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Summary

  1. Row builds between US and Gulf airlines
  2. New Look bought by South Africa's Brait
  3. SABMiller buys Meantime Brewing Company
  4. Network Rail strike: 24 hours from 17:00 Monday 25 May

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

Get involved

TAP airline gets 'at least three' bids

TAP airport check-in desk
EPA

Reuters is reporting that Portugal has received at least three bids for the struggling state-owned flag carrier TAP in what is its second attempt to privatise it since 2012. The deadline for bids passed this afternoon. One of the bidders is thought to be Brazilian-American businessman David Neeleman, founder of US airline JetBlue and chief executive of Azul Brazilian Airlines.

S&P 500 hits new record

The

S&P 500 index edged to a new record in lacklustre trading on Wall Street following disappointing US industrial production data. The index ended 0.08% higher at 2,122.7 points, while the
Dow Jones added 0.11% to 18,272.3 points. The
Nasdaq slipped 0.05% to 5,048.2 points.

Via Email

Airline spat

Michelle Fleury

BBC business correspondent, New York

For the American airline industry this is a battle to keep lucrative international passengers, and not lose them in what they argue is an unfair fight. For their part, the Gulf carriers have argued US airlines have benefited from bankruptcy protection and other state support themselves. Etihad claims they received more than $70bn in government support since 2000.

Tsipras won't cross red lines

Alexis Tsipras
Reuters

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says that Athens and its lenders had found common ground in their bailout talks. But he said his government would not back down from its red lines such as no cuts to wages and pensions. "From this podium I want to assure the Greek people that there is no possibility or chance that the Greek government will back down on pension and labour issues," he told a conference in Athens.

Via Email

Airline spat

Michelle Fleury

BBC business correspondent, New York

Rarely do you see the bosses of America's three largest airlines working together. But these rivals are united in a battle against Gulf carriers. Explaining their complaint, Jeff Smisek, chief of United Airlines, said: "We are ready, willing and able to compete globally against any airline. But you cannot compete against a national treasury. You cannot compete against an arm of a state. You cannot compete with an infinite supply of oil. It can't be done."

Flights frenzy

dreamliner
AP

Airlines in the US are charging more for trips between Washington and New York in the wake of the Amtrak derailing, the

New York Daily News reports. Flights normally going for $100 if booked in advance were fetching $700 to $1,700, the site reported.

Netflix shares rise

Netflix shares were up almost 5% on reports is was in talks to expand its operations in China. But cosmetic firm Avon was heading in the other direction, following yesterday's fake bid fiasco. The stock was down 8%.

Intertek AGM

testing
Intertek

More pay rebellion. Intertek, a FTSE 100 firm and product tester for the likes of Marks & Spencer and McDonald's, among others, said

more than half of shares were cast against its pay report. Earlier, the firm reported a 3.3% rise in revenue for the four months to 30 April.

Domino's Brother

Domino's Printing Services - not to be confused with the fast food firm - says its purchase by Japanese printing rival Brother has been given the green light by regulators.

Ocado AGM

van
ocado

At Ocado's annual meeting, 19.4% of investors

voted against the company's director pay report. That's normally a sign the investors think top execs are paid too much. In other, minor rebellions, more than 8% voted against re-appointing non-executive directors Jörn Rausing and Robert Gorrie. All resolutions passed, however.

Via Twitter

Douglas Fraser

Business and economy editor, Scotland

tweets: John Menzies AGM sees 13 - 20% vote against board. Follows reports it's under pressure to break up

Crackdown on Warcraft 'cheats'

Warcraft cinematic still
Blizzard

Thousands of World of Warcraft online accounts have been closed by Blizzard Entertainment to stop people using "bots" to play the game. Blizzard said it had banned a "large number" of accounts in a message posted to the game's online forums. The accounts had been discovered using programs, called "bots", that automate gameplay. This violated the game's terms of use and gave bot users an unfair advantage, it added.

Via Email

Squaring the circle

A new note from Capital Economics neatly sums up the Greek conundrum. "The IMF won't pay the next tranche unless Greek debt is sustainable; the Europeans are reluctant to lend Greece any more money if debt write-downs have to be undertaken and want to hold Greece as close to balanced budget as possible; Syriza, meanwhile, has no appetite or indeed the political constituency to undertake a further fiscal tightening."

FTSE 100 edges lower

The

FTSE 100 ended down 0.2% at 6,960.49 points with energy and mining stocks falling on weak US industrial production data.
Glencore and
Anglo American were the two biggest fallers, with each down 1.8%.
ITV was one of the biggest risers, up 1.83% following positive comments from brokers. "We continue to see ITV as a well-managed company that executes their business plan very well," analysts at Barclays said.

Rail interference claim rejected

Network Rail boss Mark Carne on #RMT claims of G'ment interference - "We've had no interference...there is no G'ment interference in this".

Weak data keeps lid on rate rise

Federal Reserve building
BBC

After weak US retail sales and producer prices data, economists see today's sluggish industrial production figures as yet more evidence that the Federal Reserve will not be in any hurry to raise interest rates. "It means in the next month or so we are unlikely to see a massive rebound in growth momentum. These are not the numbers that would inspire confidence in the Fed to tighten policy," said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.

Ukraine's GDP slumps

Ukraine's GDP fell by 17.6% in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year after continuing violence in the industrial east of the country, the national statistics agency says.

Avon's bogus bid

After yesterday's fake bid for Avon, it seems that regulators are not necessarily sharing some of the responsibility.

SEC on Avon database debacle: EDGAR is a “repository for what is filed, not what is accurate.” fortune.com/2015/05/15/sec… (via @danprimack)

Community buyout finalised

People living on Scotland's Pairc Estate, in Lewis, have finalised a community buyout of the privately-owned estate. Last year, 166 residents voted for the buyout, with 77 against. It has cost £500,000 to purchase the 26,775 acres. Funding towards the cost was offered from public bodies.

Russia's economy contracts

"The best that can be said about Q1 GDP data from Russia is that the economy has avoided outright collapse and is, instead, merely on the cusp of recession." That's how analysts at Capital Economics sum up today's news that the Russian economy contracted by 1.9% in the first three months of the year.

Russia's economy contracts

roubles
Getty Images

Russia's economy contracted by 1.9% in the first quarter in year-on-year terms, the country's statistics office says. It's only a preliminary estimate, but the figure is in line with estimates given previously by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. It underlines the impact that Western sanctions are having on the economy and the slide in oil prices, the country's chief export.

Wall Street open

Wall Street opened little changed despite new figures showing that US industrial production fell for the fifth straight month. The

Dow Jones index was up 0.07% at 18,265.1 points, while the
S&P 500 slipped 0.02% to 2,120.6 points. The
Nasdaq rose 0.2% to 5,060.9 points.

US output falls

More on that fall in US industrial production in April. Mining output fell 0.8% as oil and gas well drilling sank 14.5%. It was the fourth straight monthly decline in mining output. Utilities production fell 1.3%, as warmer weather reduced demand for heating. Manufacturing output was unchanged after an upwardly revised 0.3% gain in March.

US output falls again

General Motors production line
Reuters

US industrial production fell for the fifth straight month in April, weighed down by declines in mining and utilities output. According to Federal Reserve figures just published, industrial output slipped 0.3% after a revised 0.3% fall in March. The data points to a lack of momentum in the economy at the start of the second quarter.

Portuguese airline for sale

TAP sign
EPA

If you're thinking of bidding for the Portuguese airline TAP, today is the deadline.

The Wall Street Journal reports that David Neelemen, the founder of Brazil's Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras, is considering a bid. The Portuguese government wants to sell up to 66% of the airline, with the rest divided between its 7,500 employees.

Scotland's high earners

Radio 5 live

Sterling
Getty Images

If the SNP wanted to raise more money from Scotland's highest earners, then it may struggle to find enough of them to make a difference. Only 14,000 Scots pay the additional rate of income tax of 45% (for people making more than £150,000 annually) according to Stephen Hay, of accountants Baker Tilly. That's out of 2.65 million Scottish tax payers. Around 280,000 taxpayers pay the higher rate of 40%, he says.

Rail strike

Talks between Network Rail and unions to resolve national rail dispute to take place on Monday morning - #ACAS confirms. #RMT

Rail strike

Network Rail workers maintaining track
Network rail

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said that any pay rise to RMT members would have to come from taxpayers and passengers. "The RMT say we can afford more than what's on offer. What they don't say is that Network Rail is a public service body and that all profits are reinvested in building a bigger, better, more reliable railway. Any pay increase comes from the pockets of taxpayers and fare paying passengers."

Branson on Europe

Serial entrepreneur Richard Branson has weighed in on the issue of a referendum on EU membership. He's against leaving Europe, as can be seen from this tweet:

Britain is a country in Europe. Here’s why the UK should stay in the EU: virg.in/ukeu

Britain is a country in Europe. Here’s why the UK should stay in the EU: virg.in/ukeu

What do you think he's looking at, way off in the distance? Answers to bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk.

Rail strike

Workers repair the main Exeter to Plymouth railway line
Getty Images

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne has said the rail strike by RMT union members called for 25 and 26 May is "deliberately timed to cause maximum disruption to families trying to enjoy the half-term break and millions more returning to work after the bank holiday." He adds: "I find it deplorable that the RMT can hold the travelling public to ransom in this way."

Mansion tax relief

Door knocker
Eyewire

One north London estate agent reportedly agreed about £50m of business on the Friday after last week's election. The prospect of Labour's mansion tax had made sellers of expensive houses cautious. Trevor Abrahmsohn, director of luxury estate agent Glentree

told Ham&High Property: "I phoned one client at 10 o'clock on Friday morning who'd been holding back on about £30m and he asked why I didn't phone at 9 o'clock."

UK construction 'fragile'

Houses being built in Derbyshire
PA

The UK construction industry is fragile, says Michael Conroy Harris of law firm Eversheds. "While there's no doubt that UK construction has moved beyond the 'green shoots' stage of recovery, it's important to remember that it's still a fragile plant needing care and attention," he says.

Google car road test

Google car
Google

Google will begin testing its self-driving car on public roads this summer,

the internet giant says. The prototypes have a top speed of 25mph, and have a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow drivers to take over if needed, Google says.

Network Rail strike

Network Rail has made an approach to ACAS to reconvene talks with the RMT union, which has announced a strike. John Moylan, the BBC's Industry Correspondent tweets:

.@RMTunion Ass Gen Sec Steve #Hedley tells BBC he thinks there's been "political interference" in the ongoing rail dispute over pay..

Steve #Hedley :"I believe that there has probably been some political interference..perhaps David Cameron&his Government want to take us on"

Russian car sales at ten-year low

Moscow traffic jam
BBC

The Russian car market is in the worst shape for ten years, according to figures from the

Association of European Businesses. In April 2015, sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles in Russia decreased by 41.5% compared to April 2014. "The similarity to 2009, the year of the Lehman crisis, demonstrates the severity of the present situation," said Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee.

New owners for New Look

Richard Hyman

Retail analyst

New Look, Oxford Street London
PA

"In spite of overcapacity, New Look has proved its offer remains relevant and it can grow its UK market share. Nevertheless, the key attraction is likely to be international, and China is the main prize. The on-the-ground experience of CEO Anders Kristiansen will be critical if New Look is to succeed in China - very few Western retailers have ever made money there."

Rail strike

John Moylan

Industry correspondent, BBC News

tweets: Network Rail says made formal approach today to #ACAS to reconvene talks with @RMTunion on pay dispute to prevent National rail strike.

Poundworld sale

James Hughes
BBC

Poundworld being sold for £100m in a private equity buyout is an "amazing story", says James Hughes from eToro. "For a long time we've had the supermarkets all competing in a price war, trying to gain market share from each other - we've got no-one really looking at these real discount stores," he adds. "And it's the growth of these discount stores... which has been massive."

UK construction

While construction output increased in March compared with February, in the January to March quarter, output decreased by 1.1% compared with the previous quarter, the

Office for National Statistics said. This is the first yearly fall since the second quarter of 2013. (Output is the amount charged by construction companies to customers for the value of work, excluding VAT and payments to sub-contractors).

Market update

FTSE 100
BBC

Modest gains so far for the

FTSE 100 which is up 0.28%. The biggest bottler of Coca-Cola products in Europe is leading the index higher. Shares in
Coca-Cola HBC are up almost 2.7%.
It described its first quarter as "solid" and said it is "encouraged" by the results.
ITV rose 1.5% following positive comments from brokers.