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  1. MPs accuse PwC of helping firms to avoid tax
  2. Poundland to buy 99p Stores

Live Reporting

By Howard Mustoe and Joe Miller

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Joe Miller

Business Reporter

Well what a day it has been here on the Live Page. Thanks for all your contributions - we can't publish them all, but we appreciate each and every one. The good news is (EXTRA! EXTRA!) that as of Monday, the Live Page will be extended to 18:00 GMT, so do keep coming back. So long and thanks for all the ducks.


Vince Bennett writes in on the subject of PwC's tax work. "Of course PwC help businesses to avoid tax. That is a key part of their service and it is naïve to think otherwise," he says. "If you want corporations to pay a 'fair' tax level commensurate with their in-country business activity then you have to change the rules."

African banking

World Service

The chief executive of South Africa's First Rand bank has told the BBC it will begin operations this year in Ghana,

despite problems getting a banking licence. First Rand's Chief Executive, Sizwe Nxasana, insists the company has overcome that barrier to expansion in West Africa.

Ukraine's finances

World Service

"There is clearly a financial emergency in Ukraine and deep recession" emerging markets expert Christopher Granville, from Trusted Sources, tells

Russell Padmore in Business Update.

Via Email

Why Brent?

We're sorry for the flurry of Brent news, but energy consultant Dick Winchester has emailed us a picture of his original Shell "space age" Brent poster, which must be seen. "I saved this because I used to be a manned sub pilot in the '70s and did a quite a lot of subsea work on Brent," he writes, "operating a little 'yellow submarine' a bit like that one on the poster!"

Brent poster
Dick Winchester

Via Twitter

John Moylan

Industry correspondent, BBC News

@EnvAgency grants @CuadrillaUK permits for its proposed shale gas exploration site at Roseacre Wood

Via Email

Why Brent?

We have a very informed readership here on Business Live. Angus Milne emails in to say that he was an analyst in 1971, and confirms the oil fields were indeed named after water birds. "Brent's output was quickly so huge that it became an obvious proxy among all the other North Sea fields for pricing discussions; and so it remains," he adds.

Caravan sales


The National Caravan Council says new motor home registrations increased by 18% to 8,733 in 2014, while sales of new touring caravans increased by 9% to 21,379. Younger buyers with families are entering the market, they say.

Via Email

Fracking news

John Moylan

Industry correspondent, BBC News

The Environment Agency has approved permits for Cuadrilla's proposed shale gas exploration site at Roseacre Wood near Elswick in Lancashire. The agency had previously approved permits for Cuadrilla's other proposed site at Preston New Road. The company still needs planning permission to drill, frack and flow-test wells at the sites. Lancashire County Council has set target date of April 30th to decide on the issue.

Australian media deal

Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, who is also the country's richest person, sold her stake in newspaper publisher Fairfax Media after what she called "a series of bad decisions made by the leadership team". Rinehart, Fairfax's biggest shareholder, sold her entire 15% stake. Fairfax publishes The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review.

Why Brent?

Brent Goose

The RSPB has kindly furnished us with a picture of the offending goose. "Now is a good time to see dark-bellied Brent geese on the east coast of the UK, for example on the North Norfolk coast (e.g. RSPB Titchwell Marsh reserve) and in Essex at RSPB Wallasea Island," says RSPB's Jamie Wyver.

Via Email

£1.99 stores?

Nick Bubb

Retail analyst

Having always said that it wasn't interested in buying out its aggressive but smaller rival 99p Stores because it was opening its new stores so close to its own, as it came south, Poundland has decided that it is better to deal with the nuisance by pursuing a path of "consolidation" and buying the company. Unfortunately, because of the store overlap, the Competition & Markets Authority will take up to 2 months to decide on whether the takeover should be allowed to proceed.

Sad face


People using the little icons that denote happy, sad or other emotions in their text messages

could be racking up big bills. Some older handsets apparently convert these symbols into multi-media messages. That means UK networks can charge you up to 40 pence to send them. In Scotland one woman ran up bills of more than £1,000.

Trade deficit

BBC News Channel


Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit has just been on the News Channel. "It seems that as the year drew to an end, things have been a bit better. Oil is a key factor distorting the data. There was a large import from Norway... Exports excluding oil rose nearly 4% in the fourth quarter which is the best performance in a year and a half."

What is the trade deficit?

The trade deficit, to remind you, is the amount by which the value of country's imports exceeds its exports. A large trade deficit means that more pounds need to be swapped for other currencies to buy imported items, which can, in the UK's case, devalue sterling.

Via Twitter

Gavin Hewitt

Europe editor

Germany's industrial production edged up in December. The German economy is benefitting from lower energy prices and weaker euro.

Why Brent?

Rannoch Moor
Pip Rolls

Confusion abounded earlier because Brent is now used to describe a number of types of oil. In addition, the Brent Group sediments are composed of local rock formations named

Broom, Rannoch, Etieve, Ness and Tarbet, (named after Lochs) whose first letters correspond to the word Brent. Thanks to Steve Huish of Surbiton for that nugget.
According to the British Geological Survey, those names were given in 1977, while Shell says the field was
discovered in 1971.

Siemens job cuts


Confirmation has come through from Siemens of its plans to cut 7,800 jobs worldwide. That amounts to about 2% of the German group's workforce.

Why Brent?

*Drumroll* The boffins at Shell have confirmed the provenance of the Brent name. Apparently, it's a nod to the Brent Goose - and all Shell's oil fields in the North Sea are named after birds. The first person to get this fully right was Graham Hannaford from Hove. Congratulations, sir.

Sugar low

Tate & Lyle's profit warning has spooked investors -

the company's shares are down more than 11% in London.

Why Brent?

A flurry of replies to our Brent crude quiz question have led us to query what we initially thought was the correct answer. We've put in calls to Shell and Exxon to make sure we get it right before we award prizes. (We don't award prizes).

IAG deal

Aer Lingus

The Irish government is as yet unconvinced by a bid from the owner of British Airways for its 25% stake in flag carrier Aer Lingus. That's according to transport minister Paschal Donohoe, who

spoke to the Irish Independent after a second meeting between IAG and representatives of the government.

£1.99 stores?

Tom Espiner

Business reporter

It turns out 99p Stores will become Poundland stores over time, following the takeover. So prepare for price inflation. Poundland is about twice the size of 99p Stores.

Why Brent?


Quiz time is starting early on the Live Page today, prompted by a discussion on the desk about Brent crude oil (which is almost at $58 a barrel, after starting the week at $52). Why, we ask you, is North Sea oil known as Brent? No cheating! Email us - - the first correct answer will be published, so include your name and town and embrace fame.

Schäuble vs Varoufakis

BBC Radio 4

Getty Images

Think-tank director Sony Kapoor told the Today Programme that in yesterday's clash of the finance ministers, Greece won hands down. Yanis Varoufakis came across as reasonable and pro-European, while Wolfgang Schäuble appeared inflexible.

Tate & Lyle warning

Tate & Lyle warned that its annual profits would come in

below its prior estimate of up to £240m. Poor sweetener performance is part of the cause, it said.

Tennis boss

BBC Radio 4

Getty Images

"Because we are a solid nation where there are opportunities outside tennis, we need to create hunger in paradise," or a will to change the lives of talented young players through tennis, says new Lawn Tennis Association chief Michael Downey on

Today. He is explaining why other nations create tennis greats and Britain struggles. A balance between support and avoiding a sense of entitlement in rising stars is the key, he says.

Via Email

Will Jones

Live Page reader

Tax should be black or white, not the 'moral' grey. HMRC need to simplify the tax system and remove the stigma of tax avoidance, it is tax evasion that we need to clamp down on.

Via Twitter

Louise Cooper

Analyst and financial columnist

More pressure on mobile firms as Ofcom plans to cut termination rates by half by 2017. Final decision March. Good news for consumers.

£1.99 stores?


Poundland Group says it has

agreed to buy rival 99p Stores for £55m in a cash and shares deal. They have to persuade the Competition & Markets Authority that the deal is sound, they say. What's not clear is if 99p Stores customers will be charged an extra penny for their shopping...

Market analysis

BBC Radio 4

Mr Buik is now on

Today, talking about markets. "We are bouncing around like a cork in a bath" regarding oil prices, while bond-buying sprees in Europe and other factors mean "we are in for a bumpy ride" for 2015.

Hacking casualty?

Amy Pascal

One of Hollywood's most powerful women, Amy Pascal,

has stepped down as co-chair of Sony Pictures, three months after a cyber attack revealed her private emails. She will stay at Sony to start a production company.

Via Twitter

Ben Thompson

Business correspondent, BBC News Channel

Morning! Do you use heating oil at home rather than mains gas? First time in five years, oil is cheaper. Details on @BBCBreakfast at 06:50