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Summary

  1. Grocer watchdog probes Tesco
  2. BT buys EE for £12.5bn
  3. Global debts rise $57tn since crash

Live Reporting

By Joe Miller and Howard Mustoe

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Joe Miller

Business Reporter

That's it from us for today. Join us tomorrow from 06:00.

Greek bailout

"We need to act together," says Mr Varoufakis, to counter-act "cross-border shenanigans and violations," including tax evasion. He wants to tell voters "there is not immunity from prosecution in this eurozone of ours".

Via Twitter

Joseph Weisenthal, Bloomberg

WOW. Varoufakis compares Greece's condition to Germany before the rise of Hitler. Says Germany should be able to relate.

Greek bailout

"From our government you can expect a frenzy of reasonableness," says the new Greek finance minister. He adds that his party will promote "the interests of the average European, not just Greeks".

Greek bailout

"My fellow Greeks wish for nothing more than to end the gross indignity," says Mr Varoufakis. He adds that his government will fight corruption and rent seeking (that's profiteering to you and me). Speaking of 2010, he says "The largest loan in history was granted to the most insolvent of nations". This, he says "would not end well".

Greek bailout

meet
AFP

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who is touring European capitals, is meeting with his German counterpart, Wolfgang Schaeuble. Mr Varoufakis begins to speak. "We didn't even agree to disagree," he tells assembled press. "We agreed to enter into deliberations as partners."

African tourism

World Service

The vice president of the African Development Bank, Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, has told the BBC's Russell Padmore the economies of many countries across the continent are missing out because governments are failing to develop tourism. "We are not doing nearly enough to promote tourism," he said, pointing out how safaris are promoted in nations that also have great beaches.

Listen to Business Update

Via Twitter

Graeme Warden, business reporter at the Guardian

Schäuble says he and @YanisVaroufakis "agreed to disagree" over the steps Greece must take

Ukraine rate rise

Ukraine
Bloomberg

The Ukranian hryvnia has tumbled 32% against the dollar. The country's central bank ended daily foreign currency auctions, loosening its grip over the hryvnia's exchange rate against the dollar. It raised its key refinancing rate to 19.5% from 14%.

Via Twitter

Linda Yueh

Chief business correspondent

Ukraine's currency is in freefall: hryvnia has crashed 31% to new record low of 24.5 per $, -64% YoY despite rate hikE

BreakingBreaking News

Rate decision

As expected, the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee decided to

hold the key interest rate steady at 0.5%. It also kept its bond buying budget at £375bn.

Dilbert

While we wait for the Bank of England's rate decision, due at noon, contemplate

today's Dilbert. Do you ever feel that rather than owning your technology, it owns you?

Via Twitter

John Moylan

Industry correspondent, BBC News

tweets: Jan new car sales up 6.7% (almost 165K units) @SMMT says demand back to pre-recession levels..expects market to level off after strong 2014

Wind jobs

MHI Vestas Offshore Wind has started

hiring for more than 200 jobs on the Isle of Wight, the firm says. It's opening a blade-making plant on the island.

Swiss fortunes

Swatch
Swatch

Lots of news from Swiss companies this morning. Telecoms firm Swisscom said its earnings would drop by 100m francs this year, partly due to the currency's sharp appreciation. Meanwhile watchmaker Swatch was more defiant, saying it was in a "very strong position" despite an "unfavourable currency situation".

Eurozone growth

The European Union's economists have upped their forecast for how much the eurozone will grow this year to 1.3%. But they warned prices would fall by 0.1% due to cheaper oil and a weaker euro.

Via Email

BT Deal

Adam Kirtley, BBC business reporter

Interestingly BT sold its spun off mobile business O2 back in 2002 to Telefonica for £18 billion, rather more than it is buying EE for!

Via Email

Tesco probe

Clive Black

Shore Capital stock brokers

The GCA probe, coming as it does after the company has made announcements to the market on over-statement or profits and the prior FCA probe that has been superseded by the SFO investigation feels very much like self-justification by an organisation that has talked much but not actually done anything of note in practical terms to our minds.

Better off?

Yesterday, research from Oxford Economics claimed that the average person in the UK would have an extra £417 to spend in 2015, with a disposable income of £18,106. Are you feeling better yet?

Our statistics guru Anthony Reuben investigated.

Milk prices

cow
AP

Dairy Crest adds its views to the dairy debacle. "Milk costs have fallen but production is higher and selling prices are lower. This has adversely affected profits in this product group," it says.

Siemens job cuts

SIEMENS
SIEMENS

Alex Webb, Bloomberg's industrials reporter, says

sources are telling him that Siemens will cut 7,400 jobs globally, including 3,300 in Germany.

Via Twitter

Ben Thompson

Business correspondent, BBC News Channel

Boom in new car sales continued into the new year. 164,856 new vehicles were registered in January 2015 - up 6.7% rise on Jan 2014.

BT deal

Vodafone have just hosted their earnings press conference. Chief executive Vittorio Colao says the BT purchase of EE creates a dominant player in Britain and will need scrutiny. He called for a separation of BT's Openreach business, which looks after the network, including exchange connections.

Via Email

House price index

Martin Ellis

Halifax housing economist

House prices in the three months to January were 1.9% higher than in the preceding three months. This was the first increase in the quarterly rate of increase for six months. Annual price growth also picked up, to 8.5% from 7.8% in December, but remained significantly below last July's peak of 10.2%. This bounce-back in house price growth in January coincides with reports of the first rise in mortgage approvals for six months in December.

Markets update

The main European stock indexes are all down this morning.

  • The
    FTSE is down 0.5%, the
    Cac-40 is down 0.6% and the
    Dax is down 0.3%.
  • BT is the highest riser in London, up almost 3% on news that it has bought EE
  • AstraZeneca is down almost 2.8%, after reporting a 20% drop in pre-tax profits for 2014.

Newspaper review

papers
BBC

The FT splashes on

bankers and hedge fund managers supplanting industrialists and entrepreneurs as the Conservative party's donor base. The Times dissects the
ECB's decision not to accept Greek debt as collateral for loans (like a house is collateral for a mortgage),
as does the Wall St Journal. The Telegraph says Vodafone has
abandoned its campaign for rival BT to be broken up.

Ukraine rate rise

price of fish
Reuters

You won't get many bigger interest rate hikes than this. Ukraine's central bank has said it will raise its key rate from 14% to 19.5%. It's hoping that this move will help combat the country's rampant inflation - which is about 25%.

Via Twitter

Adam Parsons

Business Correspondent

Groceries adjudicator @ChristineTacon tells me she will expand her investigation into other retailers if she's given evidence

Pension proposals

The Telegraph trumpets what it calls a victory for the paper - saying that after many years of campaigning,

draft regulations to cap the fees on company pensions were finally put before parliament yesterday. It reports that charges of more than 0.75% a year are to be outlawed in April under the proposals, benefiting millions of people. It's also the
lead for the Daily Express, which says as much as two hundred million pounds will be diverted from fund managers to hard-pressed savers over the next decade.

Vodafone sales

Vodafone's sales decline has slowed down in the last three months of 2014 as things start looking up in Europe. Its main "organic service revenue", which excludes handset sales and currency movements, fell 0.4%.

Tesco troubles

BBC Radio 4

The head of the Groceries Code Adjudicator, Christine Tacon, has just told the Today programme that she cannot fine Tesco, as any offences she is looking at would have been committed before she was given the power to fine (only granted last month after a year delay).

AstraZeneca results

AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca

It was a year of will they/won't they for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which made more headlines for a proposed takeover by US firm Pfizer than any of its drugs. But despite all the gung-ho rhetoric, pre-tax profits for the year dipped by almost a fifth, to $6.4bn. Nonetheless, boss Pascal Soriot says the company is "on track to return to growth by 2017".

BreakingBT buys EE

BT has agreed terms to buy mobile phone operator EE for £12.5bn in cash and shares. It will make Deutsche Telekom and Orange owners of a slice of BT. "Deutsche Telekom will hold a 12% stake in BT and will be entitled to appoint one non-executive member of the BT Board of Directors. Orange will hold a 4% stake in BT," it said.

Let's be franc

Franc
Reuters

"Manufacturing companies in Switzerland are suffering from a significant loss of price competitiveness," the country's government has said today, assessing the impact of the central bank's decision to decouple the franc from the euro. The move, which strengthened the franc, has made life harder for Swiss exporters.

AstraZeneca results

Radio 5 live

Tom Stevenson, of Fidelity is on

5 live, this time talking about AstraZeneca's results. They "are not going to be great," he says. "It was a big [takeover] target last year" as Pfizer was sniffing around it. "Astrazeneca has been through a rather tricky period, a lot of its drugs have fallen off patent."

Antibiotic gap

Radio 5 live

Dr Neil Murray, chief executive of Redx Pharma, says the current batch of antibiotics has been overused and bugs have become resistant. "The potential is to go back to a pre-antibiotic era." Routine prescriptions of antibiotics after surgery have helped diminish the potency of the drugs. "The crisis is similar to that in cancer 25-30 years ago." Still, Britain has "a clear leadership position… which is not to be squandered," he adds.

Tesco troubles

Tesco
PA

Business secretary Vince Cable is up early, reacting to the new Tesco probe. "This is an historic day for the groceries code adjudicator," he says, "and shows we have created a regulator that has real teeth". Mr Cable adds that legislation is currently being put in place "to enable the regulator to impose hefty fines for those supermarkets found guilty of mistreating suppliers".

Tesco troubles

It's worth remembering, our business editor Kamal Ahmed says, that the head of the GCA was only recently given powers to fine, after the BBC's Panorama programme revealed she had applied for such powers more than a year ago.

Antibiotic gap

Radio 5 live

5 live presenter Adam Parsons is in Macclesfield, a big pharmaceutical centre for the UK, and he's talking to Dr Neil Murray, chief executive of Redx Pharma. Their anti-infectives business is based in the town. The economist Jim O'Neill has said the

gap between spending on cancer and antibiotic research needs to be closed. Dr Murray agrees. "We really are on the threshold" of big trouble with antibiotics, he says.

BreakingBreaking News

Tesco troubles

Yet another regulator has announced an inquiry into the beleaguered supermarket giant Tesco. The Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) joins the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Reporting Council in investigating the firm. The GCA will look into Tesco's profit fudge in September last year, as well as any delays in payments to suppliers.