Business Connections

Small Talk: The Prompt Payment Code is proving a case of too little, too late as large companies continue to play for time in settling invoices

New year, same old story. Despite endless government promises to crack down on late payments, it looks as if many small businesses will spend a good part of 2014 chasing larger businesses for money they are owed.

David Prosser: EU cash on the Horizon for innovators

The wheels of the European Commission sometimes grind slowly, but the Horizon 2020 project seems set to deliver valuable benefits to innovative small businesses in the technology and manufacturing sectors.

David Prosser: German lessons for British firms

Britain’s failure to build sufficient numbers of mid-sized businesses capable of matching Germany’s famous Mittelstand companies has been a long-held frustration for policymakers of all persuasions – it’s encouraging, therefore, to see them doing something about it.

David Prosser: The booming FinTech 50 businesses are exploring the use of new technologies – and many are British

Has Britain found its niche in the dotcom 2.0 boom? The growing number of financial technology businesses that are based in the UK but successful in the global marketplace suggests it just might have done – and rightly so, given its importance as a financial services hub.

SMEs ‘still not getting help’ on loan schemes

Lawrence Tomlinson’s report on RBS lending found there was evidence it had let some small businesses default

Small Talk: We need venture capitalists or a brave Business Bank to put up the money if Britain wants to have a Twitter of its very own

Last week’s Twitter IPO is yet another reminder that Britain isn’t producing technology businesses that are capable of reaching the same dizzying heights as the social media giants of California.

Small Talk: RBS let companies down on lending but so did most banks

The biggest lie is that lending at the bank disappointed as small firms didn’t want to borrow

Small Talk: We mustn’t let the FCA crowd out this new form of lending

‘It isn’t their job to tell people what they should or shouldn’t invest their money in’

Small Talk: Auto-enrolment could be a ticking timebomb for SMEs

Pension providers... have become  increasingly picky about whom they want to accept

Market Report: Red pen for RBS on profitability fears

The City withdrew funds from Royal Bank of Scotland yesterday on concerns it isn’t as profitable as some had hoped.Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch took the red pen to the taxpayer-owned bank on fears of falling margins on mortgages, dividend anxiety in relation to capital-ratio requirements, plus the possible issues of its government-enforced bad bank, US housing claims looming and EU Libor settlements.

Small Talk: Come on, banks – it’s time to start doing right by SMEs

There is reason to believe that demand for credit will once again begin to increase

Small Talk: Chance for small firms to win support on a special Saturday

Initiatives like these can sometimes feel gimmicky, but in  the US... the results have been tangible

Small Talk: Labour’s small-firm backing stokes job creation hopes

‘‘If we want to tackle unemployment, we should promote policies that favour small businesses’’

Market Report: Healthy result as Ixico takes over Phytopharm

The drug company that gave up on a failed new treatment for Parkinson’s, having raised millions from the likes of the Michael J Fox Foundation, has received a clean bill of health after a reverse take- over yesterday.

Small Talk: It’s time to relieve little firms of the business rate millstone

Don’t be surprised if small businesses dismiss Chancellor Osborne’s support as two-faced

News
James Moore, Outlook: It looked doubtful, but the Co-op is giving every impression of having set a course for calmer waters.
News
Audioboom, which now hosts a weekly XFM radio podcast by Russell Brand (right, with the co-host Matt Morgan), started life as a fund offering finance to builders, then tried turning waste products into energy
A small AIM-listed mining company that has sold all its assets is a perfect vehicle for shell investors, as Jamie Nimmo explains
News
Zero-hours contracts do not guarantee a minimum number of hours
James Moore, Outlook:The trouble is, the contracts almost always seem to work best for the employer.
News
James Moore, Outlook: It’s delicious. UBS, a controversial bank that has had a great deal of trouble with managing its money, has hired Annie Leibovitz, a controversial celebrity photographer
Voices
Stock prices in China: Economic power has shifted east, and emerging market equities can bring rewards - and risk
Ben Chu, Economic View: The key here is not to sell with the herd when markets drop sharply but to ride it out.

News
Candidates are facing tougher and weirder questions than ever in job interviews
News
Power and the glory? An artist’s impression of Hinkley Point C, which it is envisaged will start generating in 2026 and account for 7 per cent of British consumption
Environmentalists are far from alone in opposing an 'expensive mistake'
News
Sir Mike Rake
James Moore, Outlook: Pick a flotation candidate – any candidate – and you will find directors and owners having second thoughts.
News
Dave Lewis built a formidable reputation at Unilever, but some were concerned by his lack of retail experience
Alex Lawson looks at the changes Dave Lewis has made
News
Women and men stand in an office
Two economists have come up with a formula to quantify the gender gap
News
An investor reads a newspaper in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Beijing, China. China's major stock indexes sank more than 6 percent in early trade on Tuesday, after a catastrophic Monday that saw Chinese exchanges suffer their biggest losses since the global financial crisis, destabilising financial markets around the world.
Satyajit Das, Das Capital: The ‘Chinese dream’ risks turning into a nightmare for its investors and its leaders.

News
Paddy Power is well-known for eye-catching promotional stunts, such as this balloon at the Cheltenham Festival
Outlook: It isn’t hard to see Paddy Power and Betfair's investors are excited
News
A view through smog over the 02 Arena and the Canary Wharf financial district in London. The BBC weather centre predicts a potential 8 or 9 out of 10 level of air pollution likely to be found in East Anglia and the East Midlands
James Moore:

“Sell in May go away, buy again on St Leger Day” runs the old City saying. 

News
Stonewall, which marches at London Pride, is working with firms in the professions to promote equality
Jo Bourke investigates 'prevalent' homophobic attitudes in the construction and property sectors
News
Spokespeople for the companies involved, including BHP Billiton, stressed their political neutrality
James Moore, Outlook:

The sort of name recognition enjoyed by the likes of Tesco or Barclays is not something BHP Billiton is ever going to achieve.

News
The Chinese stock market has faced its own 'Black Monday'
James Moore, Outlook:This is what happens when humans are replaced by computers.
News
Everything you need to know about the global stock market meltdown and what it means
News
Rupert Scofield, founder of microfinance institution Finca, shows Matthew Glynn how it has changed lives
News
Laura Wade-Gery, the M&S executive in charge of the company's 870 UK stores and website, is going on maternity leave, the retailer announced today
James Ashton, My Week After her moment on the front pages, Laura Wade-Gery should be left to get on with it
News
Online gambling operator 888.com is a client of XL Media, which specialises in driving internet users to its site
Jim Armitage, Outlook: The takeover battle for the Bwin.party online gambling company has had more twists than an all-night blackjack session.
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Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones