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Business groups applaud benefits of European club but also urge reform – One idea that unites almost all UK businesses is that they do not want to keep the status quo on Europe. David Cameron has promised to negotiate big reforms to Britain’s relationship with the EU ahead of a proposed vote on membership in 2017. Business voices calling for renegotiation of a key elements of terms of membership span companies small and large across the UK. The Institute of Directors says most its members want serious renegotiation.
Activist joins funds in push for GM board seat – A central figure in the 2009 restructuring of the US car industry is seeking a seat on General Motors’ board in a surprise effort to force the company to spend $8bn on share buybacks, the company said yesterday. Harry Wilson is working with four hedge funds – Taconic Capital, Appaloosa Management, HG Vora and Hayward Capital Management – that together own 2.1 per cent of GM’s ordinary shares. News of his initiative sent GM’s shares up 2.6 per cent to £36.94.
Look mum, no hands! Driverless cars could let children on road – Children could legally take charge of mot0rised vehicles for the first time under plans for a new generation of driverless cars. A government report said that development of the technology would increase “access to vehicles for everyone”, including those who do not hold a full driving licence. The wide-ranging analysis, covering the legal and practical implications of robotic cars, said they would increase “social inclusion” by boosting mobility for pensioners and the disabled.
Grangemouth ‘could close’ is Scotland bans fracking – The Grangemouth petrochemicals plant, one of Scotland’s most important and high-profile industrial sites, could be forced to close if the country bans fracking, its owner has warned. Incos has bought acreage around the site near Falkirk to explore for shale gas, which it plans to use as cheap feed stock for the plant. Last month, however, Scotland announced a moratorium on fracking before a full consultation on the controversial technique.
Rosneft boss rails at Opec, America and unstable oil market – The boss of Rosneft has fired an extraordinary broadside at Opec for destabilising the oil market and warned that America’s shale oil boom will be the next dotcom bubble. In a bullish speech, Igor Sechin said that Opec had “lost its teeth” and, in a thinly disguised attack on Saudi Arabia, the oil cartel’s de facto leader and its Gulf allies, he said “We do not see Opec as monolithic. There are a group of countries that are forcing other producers of Opec to agree with them”.
AA to cut 300 jobs – The AA is poised to cut 300 jobs, or 4 per cent of the workforce, mostly in back-office roles at its head office in Basingstoke. The AA employs 8,022 staff. It will be creating 50 customer-facing jobs. Bob Mackenzie, the executive chairman, wants to increase cross-selling between the AA’s activities, from roadside recovery and motor insurance to hotel ratings to its 13 million customers.
Cameron growth fund for small firms – David Cameron has announced a new Help To Grow scheme in a bid to create a UK equivalent of Germany’s thriving Mittelstand. The initiative will help fast-growth firms to secure financial support to make the leap from “small to medium size”, said the Prime Minister. “Many fast-growing firms find it hard to access finance,” he told company bosses at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) annual conference.
Parking itself now, nation’s first car to need no driver – Britain’s first driverless car, designed to help commuters, shoppers and the elderly travel short journeys, is being unveiled today in Greenwich, London. The Lutz Pathfinder protype pod, designed and built by Coventry-based engineering firm RDM Group, is just the first of 40 cars, which will hit the pedestrianised streets of Milton Keynes later this year to ensure that driverless cars can comply with the Highway Code and insurance mandates.
Britain’s economy roars back to growth – Britain’s economy has roared back to life following a slowdown at the end of last year, according to the latest figures, writes Hugo Duncan. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research estimated that gross domestic product – total output in the UK – increased by 0.7pc between November and January. That was up from the 0.5pc rise in output between October and December and suggested that the economy bounced back at the start of 2015.
M-ways peril in South East – Motorway driving is most dangerous in the South East, where the casualty rate if 6.03 per mile, almost twice the 3.86 national average. The safest motorways are in Scotland the South West, with death or injury rates of 1.61 and 2.48.