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News round up: Michael Page, Lloyds, RBS, BP, Sports Direct, Gaucho, Angela Merkel, George Osborne, Travelodge and Tesco.


Michael Page International plc (LON:MPI) has warned that the jobs contraction in the UK banking sector, Lloyds Banking Group plc (LON:LLOY), HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA), Barclays plc (LON:BARC) and Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (LON:RBS) have all announced job cuts in recent weeks, is hitting its profits, sending its shares down 14%.

Banks account for 10% of the business of the recruitment group, which said it expected UK trading conditions to "remain challenging". The comments came as Michael Page reported a 26% fall in profits for the six months to 30 June. Its pre-tax profit was £45.5m, down from £61.4m a year earlier.

Michael Page's share price has fallen sharply over the past month after rival Hays plc (LON:HAS) warned of a slowdown in the financial services sector. Its shares were down 56.9 pence to 343.5p in early trading, writes BBC News.

Manufacturing confidence

Sinking manufacturing confidence is driving a sharp slowdown in the labour market recovery and exacerbating the North-South divide over jobs, according to a new study which reveals more employers are set to cut headcount this year. The research from KPMG and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) undermines any hope that the private sector will be able to offset major job losses in the public sector and sparks serious questions for the Government over how it plans to rebalance the economy, says the Telegraph.

BP plc

BP and GDF Suez, the French utility, have separately put their interests in two gasfields in the North Sea on the block as the sell-off of mature assets in the region gathers pace. BP has put its 27.5% interest in Shearwater, a gas field, up for sale, according to people familiar with the situation. Bankers estimate the stake could be worth about $300m (£184m), the Financial Times reports.

Sports Direct

The collapse of an inquiry into collusion between sportswear stores has led to protests from Sports Direct that the Office of Fair Trading has squandered time, money and resources. The chain, which is controlled by Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle United, is privately claiming vindication after being told by the consumer watchdog that a two-year investigation is to be wound up without any action, the Times reports.

Gaucho

Gaucho, the upmarket chain of steakhouses favoured by City workers, saw revenues across its restaurants rise a healthy 11.5% despite the consumer downturn. The company recorded sales of £50.6m in the year to the end of December 2010 as it continued its expansion, adding restaurants in the UK and Lebanon and taking its stable of sites to 16, the Telegraph reports.

Angela Merkel

Another attempt to end the eurozone debt crisis and persuade the German chancellor Angela Merkel to accept eurozone bonds – pooling all the existing nations' national debts – will be made by President Sarkozy at a crisis summit on Tuesday. It comes against a backdrop of worried investors throughout the world despairing at the lack of political leadership being shown in the world's various sovereign debt crises, according to the Independent.

George Osborne

The lack of confidence in international governments to address the issues underlying current economic turbulence is a "serious malaise", the chancellor George Osborne has claimed, according to the Guardian.

George Osborne has confirmed that he wants to scrap the 50p top rate of tax because it is not raising much money. The Chancellor has branded the 50p rate ‘uncompetitive’ and said there was ‘not much point’ in having taxes that brought in little revenue, the Daily Mail reports.

Travelodge

Growing numbers of people choosing to take their holidays in rural beauty spots have encouraged Travelodge to invest £135m in new hotels near Britain’s national parks. The 475-strong budget hotel chain is looking to open in a further 37 locations close to the 15 national parks, the Daily Express reports.

Tesco

Tesco is planning to reduce its petrol prices by up to 2p a litre from today. The supermarket giant is stepping up to the forecourt price war by cutting it's pump price for the second time in a week, the Mail on Sunday reports.

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