Tuesday newspaper round-up: Customs bill, banks, WS Atkins, business rates

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Tuesday newspaper round-up: Customs bill, banks, WS Atkins, business rates

Tue, 25 April 2017
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Tuesday newspaper round-up: Customs bill, banks, WS Atkins, business rates

(ShareCast News) - Britain will have to settle a demand for €2 billion over its failure to tackle customs fraud before it can agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, senior Brussels sources have said. European officials believe that HM Revenue & Customs is failing to curb Chinese crime gangs that systematically undervalue goods imported into the EU through Dover and Felixstowe, avoiding billions of pounds in customs duty and VAT. - The Times
Wall Street banks are considering setting up "pop-up" branches in European countries to deal with trading after Brexit while keeping the bulk of their work for continental clients in London. The plan, which is being kept confidential as lawyers and regulatory experts refine the details, could put banks on a collision course with European regulators, which fear a "brass plate" syndrome of lenders not having a proper presence in their countries. - The Times

The government appears to have performed a weekend U-turn on business rates and says a £300m relief fund to help small businesses worst hit by the shakeup is now available for councils to share out. Having on Friday said distribution of the money would require the approval of the new government after the 8 June general election, communities secretary Sajid Javid insisted: "Councils are free to start using the scheme and helping local businesses." - Guardian

An activist American hedge fund has built up a 6.8 per cent share in WS Atkins, the British engineering design consultant that is to be bought by a Canadian rival. Elliott Advisors declined to comment on its intentions when it disclosed its position in Atkins yesterday. - The Times

Marine Le Pen announced on Monday night that she was temporarily stepping down as head of France's Front National party in a bid to widen her appeal ahead of next month's presidential election run-off. The far-Right candidate will face Emmanuel Macron, the centrist, on May 7 with the country divided as never before over Europe. - Telegraph

Labour has said it would scrap the Brexit white paper and replace it with new negotiating priorities with the emphasis on keeping the benefits of the single market and customs union. Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, will set out the plans alongside a pledge to unilaterally guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals as part of the party's election manifesto, hastily being put together following the snap election announcement last week. - Guardian

Theresa May is preparing a tax sweetener to appeal to working-class voters as part of her attempt to win seats in traditional Labour areas, Government sources have said. Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, suggested that the Conservatives will use their manifesto to take lower paid workers "out of tax" entirely. - Telegraph

New opinion polls put the Conservatives on course for a historic Commons majority of up to 150 seats. The Tories have surged so far ahead that they could win 65 seats from Labour in England and Wales, as well as up to 12 seats in Scotland, according to a new series of polls. - Telegraph

Passengers flying from Britain to the US face a ban on carrying laptops in aircraft cabins. Whitehall is braced for Washington to extend its security restrictions to flights from Europe after President Trump's administration changed the rules last month for some US-bound aircraft from Middle Eastern countries. - The Times

Vodafone's UK arm has wasted millions of pounds on pay-TV channel contracts that it is now seeking to escape, in the latest sign of the telecoms giant's challenges in its home market. Sources at multiple broadcasters said Vodafone is seeking to exit deals it entered into as it prepared to launch its own internet-based TV service last year. - Telegraph

A formal investigation has been launched into allegations the maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, PSA Group, cheated diesel emissions tests. French prosecutors opened the inquiry into alleged consumer fraud offences on April 7, according to a court official. - Telegraph

University students should not feel compelled to get a job until six months after graduating, the outgoing head of UCAS has said as she warned against the "obsession" with careers. Middle class parents and universities have become "too fixated" with using their degrees to get a job, Mary Curnock Cook suggested. - Telegraph

Conservative opposition to windfarms risks the UK missing out on one of the cheapest sources of electricity, according to the head of a Shell-funded industry group. Adair Turner, chair of the Energy Transitions Commission, said wind and solar power costs had fallen dramatically globally and urged the government to rethink its ban on subsidised onshore windfarms. - Guardian

PPG has turned up the heat on the Dulux paint maker Akzo Nobel with a third takeover offer and an apparent threat that this would be the last friendly approach. The American company yesterday raised its offer to €24.6 billion - more than 17 per cent higher than its first sighting shot in early March. - The Times

A leading law firm reaped nearly £10 million in fees from claims of torture and killing against British troops while suppressing evidence that eventually destroyed its case, a tribunal was told. Leigh Day paid more than £2 million to an Iraqi fixer and his intermediaries to generate the claims in breach of professional rules, it is alleged. - The Times

In another positive result for regional airports wooing international airlines away from the congested London market, Cardiff has signed a deal with Qatar Airways to fly to south Wales. The deal could lead to daily flights between the Welsh capital and Doha, the gateway to the Far East, the Indian subcontinent and Australasia. - The Times

A British marine engineer has been awarded $1m out of a $40m fine imposed by the US courts for blowing the whistle on one of the world's biggest cruise operators for illegally pumping thousands of gallons of oily waste into the sea. Christopher Keays was 27 and working as the third assistant engineer on Carnival's Caribbean Princess in 2013 when he discovered that a "magic pipe" was being used to discharge thousands of gallons of the waste into British waters. - The Times

Grant Thornton has been fined £2.3 million and severely reprimanded for failing to challenge bogus revenues at fire engine business AssetCo, which nearly collapsed. The Financial Reporting Council said that the accountancy firm and its former partner Robert Napper, who is retired, "fell significantly short of the standards reasonably to be expected".

A property developer who painted the exterior of her Kensington townhouse in red and white stripes has won a High Court battle against her local council, which demanded that she return it to its original colour. Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring, 68, who painted the property in South End, Kensington, in March 2015, denied that her intention had been to spite neighbours who had objected to her plans to demolish the house and replace it with a new one.

NASDAQ 100 Top Risers

Name Last Chg.% Time
American Airlines Group 46.29 1.92 22:33
Netflix Inc. 188.78 1.76 23:01
Shire Plc Ads 155.36 1.28 22:34
Discovery Communications Inc. Class C 20.30 1.15 22:30
Seagate Technology Plc 32.72 1.05 23:10

NASDAQ 100 Top Fallers

Name Last Chg.% Time
JD.com, Inc. 42.98 -3.29 23:04
Mercadolibre Inc. 281.87 -2.87 22:34
Nvidia Corp. 180.76 -2.73 23:07
NetEase Inc. Ads 277.62 -2.09 23:03
Symantec Corp. 33.04 -2.02 22:45