Volkswagen emissions scandal: Beleaguered carmaker begins executive clear-out in bid to make ‘fresh start’

Volkswagen, the beleaguered German car maker, will tomorrow start firing people it holds responsible for the emissions scandal which has engulfed the company.

The dismissals, together with the announcement of a new chief executive to replace Martin Winterkorn who resigned on Wednesday, are part of a massive shake-up of VW’s management in a bid to get a grip on events which have wiped £25bn, or 30 per cent, off VW’s share price in five days.

Three senior executives were reported to be facing dismissal included Ulrich Hackenberg, head of research and development at VW’s Audi division and who was head of development at Volkswagen from 2007 until 2013. Mr Hackenberg was a close associate of Mr Winterkorn who resigned as VW boss on Wednesday. Mr Hackenberg is the most senior of the executives facing criticism. He is the inventor of VW’s celebrated “building crate” system which allowed VW car components to be simply removed in one go and replaced.

Wolfgang Hatz, the Porsche research and development executive, is also facing the sack, together with Michael Horn, VW’s American boss. All three men were said to bear “technical responsibility” for the scandal according to German press reports citing company sources.

A further executive, Heinz-Jakob Neusser, who was Mr Hackenberg’s successor at VW, is also under pressure according to the German magazine Der Spiegel.

It also reported that senior VW board directors were said to be “speechless” following the disclosure the company admitted on 3 September to US regulators it had deliberately manipulated software for emissions tests but only informed the VW board in Germany two weeks later.

Officially VW refused to comment on the sackings but a member of its supervisory board said publicly that he expects further resignations at the German automaker.

Olaf Lies, economy and transport minister of VW’s home state Lower-Saxony, which holds a 20 per cent stake in the company, said the investigation into the scandal was only just starting. “There must be people responsible for allowing the manipulation of emission levels to happen,” he told German radio.

VW’s main board will also announce a replacement chief executive to lead the company which employs 600,000 staff and sold more than 10 million cars last year, making it currently the world’s largest car manufacturer.

The Porsche boss Matthias Müller has been widely touted as the main candidate although others have cited Herbert Diess, a member of the VW board of management. Mr Diess joined earlier this year and is said to be favoured by some to be the best executive to provide the Wolfsburg-based company with the “fresh start” board members believe is crucial.

The Skoda boss Winfried Vahland was being tipped as a possible new board member with the job of repairing VW’s damaged image in the US.

The board meeting is also expected to announce a list of the vehicles said to carry the “defeat device software” deliberately designed to cheat emission tests so the vehicles could pump out pollutants at more than 40 times the legal US limits. “Our goal is to give precise information about the concerned brands and models,” a spokesman said.

A row also erupted over Mr Winterkorn’s severance and pension payments. Company accounts show Mr Winterkorn, Germany’s best-paid executive, amassed a huge pension. He may also qualify for millions more in severance pay, possibly as much as two years’ salary or £23m. One City investor said: “The pension issue looks very bad. It reminds us of the situation with [former chief executive] Fred Goodwin at RBS.”

  • More about:
  • Volkswagen

Redcar steelworks ‘stands on the brink’ with vital supplies left marooned on the North Sea

The Redcar steelworks stands on the brink of disaster today while three foreign ships laden with thousands of tons of vital supplies lie anchored just a few miles away in the North Sea.

The Independent has learned that a Hong Kong-registered ship, the Tiger Shandong, has been waiting since 3 September to enter the port of Teesside carrying around 164,000 tonnes of Australian coal for the ailing plant.

Two other ships, the Japanese-owned Lowlands Serenity and the Greek-owned Cape Natalie, also lie anchored within sight of the town carrying a total of 323,000 tons of iron ore for the plant’s blast furnace, where production was paused last Friday.

But the ships are unable to land their cargo and resupply the plant, where 3,000 workers and contractors risk losing their jobs, as the steel firm’s Thai owner, SSI, is believed to be unable to pay the Dutch trading company supplying the fuel.

The news highlights how the town of Redcar, which once used coal from collieries in nearby Durham, has been left at the mercy of global forces and foreign imports.

Workers fear they will run out of coal this weekend and will have to switch off the plant’s coke ovens – a move that will cause “catastrophic damage” and will, in effect,  cause the plant’s closure.

It is believed there are now less than 8,000 tons of coal left on site to keep the ovens burning. The Tiger Shandong’s cargo could keep the fires lit for nearly two months, allowing extra time for any rescue bid.

Unions representing the workers have been calling on the Government to intervene, but Whitehall says strict state aid rules prohibit a rescue. George Osborne has spent this week 5,000 miles away on a charm offensive to win trade deals in China.

Roy Rickuss, general secretary of Community, the steelworkers’ union, said after he was told by The Independent about the cargo ships: “This news will be particularly disappointing for workers at SSI. We know that running out of raw materials could spell the end for the site.

“If SSI aren’t able to get support from the Government to get those materials off the ships and into the steelworks, then it may not survive the weekend.”

The Independent has learned that the Lowlands Serenity has been anchored off Teesside since 1 September carrying 163,000 tons of iron ore from Brazil, while the Cape Natalie has been at anchor since 4 September carrying 160,000 tons of iron ore from South Africa.

It is believed to be costing tens of thousands of pounds in “demurrage” fees for the three cargo ships to wait offshore.

Britain’s steel industry is at crisis point after the price of slab steel almost halved over the past year and Chinese companies dumped steel on the market . Currency fluctuations have added further pressures. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says it is “fully aware” of the challenges facing the industry.

Redcar’s MP, Anna Turley, fighting to keep the steelworks open, said: “Redcar is being buffeted by global forces and is not getting the support it needs. The catastrophic decline in steel prices combined with the dumping of steel by China has left the industry and its most vulnerable plant in Redcar teetering on the brink.”

  • More about:
  • North Sea
  • Steel Industry

Rothschild vs Rothschild as the feuding dynasty heads to the courts

The Latin family motto of the Rothschilds – the most famous banking name in the world – is Concordia, Integritas, Industria, which translates as ‘harmony, integrity, industry’.

But “concordia” is in short supply among the descendants of the original Rothschild banker, Mayer Amschel, whose five sons spread across Europe more than two centuries ago to establish the dynasty.

With different branches of the family still in business, a row simmering since March this year has flared up again over the use of the Rothschild name. Paris Orleans, the holding company of France’s Rothschild Cie and the UK’s NM Rothschild investment banks brought together by Baron David de Rothschild in 2003, voted to change its name to Rothschild Co.

However, that decision has stirred the wrath of another Rothschild business, the Swiss private bank Edmond de Rothschild, which has launched legal action over the change of name on competition grounds. Edmond de Rothschild is a relative latecomer to the scene, established in 1953 by the eponymous Baron Edmond and chaired since 1997 by his son Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, whose wealth Forbes estimates at some $1.8bn (£1.2bn). His wife Ariane is the chief executive.

Sources close to Edmond say the new name for Paris Orleans is in breach of an unofficial family agreement not to take “ownership” of the family name, in respect to different branches of the family business. Sources for the other side say no such agreement exists. Alongside Edmond, there is also RIT Capital Partners, which is the listed investment trust chaired by Jacob, now Lord, Rothschild, who split from the main branch of the family back in 1980.

Edmond de Rothschild issued a strongly worded statement in response to the Paris Orleans move. “We deplore this decision, which is tantamount to appropriating the use of the Rothschild family name, without any distinguishing element, and adds to confusion between the groups.

“It is therefore with regret that Edmond de Rothschild Group has no recourse but to continue its legal proceedings to ensure that family rules are respected and that each Rothschild, in respect for family unity, is able to pursue their activities in healthy and fair competition.”

Another twist to the row is that Edmond is the second biggest shareholder in Paris Orleans, holding 7.83 per cent of the shares and 10.57 per cent of voting rights – but Paris Orleans has refused its demands to put two directors on the company’s supervisory board, which Edmond says “amounts to a discriminating practice” against a major shareholder.

Underlying Edmond’s campaign over the name change is also Benjamin’s fear expressed in the French press last year that “what we want to avoid is them one day selling their business with the Rothschild name”. But sources close to Paris Orleans deny that, highlighting that a 2012 restructure was designed to assert long-term family control of the business. And a takeover seems remote as the “concert” of Rothschild family interests – not including Edmond’s stake – currently holds 49 per cent of the shares and 54 per cent of the voting rights.

It is understood the row will rumble on in the Paris courts into next year: it may be sometime before “concordia” breaks out.

  • More about:
  • Rothschild family

Blue sky for Thomas Cook as summer bookings soar

Holidaymakers have rushed to book holidays with Thomas Cook, with poor summer weather in northern Europe driving demand.

The tour operator has lost around 17 per cent of its market value over the past three months, but on Thursday its shares rose nearly 3 per cent to 119p as it said that 91 per cent of all its holidays for the summer season – which ends in October – were now booked. This figure rises to 95 per cent in the UK.

Demand for holidays among customers in northern Europe accelerated substantially in the second half of the year, spurred on by the recent poor weather in Scandinavia. Holidays there are now 99 per cent booked for destination such as Greece and Egypt, with average selling prices 4 per cent higher than last year.

Other tour operators and airlines, including EasyJet and Ryanair, have reported a similar rush to the sun.

But despite its upbeat report, Thomas Cook left its overall guidance for the full year unchanged from its update at the end of July. At that point it warned of a profits shortfall of £25m due to a weaker euro, the Greek crisis and the terrorist attack in Tunisia in which 30 British tourists were killed.

Peter Fankhauser, the chief executive, said: “Our trading performance for the summer season has progressed well, despite the impact of external shocks in certain destinations… With more than a third of the winter 2015-16 season sold, the bookings profile for next year is also encouraging.”

The urge to get away seems strong, with 39 per cent of winter holidays already sold. Bookings are ahead of last year in all of Thomas Cook’s main markets, it said, with prices also climbing.

The company reported a “significant increase” in bookings for Greece and Egypt as alternative “sun, sea and sand” destinations. Tunisia remains closed for business following the tragedy in June.

The popularity of the US and the Caribbean as summer destinations is also increasing, rewarding Thomas Cook’s recent expansion into more long-haul routes. In central Europe, however, the tour operator said it was facing tougher competition. 

Thomas Cook is also facing a £39m  currency hit this year because of the weaker euro and Swedish krona as it does not hedge profits made outside the UK. Its update came a day after Tui Group, Europe’s largest travel company, said trading remained robust.

  • More about:
  • Thomas Cook

Interest rates to stay down as Bank of England’s ‘swing voter’ rejects hike

UK rate rises look a long way off after one of the Bank of England’s “swing voters” declared he was not ready to join the hawks seeking an increase.

The doveish comments from Ben Broadbent, a deputy governor at the Bank, added to expectations that the cost of borrowing would not be rising until well into next year.

Only Ian McCafferty has so far voted for a rise at the monthly meetings of the Bank’s  Monetary Policy Committee, although Martin Weale and Kristin Forbes have both been mentioned as possible hawks. But Mr Broadbent made it clear he was not, despite some speculation, in that camp. “I was not one of those on the brink of voting for higher interest rates,” he told Reuters.

Rates are at record lows and the Bank had been mulling raising them for the first time since 2007, until the Chinese economic and market woes provided pause for thought. This has been the case in both the UK and the US.

Mr Broadbent said: “It has been true for some time that we have been having to weigh up what has looked like a fairly robust recovery in domestic demand, against weakness in the rest of the world.” He was speaking as the world’s biggest bond investor, Pimco, suggested the super-easy monetary policy in Europe could be extended all the way through to 2017 and beyond as policymakers try to stave off deflation and sluggish growth.

Pimco predicted inflation would crawl from nearly zero to 1.25 per cent over the next year– well below the European Central Bank’s “close to 2 per cent” target.

The fund predicted in its latest forecast that the ECB would be forced to increase bond purchases by an extra €10bn (£7bn) a month to €70bn, or extend its quantitative easing programme into 2017. “The cumulative amount of money that will be injected into the economy via QE is equivalent to about 10 per cent of gross domestic,” said Pimco director Andrew Bosomworth. The Pimco prediction came as an increasing number of economists are worrying about the potential impact of the VW scandal on the German economy. The car industry is the country’s biggest exporter, and VW is its biggest automotive business. ING chief economist Carsten Brzeski said: “All of a sudden, VW has become a bigger downside risk for the German economy than the Greek debt crisis. “If VW’s sales were to plunge in North America in the coming months, this would not only have an impact on the company, but on the economy as a whole.”

If the problem were wider than the company’s exports to the US, the economic effects would be even  worse.

Martin Gornig of the Berlin-based think-tank DIW told Bloomberg: “Should automobile sales go down, this could also hit suppliers and, with them, the whole economy.”

Away from the eurozone, other parts of the Continent are still suffering. Norway cut its interest rates by a quarter-point to 0.75 per cent, with investors expecting further reductions to come. The low crude price in the oil-rich nation has brought economic growth to a crawl.

Taiwan also cut rates for the first time since 2009.

  • More about:
  • Bank Of England
  • Interest Rates

Starbucks to help staff with rent deposits

Coffee shop chain Starbucks has agreed to help staff in the UK pay rent deposits as it looks to entice new talent to the business in a competitive retail market.

The company which has over 22,000 shops worldwide, has chosen Britain as the first place where it will offer the rent incentive. It will be available to around 7,000 people that have been with the business for over a year.

As part of the deal, Starbucks will provide an interest-free loan to pay a rental deposit that should be repaid within 12 months.

The scheme if the first of its kind to be launched by a private company in the UK, and the group has taken inspiration from housing charity Shelter which launched the loan for its own staff in 2013.

Kris Engskov, president of Starbucks EMEA said: “We know the cost of living is a key concern for many, with the average rental deposit in England now £1,226.”

Mr Engskov added that: “The UK economy is improving and businesses are growing… so we want to be seen as a great employer.”

Betsy Dillner, director of campaign group Generation Rent, who advised Starbucks on the rental scheme said: “It is increasingly difficult for workers in retail and other industries to access private rented housing when rents are so high. But we can’t rely on the goodwill of employers alone; we hope to see much more action from the government to increase the supply of low-cost homes.”

Starbucks also said it would be extending George Osborne’s new national living wage of £7.20 per hour to all staff next year, not just those aged 25 and over, which the government has ordered. Over half its UK employees fall below that age.

As a result barista pay will move to £7.20 from  April 2016 and supervisor pay will move to £8.72, from £6.77 and £8.20 respectively.


  • More about:
  • Starbucks Corporation

Rugby World Cup: Pringles sales up 150% at Waitrose

Pringles are among the winners at the Rugby World Cup. Sales of the savoury snack have leapt 150 per cent at Waitrose as sports fans take to the sofa for the tournament, the supermarket said.

Shoppers also upped their supply of beer for the first of the tournament’s games, with sales up 16 per cent in the week to September 19.

Not wanting to miss out on any impressive play, fans also bought up “lounge-friendly food”, like frozen party snacks and pizzas, sales of which jumped 55% and 45 per cent, respectively.

Indian ready meals also leapt off the shelves, Waitrose said.

  • 1/50

    United goin down

    Manchester United’s absence from the Champions League hurt more than the fans’ pride last year – it also dented the bottom line. Revenues at the New Uork listed club dipped 8.8 per cent to £395.2m in the year to June, triggering a £1.2 million loss after broadcasting and sponsorship deals dried up. The club said it was now looking to raise $400m from a share issue.


  • 2/50

    Star Wars boosts economy

    Production of the next Star Wars movie has brought an economic impact of some £150 million to Britain, according to company accounts. The seventh movie in the series, The Force Awakens, will be released in December.

  • 3/50

    Natalie Massenet Leaves Net-a-Porter

    The Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet decided to quit the online fashion retailer during “a summer of reflection” that included a spectacular 50th birthday party on the Almalfi coast.


  • 4/50

    I’ll keep working, says Mayer

    The chief executive of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, said that she was expecting twin girls in December. She said she would “approach the pregnancy and delivery the same way as I did with my son three years ago, taking limited time away and working throughout”. In 2012, she took two weeks off when her first child was born.


  • 5/50

    World’s richest lose $182b

    Warren Buffett, the world’s third richest person, lost $3.6bn in last week’s market slump. Fears that China’s economy is slowing took many indices into correction territory. The turmoil has wiped $182 billion off the wealth of the 400 richest billionaires, according to research by Bloomberg.


  • 6/50

    City for sale

    London City Airport was put up for sale by the American hedge fund Global Infrastructure Partners, which also owns Gatwick and Edinburgh airports. It is expected to fetch around £2 billion


  • 7/50

    Kicking up a skink Down Under

    An Australian court has overturned approval for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in north Queensland, based on concerns over the impact of the project on the endangered yakka skink (pictured). Standard Chartered is under renewed pressure to stop financing the deal

  • 8/50

    Scope to do more in the City?

    Damien Hirst’s 7m statue, Charity, has been installed in the shadow of the Gherkin in London. It is based on an old Scope collection from the 1960s and has provoked a debate about the City and disability. The Lord Mayor of London says the City does not employ enough disabled people.


  • 9/50

    Thousands more take a look at Sky

    Drama and football are a winning formula for Sky, which has recorded its best growth for 11 years, gaining 124,000 UK customers in the past quarter. Sky paid £4.2bn for Premier League rights, but also has 35 dramas planned, following successes such as the ‘The Enfield Haunting’ (pictured) with Timothy Spall.

  • 10/50

    FirstGroup suffers over lost lines

    FirstGroup, the bus and rail operator, is paying the price for losing a string of rail franchises last year. Rail revenue will be “substantially lower” in 2015 after some big franchise losses, including ScotRail. The division lost out on tenders for the East Coast and West Coast (pictured) mainlines, which went to Virgin Trains.


  • 11/50

    US retail rush hour slows down again

    US retail sales unexpectedly fell in June as households cut purchases of cars and a range of other goods. Sales fell 0.3 per cent, while economists had forecast a small rise.


  • 12/50

    Blockbusters aid Pinewood expansion

    Pinewood Studios revealed it is having to turn away major films until the five new stages it is building come on stream next summer. The group still saw operating profits rise from £4.9m to £5.8m in the past year, which saw it host the new Star Wars and Avengers films (Scarlett Johansson, pictured, stars in ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’) as well as the latest Bond release, ‘Spectre’

    Marvel 2015

  • 13/50

    Rogue trader freed

    Kweku Adoboli, the former UBS trader who was convicted of the UK’s biggest banking fraud, has been released from jail after serving half of his seven-year sentence. He was imprisoned in 2012 on two counts of fraud that resulted in losses of £1.4bn, the largest trading loss in British banking history


  • 14/50

    Burberry’s autumn ad campaign

    Burberry is launching its autumn ad campaign today with a cast of models including the singer Tom Odell and the actress Holliday Grainger


  • 15/50

    Sneak peak at console battlefield

    Videogame titans Microsoft and Sony vied for attention ahead of the industry’s annual E3 conference yesterday, giving fans sneak peaks of the latest games for their Xbox and PlayStation consoles, including Sony’s new ‘Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’

    Getty Images

  • 16/50

    High street shops hit by exodus

    The number of Britons out shopping has fallen for the second month in a row.
    High streets saw 1.5 per cent fewer shoppers and shopping centres 2 per cent fewer in May compared with a year ago. Only out-of-town retail parks saw a rise, with 1.4 per cent more visitors, the British Retail Consortium said.
    Overall shopper numbers fell by 1 per cent.


  • 17/50

    Argentina hit by strikes

    Daily life ground to a halt in Buenos Aires yesterday amid a 24-hour general strike protesting against moves to limit pay rises and increase taxes.

    AFP/Getty Images

  • 18/50

    Duty rises blamed for beer woes

    Beer sales are still “fragile” after a decade of “devastating” duty hikes, according to the British Beer and Pub Association. The industry lobbyists said sales in pubs and shops were up 1.5 per cent in the past year, but fell by 0.8 per cent in the first quarter. Sales have fallen 24 per cent in the past decade.

  • 19/50

    New Look in push for men

    New Look is planning a menswear push after poaching Christopher Englinde, HM’s menswear chief. Like-for-like sales at the fashion chain rose 5 per cent

    Victoria Middleton

  • 20/50

    Court halts Airbus insider trading trial

    A French court has quashed an insider trading case against seven current and former Airbus executives as well as Lagardère and Daimler, who were investors in the plane maker. Judges said the trial was dropped as they had all been cleared by France’s market regulator AMF, and it would have breached safeguards against double prosecutions

  • 21/50

    Alibaba hits back over ‘fake’ claims

    Alibaba has hit out at Gucci’s owner, Kering, for “wasteful litigation instead of the path of
    constructive co-operation”, after the French luxury giant filed a lawsuit in New York alleging
    the Chinese online retailer allows sales of fake goods on its websites. Gucci unveiled its Fall-Winter 2015-2016 women’s range at this year’s Milan Fashion Week

    Getty Images

  • 22/50

    Hats off to Ralph Lauren

    The upmarket US clothing company Ralph Lauren saw sales climb 1 per cent to $1.9bn (£1.2bn) in the quarter to 28 March. The company said it opened several stores across key markets around the world, fuelling momentum for its luxury accessories business. However, net income decreased to $124m, compared with $153m in the same quarter last year, partly as a result of exchange-rate impacts.


  • 23/50

    With this ring… arts sales jump

    Sotheby’s raised $380m (£241m) in its New York contemporary art sale, a day after rival Christie’s sold a Picasso for a record $179m, with the auction house describing bidding as a “rush for art”. The top lots included Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘The Ring (Engagement)’ Estate of Roy Lichtenstein


  • 24/50

    Brewdog’s dead cat bounce

    Brewdog parachuted taxidermy “fats cats” holding its latest prospectus out of a helicopter over the City of London as the Scottish brewer looks to drum up publicity for its latest “punk” fundraising. The craft beer group has already raised £5m of the £25m it is seeking from investors to fund a new brewhouse and set up a US operation

  • 25/50

    Change at the top for Alibaba

    Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba replaced its chief executive yesterday. Daniel Zhang, chief operating officer, will replace Jonathan Lu. The move follows the share price briefly dipping below $80 this week, its lowest since its New York flotation in September.

    ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

  • 26/50

    Put that light out

    New York City officials have been informed by the American Government that the Big Apple’s dazzling neon billboards violate a 2012 highways ruling and must be taken down. The city could forfeit up to $90m (£59m) in federal highway money if it fails to comply. New York is debating getting an exemption from the rule.


  • 27/50

    Lionsgate wants the lion’s share

    Lionsgate yesterday announced plans to finance and co-invest in up to 25 British independent films over the next four years. The Canadian-US entertainment company has previously invested in such UK films as A Little Chaos, starring Kate Winslet

  • 28/50

    Tillman planning a ‘new Jaeger’

    The fashion entrepreneur Harold Tillman (centre) has spoken out against the way Jon Moulton’s Better Capital has run Jaeger since taking it over from him and declared he would start a rival business to serve disappointed Jaeger customers. Mr Tillman said turnover at the group had fallen and losses widened since the private equity firm took over.

    2011 Getty Images

  • 29/50

    Aer Lingus: end
    in sight to Irish talks with IAG

    Aer Lingus, the Irish carrier being bid for by British Airways’ owner IAG, yesterday said it is hopeful talks between its suitor and the Irish government will conclude soon. Ireland owns a 25 per cent stake in the airline, which posted a €48m (£35m) first-quarter loss yesterday but said its long-haul business had performed well


  • 30/50

    Weir sheds more jobs in oil slump

    Slumping orders for oil and gas projects in the wake of the oil price collapse have forced the engineer Weir to cut another 125 jobs. Since the start of the year, the US oil-rig count has more than halved, sending orders in Weir’s oil and gas division down 23 per cent in the first quarter. Weir has already shed 1,300 staff in the past year

  • 31/50

    Williams F1 team drives into the red

    Formula 1 team Williams drove £34m into the red for 2014 after the worst season in its history. A fall in prize money for 2013 – paid a year in arrears – meant the Frankfurt-listed group went into reverse after a £12m profit the year before. But Williams said this year’s figures would be better after it finished third in the 2014 Constructors’ Championship. Its driver Felipe Massa, pictured in Bahrain, is 5th in this year’s driver’s contest

  • 32/50

    Rivals roar as Harley stalls

    A strong dollar allowed US motorcycle-maker Harley-Davidson’s foreign competitors to undercut its prices in the first quarter, hurting its sales and market share and prompting it to lower 2015 shipment forecasts. The news sent its shares down 10 per cent in early trading

  • 33/50

    Climate changes for BP

    BP will be more accountable for its role in climate change after 98 per cent of investors backed a resolution to make it more transparent on the issue.
    BP’s annual shareholders’ meeting was held in London yesterday and attracted a protest against offshore oil drilling.

  • 34/50

    Car sales lift in Europe

    Demand for new cars in Europe soared last month, particularly in Spain and Portugal where sales increased by more than 40 per cent on March last year. Meanwhile UK sales were up 6.1 per cent on March 2014, according to the European Automobile Manufacturer Association.

  • 35/50

    Ricci heir guilt of tax fraud

    Arlette Ricci, the heir to the Nina Ricci perfume and fashion fortune, has been convicted of tax fraud by a Paris court, after hiding millions in an offshore HSBC account. Ms Ricci, 73, was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay a €1m (£72,000) fine.


  • 36/50

    Camden set for a makeover

    Teddy Sagi, Camden Market’s new Israeli billionaire owner, has appointed Mace as project manager to oversee the redevelopment of Camden Lock Village, with 170 homes as well as shops and offices in the north London district.


  • 37/50

    All aboard the iron ore train

    Australia is reportedly examining how BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto shift billions of dollars in iron ore profits through low tax hubs in Singapore.

    AFP/Getty Images

  • 38/50

    Shell’s Arctic plans under fire

    Greenpeace activists have climbed aboard a Shell oil rig in the Pacific Ocean bound for the Arctic. They plan to camp under the rig’s main deck in protest against the oil giant’s plans to restart drilling off the coast of Alaska. The group said the six protesters would occupy the underside of the Polar Pioneer’s main deck but would not interfere with the vessel.

    Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace

  • 39/50

    GoDaddy off to flying start in New York

    GoDaddy shares jumped 34 per cent as they started trading on the NYSE Wednesday, valuing the website group at more than $5bn (£3bn). The firm, which manages 59 million web domains – a fifth of the world’s total – raised $460m. It sponsors race car driver Danica Patrick (pictured with chief executive Blake Irving) and is backed by private equity firms KKR and Silver Lake


  • 40/50

    The first lady of high street banks

    Shriti Vadera, a former adviser to Gordon Brown, has become the first female chairman of a UK high street bank, succeeding
    Sir Terry Burns at the helm of Santander UK. Baroness Vadera will be paid £650,000 and work alongside Santander’s new CEO, Nathan Bostock

    Paul Morigi/Getty Images

  • 41/50

    Sterling returns for Compass

    Compass could see £30m added to its annual profits, thanks to the strength of the pound. The catering giant, which serves up strawberries and cream at Wimbledon each year, said underlying revenues are up 5.5 per cent in the first half, while gains from sterling against the euro, yen and Brazil’s real are set to offset any weakness of the pound against the dollar

    Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

  • 42/50

    Serco sells Australian rail unit

    Serco has sold its Great Southern Rail to the Australian private equity firm Allegro Funds in a £2.5m deal. The disposal of the luxury business, which runs tourist trains such as The Ghan (pictured) across Australia, is part of the outsourcing group’s move to focus on core businesses under its new chief executive, Rupert Soames

    Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

  • 43/50

    Italian Retailer Yoox eyes Net-a-Porter

    The Italian internet retailer Yoox in the latest contender to swoop in with an offer for the luxury fashion business Net-a-Porter that could value the London-based firm at £1.3 billion

    Splash News/Corbis

  • 44/50

    Li Ka-shing buys O2
    for £10bn

    Li Ka-shing’s Hutchison Whampoa has finalised a £10.25bn deal to buy the UK mobile business O2 from Spain’s Telefonica. Hutchison, the Hong Kong conglomerate that already owns Three in the UK, entered exclusive talks with Telefonica in January.


  • 45/50

    Jaguar climbs high in the City

    A Hollywood stuntman in a Jaguar XF crosses the River Thames by highwire to promote the latest model. The stunt was supported by 34mm-wide carbon wires.


  • 46/50

    Pubs get protected

    New rules have been announced to mark Community Pubs Day today which protect local pubs and give communities a greater say in planning processes.

    Oli Scarff | Getty Images

  • 47/50

    Tesco jet still left on shelf

    Tesco has been forced to cut the price of its Gulfstream G550 jet by £3.5m in an attempt to shift it. The retailer has already sold three of its fleet of five jets since October but has cut the price of the 14-seater jet from $35m (£23.5m) to $30m. It also still has a Hawker 800XP.


  • 48/50

    Uber called to account in Paris

    Uber’s Paris offices have been raided by French police as part of an investigation into its UberPOP service that lets anyone offer taxi rides. The French headquarters of the US taxi-booking app have been targeted by authorities as part of investigations into the feature, which is not available in the UK, that allows non-professional drivers to sign up


  • 49/50

    PG on the scent of a sale?

    Procter Gamble is believed to be looking at a sale or IPO of some of its beauty brands, which range from Herbal Essence shampoos to Olay creams and Boss perfumes (as advertised by Sienna Miller, pictured). Shares in the
    US consumer products giant rose 2 per cent on the prospect of a sale yesterday,
    even though PG said the report, on Bloomberg, was “speculation”

  • 50/50

    Blackpool pier is on sale for £12.6m

    Blackpool’s central pier has been put up for sale by its owner Cuerden as the attractions organiser looks to restructure its operations. The group is asking for offers of about £12.6m for a package of three piers – including Blackpool’s 19th-century central and southern piers and a third in Landudno in Wales


The surge wasn’t enough to lift the upmarket grocer’s total sales, however, which were down 0.3 per cent against tough comparatives from a year earlier.

John Lewis, which is part of the same group, had better figures to report, with sales up 6 per cent as shoppers stocked up on cold weather gear for the coming winter.

Cashmere was a top performer, as was new season womens fashion, up 19 per cent year-on-year.

The Rugby World Cup also played its part for the department store, which said merchandise related to the content had brought in “impressive sales”.

Group sales were up 2.1 per cent overall. 

  • More about:
  • Rugby World Cup

British Government was warned diesel cars might be wrongly passing emissions tests up to a year ago

The Department of Transport received a report from the International Council on Clean Transportation warning of a compliance issue last October, a spokesman said.

The report found “strong evidence of a real world nitrogen oxides compliance issue for recent technology diesel passenger cars, both for the EU and US vehicles”.

Read more:
UK to conduct its own inquiry after Volkswagen emissions scandal
Winterkorn’s co-driver is not the man to change VW’s direction
Forty years of greenwashing – the well-travelled road taken by VW

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, reiterated calls for the the European Commission to investigate vehicle emissions on Tuesday.

The Vehicle Certification Agency, which oversees emissions test in the UK has since said it will re-run laboratory testing to compare to real-world emissions.

The ICCT tested 15 vehicles and found that they were pumping out seven times the legal limit for nitrogen oxides, which can cause respiratory problems and premature death. The UK Government has estimated that nitrogen oxides and particles associated with diesel emissions may cause up to 50,000 premature deaths a year in the UK.

The ICCT called for urgent regulatory action in Europe, where there are more diesel cars than anywhere else in the world thanks to incentive schemes in the 1990s designed to reduce carbon emissions more strongly associated with petrol vehicles.  Diesel-powered vehicles emit up to 20 per cent less CO2 per kilometre travelled.

Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said the UK probe must be the start of a diesel clean-up on Britain’s roads. “UK air pollution kills 52,000 people prematurely each year and diesel fumes are a major contributor, so the government and regulator must not tolerate any discrepancy between the laboratory and open road,” Mr Pendleton said.

The same report helped reveal that Volkswagen was falsifying the results of tests in the US.

Volkswagen emissions scandal: what to do if you own a VW diesel

Volkswagen has said 11 million cars are affected, but it is not clear how many of these are in Europe. On Thursday Alexander Dobrindt, the German Transport Minister, said that Volkswagen had used the same system to cheat emissions tests in the EU.

What should I do if I drive a Volkswagen diesel?

Nothing for the time being. The UK has launched a probe but there is not yet a recall in Europe. Volkswagen has said it will contact drivers of affected cars in the US but that the vehicles pose no safety risk.

Read more:
UK to conduct its own inquiry after Volkswagen emissions scandal
Winterkorn’s co-driver is not the man to change VW’s direction
Forty years of greenwashing – the well-travelled road taken by VW

Will my car be recalled?

There is no recall in the UK at present, but if one is announced, it will likely involve the affected vehicles. These are the Jetta, Beetle, Audi, A3 and Golf models dating 2009-2015 and Passat models dating 2014-2015 to pass stringent US Environment Protection Agency regulations.

What if I have a diesel car by another manufacturer?

The EA189 engines at the centre of the emissions scandal had also been fitted to several Skoda and Seat models sold in the UK. It is not clear whether these makes used the same defeat device in emissions tests.

There were reports in the German press that BMW might be implicated in the scandal, but BMW has denied these claims.


What will happen to my car if it is recalled?

Engineers would have to fix software that sensed when the car was in a test scenario and reduced emissions by up to 10 times compared to a normal road scenario.

How much will this cost?

Consumers should not be liable to pay for the costs of any software update. VW has set aside €6.5bn to cover costs.

What about the value of my car?

The affected models were sold at a premium and are expected to have lost much of their resale value, especially in the US, which is subject to stricter emissions controls.

Rudeness in the workplace: Nine of the most offensive things bosses have said to their employees

We deal with rudeness all the time. From the commute to work to the angry email, insults and offhand remarks are hard to avoid.

But what someone might view as the most flippant of comments could lead to repercussions for both employers and employee.

Law firm Thomas Mansfield has pushed out a survey to find some of the most extreme cases of offensive comments to show what some people deal with in the workplace, and put them together in visual form.

Read more: ‘No offence, but…’ here’s where you cause some offence
Rudeness at work is contagious, study finds
How the ‘lowest form of wit’ actually makes people more creative

Real examples include: “She’s tiny, she’s the perfect height for a…”, “Bisexuals are just greedy”, and, “You can’t contribute, you’re only 20.”

Meredith Hurst writes that people commonly complain of “harassment” without understanding its “true legal meaning”.

“Harassment in a legal sense must be on the basis of a protected characteristic including race, sex, disability and sexual orientation,” she says.

“Harassment, or more generally, ‘being picked on’ for another reason (for example being overweight, hair colour, etc.) whilst not giving rise to an actionable discrimination may still cause staff to complain of bullying in the wider sense.”

1) “The French are always on strike”

Thomas Mansfield

2) “Why is he so angry!? It must be ginger rage!”

Thomas Mansfield

3) “If she’s pregnant, she doesn’t want a career”

Thomas Mansfield

4) “In many respects women are people too!”

Thomas Mansfield

5) “She’s tiny, she’s the perfect height for a…”

Thomas Mansfield

6) “Eat your lettuce and shut up”

Thomas Mansfield

7) “She’s only here because she’s rich and she knows somebody”

Thomas Mansfield

8) “You can’t contribute, you’re only 20”

Thomas Mansfield

9) “Bisexuals are just greedy!”

Thomas Mansfield