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Summary

  1. Greece wins formal approval of four-month bailout extension
  2. Lloyds Banking Group resumes dividend payments
  3. Annual profits soar to £1bn for British Airways owner IAG

Live Reporting

By Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

That's all for another week on Business Live - thanks for reading. We're back on Monday at 0600 GMT so do join us then.

Vivendi sale

French media group Vivendi said it will sell its remaining 20% stake in telecoms group SFR to billionaire Patrick Drahi for €3.9bn. The company made the announcement as it reported worse than expected net profit of €626m for 2014 on sales of €10bn.

FTSE 100

BA A380
Getty Images

The

FTSE 100 ended the day almost unchanged, despite strong results from Lloyds Banking Group and
IAG. The index slipped 3.1 points to, at 6,946.66. Shares in the British Airways owner added 3.7% after IAG reported a big rise in full-year profits, and raised its 2015 forecast by 20%.
Royal Bank of Scotland shed 5%, a day after announcing another full-year loss.

Via Blog

Labour pension plans

Robert Peston

Economics editor

Will the middle class be miffed at Labour's raid on their pensions, or pleased that their student kids' debts will be cut? Read his blog

here.

Boris bikes

Boris Johnson
Getty Images

Even with the benefit of alliteration, Boris bikes never became "Barclays bikes". Maybe that's why the bank decided not to keep sponsoring the 11,500 bikes spread across 740 docking stations in the capital. Santander has stepped in with a £7m deal and fresh from taking one for a spin today, London mayor Boris Johnson says the Spanish bank's marketing expertise will "help us take the cycle hire scheme to a new level". Nice helmet there Boris.

Greek bailout

Alexis Tsipras
Getty Images

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has vowed to "start working hard" to implement reform. "The German parliament gave Europe a vote of confidence today," he told Euronews on Friday. "Europe has now recognised that Greece has turned a new page ... we start working hard, in order to change Greece within a Europe that changes direction."

Carl Icahn

Carl Icahn
Getty Images

Not a great day for billionaire and activist investor Carl Icahn. Despite racking up revenues of $19.2bn, his listed investment fund posted a loss of $373m (£241m) for 2014, undone by plummeting oil prices. He described the results as "obviously disappointing". However, Mr Icahn's chunky stake in Apple, whose share price has soared in recent months, helped cushion the fall.

ITV talks

The Voice
Getty Images

ITV has bought a number of production companies in recent years, and it seems set to pounce on Talpa, which makes shows such as

BBC1's The Voice. Broadcast magazine reports that the company is in exclusive talks to buy Talpa, founded by Big Brother creator John de Mol in 2004.

Dilbert

Dilbert cartoon
Dilbert

Another sharp cartoon from Scott Adams.

US consumer confidence

Walmart store
Getty Images

The nasty winter weather knocked US consumer confidence in February, with the University of Michigan index slipping to 95.4 from an 11-year high of 98.1 last month. But before we get too worried, confidence levels remain at the highest level in eight years.

Greek bailout

Klaus Regling
PA

Klaus Regling, head of the European Financial Stability Facility (the eurozone bailout fund to you and me), says the four-month loan extension for Greece will "build on the considerable progress achieved in Greece so far - thanks to the huge efforts of the Greek people".

Oil prices

Texas oil well
Getty Images

Oil has gone off the boil a bit of late, but the difference between the price per barrel of Brent and US crude is now $12 - the widest spread since January 2014. The lower price for American oil ($49.12 versus $62.32 a barrel) is due to large reserves and too few customers.

Volkswagen results

VW Beetle Dune
Getty Images

It's been a bumpy ride for Volkswagen today, with

shares down as much as 6% earlier, despite reporting record operating profits of €12.7bn for 2014. Finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch is cautious on prospects for Europe's biggest car maker: "There is no guarantee that 2015 will be a successful year, either for the industry or for VW."

Wall Street

Wall Street
Getty Images

US markets have opened flat on Friday after GDP was revised down to 2.2% for the last three months of 2014. The

Dow Jones shed 9 points to 18,205, the
S&P 500 was down less than 2 points to 2,108 and the
Nasdaq was off 4.6 points to 4,983.

Lloyds Banking Group

Joe Lynam

BBC Business Reporter

Lloyds sign
Getty Images

Another interesting detail from the bank's press conference today: 49 employees were paid more than €1m (£726,900). Lloyds reports the euro figure in accordance with European Banking Authority rules. What we don't know is just how many were paid more than £1m.

Airbus soars

A320
Getty Images

The weak euro has helped Airbus, Europe's largest aerospace group, beat expectations with a 54% rise in operating profits for 2014 to €4bn, on sales 5% higher at €60.7bn. The company plans to increase production of its popular A320 plane, but make fewer of the widebody A330 model.

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Good afternoon and thanks to Ian Pollock and Tom Espiner for this morning's coverage. We're live until 1800 GMT with the rest of the day's business news and views.

US economy

It seems the US economy may have slowed down in the last three months of last year. Revised official figures show that the US economy grew at an annual rate of 2.2%. But that was less than the 2.6% rate first estimated in January. And it was also less than the 5% rate recorded in the third quarter of last year - which had been the strongest for 11 years.

Petrol station in the US
Reuters

Lloyds Banking Group

BBC reporter Joe Lynam reports from the bank's news conference. When asked about his tax affairs, the bank's chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said they were private but he declares all of his Lloyds income to HMRC - ie not to any overseas authorities.

Tuition fees

BBC Radio 4

Protesting students
Getty Images

Paul Johnson of the IFS also explained that higher paid graduates would be the beneficiaries of Labour's proposed policy: "There is a small help there for poorer students, through an increase in the maintenance grant, but the £3bn a year reduction in the cost of student loans actually doesn't help the poorer half of graduates," he said. "Half of graduates will not be earning enough to be paying back any less under the Labour policy than the current policy, so the group to whom the £3bn is going are the higher earning half of graduates."

Tuition fees

BBC Radio 4

Labour

says it will cut student fees, and pay for it by curtailing the tax relief on pension contributions made by the higher paid. Paul Johnson, of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), tells the World at One that this was very clearly a tax increase for some. "The top 1% of income tax payers will be affected most - it won't affect many people, but it will affect them a lot."

TalkTalk hack

Memory chips
Eyewire

Are you a TalkTalk customer? You should receive an email warning you that scammers have managed to

steal account numbers and names from the company's computers. TalkTalk said the scammers had used the stolen data to trick people into handing over banking details.

Greece bailout

The eurozone has formally agreed to extend Greece's bailout by four months. The European Financial Stability Facility (the eurozone bailout fund) said: "Following this decision, €1.8bn that is still available under the MFFA [the loan agreement] can be disbursed to Greece until 30 June 2015."

Greek economy shrinks

Attalos arcade in Athens
Reuters

Greece's economy shrank by 0.4% in last quarter of 2014 compared with the previous quarter, the official Elstat statistics service has said. The figure has been revised from a first estimate, earlier this month, of a 0.2% shrinkage. That means the Greek economy grew by 1.2% in the past year.

Platinum mining tax

Chris Griffith
AFP

Business Update on World Service with Russell Padmore has reported on why the world's big mining companies are at loggerheads with the government of Zimbabwe over a new 15% tax on exports of platinum. Impala Platinum is considering closing its Mimosa mine, a joint venture with Aquarius, because the tax could make the operation unprofitable. Chris Griffith, the chief executive of Anglo-American Platinum says: "We continue to engage with the government of Zimbabwe and we are hoping we can turn this around." Listen to Business Update on

audioboom.

Greece bailout

Yanis Varoufakis
AFP

The Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has given this assessment of the latest eurozone deal (which

has been approved by the German parliament) to
Antenna TV in Greece. "The deal was a fig leaf to conclude the eurogroup and dispense with the fiscal agreement," he said. "We are proud of the level of vagueness," he added. Apparently this vagueness was deliberate "otherwise it would not be approved by parliaments."

Pension changes

Calculator
Eyewire

What sort of things does the FCA want pension firms to warn their customers about, when those people think of using their pension pots? Among the issues are the health of the customer, any tax implications of the customer's decision, the effects (if any) on their means-tested benefits, and the possibility that the customer might fall prey to an investment scam.

Via Twitter

Robert Peston

BBC economics editor

tweets: Labour to cut maximum pension pots, annual contributions & tax relief for £150k+ earners to cover £3.1bn cost of student fee cut

Pension changes

From 6 April people will have much more freedom to do as they wish with their accumulated pension savings. Now the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has told firms in the pension "industry" that they must give their customers

personal risk warnings, tailored to each individual, when people retire.

Via Twitter

Duncan Weldon

Economics correspondent, BBC Newsnight

tweets: Disposable income per person by region. Can't look at this without thinking: 'the Rhine is kinda important'.

Europe
FT

House prices

Image of ONS website
ONS

Want to know how much homes cost in your neck of the woods? The ONS (Office for National Statistics) has recently published this

interactive map of house prices for very small areas in England and Wales. You can play with it to your heart's content.

Stamp prices

They are going to cost more. First and second class stamps will go up by 1p, to 63p and 54p respectively. It happens on 30 March. Large letters will also cost more too. First class ones will be 2p more expensive at 95p and second class ones will cost 1p more at 74p.

Stamps
PA

Glasgow Rangers

Rangers fans
PA

This is embarrassing for the very troubled football club. It has just issued an announcement to stock market investors clarifying no fewer than six previous announcements. Most relate to the

stewardship of Newcastle United by Derek Llambias, who is now running Rangers.

Via Twitter

Dave Lee

BBC technology reporter

tweets: TalkTalk confirms customer account data stolen; Taking legal action against third-party it says was weak link

Greece bailout

Andreas Scheuer, a senior conservative who backed extending the current bailout, said that "everyone has a feeling that isn't just positive." He said: "We will have to rely on the Greek government delivering now," adding that "this is one of the last chances we are giving Greece."

House prices

Homes in Newcastle
PA

Delving into the Land Registry stats is a fascinating exercise. Average house prices in London hit a peak last August at £462,000, and have been hovering a bit below that point ever since. By contrast, the average home in the north east of England (the cheapest area) costs just £100,000.

Greece bailout

German Finance Minister Schaeuble
Reuters

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said: "We have to bring Greece into a situation that finance markets trust them again, and that Greece can act without any support, on its own again. It is called competitiveness. And for Greece, there is a longer road to go than for any other European country."

Greece bailout

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble addresses a session of the Bundestag
Reuters

The German parliament has voted 542-32 to back Greece's bailout extension.

Via Twitter

Gavin Hewitt

BBC Europe editor

tweets: As expected the German Parliament supports the extension of the Greece bail-out. #Greece

Ferries

Ferry
P&O

Meanwhile, we're sure you're very keen to hear about ferries. Industry body Discover Ferries has said one million more people travelled on ferries in Britain in 2014, up from around 38 million in 2013.