Business Connections

Small Talk: Profits slump for TalkSport owner UTV after fall in advertising

Profits have slumped more than 40% at TalkSport owner UTV because of an advertising drought as there has been no big football tournament this summer.

Small Talk: It’s vital for start-ups that we nurture creative talent

Conflicting interpretations of the figures published by exam boards in recent weeks have prompted much debate over the current state of Britain’s education system.

Small Talk: Zero-hours contracts? Key for growth

Depending on whose figures you use, small and medium-sized enterprises account for between 60 and 70 per cent of jobs in the UK economy, and are behind as much as two-thirds of new job creation.

Small Talk: SME lending data throws up more questions than answers

Britain’s banks are convinced the key to repairing their relationships with customers is to be ever-more transparent about their activities. So it is that they have just published detailed statistics on lending to small and medium-sized enterprises in 120 postcodes around the country, including data on how much cash these SMEs have on deposit in the banks.

Small Talk: Slow progress in overcoming unpopular energy rollovers

One down, five to go. British Gas last week announced it would unilaterally abolish automatic rollover of energy contracts for small business customers in September. So will the rest of the Big Six gas and electricity providers follow its lead?

Small Talk: Eurozone is the best choice for taking first step in exports

It has become fashionable to urge British companies to look beyond the struggling eurozone

Small Talk: SMEs which can't get off the ground are the real headache

As former regulator Sir Andrew Large begins yet another inquiry into whether banks are starving small businesses of credit – in his case, specifically Royal Bank of Scotland – it is worth asking whether we are worrying most about the right people. The small and medium-sized enterprises that believe they have been unfairly turned down for lending may complain this is inhibiting their growth potential, but at least they were able to get off the ground in the first place. The next generation of SMEs may not be so fortunate.

Small Talk: Crowdfunding can flourish but it still needs a watchdog

Raise your glasses to BrewDog, the Scottish brewery company in the middle of a £4m growth capital campaign. It is raising the money from equity investors through a private share sale and looks likely to hit its target with no difficulties at all – £1m came in on the first day of the share issue.

Small Talk: It's time SMEs got a better deal on banks competition

The financial crisis may have sent economic growth into a tailspin, but it has been a major boon for one cottage industry: there is no end in sight to the inquiries and investigations into banking that the crisis has prompted. Still, the latest of these inquiries, an Office of Fair Trading investigation into competition in banking for small and medium-sized enterprises, represents an important opportunity.

Small Talk: Your data may be safer in the clouds, despite the latest security furore

While the furore over the US data surveillance programme Prism raged last week, Microsoft published a little-noticed research note that suggests too many small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK may be missing out because of their anxiety about data privacy and security.

Small Talk: It's a misconception that we're tying ourselves up in red tape

Having been embarrassed by yet another set of disappointing figures on bank lending to small businesses last week, Government ministers were understandably keen to get back on the front foot. So Business Minister Michael Fallon must have been delighted to be able to make a set-piece announcement about a crackdown on all the ghastly red tape preventing small and medium-sized enterprises getting on with the day job.

Small Talk: Rowing back on tax relief cuts for VCTs will lift SMEs

Small businesses' difficulty in accessing bank finance is routinely cited as one of the major obstacles holding back growing companies. No doubt that's true, but the focus on bank debt has overshadowed other funding pressures on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), notably the huge problems encountered by many small companies which are looking for growth capital.

Small Talk: Small firms find justice hard to come by in swaps scandal

Banking analysts often draw parallels between the payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal and the continuing controversy over interest rate swap contracts wrongly sold to small and medium-sized enterprises. There are certainly similarities – not least in the avaricious behaviour of banks' sales staff who peddled both products – but a crucial difference in the regulatory response means many SMEs may find it much harder to get redress than PPI victims.

Small Talk: Have we got the right target if Aim shares can go into an Isa?

The big issue is whether investors should go into a market that is often illiquid and volatile

Small Talk: It will take years to solve the zombie problem – if it exists

There are two contradictory ways to look at the latest statistics on corporate insolvencies for England and Wales, which fell sharply during the first three months of the year for the fifth successive quarter. They either make a nonsense of the idea that an army of zombie companies threatens to undermine the economy's recovery, or confirm our worst fears.

News
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is obsessed by sales
As its new smartphone makes its debut, it is sometimes hard to keep track of what Amazon does. And that's not a good sign
News
When God was giving out the moral outrage, Wall Streeters were inventing credit-default swaps. It's no surprise Ackman failed to take down Herbalife, says Mark McSherry
News
Fallen star Bo Xilai in court, in September last year; he was given a life sentence
The rules are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos , as he learns the dark arts from a master
News
A brand new prescription: ‘Only using healthy mice and rats to find cures for ill humans is old-fashioned,” says George Freeman
The UK’s first-ever minister for life sciences tells Margareta Pagano about his new role at the departments of business and health, transforming how the UK develops and finances medicine
News
Rich, young Russians won’t dump their English lives unless they have absolutely no other option, says Jim Armitage
News
It’s not a question of if, but when... interest rates have been kept artificially low for long enough, says Hamish McRae
News
There may be trouble ahead … David Levy has very rarely been wrong in his forecasts
David Levy’s family has correctly called every major financial event in the US for decades. Now he’s warning of a global recession next year. Bernard Condon investigates
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
The retailer is on its knees, thanks to a German war veteran who turned the family grocers into the Aldi chain, writes Tony Paterson
News
It was Paul Fisher’s job to oversee and implement quantitative easing
Paul Fisher has left the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee after five years. He tells Ben Chu what Threadneedle Street got right and why the Bank behaved properly over forex
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are big fans of an out of print 1960s business book. Seth Stevenson explores why
News
News
Analysis: Some feel that Philip Clarke didn't get enough of a chance to prove himself
Voices
Mr Osborne, who is on a two-day trip to India with Foreign Secretary William Hague, said the two countries would see greater investment in each other’s economies and more job creation.
The young have been hurt the most by recession. They don't vote Tory and can't buy a house, so who cares?, writes David Blanchflower
News
One of the lines on the Metro do Porto network crosses the Dom Luis bridge
An interest rate swap arrangement has ended up costing a Portuguese state-owned transport company a fortune. So did it really understand the pages and pages of algebra in the contract, asks Jim Armitage
News
Is the new bank likely to be of much use? The emerging countries have done pretty well without it, says Hamish McRae
Life and Style
The value of Ruby Roman grapes has rocketed since they were first put on the market in 2008, finds Beckie Smith
News
Shopping centres, like the Hammerson one proposed for Leeds, have created opportunities, but more needs to be done
The death of traditional industries has left the region in need of regeneration. Retail developers are moving in – but is the Government doing enough to help? Laura Chesters investigates
News
After being hit by the smoking ban, recession and cheap supermarket booze, the pub industry is finally fighting back. Matthew Boyle finds a new breed of investor is moving into the sector
Voices
A strong currency isn't everything
At one time, presiding over a weakened currency would get you the chop... but things have changed, says Hamish McRae
Voices
Chancellor George Osborne (C) wears a high visibility jacket as he makes a visit to the Prysmian Group factory and speaks to factory manager Steve Price
Could a surprise drop in manufacturing output have wider implications, asks David Blanchflower
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Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride