News in Brief: Execs banned, takeover, ad budgets, Tesco shares rise, Apple tax probe

News in Brief

Executives banned from financial roles

The Bank of England (BoE) has banned two Co-operative Bank executives from holding senior positions.

The BoE’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) said former chief executive Barry Tootell had been banned for "breaches" in the running of the bank, reported the BBC.

A ban was also imposed on a former managing director of the Co-op Bank’s corporate and business banking division, Keith Alderson.

The PRA also fined Tootell and Alderson, with sums of £173,802 and £88,890 respectively.

The PRA said: “[Mr Tootell] did not exercise due skill, care and diligence in carrying out his role as chief financial officer and later chief executive.”

BT takeover of EE approved

The competition watchdog has cleared BT Group's £12.5bn buyout of EE.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) ruled that the combination of the country’s largest broadband and mobile phone networks would not harm competition.

It had been widely expected that the CMA would approve the deal as BT was one of the few former national monopolies in telecoms not to own a mobile phone company.

The group was forced to spin-off Cellnet, now O2, in 2000 to reduce its debt, reported The Times.

The CMA said though a “range of concerns” had been raised by other operators, after a “complex, detailed and rigorous” 10-month assessment it concluded neither mobile nor broadband customers would lose out following the deal.

Growth in advertising budgets slows

The number of British companies that raised their advertising budgets slowed to its lowest level in nearly three years, according to a survey.

The IPA Bellwether Report said a net balance of 0.5% of companies increased their advertising budgets in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared with 4.4% in the previous quarter and 6.1% in the same period in 2014.

While the number was the lowest in 11 quarters, it still meant advertising budget growth had been sustained for 13 successive quarters, reported Reuters.

Concerns over Britain's economy are beginning to weigh on consumer confidence after growth slowed to 0.4% in 2015’s third quarter, according to figures published in December 2015.

Tesco shares jump 6%

Tesco fared better-than-expected sales over Christmas, causing shares to soar 6% to 168p.

Britain’s biggest retailer revealed a 1.3% rise in sales at established UK stores in six weeks over Christmas and new year.

Price cuts and improved customer service contributed to the stores performance, reported The Guardian, as Tesco put thousands more staff in stores during the busy shopping period.

Analysts had been expecting a grim trading update, with sales down by almost 3% until industry data released this week (January 15) indicated the supermarket giant had turned things around in December 2015.

Chief executive Dave Lewis, who joined Tesco in 2014 to lead a revival of the retailer after a dramatic slide in sales and profits, said: “We are obviously pleased with the performance over Christmas but I don’t think it takes away from conditions that make the market extremely challenging.

"We recognise there is progress but we continue to see more to do.”

Apple could face $£5.5bn tax bill

Apple Inc. may be forced to pay hefty bill as result of a European Commission probe into its tax policies, according to an analysis.

Bloomberg Intelligence found the world’s largest company could owe more than £5.57m ($8 billion) in back taxes.

Apple, which has said it will appeal an adverse ruling, is being scrutinised by regulators who have accused the iPhone maker of using subsidiaries in Ireland to avoid paying taxes on revenue generated outside the US.

The investigation dates back to 2014 and a decision could be made in March 2016, reported Bloomberg.com.

The European Commission contends that Apple’s corporate arrangement in Ireland allows it to calculate profits using more favourable accounting methods.