Business Connections

Market Report: Nerves rise as clock ticks on Afren

A quiet optimism reigned over the blue-chip index yesterday

Small-scale copper production in Myanmar: world prices for resources have fallen

Small Talk: London’s junior market has been hit by falling resources prices

The Alternative Investment Market has just enjoyed its best year since the financial crisis, or one of its most disappointing – which view you take depends on how you judge the performance of London’s junior stock market.

Market Report: Is Elliott Advisors about to cause trouble in the takeover of Prezzo?

Is Elliott Advisors about to cause trouble in the takeover of Prezzo? The US activist hedge fund yesterday increased its stake in the Italian restaurant chain to 13.4 per cent and converted its holding from a contract for difference to straight shares. Prezzo agreed to sell itself to US buyout specialist TPG in November for £304m, a price analysts criticised as too low. Elliott first took a 3.1 per cent stake the day Prezzo agreed to the deal.

The taxman seems to treat firms differently according to their size

UHY Hacker Young has been compiling figures on the outcome of compliance investigations into small businesses’ VAT accounts

Small Talk: Small businesses are failing to hire more female directors

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that young, fast-growing and innovative small businesses are likely by their very nature to be less conservative than their larger and more staid counterparts. But it’s always a mistake to jump to conclusions, as a study of some of Britain’s best private companies reveals: it turns out these businesses are way behind when it comes to the number of women they employ at board level.

SME: The Chancellor fights for bank bonuses but not for mis-selling victims

Interest rate swap contracts proved disastrous for the finances of many small businesses

SME: Start-ups are getting support, but it is falling away far too early

The smallest and newest companies by and large make a relatively small contribution to the economy

Small Talk: Other sources of money for young businesses don’t mean banks can’t – or shouldn’t – help

The retailers Sir Philip Green and Mike Ashley top an intriguing ranking just published by Start-Up Loans, the government scheme set up to offer new businesses finance, advice and mentoring. The “Rags to Rich” list features entrepreneurs who started with a relatively small cash sum and turned the companies into large and successful enterprises.

Market Report: Travel agents and airlines cruise higher

As half-term gets under way City folk have holidays on their minds.

Small Talk: Many are making thousands from their hobbies, thanks to the web

Hobbyist traders contribute £8bn to the economy mint images

Small Talk: Small firms are missing out on the advantages of switching banks

Complaints by small businesses about their banks have tended to focused on credit – or the lack of it – in recent times, but what do these customers think about the rest of the service they receive? Are they happy with the way their business current account is run, and are they getting a fair rate of interest on the often sizeable amounts of cash they hold?

Small Talk: What about trying someone a little older, Lord Sugar?

So here we go again. Television’s annual tribute to the great entrepreneurial spirit of Britain arrives on our screens this week. And it is no wonder that the country’s small business start-up rates are running at an all-time high, given the quality, determination and, above all, passion of the candidates making their bid for glory on The Apprentice. We can expect every single one of them to give, at the very least, 110 per cent.

Small Talk: Many employers face penalties over pensions auto-enrolment

Britain’s small businesses are sleepwalking towards a pensions disaster. Thousands are missing the legally binding deadlines by which they must introduce occupational pensions for staff – and many will face expensive fines and penalties as a result.

Market Report: Shouts on the streets of Hong Kong are being heard in Paternoster Square

The shouts on the streets of Hong Kong are being heard in Paternoster Square. As protesters took to the streets of the former colony’s business district to call for democracy, traders in London were hitting “sell” on companies that do business in Hong Kong. HSBC was the worst hit, with its shares falling 15.2p to 635p. The emerging markets specialist Standard Chartered ended 19p lower at 1,155.5p as both banks were forced to close their offices in Hong Kong.

News
Barclays’ New York office is being pursued by state prosecutors who say it failed to police its dark pools
Barclays is accused by New York regulators of fishing in some unethical waters. But this time the bank is holding its course, writes James Moore
News
Railway workers on the tracks outside King's Cross, London
Given we are trying to boost domestic industry, there should also be some effort to do the same at the top of engineering, says Mark Leftly
News
The government say a one-off payment to the EU meant that borrowing was higher than expected for December
Video: Oscar Williams-Grut provides a run-down of the day's major news from the City
News
From the percentage of women in attendance to the number of private jets
News
Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle United, took USC into a pre-pack administration
A factory stand-off. Debts unpaid. Workers laid off. Simon Neville investigates the messy demise of the billionaire's fashion brand
News
The new pub will open at the Extra service station in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire later this year
I’m much more inclined to feel sympathy for a family sandwich shop than I am a 900-strong pub chain, says James Moore
News
It is the 'unknown unknowns' to use Donald Rumsfeld's famous expression that bite investors on the backside
When you make money you are clever; when you lose it, it is someone else's fault, writes Hamish McRae
News
Video: Alex Lawson provides a run-down of the day's major news from the City
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Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us