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Summary

  1. Carrefour reports healthy quarterly sales
  2. Samsung to start selling latest flagship phone
  3. BG Group warned over payout to chief executive

Live Reporting

By Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Over and out...

That's all we have time for on Business Live today and this week - thanks for reading. We are back at 0600 on Monday for the first five-day trading week of April. Do join us then and have a good weekend.

GE's Jeff Immelt

Jeff Immelt
Getty Images

One of the stories of the day has been GE's decision to substantially shrink its lending arm, GE Capital. GE chief executive Jeff Immelt says the company aims to generate 90% of its profits from industrial operations by 2018: "We just think the market timing is very good vis-a-vis the value of financial service assets. There have been moments in the past when there weren't a lot of buyers. Now there are." Times have changed indeed.

Spoiler spoiler?

Kimmy Schmidt
Getty Images

Google has been granted a patent for a new system that could stop web users seeing spoilers for the plots of TV shows (such as Netflix's the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, pictured) and movies before they have watched them. However, Google says it is not necessarily planning to create a product. "We hold patents on a variety of ideas; some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't," a spokesman said.

Via Twitter

Nokia map sale

Charles Arthur, technology journalist

Nokia Weighs Sale of Maps Business to Focus on Networks -

Bloomberg (€2bn price tag? Apple could snap it up)
@charlesarthur

Ukraine downgrade

Ukraine flag
Getty Images

Not great news for Ukraine: ratings agency Standard & Poor's has cut the war-torn nation's credit rating by one notch - even further into junk territory - because of its intention to restructure foreign currency debt. The move is "tantamount to default", S&P said. "We are lowering our long-term foreign currency ratings on Ukraine to CC from CCC-", with a negative outlook.

Naked Majestic Wine

Rowan Gormley
Naked Wines

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb has commented on today's surprise news that Majestic Wine had

bought its online rival Naked Wines for £70m and installed its founder, Rowan Gormley, as chief executive. "Given the pressure on its core business from the supermarkets, Majestic Wine needed to inject new management and a new online approach, but buying Naked Wines seems an expensive way of killing two birds with one stone, so we hope that Majestic's experienced chairman Phil Wrigley knows what he's doing," Mr Bubb says.

New FTSE record

Shire
Getty Images

The

FTSE 100 has indeed closed at a new record high, up more than 1% to 7,089.77 points.
Shire Pharmeceuticals was the top riser, up almost 4.9%. Earlier today Japan's Nikkei index past 20,000 points for the first time in 15 years.

Aviva executive pay

Aviva
Getty Images

Aviva has cut the potential long-term bonus payout for chief executive Mark Wilson and chief financial officer Tom Stoddard after pressure from an unnamed shareholder group. Mr Wilson's maximum payout under the LTIP scheme has been cut from a maximum of 350% of his base pay in five years time to 300%, with a similar reduction for Mr Stoddard from 250% to 225%. Patricia Cross, chairman of the insurer's remuneration committee, said: "The board was disappointed to receive feedback this week from a shareholder voting agency which expressed concern over the proposed LTIP awards, despite the tangible progress made by the management team and the award being within the company's remuneration policy."

Blankfein pay

Lloyd Blankfein
Getty Images

Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein's total compensation hit $24m last year - up 4.3% on 2013. The investment bank boss's base pay was unchanged at $2m, but his cash bonus jumped by more than $1m to $7.33m, according to a

regulatory filing. Mr Blankfein was awarded shares and options worth $7.33m each. Not far behind was chief financial officer Harvey Schwartz, whose annual compensation rose about 4.8% to $22m.

Wall Street update

GE
Getty Images

General Electric's decision to sell most of its GE Capital division has sent its shares up more than 8% to $27.96 in late morning trading in New York. The conglomerate said there was potential to return more than $90bn to investors over the next three years. And a Friday Fact for you: GE is worth almost $280bn (£191bn). That's more than nine times the market cap of Tesco, for example. The
S&P 500 and the
Dow were both up about 0.3%, with the
Nasdaq up 0.2%.

Solomons joins M&S board

Richard Solomons
Getty Images

Richard Solomons, chief executive of InterContinental Hotels Group, has been appointed as a non-executive director of Marks and Spencer. Robert Swannell, M&S chairman, said: "He is a CEO with a proven track record in a global consumer business and will bring a wealth of relevant experience." He takes up the role on Monday.

Via Twitter

Aviva bonuses

Juliet Samuel, Wall Street Journal reporter

Aviva has cut bonuses for its execs after a shareholder voting agency said they were out of line

@CitySamuel

FTSE 100

London's blue-chip index looks set to close at a

new record high today. With about 75 minutes of trading remaining, the
FTSE 100 is up 0.7% at 7,065 points. The existing record closing high of 7,037.67 was reached last month.

NIESR estimates

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research's monthly GDP estimate suggests that the UK's economy expanded by 0.6% in the three months to March - the same pace as the three months to February. "Our calculations suggest that the recent weak performance in the production and construction sectors have weighed down on economic growth in the first quarter by approximately 0.15 percentage points," NIESR notes.

Bombardier spin-off?

Bombardier
Bombardier

Bombardier, the Canadian company making the

carriages for London's Crossrail, is looking at selling some or all of its transportation unit, according to Reuters. Its report says that a sale or IPO could be worth as much as $5bn. The move has been sparked by huge cost overruns in its aircraft business.

Varoufakis vs Stiglitz

Yanis Varoufakis
YouTube

Facing a dull Friday afternoon? Fear not - Yanis Varoufakis has

tweeted a link to
an hour-long YouTube video of him speaking with American economist Joseph Stiglitz at an event in Paris on Thursday organised by the
Institute for New Economic Thinking. The Greek finance minister and the winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for economics discuss the eurozone - and Greece.

IG and Apple

Apple Watch
Getty Images

In case you've been living under a rock, orders for the Apple Watch open today. It may not be the first thing that springs to mind, but there will be an online share trading app tailored to the smartwatch from IG Group. The app will automatically install itself onto the watch if it has already been downloaded to users' iPhones,

IG said. I hope it is able to respond to yells of "buy!" or "sell!".

Good afternoon

Hello from me, Chris Johnston, and thanks to Tom Espiner and Ben Morris for this morning's coverage. I'm here with the rest of Friday's business news and views until 1800.

Can Labour save 10,000 police jobs?

Police officers, Whitehall 4 April
Getty Images

Armed with maths,

BBC head of statistics Anthony Reuben has been hacking through political statements to find out what's really going on. Today it's Labour's claim that it will protect 10,000 police jobs, which would otherwise have been lost over the next three years.

Blackstone buys Excel

Excel website
Excel Trust

Excel Trust, which owns shopping centres and other retail properties in the United States has agreed to a $2bn takeover from Blackstone Property Partners. The cash deal represents a 15% premium to Excel's closing price on 9 April. Excel's properties are mainly on the East and West coasts of the US and the so-called sunbelt states.

Austrian smoking ban

A sign marking a smoking zone is pictured in a cafe in Vienna April 10, 2015
Reuters

Austria is to ban smoking in cafes and restaurants from 2018 after many years of debate. "We have at last joined Europe in terms of protecting non-smokers," health minister Sabine Oberhauser said. Smoking is already banned in public places in Austria, but restaurants and cafes are exempt.

Grand National sweep

The Business live page has drawn Dolatulo in the Grand National sweep. "More chance of the Liver Birds laying eggs than this fellow winning," says Sky's Ed Chamberlin, in his form guide.

Pound at five-year low

Pound v USD
BBC

With uncertainty over the outcome of next month's election, the pound has

fallen to around 1.46 against the US dollar, its lowest level since June 2010. Figures showing industrial production grew by just 0.1% in February may also have had an impact on sterling.

Market update

The

FTSE 100 share index is hovering around 7043.25, quite near its 7065.08 record intra day high. Its record closing high of 7,037.67 was reached last month. Shares in drugs firm
Shire are leading the index after the US Food and Drug Administration granted a priority review to the firm's dry-eye disease treatment Lifitegrast.

Via Email

French air strikes

People who were affected by the French air traffic control strikes on Wednesday and Thursday have been writing in to BBC News. Sheryl Sinden in Doncaster said that many UK Taekwondo competitors were not able to make it over for the Spanish Open Championships for the martial art in Pontevedra. "This is a qualification tournament for selection to represent GBR in major competitions later this year," she said. "When people realised the flight was cancelled everyone tried to book on others but there was little availability..."

High frequency 'skimming'

Michael Lewis
BBC

High frequency trading allows some traders to beat the market, cheating ordinary investors of a small sum per trade,

author Michael Lewis tells BBC business editor Kamal Ahmed. "To me it's offensive that you have rich traders skimming off middle class savers, and the skim is very small, it's pennies a transaction, but when you add it up, it's billions of dollars. Weaving that unfairness into the financial markets, especially at a time when inequality is a problem, seems crazy to me."

GE to sell GE Capital property assets

General Electric is to sell off most of its GE Capital property portfolio for $26.5bn (£18bn),

it has announced, to investors including Blackstone Group and Wells Fargo. Its board has also authorised a share buyback program of up to $50bn.

Via Twitter

US Treasury keeps score

Robert Peston

Economics editor

"

The US Treasury paints a positive picture of trends in the British economy. It is highly critical of Germany, China, Japan and Korea (in that order) for generating huge current account surpluses. It implicitly accuses them of yet again exporting big debts to the rest of the world, to deficit countries like the UK and the US. "

Sao Paulo road block

Daniel Gallas
BBC

A giant project to build a ring road around Sao Paulo has run into trouble, reports the BBC's South America business correspondent, Daniel Gallas. The situation is so bad that the state government is considering opening the bidding process all over again. The construction company building the new road is one of many firms caught up in the investigation of allegations of

corruption at state oil giant, Petrobras.

Via Email

UK growth 'to gain pace'

Samuel Tombs

Senior UK Economist, Capital Economics

"We doubt that today's weak production figures signal that the economic recovery is beginning to hit the buffers. The initial official estimates are often revised and recent amendments have more often been up than down. Meanwhile, the stimulus provided to the non-oil sector from lower crude prices, cheaper credit and somewhat stronger demand in the euro-zone all suggest that the recovery is poised to gain rather than lose pace this year."

India - France jet deal

Rafale fighter jet
Reuters

French and Indian officials have reportedly been working through the night on a deal that would see France supply 63 Rafale combat jets to India in a €7.2bn deal. That's

according to Le Monde newspaper. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is visiting Paris on Friday and Saturday and the newspaper says the deal could be announced during the visit. The Rafale is made by
Dassault Aviation. Its shares are up 2.8%.

UK industrial output

UK industrial output rose by just 0.1% in February,

official figures show. Construction output fell by 0.9%. There was a dramatic fall the output of North Sea oil and gas, down 12% in February compared with a year earlier.

UK interest rates

Business Live

Business Live

UK interest rates are not going up "any time soon" says Colin McLean of SVM. "What we're seeing is very low inflation, particularly in the shops, retail price inflation now negative over the last couple of months, so that's not going to give the Bank of England any scope for raising rates any time soon."

Superfast share trading

Michael Lewis
BBC

US authorities are investigating high frequency trading, which involves computers buying and selling shares in fractions of seconds. Michael Lewis, who has written about the phenomena tells BBC business editor Kamal Ahmed that "pretty much everybody, even the more hopeful characters... have completely given up on regulators." He is encouraged though by the success of the IEX marketplace, which he says is a market answer to the problem.

Samsung: 'Looks were killing them'

The new Samsung S6 solves a "short-term" problem for Samsung, says electronics analysts Pelham Smithers on Bloomberg TV. "Looks were killing them", and the new phone looks as nice as its Apple rival, he says. From here they are going to have to turn the phone into "something they can sell in the mass market". He also points out that there is not much loyalty to Android phones.

Greece: Crunch time

Business Live

Business Live

Colin McLean
BBC

Crunch time for Greece will come this month, Colin McLean of SVM tells Business Live. Although it made a €450m repayment deadline to IMF and EU creditors yesterday, there are other payments later this month he says. "Greece is really caught between its own electors and the European bankers," he says. "It's going to have to let one or the other down in the course of this month."

Carrefour 'out of emergency ward'

Carrefour sign
Getty Images

Carrefour

posted a 3.2% rise in first quarter sales, which was better than analysts were expecting. "Excellent" was how Bruno Monteyne, a retail expert at Bernstein, described the performance. Growth in Latin America and at its French hypermarkets were behind the rise. However, Mr Monteyne cautions: "While the patient is out of the emergency ward, it is now in the sick ward and we do not see its return to rude health yet. "

Market update

The

FTSE 100 is up 13.54 points at 7015.36 in early trading. Construction firms are seeing the biggest gains on the index with
Barratt Developments up 2.5% and
Taylor Wimpey up 2.11%.
Associated British Foods shares are seeing the largest fall in value, down around 1%.

Newspaper review

Newspaper review
BBC

In his business commentary in the Times, Alistair Osborne lists the web of interconnected investments by David Lenigas and Donald Strang, executives at UK Oil & Gas Investments, which announced a potentially enormous oil find in Southern England.
The Guardian says that the Institute of Directors has told BG Group that there could be a row with shareholders if it goes ahead and pays chief executive Helge Lund £25m. Overseas investors are "slashing" their holdings of UK government debt,
says The Daily Telegraph.