecutors said Mr Ghosn’s latest arrest related to transfers of Nissan funds totalling $15m (£11.5m) between 2015 and 2018.

They allege that $5m of that amount was used by Mr Ghosn for personal expenditure.

Local media had previously said that authorities had been building a new case against him involving payments to a dealership in Oman.

He had been released on bail in March after being in prison for more than three months.

Mr Ghosn was first detained in November, charged with under-reporting his pay package for the five years to 2015.

In January, a fresh charge claimed he understated his compensation for another three years. He was also indicted on a new, more serious charge of breach of trust.

He is credited with turning around the fortunes of Nissan and Renault over several years.

Ghosn: Bail conditions revealed by lawyer

The lawyer for former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has revealed the terms his client had to meet to secure his initial release from custody on bail.

Conditions the 65-year-old had faced included using a sole computer, in his lawyer’s office, and one mobile phone.

A 24-hour surveillance camera also had to be installed at the entrance of his court-approved permanent residence.

Mr Ghosn was re-arrested in Tokyo last week, pending trial over claims of financial misconduct.

He has been detained over suspicions that he tried to enrich himself at the carmaker’s expense.

In a statement, Mr Ghosn – who denies any wrongdoing – said his re-arrest was “outrageous and arbitrary”.

Internet records

Mr Ghosn’s lawyer, Takashi Takano, issued a blog post (in Japanese) over the weekend where he outlined his client’s bail conditions after he was released from custody on 6 March.

Mr Ghosn had been released on $9m (£6.8m) bail after 108 days in custody.

The conditions stated Mr Ghosn must not flee or hide, not travel abroad. Any travel within Japan of more than three days would have needed court sanctioning.

Any change of address also had to be approved by a court.

Mr Ghosn also had to keep a log of everyone he met – except his wife and legal counsel – as well as records of telephone calls and internet use.

He was also ordered not to make contact with a number of fellow defendants, including board member Greg Kelly, suspected of collaborating with Mr Ghosn.

‘Groundless’

Tokyo prosecutors entered Mr Ghosn’s residence before 06:00 local time on Thursday (21:00 GMT Wednesday) and took him to their office on suspicion he had misappropriated Nissan funds for personal use, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

Mr Ghosn’s lawyer said it was almost unheard of to arrest someone after being released on bail.

“I am innocent of the groundless charges and accusations against me,” Mr Ghosn said in a statement released by his representatives.

He said the arrest was “part of another attempt by some individuals at Nissan to silence me by misleading the prosecutors”.

Nissan is holding an extraordinary shareholders meeting on Monday, where the carmaker is expected to dismiss Mr Ghosn and his onetime-deputy Mr Kelly from the board of directors.

Oman links?

The move is the latest twist in a case that has attracted global attention.

Mr Ghosn was the architect of the alliance between Nissan and French carmaker Renault, and brought Mitsubishi on board in 2016. He is credited with turning around the fortunes of Nissan and Renault over several years.

Prosecutors said Mr Ghosn’s latest arrest related to transfers of Nissan funds totalling $15m between 2015 and 2018.

They suspect $5m of that amount was used by Mr Ghosn for personal expenditure.

Local media had previously said that authorities had been building a new case against him involving payments to a dealership in Oman.

In Japan, prosecutors are permitted to re-arrest a suspect on a slightly different accusation, with approval from the courts. The clock is then reset and another 20 days of interrogation can begin.

Misconduct allegations

Mr Ghosn was first arrested in November for understating his pay. He was re-arrested twice in December and faces three charges.

He was first charged with underreporting his pay package for the five years to 2015.

In January, a fresh charge

claimed he understated his compensation for another three years and he was also indicted on a new, more serious charge of breach of trust.

The motor executive had said on 3 April, in a newly created Twitter account, that he was planning a press conference on 11 April “to tell the truth about what’s happening”.

Fiat to pool with Tesla to avoid EU fines’

Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Tesla have drawn up a plan to avoid the former having to pay fines for violating EU emissions rules, the FT has reported.

The paper says that under the deal the cars of electric automaker Tesla will be counted as part of the FCA fleet.

It will let the Italian carmaker offset carbon dioxide emissions from its cars against Tesla’s, by bringing down its average figure to a permissible level.

FCA said it would “optimise the options for compliance the regulations offer”.

The carmaker continued: “FCA is committed to reducing the emissions of all our products… the purchase pool provides flexibility to deliver products our customers are willing to buy while managing compliance with the lowest cost approach.”

There is no indication of the specific amount that FCA has agreed to pay Tesla.

Last year FCA, which has been lagging behind rivals in the manufacture of electric vehicles, said it planned to spend €9bn (£7.75bn; $10.1bn) over four years to develop electric cars which complied with global emissions standards.

Under EU rules, carmakers can join with rival companies to form so-called open pools but none have done so until now.

FCA applied to form an emissions pool with Tesla, and also Alfa Romeo, in February.

Toyota and Mazda have also applied to the EU to form an emissions pool, as have Citroen, Peugeot, and Opel.

Ethiopian Airlines crash: Boeing reduces 737 production

Boeing is temporarily cutting production of its best-selling 737 airliner in the continuing fall-out from crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Production will drop from 52 planes a month to 42 from mid-April, Boeing has said in a statement.

The decision is a response to a halt in deliveries of the 737 Max – the model involved in the two accidents.

The plane is currently grounded as preliminary findings suggest its anti-stall system was at fault.

An Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashed only minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa in March, killing all 157 people on board.

The same type flown by the Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed into the sea only five months earlier, shortly after taking off from Jakarta. That accident claimed the lives of 189 people.

In both cases, preliminary findings showed the pilots had wrestled with the anti-stall system, known as MCAS, which caused the planes to nose-dive repeatedly.

A report from the Ethiopian authorities issued on Thursday said the pilots of flight ET302 “repeatedly” followed procedures recommended by Boeing before the crash.

What did the Boeing the statement say?

“We now know that the recent Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accidents were caused by a chain of events, with a common chain link being erroneous activation of the aircraft’s MCAS function. We have the responsibility to eliminate this risk, and we know how to do it,” the statement from Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said.

He repeated that Boeing was making progress on updating the MCAS software and finalising new training for Max pilots.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, 4 April 2019
The Boeing CEO promises to fix the problem

“As we continue to work through these steps, we’re adjusting the 737 production system temporarily to accommodate the pause in Max deliveries, allowing us to prioritise additional resources to focus on software certification and returning the Max to flight,” he said.

Current employment levels would be maintained, the statement said, and a new committee is being set up to look at “policies and processes for the design and development of the airplanes we build”.

What difficulties has Boeing faced?

The 10 March crash of Ethiopian Airlines ET302 led to airlines round the world grounding their 737 Max aircraft.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was one of the last major regulators to order the grounding of the Max, leading some to accuse it of being too close to Boeing.

Questions are being asked about why the planes were not grounded earlier.

Deliveries of the Max were halted, leading to an excess of the planes needing storage.

After the statement, Boeing shares fell just over 1% in after-hours trading to $387.14 (£333).

How have victims reacted?

Boeing apologised on Thursday saying it was “sorry for the lives lost” in both accidents. But this has failed to satisfy many relatives who questioned why Boeing did not act earlier to take the planes out of service.

The chief pilot’s father, Dr Getachew Tessema, told the BBC the apology was “too little, too late”.

Dr Getachew Tessema, the father of the pilot of the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max, Captain Yared Getachew, speaks to the BBC, 5 April 2019
Dr Tessema blames Boeing

Yared Getachew, 29, had more than 8,000 hours of flying experience when he was killed.

“I am very proud about my son and the other pilot, both of them,” he told the BBC’s Emmanuel .

“To the last minute they struggled as much as they could but unfortunately they were not able to stop it.

“I don’t regret that he was a pilot. He died in the course of his duty.”

Dr Tessema levels the blame squarely at Boeing, questioning why the company did not stop the 737 Max flying after the Indonesia crash.

“Why did they let them fly? Because they were in competition. They want to sell more. Human life has no meaning in some societies.”

Relatives of an American passenger who died in the Ethiopian crash, 24-year-old Samya Stumo, filed the first lawsuit against Boeing on Thursday in Chicago.

MCAS graphic

Controversial Trump pick gets World Bank top job

Donald Trump’s pick for World Bank president, David Malpass, has officially been approved for the role.

Mr Malpass, a Trump loyalist, was a senior economic adviser to the US president during his 2016 election campaign.

His appointment has stirred debate, as some worry that Mr Malpass, a critic of the bank, will seek to reduce its role.

In February White House officials said Mr Malpass, a long-time Republican, would be a “pro-growth reformer”.

Mr Malpass said he was “honoured” by the appointment.

“Our twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and achieving shared prosperity are more relevant than ever,” he said.

The former Bear Sterns economist has criticised the World Bank in the past, along with other multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for being “intrusive” and “entrenched”.

‘Not willing to fight’

To become World Bank president Mr Malpass won unanimous approval from the institution’s executive board, which has 25 members.

The US holds a 16% share of board voting power and has traditionally chosen the World Bank’s leader.

China is the World Bank’s third-largest shareholder after Japan, with about a 4.5% share of voting power.

Professor Christopher Kilby, an expert on the economics of foreign aid at Villanova University near Philadelphia, said it is likely that China and other shareholders did not push back on Mr Malpass’ appointment as they “recognise that they are unlikely to succeed in derailing the US nominee.”

“Since they have seen President Trump punish those who stand up to him, they are not willing to fight the US,” Prof Kilby said.

In the past China has also not sought more power within the World Bank as some of its aims, including promoting the rights of indigenous peoples, do not align with Chinese domestic and foreign policy, Prof Kilby said.

line

Analysis: York business correspondent Emmanuel

David Malpass will need to establish his credibility quickly as the new president of the World Bank.

The legitimacy of the selection process came under renewed scrutiny after Donald Trump’s pick emerged as the only candidate to succeed Jim Kim.

And he’s been an outspoken critic of the institution he’s about to lead.

In the past, he’s described the World Bank as too big. He’s said he’d like to lend less to middle income countries like China, which he argues are financially strong enough. And he has challenged the global order.

Speaking at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations back in 2017 he said:

“Multilateralism has gone substantially too far – to the point where it is hurting US and global growth”.

But while past statements offer a glimpse of some of his thinking, they don’t tell the full story.

When his predecessor Jim Kim asked shareholders for more money, it was David Malpass who – in exchange for reforms at the bank – helped make it happen.

And since being nominated for the position, his tone has softened.

Will he be able to articulate a vision for the bank to win over doubters?

Lending shift

The World Bank critic could narrow the focus of its lending to the world’s poorest countries, among other changes.

He has pushed for the World Bank to halt lending to China, which he says is too wealthy to deserve such aid.

And last year, he was part of negotiations over a package of World Bank lending reforms.

The US agreed to back a plan for shareholders to inject $13bn (£10bn) into the World Bank and its private lending arm, with conditions that aimed to limit the bank’s lending, and focus resources more on poorer countries.

The reforms are aimed at pushing more middle-income countries towards private sector lending, and limiting World Bank staff salary growth.

Controversial US picks

Traditionally, the US picks the World Bank president, Europeans choose the IMF managing director, and the Japanese do the same for the Asian Development Bank.

Prof Kilby said a more controversial US pick for the World Bank president role was neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz, and yet he still landed the role.

Mr Wolfowitz, who had the job between 1 June 2005 and 30 June 2007, was seen as a driving force behind pursuing the US-led conflict in Iraq.

“For this and other reasons, Mr Wolfowitz was unacceptable to the Europeans and there was push back, including other nominees, for a while,” Prof Kilby said.

“But as the election date drew near, the fear that this would threaten the European traditional right to pick the head of the IMF led the European countries to back down and accept the US pick,” he added.

Donald Trump urges US Fed to cut interest rates

Donald Trump has stepped up his attacks on the US Federal Reserve by calling for the central bank to cut interest rates.

The US President claimed that the Fed has “really slowed us down” in terms of economic growth, adding that “there’s no inflation”.

Mr Trump made the comments as data showed a sharp rebound in new jobs growth during March.

US firms added 196,000 jobs last month, compared to 33,000 in February.

Mr Trump said: “I think they should drop rates and get rid of quantitative tightening. You would see a rocket ship.”

The Fed has raised interest rates four times since Jerome Powell took over as chairman in February last year.

Mr Powell was appointed by Mr Trump but the president has frequently criticised the Fed chairman for increasing rates.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Mr Trump told Mr Powell in a recent phone call: “I guess I’m stuck with you.”

Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve
US President Donald Trump appointed Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve

The Fed had been forecast to raise interest rates a further two times this year. However, it has since said it is now taking a “patient approach” to interest rates.

Last month, it indicated that it did not expect to raise interest rates for the rest of 2019.

amid slower economic growth.

Mr Trump said earlier this week that he would nominate the former boss of Godfather’s Pizza to the Fed’s board of governors.

Herman Cain, 73, ran to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 and is a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Along with Mr Cain, Mr Trump also intends to nominate Stephen Moore, who advised the president during his election campaign, to join the Fed’s board of governors.


The politicisation of the Fed

By New York business correspondent, Michelle Fleury

With his picks of Herman Cain and Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, Donald Trump appears to be politicising America’s central bank.

Their candidacy marks a shift from the president’s first few nominees to America’s central bank. They were more traditional candidates and were more or less greeted with bipartisan approval.

By contrast, Cain and Moore appear to have been picked less for their experience and more for their loyalty to the President and have therefore provoked a great deal of political criticism.

Donald Trump has been openly critical of recent Fed policy, heckling Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Twitter.

The President favours lower interest rates and switching from quantitative tightening to quantitative easing.

Economist Stephen Moore has been openly critical of the Fed. While Herman Cain, the former boss of Godfather’s Pizza and who has worked at the Kansas City Federal Reserve has often stated his anachronistic view that the US should return to the gold standard.

If their nominations go through, they would be in a position to promote his view that the economy can grow much faster without overheating.

For investors, it would raise fears about the independence of America’s central bank.


While new jobs figures for March beat forecasts – analysts had been expecting growth of between 170,000 and 180,000 roles – earnings data showed that the annual rate of wage increases slowed to 3.2% in March, down from 3.4% in February.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “Overall, these data won’t change anyone’s mind about whether the Fed ultimately will have to hike this year.

“The payroll gain is welcome but one month does not prove that the trend remains close to 200,000, and doves will point to the modest average hourly earnings gain as evidence that the Fed’s ‘patient’ stance is justified.”

Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, said it was a “mixed report” with highlights including an upwards revision to the 20,000 new jobs initially reported in February.

But he said: “The average hourly earnings was a big disappointment.”

Unemployment rate

The unemployment rate remained at 3.8% for a second month.

The healthcare sector saw jobs rise, but the retail and manufacturing sectors both saw declines.

Some 6,000 jobs were lost in manufacturing, the first decline in the sector since July 2017.

Car companies have been cutting thousands of jobs, including General Motors which is cutting about 14,000 workers.