News

Goldman Sachs’ private equity arm is set to announce a £150m investment in insurance group Hastings Direct that will leave chairman Neil Utley cashing in tens of millions of pounds from the business he turned around after buying it in 2008.

Rock readies for sale despite losses of £232m

Northern Rock's executive chairman stoked expectations of an imminent move out of public ownership yesterday when he said the bank did not need to make a profit before returning to the private sector.

Northern Rock 'on road to recovery'

Northern Rock insisted today that it was on the road to recovery despite posting an annual loss as it prepares itself for private ownership.

Business diary: Northern Rock tells it like it is

One has to hand it to Northern Rock: it really doesn't miss a trick. After commissioning what it describes as "extensive research", the bank is launching a new brand campaign, to be headlined "Northern Rock. Works for Me." Isn't that simply a statement of the obvious? Having been forced to dip into our pockets to save Rock from collapse three years ago, this is one of several banks that works for us all – in theory, at least. After all, as taxpayers, we own the bank and employ its staff.

James Moore: Cheaper options would help people quit loans habit

Those who defend companies such as Provident Financial make two points: that their clients are broadly satisfied with their service (Provident puts the figure at 95 per cent), and that the alternatives are dire. By the latter, they mean the loan shark who will break your legs when you can't pay up, rather than just your heart when the bailiffs knock on the door.

Starting gun fired on Northern Rock sale

Northern Rock's return to the private sector was kick-started yesterday as UK Financial Investments, the body that represents taxpayers' interests in the banking sector, invited bankers to pitch for a mandate to work on "strategic options".

The business on...Gary Hoffman, Chief executive, Northern Rock

Was the fuss about his £500,000 really fair then?

It's true that Mr Hoffman was going to be paid £500,000 in salary, pension and benefits for doing, well, nothing, and that £500,000 came from the taxpayer because Northern Rock is state-owned.

Anger over Rock boss's £500,000 'to do nothing'

Unions described the decision by state-owned Northern Rock to hand chief executive Gary Hoffman £500,000 in pay, pension and other benefits for doing nothing for six months as a "punch in the stomach" yesterday.

Northern Rock boss Gary Hoffman steps down

Nationalised bank Northern Rock today confirmed Gary Hoffman has stepped down as chief executive with immediate effect.

Last Night's TV: Wonderland - High Society Brides/BBC2<br/>A History of the World/BBC4

Judging from the title alone it looked as if High Society Brides was going to be the month's least tactful bit of scheduling. During the day we'd learned that the entire nation was about to go on a bread-and-dripping diet and in the evening it seemed we would be able to cheer ourselves up by watching the upper crust uniting their inherited wealth in the holy bond of matrimony. And, judging from the opening five minutes, it looked as if judging from the title hadn't been entirely misleading. Various women with cut-glass accents recalled when they first met their husband ("Shooting... grouse moor in Yorkshire") or exchanged emollient truisms about wealth. "Money can be a lubricant I think, can't it?" said one musingly. "Mmmm... yes... opens doors," replied another. Oh dear, I'm not going to be able to take a lot of this, I thought. Not when so many people are going to be finding the lubricant in short supply.

Rock repays &#163;1bn more to taxpayers

The group formed from Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley's toxic loans has paid back another £1bn in taxpayer cash this year after ramping up its debt repayments.

Northern Rock pays back another £1bn

The group formed from Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley's toxic loans has paid back another £1 billion in taxpayer cash this year after ramping up its debt repayments.

Album: Manic Street Preachers, Postcards from a Young Man (Columbia)

There are two distinct strains of Manic Street Preachers album: the grandiose agit-rock ones designed to force-feed arena crowds the sorts of philosophical ruminations they won't encounter at school; and the more hermetic, astringent exercises like The Holy Bible.

100,000 finance jobs lost since Northern Rock crisis

Around 100,000 finance jobs have been lost since the start of the banking crisis three years ago and there are fears of further "significant" cuts ahead, according to a new report today.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there