The 10 biggest business stories on Thursday February 18

British Gas sees profits rise 31%; Number of £1 million homes to triple by 2030

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The Independent Online

1.    British Gas, Britain's biggest energy supplier, increased its profits by 31 per cent last year despite twice cutting gas prices.

2.    BAE Systems, the defence, aerospace and electronics giant, has seen a rise in both sales and profits for 2015. Operating profit rose from £1.3 billion to £1.5 billion while sales increased by £1.3 billion to £17.9 billion.

3.    The number of properties in Britain worth £1 million or more is set to more than triple by 2030, according to a new report.

4.    Powa Technologies, one of the UK most highly valued technology start-ups, is struggling to pay staff on time and is holding back payments to suppliers sparking concerns over its future.

5.    Vodafone plans to raise about £2.9 billion ($4.1 billion) by selling mandatory convertible bonds, Bloomberg reports. The bonds will be issued in two tranches, one with an 18-month maturity and the other with a three-year maturity, the British phone company said Thursday in a statement.

6.    Channel tunnel operator Eurotunnel has asked the French and British governments to reimburse it €29 million (£22.6 million) for revenue lost last year due to migrants trying to cross from France into the UK on lorries and trains.

7.    Nestle, the Swiss food giant, has reported that it suffered a 39 per cent fall in net profits in 2015 to CHF 9.1 billion (£6.4 billion).

8.    Saudi Arabia was downgraded. For the second time in four months ratings agency S&P has downgraded Saudi Arabia's debt rating. S&P cut its rating on Saudi Arabia's debt to 'A-/A-2' from 'A+/A-1’.

9.    Apple said it was refusing to comply with a court order that it help investigators of the San Bernardino rampage to crack the code of an iPhone used by one of the shooters, in a legal collision that goes to the heart of the privacy-versus-national security debate.

10.    Air France-KLM has reported net profits of €127 million for 2015, up from a €216 million loss in 2014, helped by a weaker euro and lower fuel prices.