Thursday 18 February 2016

Thursday, February 18, 2016 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, February 18, 2016 with No comments | Labels:

GSK fined £38m for stifling drug competition “at the expense of the NHS and taxpayers”
Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been fined £37.6m by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). It relates to £50m of payments made to rivals for them to effectively delay the release of the anti-depressant paroxetine drug. GSK's branded version of the drug, Seroxat, was then able to continue its monopoly over the market for this "blockbuster" product. According to the CMA when the rivals were eventually able to enter the market at the end of 2003, average paroxetine prices dropped by more than 70% in two years. It is the largest fine since the CMA began operating nearly two years ago, and among the biggest in the UK competition law history. 4.2 million UK prescriptions of Seroxat were issued in 2000. Sales exceeded £90m in 2001. In that year, two smaller rivals GUK and Alphapharma made agreements with GSK which included terms banning their independent entry into the UK paroxetine market. The CMA found that these agreements infringed competition law. It has fined the companies involved a total of £45m - £37.6m for GSK and £7.4m in relation to the other two companies. SKY NEWS

UK first-time buyers will have already spent 'more than £50,000 on rent'
Figures from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla) show that UK tenants spent an average of 22% of their wages on rent last year, and that buyers getting on the ladder this year will have previously paid out an average of £52,900 to landlords. In the north-east a typical tenant will have spent £31,300 on rent before they can buy, while in London the figure is £68,300. The Arla research is based on someone moving out of their family home at 18 and renting for 13 years. Rents have risen rapidly in recent years as would-be first-time buyers have struggled to afford to buy a home and been forced to spend longer in the private rented sector. Figures from estate estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rain recently showed that rents on new tenancies rose by 3.4% in 2015 to an average of £794 a month. On Thursday official figures showed that the number of tenants evicted from their homes had risen to a record high in 2015. GUARDIAN

Rail franchising: taxpayers lose out as fewer companies are bidding to run train services
Fears over dwindling interest and competition in rail were underlined last week when the DfT announced only two shortlisted bidders for the South Western franchise, Britain’s most lucrative commuter network. One of the bidders was the incumbent, Stagecoach, which has run it for 20 years. The number of bids has reduced on average from four to three since the rail franchising programme was restarted in 2013, the public accounts committee (PAC) report said. It found that the DfT was struggling to attract new operators and that some of the nine transport companies currently running trains in the UK could drop out of the market. Meg Hillier, the chair of the PAC, said: “We are particularly concerned about the effects of declining competition within the programme. By its own measure, the department requires at least three bids per competition to increase the likelihood of receiving high-quality bids.” But rail unions described the PAC report as “hopelessly inadequate”. The RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “It attempts to create the impression that the great rail rip-off can be halted by a bit of tinkering with the franchising process when it is privatisation itself that has reduced our railways to a chaotic, moneymaking racket. The answer is to rip it up and return the whole rail network to direct, public ownership.” GUARDIAN

Hundreds of sheltered housing developments 'shelved due to benefit cuts'
The National Housing Federation (NHF) has calculated that nearly 2,500 units have so far been scrapped or delayed as sheltered housing providers face losing an average of £68 a week per tenant. The cuts - announced in Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement - will bring housing benefit rates for social housing in line with the sums paid to landlords in the private sector. Mr Osborne said the move, which will affect England, Scotland and Wales, would deliver savings of £225m by 2020-21, and is part of a £12bn package of cuts from the welfare bill. The cap includes sheltered housing, which is more expensive to provide due to the additional support on offer - anything from canteens to round-the-clock care staff. At one sheltered housing complex in Harrogate, the need for new development is clear - there is only one lift and the corridors are narrow. "We need to move," said resident Frank Forkes. "It's very cramped. If the lift breaks down, it's chaos because you've people upstairs in wheelchairs." The housing association has spent eight years developing plans for a new complex a couple of miles away. But following the government's announcement in November, the board of Harrogate Neighbours delayed the scheme. Under the new rules, they would lose £100,000 per annum on it. BBC NEWS

Cameron ‘buying off’ Tory MPs threatening to rebel over council cuts
David Cameron has been accused of buying off Tory MPs threatening to block local government cuts, after it emerged that a new £300m relief fund will overwhelmingly help Conservative areas, including his own Oxfordshire council. The extra cash was announced after up to 30 Conservative MPs were poised to revolt against the local government finance settlement. A Labour analysis shows that 83% of the new £300m two-year fund will go to Tory-run councils, mostly in the southern shires. It found that the biggest beneficiary will be Surrey, which will get £24m, with £19m going to Hampshire, £16m to Hertfordshire, £14m to Essex, £12m to West Sussex, £11m to Kent and £9m to Buckinghamshire. Cameron’s county council in Oxfordshire will get an additional £9m to ease the cuts over the next two years. The council in Oxfordshire had been criticised by the prime minister’s own mother for its planned cuts to children’s services. Then Cameron’s aunt joined in the calls for the council to reverse its decision, saying it was a “great, great error” to allow 44 children’s centres to close. Clare Currie, sister of the prime minister’s mother, Mary Cameron, told ITV News that her nephew is a family man who she believes “doesn’t want them to be shut either”. While Conservative county councils will get the most relief, allowing them to slow the pace of cuts, major Labour-run urban areas will get no transitional funding at all. Labour pointed out that the five most deprived councils in the country – Middlesbrough, Knowsley, Hull, Liverpool and Manchester – will receive nothing under the grant, while the five least deprived – Hart, Wokingham, Chiltern, Waverley, Elmbridge – will collectively receive £5.3m. GUARDIAN

HSBC to keep its headquarters in London, after concessions from chancellor
HSBC is to keep its headquarters in the UK after a 10-month review during which time the government has made a series of changes regarded as favourable to the bank. After the May 2015 Conservative election victory the chancellor, George Osborne, has backed away from creating rules intended to toughen up the regime for holding senior bankers to account. He had said he would reverse the burden of proof but has reverted to the more usual system of bankers guilt having to be proven. He also changed the system for taxing banks. A bank levy on balance sheets, which hit HSBC hardest of all the banks, is being scaled back and an eight percentage point corporation tax surcharge on profits is regarded as hitting its smaller rivals harder. Analysts have calculated that the changes mean HSBC will pay £300m to the exchequer – down from £1bn under the previous bank levy system. GUARDIAN

HSBC sued over drug cartel murders after laundering probe
Families of U.S. citizens murdered by drug gangs in Mexico have sued HSBC, claiming the bank can be held responsible for the deaths because it let cartels launder billions of dollars to operate their businesses. The lawsuit brings fresh scrutiny to the Mexican activities of HSBC, which in 2012 paid $1.9 billion to resolve a criminal investigation into whether it violated U.S. sanctions laws and laundered at least $881 million on behalf of drug cartels. The new case recounts a series of murders in 2010 and 2011 in horrific detail, arguing that the bank should be held to account for them under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act. Lesley Redelfs was four months pregnant when she and her husband, Arthur, were shot by the Juarez cartel after leaving a children’s birthday party hosted by the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, where she worked. Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Jr. were special agents for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, driving to Mexico City when they were run off the road by two vehicles filled with hit men from the Los Zetas cartel, who then opened fire. Avila survived. Rafael Morales Jr. was abducted on his wedding day, as were his brother and uncle, and the three died of asphyxiation after members of the Sinaloa cartel wrapped duct tape around their heads. HSBC already is among banks facing a lawsuit from families of U.S. soldiers killed or injured by attacks in Iraq on accusations that the firms helped Iran process transfers and finance Hezbollah and other militant groups. BLOOMBERG

Sainsbury's scraps two-for-one and multi-buy deals in supermarkets
The announcement comes after the Money Advice Service (MAS) warned this week that confusing price promotions could actually be costing people an extra £1,200 a year. The supermarket chain’s Marketing Director, Sarah Warby, said: "Careful management of household budgets, a growing awareness of the cost of food waste and more health-conscious living has driven a trend away from multiple product purchasing towards more single item purchasing... We have listened to our customers who have told us that multi-buy promotions don’t meet their shopping needs today, are often confusing and create logistical challenges at home in terms of storage and waste.” Around half of its multi-buy promotions have already been axed, the company said, although there will still be the occasional seasonal deal after the summer. EVENING STANDARD

Morgan Stanley to pay $3.2bn for misleading investors
Morgan Stanley will pay $3.2bn (£2.2bn) to US authorities to settle claims that it misled investors about risky mortgage bonds sold before the financial crisis. In 2015, a tentative deal to pay $2.6bn was announced, but New York authorities pushed to increase that amount. Morgan Stanley acknowledged it had misrepresented the quality of the mortgage bonds. Morgan Stanley's settlement is far less than peers like Bank of America, which paid $16.65bn. This is in part because Morgan Stanley did not issue the original mortgages itself, but instead purchased home loans from other banks and packaged them together to sell as bonds to investors. Morgan Stanley admitted knowing the mortgages were risky, but was cleared of some culpability because it did not issue mortgages to home buyers it suspected would not be able to pay them. This is one of the last deals connected to pre-financial crisis mortgage bond sales that the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force -which originated that charges- is likely to bring. BBC NEWS

Companies to publish gender pay gap under new government initiative
Companies with over 250 employees will have to publish their gender pay gap under measures being announced by the Government to tackle inequality. New league tables will also be launched giving details of companies failing to address the problem. And ministers are taking action to make sure that thousands more girls study maths, engineering, science and technology at school. A £500,000 package was announced aimed at helping the 8,000 employers who will have to publish their average pay and bonus gap between men and women. The first league table will be published in 2018, making it possible for women to compare pay in different sectors. Women and equalities minister Nicky Morgan said the Government wanted to secure "real equality" for women and reduce the gap in pay between men and women, saying: "That's why I am announcing a raft of measures to support women in their careers from the classroom to the boardroom, leaving nowhere for gender inequality to hide.” The TUC said it was "shocking" that the gender pay gap was still over 19% for all workers and 9.4% for full-time employees, adding that at the current rate of progress it would take almost 50 years to close it. DAILY MAIL

Burberry faces U.S. lawsuit accusing it of deceptive price tags
British luxury fashion brand Burberry is to face a class action lawsuit in the United States, claiming it used misleading price tags at its outlet stores to fool shoppers into believing the goods were being sold at a hefty discount. Outlet stores typically sell excess or old stock at a discount. But some retailers, including Burberry, manufacture goods specifically for sale in their outlet operations. The company is accused of intentionally presenting false price information on products that have never been sold in its retail stores. The lawsuit is the latest in a long line of cases accusing luxury retailers of marking up goods sold in outlet stores with made-up manufacturer prices. Last year U.S. retailer Michael Kors (KORS.N) agreed to pay $4.88 million and change its sales practices to settle a similar class action lawsuit after it was accused of creating an "illusion" of deep discounts. REUTERS


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