Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Live Reporting

By Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Over and out

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

That's it for today from Business Live - thanks for reading. We're back at 0600 GMT tomorrow.

Via Email

Bank accounts

TA Devlin, Business Live reader

For the last word today, we return to the subject of bank account portability: "If the banks think it is a bad idea, it is most obviously then a good idea." We couldn't possibly comment further.

Arctic resources

World Service

The president of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, tells World Business Report that using Arctic resources should be "on the table". Listen

here.

Andorra scandal

World Service

Andorra flag
Getty Images

World Business Report is on air now and goes to Andorra, the tiny principality in the Pyrenees at the centre of a banking scandal. The government has taken over one of its five banks, Banca Privada d'Andorra, after the US Treasury accused it of money laundering on a massive scale, including harbouring $2bn siphoned off from Venezuela's state oil company.

Via Twitter

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

Linda Yueh

Chief business correspondent

UK 1st in G7 to join China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, sort of rival to World Bank/IMF. Drawing reaction from US.

@lindayeuh

Piers looking at you...

Llandudno pier
Getty Images

Psssst. Fancy buying a pier? Blackpool Central - complete with 33m high Ferris wheel, Blackpool South and Llandudno piers are being sold on behalf of Cuerden Leisure for £4.8m, £3.3m and £4.5m respectively. They were built in the 1800s using cast iron piles, steel frames and wooden decking. LLandudno pier (pictured above) is the longest in, erm, Wales.

Economic Surprise Index

Economic Surprise Index
Citi

Uh oh. The Citi Economic Surprise Index - a gauge of US economic data momentum relative to expectations - has fallen to its lowest levels since July 2012. Christopher Vecchio, currency analyst at DailyFX, asks: "The key question remains: is the weaker economic data due to the economy weakening; or can we still blame the weather?"

FTSE 250

Sabadell
Getty Images

Big moves on the FTSE 250 today as shares in

TSB jumped 23% to 326p after it received a takeover bid from Spain's Sabadell for 340p a share. "This more or less looks like a done deal," said Beaufort Securities trader Basil Petrides. While it was a bad day for Argos owner
Home Retail Group, which closed down 11%, oil producer
Soco International crashed 34% after writing off almost $80m on exploration assets in Vietnam and the Congo.

Via Twitter

Joe Miller

Business Reporter

Germany's Commerzbank will pay a $1.45bn penalty for violating US economic sanctions against businesses in Sudan and Iran

Waitrose results

Waitrose
Getty Images

The John Lewis Partnership said today that operating profits at Waitrose had slumped 24% to £237,4m amid fierce competition and higher investment costs. Group chairman Charlie Mayfield says returns in the grocery sector will not improve for some time, but added: "We will playing a number of tunes ... to get it right for customers."

Volkswagen bonuses

VW Passat
Getty Images

Volkswagen says its workers based in Germany are getting €5,900 (£4,200) each in profit-sharing bonuses that reflect the 20% rise in net profit to €10.8bn for 2014. However, the car maker has warned about a "persistently challenging market environment" this year.

Greek public debt

Greece
Getty Images

Alexis Tsipras says Greece must restructure its public debt. "We can no longer pretend that the country's public debt is viable and serviceable, when it stands at around 178%," the Greek PM said after talks at OECD in Paris. "It is absolutely vital for Greece to have its public debt restructured."

Swatch

Swatch
Swatch

Swatch has revealed its answer to the Apple Watch - putting cheap near field communication (NFC) chips in watches that will allow users to make payments with a swipe of the wrist. The Swiss company is also launching a range of sports-themed Swatch Touch smartwatches that can pair with a smartphone via Bluetooth. Chief executive Nick Hayek says: "We don't want to produce a mini mobile phone on your wrist - others can do that. Upgrading software every year, that's not our business."

Via Blog

BHS sale

Kamal Ahmed

BBC Business editor

BHS
Getty Images

The question for the new owners of BHS - and they are a pretty obscure bunch for the moment - is whether they can breathe new life into what has become a pretty dowdy constituent of the high street. Read more

here.

Next FD

Next store
Getty Images

24 years is a long time - but that's how long David Keens has been finance director of Next. In May 2014 the retailer said that Amanda James would replace him this year and she will take up the role on 1 April when Mr Keens finally puts his calculator down. He stays on at the company until May.

Next is worth £11.3bn - Asos, in comparison, has a market cap of £3.1bn.

Via Email

Bank accounts

Robert Smith, Business Live reader

He thinks portable account numbers would encourage people to switch banks, but questions whether this is desirable. "I come from a generation where mutual trust was built up between bank and customer over a long period of time ... retail banks should be encouraged to return to this model, and that a bank account should be made less of a consumer product."

Mark Carney

Mark Carney
Getty Images

Bank of England governor Mark Carney warns of the need to be "vigilant" against the risk that low inflation slips in to the spiral of falling prices responsible for the Great Depression in the 1930s. He says in a speech today that if factors such as the strong pound and weakness in economies abroad strengthen, the path of interest rates may need to change. That's a hint rates could rise more slowly than expected - or even be cut.

Home Retail Group

Argos
Getty Images

Investors have checked out of

Home Retail Group, sending shares down 10%, after it reported a 5% decline in like-for-like sales at Argos and a 0.9% decline for Homebase for the eight weeks to February 28. The retailer closed 27 Homebase stores last year, reducing the total to 296.

Via Email

Bank accounts

Gary Senior, Business Live reader

It's a thumbs down for the FCA move to introduce portable bank account numbers: "I think it's a ridiculous idea ... Why do you need to keep your account number when the guarantee switching services switches everything you need to your new account."

Viacom interns

South Park cast
Getty Images

Viacom will pay $7.2m (£4.8m) to settle a lawsuit by thousands of former interns, who said the owner of Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon did not pay them despite doing work similar to employees. The settlement covers about 12,500 former interns. That equals about $576 each - before legal costs presumably... Last year NBC Universal and magazine publisher Condé Nast reached similar settlements.

Bank accounts

cash
Getty Images

Letting customers keep their account number in the same way as they keep a mobile phone number would encourage more people to switch banks and increase competition, says the Financial Conduct Authority. Predictably, banks have said account number "portability" would be expensive - but the idea is also backed by Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom. What do you think? Email me at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Good afternoon and thanks to Russell Hotten and Howard Mustoe for covering a very busy day thus far. I'm with you until 1800 GMT.

Via Twitter

Robert Peston

Economics editor

tweets: Guv Carney hints if sterling continues to strengthen, & UK risks importing deflation, then Bank of Eng might have to delay rate rise

Wall Street

US shares opened higher on Thursday, with the

Dow Jones Industrial Average rising by more than 150 points to 17,790, as the dollar weakened slightly.
Intel was the biggest faller after the chip maker said that companies were replacing PCs less quickly. The stock is off 3% - but has risen by more than a quarter over the past year.

Via Email

Morrisons

Mike Dennis

Cantor Fitzgerald

Never mind the past, the future is looking brighter says Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Mike Dennis. "The positive so far is that Morrisons has repositioned itself on price and absorbed its competitor's strong promotional mechanics with the ability to produce healthy free cash flow. This, we believe, can be used to further reduce debt and provide capital to invest in new value formats and reposition the convenience store business."

Via Twitter

World Service

boat
Getty Images

tweets: One in seven of China's millionaires live in Shanghai

http://bbc.in/1xfQrvm #BBCRicherWorld

Ireland economy

Bank of Ireland building
AFP

The Republic of Ireland's economic growth rate surged to a post-crisis high of 4.8% last year, the strongest performance in the eurozone, official figures show. The economy, one of the major casualties of the global financial meltdown, was lifted by stronger exports and consumer spending. Ireland exited its international bailout at the end of 2013.

Via Twitter

Big train

Richard Westcott

BBC transport correspondent

train
BBC

tweets: Fresh off the boat from Japan, the first Hitachi train to replace the iconic #intercity125

TSB Bid

Lloyds Banking Group "is mandated to sell-down its TSB stake by year-end 2015" by the European Commission, writes banking analyst Mike Trippitt of stockbroker Numis. He sees this as "a good cash offer, with certainty and in our view, low probability of a counter-bid."

Via Email

TSB bid

Gary Greenwood

Shore Capital Stockbrokers

tsb
BBC

"With management willing to recommend the offer on current terms and with the largest shareholder unlikely to disagree, we think the chances of it falling foul of a shareholder vote is [...] unlikely. We suspect that regulatory approval will also be forthcoming. This leaves the possibility of a counter offer by a third party, but again we view this a being a low probability outcome given that TSB's large domestic rivals will be unable to get involved.

Via Email

BHS Sale

Joshua Raymond

Chief Market Strategist at www.cityindex.co.uk

Green has been looking to sell the loss-making BHS business for years and now he has found a buyer, he can finally draw a line in the sand on this one. BHS has struggled to adapt to the digital age and increasing competition on the high street. It's reported pretax losses of £69.9m last year, which marked an improvement on a loss of £116m in 2012 but remains far from optimised. BHS is a British high street institution that first opened its doors in 1928.

TSB bid

Lloyds has put out its own statement on the TSB deal. With a 50% stake, its opinions matter. Lloyds "would be minded to accept an offer at this price if it is made," it says. However, "there can be no guarantee that an offer will ultimately be forthcoming or as to the terms of any offer," it cautions.

Snapchat

Snapchat logo
Snapchat

There's lots of chatter today that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is investing around $200m (£133m) in Snapchat, the instant messaging service. If true, that would value Snapchat, popular because its messages disappear after a few seconds, at about $15bn.

Via Twitter

TSB bid

Mark Broad

Economics reporter, BBC News

tweets: @BancoSabadell must like the look of @TSB 's UK prospects - the bank attracted 8.4% of account switchers in 2014

BHS sale

BHS
bbc

Sir Philip Green's Arcadia group has sold the BHS high street chain to Retail Acquisitions. Sir Philip bought BHS, which has 171 outlets, in May 2000. No sale price was disclosed.

Newspaper review

newspapers
BBC

The FT leads on a proposal to

allow pensioners to escape recently-bought pension annuities. The Times says the Grocery Code Adjudicator, which regulates supermarkets, is
worried about a code of silence among suppliers having a chilling effect on whistleblowers in the industry. The Telegraph says
Vodafone is making a big push into broadband and pay-TV, while the Wall St Journal reports on a
plan to float a slew of Chinese companies.

TSB bid

TSB high street bank
PA

Shares in Spain's Sabadell have been suspended after falling 7.5% on

news it wants to buy TSB for about £1.7bn. Reuters reported that the Spanish bank would fund an entire takeover of the UK bank with share issue and spare capital.

TSB bid

TSB says it is minded to accept Sabadell's offer, subject to agreeing other "terms and conditions". The UK bank added that Sabadell's takeover would help accelerate TSB's growth strategy. Investors are piling into TSB shares. The stock is now up 26.5%.