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Summary

  1. Shell bids £47bn for BG Group
  2. Strike causes major disruption at French airports
  3. Labour plans to scrap UK non-dom status

Live Reporting

By Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Over and out...

That's it for another day on Business Live - thanks for reading. We're back at 0600 on Thursday - do join us then.

Shell-BG deal

Shell boss
Getty Images

The last word of the day should perhaps go to Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden. He said earlier he doesn't anticipate too many regulatory obstacles in merging with BG Group. The deal will have to be cleared by competition authorities including Australia, Brazil, China and the European Union, but Brussels will be "relatively straightforward", Mr van Beurden said. "Brazil and Australia will want to take a good look at it," he added. "So far, no insurmountable issues have been identified."

Drug deal

Robert Coury, executive chairman of Mylan, said there had been several discussions with Perrigo about a merger. However, Morningstar analyst Michael Waterhouse said it was not necessarily a done deal: "It has been thought for quite some time that Perrigo is a takeover target. What will be interesting to see is if we end up in a bidding war." Teva Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals could be potential rival bidders, he added.

Apple Watch reviews

Apple Watch
Getty Images

The first reviews of the Apple Watch are out ahead of the gadget going on sale on 24 April - and none are full of praise.

Geoffrey Fowler writes in the Wall Street Journal: "For now, the Apple Watch is for pioneers. I won't pay the $1,000 it would cost for the model I tested." He adds: "If you can tolerate single-day battery life, half-baked apps and inevitable obsolescence, you can now wear the future on your wrist."

European car sales

VW Golf
VW

Car sales in western Europe rose 10.7% to 1.56m in March as a regional recovery broadened to France, according to figures released on Wednesday by consulting firm LMC Automotive. That pushed the annual rate of sales to 13.15m cars in March, up from 12.91m in February. Meanwhile, the

SMMT said earlier today that the number of new registrations in the UK rose 6% to 492,774 cars in March.

Drug deal

Generic drugmaker Mylan has announced a deal for rival Perrigo worth almost $29bn. That is a 24% premium to Perrigo's most recent closing price and sent its

shares up almost 26% in New York to $207.24. The combined business would be a leader in specialty drugs, generic medicines, and over-the-counter and nutritional products.
Mylan, whose stock was up just over 12% in lunchtime trading on Nasdaq, said it made the proposal to Perrigo on Monday.

Fed Reserve minutes

Janet Yellen
Federal Reserve

The much-anticipated minutes of the Federal Reserve rate-setting committee's March meeting are out in less than two hours. They will give markets a better steer on when the bank might finally raise interest rates. Speculation that it will act has helped strengthen the dollar in recent months, but that could change if the minutes show any unease from Fed policymakers about the greenback's steep rise. "The Fed is the only central bank in the world talking about tightening policy - everybody else is talking about easing," said Ron Simpson of Action Economics. "In the bigger picture, the dollar has room to go higher."

FTSE 100

No surprise that

BG Group ended the day as the top riser on the
FTSE 100 following Shell's £47bn takeover deal. BG finished 27.5% higher at £11.60. The blue-chip index slipped 0.3% to 6,938.46 points, dragged down by a 5.6% fall in
Shell's 'A' shares, and an 8.8% slide in the company's
'B' shares. Speculation that the mega-merger will trigger other consolidation in the sector helped
Ophir Energy rise 7.6%.

Lafarge-Holcim boss

Lafarge
Lafarge

French cement maker Lafarge will put forward one of its top bosses, Eric Olsen, as the chief executive of the combined group after its merger with Holcim of Switzerland, Le Monde reported on Wednesday. The boards of both companies could meet later today to consider the proposal, which needs the approval of Holcim. Both companies declined to comment.

Tsipras meets Putin

Greece's Alexis Tsipras did not ask for financial aid at talks in Moscow on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin said, adding that Russia could help fund large joint projects - such as the planned Turkish Stream pipeline to carry natural gas to Europe via Turkey. "We do not aim to use any internal European Union situations to improve ties with the European bloc as a whole. We want to work with the whole of united Europe," the Russian president said.

US oil stocks

US crude oil stocks surged by nearly 11m barrels to 482.4m in the week to 3 April. That was the biggest weekly rise in 14 years, according to the Energy Information Administration. The figures sent the price of US oil down $2.30 to $51.68, while Brent crude was down $1.91 at $57.19.

Electrolux profit warning

Electrolux
Electrolux

Continuing on a Swedish tip for a moment, you may not know that Electrolux is the world's second-largest whitegoods manufacturer (after Whirlpool of the US). Shares in Electrolux have fallen in Stockholm after the company said that its North American appliances business would post a loss for the first quarter. The division's boss, Jack Truong, is also departing. Shares were down 6.3% at 242.5 crowns (£18.78) in late trading.

Waitrose sales

Waitrose
Getty Images

Further to the

Kantar supermarket data released earlier today, it's not all doom and gloom for Waitrose. While it did lose sixth place to Aldi, the upmarket chain - owned of course by the John Lewis Partnership - still posted a 2.9% rise in sales to almost £1.29bn for the 12 weeks to 29 March.

Ikea veggie balls

Ikea veggie balls
Reuters

Go for the cheap furniture and knick-knacks and stay for the food in the cafe has long been the modus operandi of Ikea, the Swedish retail giant. So successful are its food outlets that they account for more than 5% of total revenue, raking in more than $1.5bn annually. Now it plans to offer a vegetarian alternative to its famous meat balls, reports the

Wall Street Journal. I'm surprised it didn't serve them already.

BG Group

BG
BG Group

It's not often that a company makes the life of hapless business hacks a littler easier, but I am pleased to say BG Group has done so. It has a quite impressive array of images on its Flickr account, such as the Bongkot South production platform in Thailand at sunset pictured above.

Click here to see more.

Wall Street open

Trading is underway in New York for Wednesday and the

Dow Jones is up 51 points, or 0.3%, at 17,926, while the broader
S&P 500 has added a similar amount to be 6 points higher at 2,082. The
Nasdaq is also up 0.3% at 4,926.

Shell-BG deal

Linda Yueh

Chief business correspondent

BBG: Shell-BG is biggest UK-to-UK acquisition, beats prior record: £44.4bn deal- Glaxo Wellcome & SmithKline in 2000

Biggest European deal remains Vodafone AirTouch Plc's $202.8 billion acquisition of Mannesmann AG in 1999

Shell-BG deal

Interestingly,

shares in Royal Dutch Shell - to give the company its full title - are down 3.4% in London, suggesting that some investors at least are not sold on the £47bn mega-deal to buy
BG Group. Its stock is up 32.8% to around the price being offered by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant.

Tsipras in Moscow

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras is in Moscow for

talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Analysts say Athens is seeking to improve relations with Russia in case bailout talks with its European creditors fail. Mr Putin called the visit "very timely" and hailed the two countries' "common spiritual roots".

Good afternoon...

Thanks to Tom Espiner and Ben Morris for this morning's bumper coverage. Chris Johnston here until 18:00 with the rest of the day's developments in business and economics. Get in touch at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or on Twitter at

@bbcbusiness

Non-dom debate - Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage
AP

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said he would make it "more expensive" to have non-dom tax status. He added: "I certainly wouldn't allow it to be hereditary. The idea your son or daughter can inherit your non-dom status - clearly that needs to go. I would not want to abolish entirely without understanding first what the ramifications might be."

Radio France strike

Mathieu Gallet the head of France"s state radio corporation Radio France
AP

This is Mathieu Gallet the head of France's state radio corporation, Radio France. Journalists and other staff there have been on strike since 19 March over budget cuts and job losses that he is attempting to implement. There's fascinating insight

in this piece by Hugh Schofield. Hugh reports that the 5,000 staff at Radio France have up to 68 working days off every year - yes that's more than 13 weeks. Zut alors!

Non-dom debate - Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg
Getty Images

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said "the wheels are starting to come off" Labour's announcement to abolish the non-domicile rule.

Speaking at a campaign visit to Chippenham, the Lib Dem leader said "in pursuing a headline they forgot that we must remain an open economy but of course not an economy that is open to abuse."

France investment boost

Manuel Valls
AFP

In a bid to boost investment and lift the economy the French government plans to allow firms to write down 140% of the value of industrial investments made between now and April 2016. Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced that €2.5bn will be allocated to the policy. That and other measures are part of an updated multi-year budget plan released today.

Non-dom debate - Ed Balls

Ed Balls
Reuters

Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls says the Conservatives have "edited" his words "to deliberately mislead people". "The Tories have... dropped the part of my interview where on non-domicile rules I say 'I think we can be tougher and we should be and we will". That is exactly what we have proposed," he

writes on his blog.

Via Blog

Shell BG - Why mega-merger is important

"In the worldwide hunt for energy, Shell has now made a £47bn bet that buying access to new reserves is quicker and easier than finding them itself.

Its exploration project in Alaska, for example, has yet to discover any recoverable reserves, whereas this deal immediately increases Shell's oil and gas reserves by 25%."

Read Kamal's blog post.

What is a non-dom?

Enthral and amaze your colleagues and friends over lunch with your knowledge of the non-dom tax status.

Read this explainer by BBC personal finance reporter, Kevin Peachey.

Via Email

Supermarket market share

"The management at Waitrose will probably be less worried by this news than the big four of Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons, as well as the Co-op, all of whom have more to lose to Aldi than Waitrose does, and all of whom are likely to find it harder to consistently deliver growth at the rate of Waitrose." - Matt Woodhams, director of brand development at Added Value, a marketing firm

Via Blog

Shell BG: 'Political pressure points'

Louise Cooper

Market analyst

A difficult political message for Shell in the midst of an election campaign. It is slashing potentially thousands of jobs, the CEO [chief executive] of BG is likely to get an enormous pay off for little actual work and the combined group will cut investment. All three are political pressure points.

Non-dom debate - Conservative take

George Osborne
Reuters

Chancellor George Osborne has called the Labour stance on non-dom taxation "a total shambles". "Within hours the policy has unravelled," he says. "You have Ed Balls himself saying it would cost the country money, and when you look at the small print, it's clear that a majority of non-doms wouldn't be affected at all."

Via Twitter

Non-dom debate

Robert Peston

Economics editor

tweets: @edballsmp tells me when he said in Jan abolishing non-dom totally would cost money, he had in mind the 3-year exemption he announced today

Shell and BG Group deal

The merger of Shell and BG Group will create the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) company in the world, according to Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden. "I would expect us to be the leading LNG company globally," he tells reporters on a conference call. Shell already says it is the

largest LNG shipping operator. According to Shell, China is the fastest growing LNG market.

Via Blog

Non-dom debate

Robert Peston

Economics editor

The simple argument against the non-dom rule is that it isn't fair, that anyone living in the UK and taking advantage of its public services and way of life should be subject to the same tax rules as the rest of us. The counter-argument is that the wealthier non-doms often make valuable employment-creating investments in the UK which generate prosperity for British people.

Supermarket league table

Kantar Worldpanel
Kantar Worldpanel

Kantar Worldpanel supermarket figures suggest that Tesco's market share now stands at its lowest since at least the beginning of 2012. On the battle for sixth place - Waitrose overtook Aldi as the sixth biggest supermarket at the beginning of February, but then Aldi retook the sixth-place position at the end of March.

Non-doms: 'It's gone pear shaped'

BBC News Channel

Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor
BBC

"It's gone pear-shaped," says Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor about Labour's

policy to end non-dom tax status. It appears that in January Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was in favour of keeping non-dom status. Norman cites an interview Mr Balls did with BBC Radio Leeds in January. In that interview he said he did not want to scrap the status because it will encourage people to leave the country and it will end up costing the Treasury money.

Via Twitter

Robert Peston

Economics editor

At end of

this interview with BBC Radio Leeds @edballsmp says abolishing non-dom could generate net loss for UK

The collapse of MG Rover

Production line 1930
Hulton Archive

Ten years ago mass car production at the Longbridge plant in Birmingham came to an end, after the failure of MG Rover. BBC News Online has some great coverage including: a

history of the Longbridge plant; the continued
effort to recover money following the failure of MG Rover; and a look at
how the area has coped following the collapse of such an important employer.

Shell and BG Group deal

Iranian oil worker walks at Tehran's oil refinery south of the capital in Iran
AP

The oil and gas industry has been watching Western negotiations with Iran "with significant interest", Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden tells reporters on a conference call. "If Iran opens up... companies like ourselves will take a very close look at it," he says.

Via Twitter

Emma Simpson

Business correspondent, BBC News

Aldi is now UK's sixth biggest supermarket, overtaking Waitrose, according to latest Kantar Worldpanel figures.

Shell and BG Group deal

Ben van Beurden
AP

Shell expects job losses around the globe after a proposed takeover of BG Group, and that may include in the North Sea, which is a "challenging area", Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden tells the BBC on a conference call. However, Shell also expects to make a £4bn investment in the North Sea in 2016/18, he says. Job losses around the globe may have happened if the companies had remained separate, he adds.