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  1. BHS: Former owner Dominic Chappell defended himself in front of MPs
  2. Dominic Chappell 'had fingers in the till': Former associate
  3. BHS 'faced significant competition', MPs told

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

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Good night!

Another day on the Business Live page draws to a close.

Many thanks for staying with us and don't forget we'll be back bright and early tomorrow with all the breaking business news. 

Do join us then.   

Weaker dollar boosts shares on Wall Street

Wall Street sign

In New York the Dow Jones closed above 18,000 for the first time since April.

Falls in the dollar boosted some commodity-related shares and boosted the outlook for multinationals. 

The weaker dollar tends to benefit US multinationals with a high percentage of overseas sales. 

"The weaker dollar and strength in commodity names is certainly helping to fuel the market's strength," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. 

"Multinational companies are all benefiting and helping to drag the market higher." 

It was the third straight day of gains on Wall Street and put the S&P 500 within 12 points of its all-time record set in May 2015. 

The Dow Jones closed up 0.37% at 18,005.05.

The Nasdaq ended the day at 4,974.64 - a rise of 0.26%. 

And the S&P 500 was up 0.33% at 2,119.12.

Rubbish chaos hits French cities

Bin bags in street in Paris

First came the petrol shortages, then the rail strikes and the devastating floods. Now, with Euro 2016 starting on Friday, Paris and other French cities have been hit by a bin strike.

The capital's three main waste treatment facilities were picketed on Wednesday in a continuing dispute over labour reforms.

Bin collections have stopped in several areas and rubbish has begun piling up.

The government has struggled to bring an end to industrial action over its decision to force through watered down reforms to France's labour laws without a vote in parliament. Read more here 

German investigators 'probe VW over deleted data'

The logo of German automaker Volkswagen stands on an administrative building at the Volkswagen factory
Getty Images

German prosecutors are investigating whether Volkswagen employees deleted data that could be harmful to the company for a week before the carmaker admitted to US authorities that it had cheated diesel-emissions tests, the Reuters news agency reports.

It cited broadcasters NDR and WDR and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. According to the media outlets, prosecutors in Braunschweig, near Volkswagen's headquarters, were investigating the issue, Reuters said.

The prosecutor's office was not reachable at the time of writing, Reuters said, and Volkswagen declined to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Opening of new Queensferry Crossing delayed

Forth Road Bridge and Queensferry Crossing under construction
Getty Images

Here's a big story we missed on the Live page earlier because we were so immersed in the BHS hearing. 

The Queensferry Crossing - the new £1.35bn road bridge across the Forth - will now open in May 2017, six months later than originally planned.

Keith Brown, the cabinet secretary for the economy, said the delay had been caused by "adverse weather conditions" in April and May.

When the existing Forth Road Bridge was closed to traffic for almost three weeks in December it caused massive delays and disruption to traffic.   

Read more here

BHS row: Questions for Sir Philip Green

BBC Radio 4

As we reported earlier, the former owner of BHS, Dominic Chappell, has been accused of being "a liar" who had his "fingers in the till" by top BHS managers.

The claims were made to MPs at a hearing into the collapse of the firm - which was sold to Mr Chappell by Sir Philip Green's Arcadia group last year

BBC business editor, Simon Jack, has been considering the claims made at today's committee meeting for the Six O'Clock News; and also how Sir Philip Green might respond to them when he appears next week

MPs are investigating the collapse of the high street chain

Remember these old Sainsbury's ads from back in the day?

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Put down the newspaper ...

BBC World Service

The authorities in Morocco have banned people from reading - in public places - newspapers bought by other people, reports BBC World Service.

Newspaper editors said the habit of leaving the papers behind in public places was costing their industry about $150m £103m) a year in lost revenue. 

They said the habit of sharing newspapers, leaving them lying around and generally trying to avoid paying for them was "bleeding the sector." 

And it seems the country's communications minister Mustapha Khalfi agrees. At the same time he's also announced plans to subsidise the print media industry. 

Many Moroccans are questioning how the ban will be enforced.  

Others are ridiculing the ban via social media. One person suggested special uniformed "Newspaper Police" might arrest "illegal" readers, seize their offending newspapers and burn them publicly in the square. 

Attention chocolate lovers (in Sweden)

M&Ms packet
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Chocolate lovers in Sweden are in for a shock. A court in the country has banned Mars from selling M&Ms in the country. 

The Svea court of appeal has ruled that the lower case "m" stamped on the colourful chocolates is a breach of a copyright held by Kraft's Marabou brand of chocolate-covered peanuts. 

But the judges ruled that if Mars used capital "Ms" on both the sweet and their packaging, it would be not be infringing copyright. Mars said it did not believe there was any confusion between the two products and said it was assessing its next move.

HSBC Brazil assets sale approved by regulators

BBC South America business correspondent Daniel Gallas writes...

Bradesco and HSBC logos
Getty Images

The sale of HSBC assets in Brazil to Bradesco bank has been approved by Brazilian antitrust authorities.

Europe’s biggest bank announced last year it was leaving emerging countries such as Turkey and Brazil in an attempt to reduce costs.

Bradesco will take over the HSBC operation for $5.2bn.

Brazilian authorities approved the deal unanimously – but imposed restrictions on Bradesco.

The Brazilian bank will not be allowed to make any more acquisitions in the next 30 months.

Despite Brazil’s severe recession, local banks have registered good financial results, while foreign brands such as Citi and HSBC are leaving the country.    

Citigroup warns employees about Brexit

Companies across the UK are stepping up their advice to employees on the EU referendum. 

The American bank Citigroup is the latest. It has told employees that the decision on EU membership "is for individual voters" but that it has "important implications for our business" - and has warned it may have to downsize in the UK in the event of a Brexit.

It said in a memo to employees:

"We believe the UK's position as a global leader in many areas of financial services is in no small part aided by efficient and effective access to the EU’s single market... We believe access to the single market leads many other international companies, including many of Citi’s major clients, to invest in the UK and base their regional or global headquarters here."

And it concludes:

"A vote to leave the EU is likely to have implications for our UK operations. To continue to serve our clients and maintain efficient access to those markets currently enabled through the EU passporting regime, we would likely need to rebalance our operations across the EU." 

We wonder which way it wants employees to vote?

WPP says Brexit 'nail-bitingly close'

That follows comments from Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising giant WPP, who restated his opposition to Brexit, saying that the UK faced a "nail-bitingly close" vote on 23 June.

"Are we sleepwalking into a black hole?" Sir Martin asked in his AGM statement, before saying that Brexit would lead to at least short-term UK GDP weakness.

JCB chairman sends Brexit-backing letter to employees

JCB chairman Lord Bamford has restated his views on Brexit in a letter to the firm's employees.

He said JCB will continue to trade with the EU irrespective of the outcome of the 23 June referendum, and that 78% of JCB's turnover comes from the UK and countries outside the EU.

He said he was very confident the UK can stand on its own two feet.

"I believe that JCB and the UK can prosper just as much outside the EU, so there is very little to fear if we do choose to leave," he said.

"I voted to stay in the Common Market in 1975. I did not vote for political union. I did not expect us to hand over sovereignty to the EU. I certainly did not expect unaccountable leaders in Brussels to govern over us."

He added that he would be voting to leave, and urged employees to vote, whichever way they felt best.

Committee chairman: BHS inquiry throwing up questions

BBC Radio 4

Now over on Radio 4 - the other chairman of the Business Committee, which has been questioning figures from BHS about the collapse of the high street chain, has said the inquiry is throwing up many questions. 

On BBC Radio 4' PM programme the Labour MP Iain Wright said Dominic Chappell was supported in his bid to buy BHS for a pound, despite the fact he had no retail experience and had been bankrupt three times.

The reason he was a credible buyer is because £35m was put into a lawyer's account to show that he had the working capital, the cash available, to be able to trade. Now we're finding out - and it was virtually confirmed today - that actually Philip Green stood behind that £35m. So in order to ensure credibility of a particular purchaser, Philip Green provided that money. Now we need to get to the bottom of that, because the fact that that would have been allowed to happen, again, defies credibility.

Committee chairmen have 'written to the Industry Minister'

BBC News Channel

The chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, Frank Field - who was at the BHS hearing - told the News Channel MPs were disturbed to hear that BHS's former owner, Sir Philip Green had tipped the company into administration and had chosen the liquidators. [See post below for Sir Philip's thoughts on those claims]

Iain Wright and I, who jointly chair this, have written to the Industry Minister to say are you satisfied that the person who is going to break up this company, sell the assets, is actually going to do it with the very best price in mind and to save as many of those 11,000 jobs possible?

Sir Philip Green response

Those of you reading the live page today will have seen the various claims made by the former owner of BHS - Mr Chappell - in a hearing with MPs.

A spokesman for Sir Philip Green has responded with the following:

  • He denies that he had anything to do with choosing the administrator for BHS
  • He also says he was "unaware of any bid interest by Mike Ashley"
  • He "did not ban or block Retail Acquisitions from meeting with the pensions regulator"

He also says that, with regard to the claim that the BHS business could have been saved, things could have been different "if Chappell had brought funding to the table".

He says his company Arcadia “invested substantially in BHS and there was significant funding at the point of sale", adding that he "gave Retail Acquisitions every opportunity to succeed in the turnaround”.

Former employee: 'BHS could still be a thriving retailer'

BBC Radio 5 Live

More reaction from Lin MacMillan who used to work at BHS and has started a campaign for staff and pensioners affected by the company's collapse. She's been speaking to BBC 5 Live.

We can all see over the 15 years that Sir Philip Green owned the company there was a distinct lack of investment in it which has led to the situation it BHS in today not helped by how Dominic Chappell has behaved since he took over the ownership. If there had been decent investment BHS could still be a thriving retailer.

Lin MacMillan

More reaction to BHS hearing ...

BBC News Channel

Richard Fuller

The Conservative MP Richard Fuller, who sits on the Business Committee - which has been questioning current and former executives at BHS - told the BBC News Channel he hoped the high street chain's employees would trust that the committee was trying its hardest to get to the truth about its collapse: 

We're trying to get to the bottom of whether people used those positions of authorities and the positions of responsibilities that they had, in the best interests of the people who every day turned up for work and put in tremendous amounts of service. We've had weeks of evidence now, and I'm yet to be convinced that there was that concern at the top of British Home Stores.

How much UK law comes from the EU?

Reality Check

Pile of paperwork

The BBC's Clive Coleman looks into opposing claims about how much UK law comes from the EU.

Read the full Reality Check here.

FTSE rebounds from early losses

London Stock Exchange sign
Getty Images

After early losses the FTSE 100 actually ended the day slightly up at 6,301.52 - a rise of 0.27%.  

The four biggest risers were all mining stocks.

Anglo American was up 4.8%, Fresnillo up 4.2%, Glencore up 4.1% and Randgold up 4.1% boosted by rising copper prices.

Royal Dutch Shell rose 2.6% as oil prices continued to climb, hitting eight-month highs. The price of Brent crude hit $52.20 per barrel.  

BHS: 'huge round of finger pointing'

BBC Radio 5 Live

It was simply was astonishing. I’ve not heard anything like it in over 20 years of covering this industry. It was basically a huge round of finger pointing. Seems to me no real taking of responsibility.

Bryan RobertsRetail expert, TCC Global

BHS sale 'going to fail from day one'

BBC News Channel

Craig McKinlay

Craig McKinlay, a Conservative member of the Work and Pensions committee, told the BBC News Channel that Dominic Chappell had played the "blame game" when he appeared before MPs today in the inquiry into the collapse of BHS. 

He said Sir Phillip Green's sale of the high street chain to Mr Chappell - for the nominal sum of one pound - had been risky right from the start: 

You would have thought, with the under-capitalisation that he brought to the table - there were then some loans at some exorbitant rates of interest - you know, it was just, I think, going to fail from day one. The man himself, he'd had very little experience, he had no retail experience, he had some failed businesses and efforts in the past, and as he was described by many, I mean not by myself, but by many, was a bit of a Walter Mitty character. And I think what we saw today did bear some of that out."

How much will the referendum cost?

Reality Check

Julian asking: "How much has.will the EU referendum cost?"

The question: Julian asks BBC Radio 4's PM programme "How much has/will the referendum cost?"

Reality Check verdict: The estimated cost of the referendum is £142.4m, according to the written statement to Parliament by the Cabinet Office.

Read the full Reality Check here.

WPP investors protest over pay

BBC Scotland business editor tweets

Does a leader's gender matter?

BBC World Service

Researcher Alice Eagly of Northwestern University tells Manuela Saragosa on Business Daily what characterises female leadership, and whether the gender difference is even meaningful.

Researcher Alice Eagly on the differences - if any - between male and female leaders.

Serco's accountants probed

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has started an investigation into how Deloitte prepared, approved and audited financial statements of Serco companies between the beginning of 2011 and the end of 2012.

This decision follows information from the Serious Fraud Office, which is investigating Serco’s prisoner electronic tagging contracts. 

BHS 'a sorry tale'

BBC Radio 5 Live

It’s pretty breathtaking. I can’t recall any sort of discussion involving business with the sort of allegations we’ve heard this morning. People threatening to kill each other and real washing of dirty linen in public of what went wrong at BHS and it’s a pretty sorry tale.

George MacDonaldExecutive editor, Retail Week magazine

GCHQ coming out of the shadows?

BBC technology correspondent tweets

Singapore to take UK's place as world's 2nd financial centre

Singapore is expected to overtake the UK by 2020 to become the world’s second-largest offshore financial centre behind Switzerland as the balance of global wealth moves steadily eastward.

According to the Boston Consulting Group’s Global Wealth 2016 report, the UK’s $1.3tn offshore financial industry will be superseded by Singapore’s over the next four years.


Wall Street opens higher

Wall Street sign
Getty Images

Wall Street has opened slightly higher today.

On Tuesday the S&P closed at it's highest level for nearly 11 months off the back of a rise in oil prices and the prospect of an interest rate rise next week seeming to recede. 

A short while ago the Dow Jones was at 17,998.61 - a rise of 0.34%.

The Nasdaq was up 0.23% at 4,973.40.

And the S&P 500 had edged up 0.29% to 2,118.31.

Former BHS employee: 'what I've heard is appalling'

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

One former BHS employee is Lin MacMillan who has launched a campaign to "achieve justice" for staff and pensioners affected by the company's collapse. She listened to the select committee this morning and gave her reaction to BBC Radio 4's World at One.  

"What I’ve heard from the committee hearing is appalling. 

"All these people who seem to spend their time trading insults, threatening to kill each other, using foul language, are not fit and proper people to run a big company like BHS. 

"It’s becoming obvious that Philip Green knew exactly what he was doing when he sold BHS to Dominic Chapell for a pound. 

"He wanted rid of it because it was becoming a millstone around his neck.” Listen to the interview here

BHS staff 'staring down the barrel of a gun'

More reaction to the BHS committee hearing - this time from the shopworkers' trade union Usdaw.

It's calling for the focus to switch to saving jobs and preventing the company from going into liquidation. 

We hope that the various allegations made in today’s select committee hearing do not divert attention away from finding a suitable buyer for the business, even at this late stage. Whilst former and current senior people from BHS engage in a round of finger pointing, the 11,000 staff are staring down the barrel of a gun, facing unemployment in the next few weeks. We know there are very serious questions that need to be answered about the past, but I am urging the administrators to redouble their efforts to find a buyer, it’s the very least that the long-serving and loyal BHS staff deserve. In the meantime we are providing the support and advice our members in BHS require at this very difficult time.

Dave GillUsdaw National Officer

BHS - it doesn't end here

It started this morning with buyer Dominic Chappell's former associates hurling lurid accusations. It ended with Mr Chappell defending his corner and accusing Sir Philip Green of forcing the business into administration, of willing him to fail, and of leaving the business in such a state some of the stores did not have heating. 

There's more to come. Next week Sir Philip himself will tell MPs what's been going on. 

Meanwhile, the pensions regulator is investigating whether his Arcadia Group sought to avoid its responsibilities in the sale of the business and should be pursued for a contribution to make good BHS's £571m pension deficit.

Chappell denies 'kill Topp' accusation

Dominic Chappell has responded to allegations from BHS chief executive Darren Topp that he threatened to "come down there and kill" Mr Topp over a disagreement. Telegraph reporter Ashley Armstrong tweets after Mr Chappell's appearance before MPs:

Chappell on sidelines : "Absolute rubbish I did not threaten To kill him (BHS boss) or have a gun"

What does Mythomaniac mean?

Here's a question for you all.

Have you heard of the term mythomaniac?.

Former BHS financial consultant Michael Hitchcock used it when describing Dominic Chappell to MPs. 

"I think I was duped. I think the technical term is a mythomaniac. The lay person's term is he was a premier league liar and a Sunday pub league retailer. At best," he said.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, mythomania is "an abnormal or pathological tendency to create myths, tell lies or exaggerate".

'Sir Philip went absolutely insane'

BHS hearing: Owner Chapell says Sir Philip Green 'went absolutely insane'

Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has told MPs that Sir Philip Green was furious when he became aware that Mr Chappell was in talks with Sports Direct over a rescue plan for the business.

Appearing at a committee hearing, Mr Chappell said that Sir Philip effectively blocked a deal when he called in a £35m loan, tipping the company into administration.  

Pension regulator 'deal breaker'

BBC business editor tweets...

SIr Philip Green said he'd call deal off if we spoke to Pensions Regulator. Chappell

BHS administration - Chappell defends being abroad

Dominic Chappell defends being out of the country when BHS went into administration. That week he was in the Bahamas meeting possible investors, and then flew to Boston for an eye procedure, before carrying on to Montreal and Vancouver for further investor meetings, he says. 

"I was in there trying everything we possibly could to raise funds," he tells MPs. Asked why he wasn't with staff, like a captain being "on the bridge of the ship if it's going down", Mr Chappell says he met with very senior investment funds to try to save the business. Administrators Duffy & Phelps also made it very clear Mr Chappell's company was not permitted back in the building, he adds.

Dominic Chappell's personal finances

Tense exchange over DC's personal finances. He had to borrow £150k to pay a tax bill - 75k of loan still outstanding.

Sir Philip as Banquo's ghost?

The BHS inquiry has taken a Shakespearean twist. MPs have been hearing accounts of Sir Philip Green's continued involvement in BHS' affairs after he sold the business for £1, prompting the co-chair of the inquiry to muse: 

"So Sir Philip Green was like Banquo's ghost: ever present in all your activities?"

Frank Field MP, co-chair of the inquiry