Category Archives: Business

The Interview: just one subplot in Sony’s troubled big picture

Japanese conglomerate’s CEO already faced flagging sales of electronic goods before movie brought North Korean fury down on his head

On the day that Sony Pictures decided to cancel the release of The Interview – a comedy about the fictional assassination of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un – the firm’s employees were advised to cover their keyboard with a cloth when logging into email “so that hackers can’t see what you are typing”.

The instruction came via a spoof Twitter account using the name of the parent company’s Japanese chief executive, Kazuo Hirai. Yet given the ignominy Sony has suffered in the fortnight since it was hacked, allegedly by a group connected to North Korea, parody is beginning to mirror reality.

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Dane investigating EU tax deals says Luxleaks trail will lead to fair pay

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s taxation inquiry could implicate her new boss Jean-Claude Juncker Continue reading…

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Vladimir Putin invites Kim Jong-un to Moscow

North Korea’s leader may travel to Russia to mark the USSR’s victory over Nazi Germany on 9 May as mark of closer relations Continue reading…

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IMF holds back Cyprus bailout funds

International Monetary Fund says expected tranche of €88m will not be paid after parliament suspended new foreclosure law

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Wall Street extends rally to post biggest one-day gain in three years

Dow Jones industrial average rises 421 points as the Federal Reserve news that it won’t raise interest rates continues to support market gains

The Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest day in three years, soaring more than 400 points as the stock market extended a rally into a second day.

The industrial average closed up 421 points, or 2.4 percent, to 17,778 Thursday, its largest gain since December 2011.

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Everything’s fine, says Putin in press conference – including my love life

A classic example of the Russian leader’s annual conference: just don’t mention the rouble or military involvement in Ukraine

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France fines 13 consumer goods firms €951m for price-fixing

Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Gillette are among those facing penalties for colluding on price rises between 2003 and 2006

Some of the world’s biggest consumer products companies, including Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, Procter & Gamble and Gillette, have been fined a combined €951m (£748m) by the French competition watchdog for price fixing in supermarkets.

The regulator said the 13 companies, which also include Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel, L’Oréal, Beiersdorf and Johnson & Johnson’s Laboratoires Vendôme, had colluded on price increases between 2003 and 2006. “These two sanctions are among the most significant imposed to date by the competition authority,” it said. The regulator added that the price-fixing had kept prices “artificially high” affecting consumers and “caused harm to the economy”.

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I feel no responsibility for rouble’s collapse, says Putin

Russian president offers few solid solutions during annual press conference, but promises economy will overcome crises Continue reading…
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Putin press conference: ‘economy will rebound within two years’ – live

Follow the latest developments as the Russian president gives his annual press conference in Moscow

Read Shaun Walker’s preview of Putin’s speech

12.21pm GMT

Last question. Putin is asked whether he will take responsibility for Russia’s economic problems and whether he will run for president in 2018.

Putin says it is “too early” at present to decide whether he will run for president next time.

What we can be sure of is we will definitely overcome the period and difficulties and I am sure we will be stronger …in the global economy.

Thanks a lot for your attention. Happy New Year.

12.15pm GMT

Crimean Tatar TV channel asks about draft law on rehabilitation of repressed peoples, why has it has stalled. Putin says it hasn’t.

Crimean Tatar TV channel asks about draft law on rehabilitation of repressed peoples, why has it has stalled. Putin says it hasn’t.

12.14pm GMT

Journo from Volgograd asks Putin about @tvrain law which bans cable channels from placing adverts. Putin totally dodges the answer.

The journalist pointed out that the law contradicts previous statements by Putin talking about the need for an independent TV channel.

12.11pm GMT

Last three questions, declares Putin.

12.06pm GMT

That’s the three-hour mark. A cameraman to my left just fell over. Don’t feel like we’re even close to the end.

12.06pm GMT

A question about Iran from an Iranian business journal. Maybe someone should be appointed to boost turnover and trade with Iran? There needs to be a change of ambassador. You promised to visit Iran and to sign a trade deal with Iran but neither happened, I don’t understand, has there been a change of strategy?

We will analyse the efficiency of our embassy in Tehran but on the whole we are satisfied.

11.56am GMT

Angry Russian journalist: What about the people in your inner circle who are billionaires as Russians live in poverty? Are they 5th column?

Great question: “Some of your close colleagues live in palace…” (Putin said earlier: “There can’t be a palace coup, we have no palaces”)

“And last question, what is the salary of Igor Sechin?” (applause)

Putin says Sechin “an effective manager” and doing a good job. Says he doesn’t know how much $$ he makes

Putin says there are no government officials in my circle and I hope there will never be – they’re colleagues

11.48am GMT

A woman holding a green fluffy crocodile just asked about parking fines in Moscow.

A woman clutching a toy Gena the Crocodile asks Putin about parking in Moscow. Missed what Gena’s got to do with it

Gena the Crocodilefriendly crocodile in the series of animation films Gena the Crocodile, Cheburashka and Shapoklyak by Roman Kachanov (Soyuzmultfilmstudio). Gena the Crocodile made his debut in 1966’s novel Gena the Crocodile and His Friends by Eduard Uspensky.

11.44am GMT

A question from the Chechen leader’s press secretary.

Alvi Karimov, Kadyrov’s press secretary is now asking a question. Bizarre.

“Ramzan Akhmatovich has never broken the constitution” calls Ksenia Sobchak “naglaya” for twisting facts. How does press sec get to ask Qs?

11.41am GMT

Question from the FT’s Courtney Weaver.

Good Q whether Yevtushenkov trial means change in rules for big biz. Putin doesn’t quite answer, but invites Yevtushenkov to meeting w/him

Bashneft case does not mean reevaluation of privatisations, says Putin.

Yevtushenkov’s star fell rapidly his autumn when he was placed under house arrest in connection with an investigation into Sistema’s purchase of Bashneft, which was privatised in 2003 and acquired by Sistema a few years later.

In October, a Moscow court gave the state permission to seize Bashneft from Sistema after ruling that the company’s privatisation deal had been illegal. Sistema declined to appeal against the ruling.

.@FT‘s @courtneymoscow is first western newspaper to get a question. Actual news in #Putin‘s answer, now Sistema share price up 80%

11.29am GMT

Next a journalist from Xinhua asks about relations between Russia and China.

China is our largest trade partner, it will grow further.

Putin: We <3 <3 China. Never any problems. No problems, none.

11.25am GMT

Asked a question about Turkey by a Turkish journalist, Putin says Turkey and Russia have many interests that coincide.

Putin calls Erdogan a “strong guy”

Putin compares Russia and Turkey to France and Germany. Used to be best of enemies, now best of friends

11.21am GMT

This is descending into farce. Man from Kirov asks Putin for help for supermarkets to stock the region’s local fermented bread drink (kvas).

Never a dull moment. An apparently drunk guy is now asking Putin a question.

#Putin: “I don’t know whether Coca-Cola is a harmful drink… Many experts say it is. The thing is we have our own national drinks.”

Coca Cola sales about to take a hit in Russia

We will help you conquer your place under the sun in the Russian market.

11.16am GMT

A journalist from Voronezh says her aunt’s friend is curious if Putin has time for a personal life.

As for your aunt everything is just fine don’t worry

A dignitary from Europe asked me do you have love? …I have people who love me, everything is just fine, don’t worry.

Everything is fine (with my love life), Putin says. He’s still on good terms with his ex wife, Lyudmila.

11.08am GMT

Question from Kazakhstan: Will our mutual market turn into a mutual crisis?

Putin: Because Kazakhstan also an oil producer, also will see this negative economic environment.

11.07am GMT

So basically President Putin did not answer John Simpson’s question as to whether he would pull back from a “new Cold War”

11.06am GMT

A question from the BBC’s John Simpson, the first in English. Putin requests headphones so he can understand the question.

Western countries believe almost universally that there’s a new cold war and you’ve decided to create that, says Simpson. There are daily manoeuvres by Russian aircraft towards western airspace. You must have decided to do that as well as the incursion into Ukraine. Now you need help from the west because of your currency. Will you say you have no desire for a cold war and you will do what you can to sort out the stiuation in Ukraine?

Does anyone listen to us at all?

I believe that we are right in the course of the Ukrainian crisis …and our western partners are wrong.

There have been sanctions introduced against Russia in a completely illegitimate and illegal way.

10.54am GMT

Putin is asked for details on the amnesty for those returning capital back to Russia.

Businesses can keep their capital abroad but register it, says the president.

10.50am GMT

Next question, from Reuters, the first from western media, is how sure are you of your circle that you will have its support always. How high are the risks of a coup d’etat in Russia?

Putin says

Do not be afraid.

Reuters: You blame things on external forces, but off record people even in your entourage,blame you. Putin: (grinning) give me their names!

Putin: There are elite wines and elite resorts but no elite people.

10.41am GMT

Here’s Ksenia Sobchak, asking a very important question about Chechnya, Kadyrov’s threats to target families of insurgents.

Sobchak asks about Chechnya. Accuses Kadyrov of suspending Russian constitution there

In America, torture was legalised. Do you believe that?

10.33am GMT

First Channel question: Don’t you think Russia wasn’t able to reap the benefits of the Olympics because of the tragedy in Ukraine?

Putin on Sochi: “Everything that we wanted to achieve, in terms of preparing and holding the Olympics, we achieved. We won the Olympics.”

Putin on Ukraine: Of course the Olympics ended against the backdrop of events in Ukraine. “But we didn’t do that. We didn’t cause the coup”

Putin: Everyone is vacationing in Sochi. It means that we in Russia have created an analogous summer and winter resort.

Putin says important to hold the World Cup because will help get Russians doing more sport and living longer.

10.30am GMT

Putin is asked about Russia’s former richest man Mikhail Khodorkovsky who the president surprisingly pardoned last year after he had spent more than a decade behind bars. There is laughter as the questioner says that Khodorkovsky said he would not take part in politics but recently said he wants to be president. Do you regret pardoning him?

“Year ago you pardoned Khodorkovsky, he promised no politics, now he wants to be president. You regret it?” A: “President of which country?”

Putin: I let him out of prison on humanitarian grounds, because his mother was ill. Mother is a sacred thing. I dont regret it.

10.23am GMT

Ruble Weakens as Traders Hear No Major Measures in Putin’s Speech #business

10.23am GMT

There is a question about a website for gifted children in Russia that helps foster patriotism. Will there be state support for such incentives? We would like to invite you to us.

Putin wishes the questioner every success in her endeavour.

Of course we’ll try to support the projects of such dimensions …I believe there will be special funds for gifted children for the entirety of their education.

10.19am GMT

Putin now quoting Lermontov, making cinema references, taking about fifth column. He’s into classic Putin cruise mode after shaky start…

10.16am GMT

Q: Where does opposition finish and 5th column start? A: It’s v difficult to answer that. I’m being honest. Because the border is subtle.

10.15am GMT

Next question is the number of hospital beds and staff, especially in Moscow, is reducing, what is your attitude to that?

Putin says this is one of the fundamental aspects of our lives. Millions of people expect from us to ameliorate the problems in healthcare, we should focus on that and what we have to do to make the situation better.

We spend a lot on healthcare but it’s not very efficient …We should work on high-tech components of medical systems.

10.10am GMT

The currency market is a concern for millions of Russians. Who are those people who speculate on the currency? Can you name them (Putin said they must be “dealt with” earlier this month)? Why can’t we overcome them? Are we considering fixing the currency?

Putin says no plans to introduce capital controls, he calls them “artificial limitations,” on currency trading

10.06am GMT

Putin is asked about energy deals with China and Turkey. Asia-Pacific and Turkey need new sources of energy, he replies.

Why would we refuse them?

10.02am GMT

Today’s animal-based metaphor: “Perhaps the Russian bear should quietly eat berries & not chase piglets in the taiga”

To finish that metaphor, Putin’s point was that if the bear *did* quietly eat berries, West would CHAIN IT UP AND SAW OFF ITS TEETH (really)

9.59am GMT

Asked about the situation in east Ukraine, Putin says it must be solved by political means in line with fundamental international principles, including the right of self-determination.

Without a doubt the president of the Ukraine wants to reach a resolution but he is not the only person there, we have heard dignitaries say they want to wage war till the end.

9.55am GMT

Rouble has fallen from 60-ish to 63 since Putin started speaking

9.54am GMT

As I’ve written, & some people have mocked, I’ve heard from more than one official that Sochi boycotts/critic had effect on Crimea response.

9.52am GMT

Asked whether Russia’s current situation is a result of what is happening in Crimea, Putin replies with an analogy that I’m afraid I’ve slightly lost the thread off about a bear in woods and honey. He also refers to the bear’s fangs being taken out and the bear being stuffed. There’s a reference to nuclear deterrent in there. He concludes:

Do we want our bear to just become a stuffed animal?

Extraordinary extended Russia as bear, which the west is trying to put on a chain and pull out its teeth metaphor

Putin says “they” want the “bear” to “sit quietly and eat honey.” “But they try to chain the bear and… take out his fangs and claws”

9.49am GMT

A man in a dill t-shirt asking Putin a question about Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Hallucinatory.

He totally ignored it. The whole problem (and advantage) of this format of course, is that journalists can’t interrupt or follow up Qs.

Putin laying into Kiev govt, has so far totally dodged the question of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, talking only of “volunteers”

Putin got a small applause from the press after his answer to Ukraine question…

9.47am GMT

Next question is from Ukraine asking about Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. How many Russian troops did you send there? How much weaponry did you send there? How many Russian soldiers died there? What did you tell your mothers?

Ukrainian journalist asks Putin how many troops he sent to Ukraine and how many of them died

The problem is that after the coup d’etat …a forceful overthrow, instead of starting a political dialogue, the new authorities started using law enforcement officers, when that didn’t work out they started using the army, when that didn’t work out they started using other means, such as an economic blockade.

9.40am GMT

Next question. Are we going to live in a divided world?

Putin, referring to the Berlin Wall says we are currently witnessing the building of new walls. Isn’t Nato expansion a wall, a virtual wall? He also refers to ABM (anti-ballistic missiles) near our border.

We want our partners to understand that the best way is to stop building those walls and to build a united humanitarian space.

9.37am GMT

Journalists are asked to keep their questions short so more can be heard of Putin.

What do you think is happening to the country at the moment?

We have to stop using law enforcement agencies to punish everyone we don’t like.

Putin: we need more innovation, diversify economy regional development, stop using police/courts for business disputes… Well, yes.

9.34am GMT

Second “question” begins with a comment thanking Putin for his optimism, the mood of Russia depends on the president’s mood, says the questioner.

Will be able to use the current crisis to restructure the economy? The main danger in Russia is bureaucracy. Are you sure that your thoughts and decisions will be implemented?

In our country bureaucracy is nothing compared to the European Union.

We will have to face some difficulties and we’ll definitely have to confront some social issues… but still we can benefit from the situation [by diversifying the economy].

9.28am GMT

The first question is will there be a financial and economic crisis over the next two years? And what do you think of the criticism of the government.

The economic situation may improve earlier than two years, says Putin. The government and central bank are “acting properly and correctly”. Maybe they could have acted quicker, he admits.

In order to stabilise the national currency, we might squeeze up the ruble liquidity a bit.

Putin says he wouldn’t call this week’s ruble drop a “crisis.”

Putin says Russia should not “waste” its foreign currency reserves in defending the ruble

DAM can nap safely MT @courtneymoscow #Putin says govt /central bank “as a whole” acting adequately. Seems no one gonna get fired on live TV

9.23am GMT

Our economy will overcome the current situation. How long will it take? I believe about two years in the worst situation.

Putin says the world’s energy needs will enable a return to growth but in the meantime repeats that Russia must diversity.

It is unavoidable and imminent that the situation will become normal.

9.20am GMT

Putin refers to the low oil price and knock-on effect on gas prices. Says it is possible they could put further downward pressure on the rouble.

Incidentally, investors, bankers and diplomats have said that they will all be watching this press conference closely. Russia’s political course is so tied up with what is going on inside Putin’s head that the markets will be following his tone closely. Will we hear the angry, combative sabre-rattling Putin or will he give a message that will reassure the markets?

9.18am GMT

Putin says mortality has fallen and the birth rate is up, which he says is a good thing.

We have paid a lot of time this year to increasing the combat capacity of our forces.

Of course, this situation has been provoked by external factors, first and foremost.

9.14am GMT

The president walks on stage to light applause. He is reeling off economic figures.

The level of unemployment is quite low…

As you know this year we had a record harvest ….despite all the turbulence on the financial markets …incomes will be higher than spending.

9.11am GMT

Ukrainian agency correspondent is wearing a sweatshirt with the “dill” sign that became popular during conflict

Ukrainian soldiers have been wearing shoulder patches showing a sprig of dill – an unofficial ensign adopted as a symbol of resistance.

8.54am GMT

Welcome to our live coverage of Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference. We’re expecting Russia’s currency crisis and the economic fallout to dominate.

Our Moscow correspondent Shaun Walker will be filing from the scene throughout the morning. Here is his introduction:

I’m in the hall for Putin’s press conference, having gone through three layers of security. There are 1259 journalists accredited for the event, many of them from small regional publications, and the entire foreign press corps in Moscow is also here.

The way it works is that Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov will pick on journalists to ask questions that have been arranged with the Kremlin in advance. Towards the end of the session, Putin himself takes over and picks people at random, hence the regional journalists who have bought hand-painted signs and other objects in the hope of attracting the president’s attention (and hence the ban on furry toys).

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Electrical retailers offering misleading discounts, study finds

Watchdog Which? calls for government action after finding savings at some of UK’s biggest retailers that either did not exist or were much lower than claimed

Shoppers are being misled by the discounts offered at some of the UK’s biggest electrical retailers, a study has found.

Consumer group Which? tracked the prices of more than 100 electrical products sold by Amazon, Argos, Currys and John Lewis, finding a number of savings that either did not exist or were much lower than claimed.

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