UK inflation steady in September but pipeline pressures easing
Corporate tax avoidance has risen to the top of the political agenda in the UK as Britons tire of austerity measures aimed at tackling large public debt built up as a result of the financial crisis. The UK government has backed international action to reduce corporate profit shifting but has resisted calls to amend domestic rules which tax advisors say offer greater opportunity for tax minimisation than tax systems in other large industrial countries such as Germany, the United States and France. A consortium led by private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR) and the drug distributor’s billionaire executive chairman Stefano Pessina took Alliance Boots private in 2007. Last year U.S. drugstore chain Walgreen Co bought 45 percent of the company. Anti-poverty group War on Want and Unite, the UK’s largest trades union, published a report on Tuesday which said that after being delisted from the London Stock Exchange, Alliance Boots’ owners loaded the company up with loans from affiliates in low-tax jurisdictions. These debts sent interest costs rocketing to 853 million pounds in 2008, the year after the acquisition, compared to 42 million pounds in the year to March 2007, said Nell Geiser, a researcher at Change to Win, an advocacy group backed by U.S. labour unions, which co-authored the report. The year before its leveraged buyout, Alliance Boots had a UK tax expense of 181 million pounds, but in the six years since going private, rising interest payments turned healthy operating profits into tax losses, resulting in a cumulative net tax credit of over 130 million pounds, the report said. “Ministers have allowed corporations such as Boots and its private equity owners to abuse the UK’s tax system. It is time for proper rules to make companies like Boots pay their fair share,” said John Hilary, executive director at War on Want. Alliance Boots, which operates the Boots chain of pharmacies that dot main streets across Britain, said in a statement: “Alliance Boots conducts its business and organises its tax affairs strictly in compliance with all applicable law (including legislation in the UK) and observes the highest standard of good ethics.” KKR and Walgreen declined to comment.
Credit: Reuters/Olivia Harris LONDON | Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:35am BST LONDON (Reuters) – British inflation remained at 2.7 percent in September but the rise in producer output prices slowed, pointing to an easing in pipeline price pressures. The Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday that annual consumer price inflation was unchanged from August, confounding economists’ forecasts for a slight tick-down to 2.6 percent. An increase in air fares did most to boost price growth, while the main downward pressure on inflation came from motor fuels, the statistics office said. Retail price inflation, seen by many as a broader gauge of the cost of living, slowed a notch to 3.2 percent. British inflation has persistently exceeded wage growth, which is running at 1.1 percent. Last week British energy supplier SSE inflamed a political row over falling living standards when it raised prices by an average of 8.2 percent. The latest official inflation data tallies with industry figures that showed slower deflation in shop prices last month, driven by smaller price drops in the non-food sector and higher food price inflation. However, separate data released by the ONS on Tuesday showed that annual factory gate inflation slowed to 1.2 percent in September, compared with forecasts for 1.3 percent. That was the smallest rise in prices since May. The ONS also said that house prices rose 3.8 percent in the year to August – the fastest rise since October 2010. House prices are likely to get a further boost from the government’s mortgage guarantee scheme, launched last week. Critics fear the latest phase of the Help to Buy programme will result in another housing bubble rather than more home building. The Bank of England believes the economy has plenty of scope to grow without generating domestic inflation pressures.
UK’s Argos undercuts Tesco with 99.99 stg tablet
Both devices will compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which retails for 99 pounds, Google’s Nexus 7, which costs 199 pounds and Apple’s iPad mini, which sells for 269 pounds. “Millions of people have bought tablets during the last year but there is still around 75 percent of the UK population without one,” said Argos managing director John Walden. Market research company EMarketer estimates there are 19.7 million tablet users in the UK, up 39 percent year-on-year. Both Argos and Tesco sell a range of branded tablets. Sebastian James, CEO of Dixons Retail, Europe’s second biggest electricals retailer, said last month that although there is a market in Britain for cheap, basic tablets, consumers were often left disappointed by purchases. “We get a lot back because people use them and they say ‘no, what I wanted was an iPad’ and they are not,” he told Reuters. “There’s a reason why an iPad is more expensive, it’s just better.” @yahoofinance on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook Related Content Chart Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the “Enter symbol/company” at the bottom of this module. You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes. Search for share prices Terms Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE, and NYSEAmex when available. See also delay times for other exchanges . Quotes and other information supplied by independent providers identified on the Yahoo! Finance partner page . Quotes are updated automatically, but will be turned off after 25 minutes of inactivity.
UK police make new push for leads in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance
The two people had phoned in the same name based on the sketches, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said during the BBC’s “Crimewatch” program, which aired an appeal Monday night for information about a man police want to track down. The man was seen carrying a child matching McCann’s description on the night she vanished in 2007 around the resort town of Praia da Luz in Portugal. The man is described as white, between 20 and 40 years old, with short brown hair and a medium build. He was seen carrying a blond child, who might have been in pajamas and who was estimated to be 3 to 4 years old, around the time Madeleine disappeared, police had said. The sketches are based on descriptions from separate witnesses, investigators said. Since the program aired, British police said they have received more than 300 phoned tips and 170 e-mailed ones. “We will now take the time to follow up these lines of enquiry,” Redwood said. Police hope for new leads in McCann case New evidence in McCann case Police: Madeleine McCann may be alive Computer-generated sketch Computer-generated sketch Computer-generated sketch The latest revelation is critical in reconstructing what exactly happened more than six years ago on the night of May 3, 2007,when McCann disappeared from her family’s villa while her parents dined at a nearby restaurant. The girl was just days shy of her fourth birthday. Neither her parents nor the detectives investigating her case have given up on one day finding the little girl from Leicestershire, England. “There may be an entirely innocent explanation of this man, but we need to establish who he is to assist with our inquiries,” Redwood said earlier. Additionally, investigators believe they have a better understanding of when Madeleine may have been abducted, Redwood added. “The timeline we have now established has given new significance to sightings and movements of people in and around Praia da Luz at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.” Police announced in July that they have identified 38 “people of interest” in connection with the case. Twelve of them are UK nationals who police say they think were in Portugal at the time the girl went missing.