Business Connections

Small Talk: Small-company fat cats paying themselves almost as generously as big counterparts

Britain’s listed smaller companies are catching up with their larger counterparts in one worrying regard: they’re just as likely these days to be handing out whacking pay increases to fat-cat directors, irrespective of whether they’ve added sufficient shareholder value to merit such awards.

The pros and cons for small businesses are finely balanced

Small Talk: After two years of debate the effect on small businesses of a Yes vote in Scotland remains a guessing game

With less than two weeks to go until Scotland’s referendum, small business leaders appear to be sanguine. In March, 90 per cent of them told the entrepreneur network Ingenious Britain that they knew how they would vote, with 48 per cent concerned that independence would hurt their business. But by the summer, two-thirds of small and medium-sized business reckoned independence would make no difference to them, according to a survey by the networking group Vistage.

Small Talk: Take that leap, says the India-born Cobra entrepreneur and critic of the Coalition’s immigration policy Lord Bilimoria

When I came to England from India as a student three decades ago, being an entrepreneur was frowned upon – it meant being a bellboy or carpet salesman,” says Lord Bilimoria, the man behind Cobra beer.

Small Talk: Many young people are entering the jobs market without the right skills

Over the past couple of weeks thousands of young people received their exam results and I’d like to congratulate them all. Many of these school leavers will go on to work for a small firm or even start their own business.

Small Talk: Slow progress on curbing the power of energy giants – but small businesses can do more to help themselves

Another week, another inch forward in the grindingly slow battle against vested interests and uncompetitive markets that do so much damage to consumers and small businesses alike. Six days after announcing the referral of the banking sector for a full-scale competition inquiry, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced the next step in its investigation into the energy market, which has already been referred for the same process.

Market Report: Investors disappointed after hoping for juicy takeover bid for Salamander Energy

Investors hoping for a windfall from a juicy takeover bid for Salamander Energy have been disappointed.

Small Talk: Forget the regulator, it’s down to the customers to force better competition in business banking

Small businesses pleased that the Competition and Markets Authority’ has decided to refer the banking sector for a full competition inquiry should not get too excited. The truth is that if small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which the CMA agrees suffer at the hands of a lack of competition in the banking sector, really do want a better deal, they are going to have to fight for it.

Six in 10 small businesses are owed late payments and the average small business is currently owed £38,186 in overdue bills, Bacs says

Small Talk: Small businesses struggle to get paid – and too often the culprits are big businesses and councils

One in four companies is spending more than 10 hours a week chasing overdue payments

Small Talk: The Alternative Investment Market has recovered after five miserable years but is still fragile

Britain has a remarkable propensity for building things up only in order to knock them down again. The sad story of the online fashion retailer Asos is a case in point. Having lauded the company for years, driving its stock to higher and higher valuations, investors have run for cover at the first sign of trouble; two profits warnings have seen the share price halve this year.

Small Talk: Click and collect could be the catalyst for small, independent retailers to mount a comeback

Could the internet save the high street, particularly the smaller independent retailers we all profess to love but all too often fail to support with our custom? Brandon Lewis, the government minister with responsibility for the internet, thinks so – and he might be right.

Medium-sized businesses need more support to stop them from falling over the tax cliff

More support for Britain’s often-neglected medium-sized businesses: the Confederation of British Industry today publishes a series of proposals for tax reforms it hopes will enable many of these companies to fulfil their potential.

Small talk: As more small companies appeal against rejected applications for credit, banks need to try harder to get their lending decisions right

More than 1,100 small firms were wrongly turned down for finance by a big bank over the year to the end of March, a report reveals today.

Small Talk: Forget the funding... entrepreneurs should bank on having a mentor to give them a flying start

What support do business start-ups need most today in order to get off the ground, grow and eventually prosper?

Small Talk: Celebrating regional talent and innovation will help to foster growth, says chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses

In many ways, London is in a league of its own. It is home to one of the world’s greatest financial centres. The capital is a crucible of trade and commerce for both established and emerging markets as well as being the hub of creative talent, but there is so much untapped potential in our nations and regions.

Small Talk: In Britain small companies are often sold on to bigger firms. In Germany they tend to do things differently ...

The former BT boss Lord Livingston, who now serves at the UK’s Trade and Investment minister, is understandably delighted about the deal announced last week by Chinook Sciences, the Nottingham-based clean technology specialist. Chinook’s £300m contract to build a waste-driven energy plant in the UAE is the first large export deal for a medium-sized British company since Lord Livingston unveiled specialist support for these businesses earlier this year.

News
A Yes vote does not deliver independence; it delivers a negotiation to secure the terms of independence. But once politicians start negotiating, anything can happen.
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VIDEO : Get the latest business news from our City staff
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While the Canadian province eventually voted No, the years of uncertainty caused banks to move elsewhere and damaged GDP. Mark McSherry ponders a similar fate for Scotland
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Phones 4U stores will remain closed while talks continue with parties interested in acquiring the business
The mobile phone retailer’s demise is a tragedy for its employees, but just business sense for those responsible, Alex Lawson and Simon Read report
News
The Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon (right), is joined by the leader of Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood (centre) as they pass a bookmakers during a walk-about to meet the Scottish electorate
There’s a lot riding on Thursday’s poll, not least among bookmakers and punters such as Russell Lynch , who would like a referendum that makes them a little richer
News
Latest figures say export growth in Britain has slowed to its lowest point since April, while factory output is at its weakest since the start of 2013
The underlying trend in  factory output is its weakest since the start of 2003, writes David Blanchflower
News
Alex Salmond and the nationalists reject claims that Scotland's economy would suffer if the UK broke up
Ben Chu looks at what could happen if the 'yes' campaign triumphs in next week’s independence referendum
News
Emissions policies will raise the cost of steel making
As Europe pursues anti-pollution measures, steel producers are warning that steeper costs will drive customers away, writes Thomas Biesheuvel
News
Such an outcome would be the worst result for Scotland, says Mark Leftly
News
Samuel L Jackson at the annual event
The company donates its global revenues on the day to hundreds of charities
News
Véronique Laury takes over as Kingfisher’s chief executive from Sir Ian Cheshire in January
More than half the UK population is female but she will become only the fifth FTSE 100 female chief executive, says Laura Chesters
News
Whatever the outcome of the referendum north of the border, the basic structure of both the Scottish and English economies remains the same
The less-clear message is that holders of Scottish assets are wary of independence, writes Hamish McRae
News
The new iPhone 6 is displayed during an Apple special event in Cupertino, California.
Tim Cook, Rupert Murdoch and Arianna Huffington were among those to voice their thoughts
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