American hedge funds forced the Co-operative Group to give up control of its bank yesterday in a deal that has raised concerns among its 4.7m customers about its ethical approach to business. The UK’s largest mutual was worked to give up majority control of its bank in an effort to correct a £1.5bn capital shortfall without the need for a taxpayer bailout (Guardian, p1).
Npower has become the third major energy supplier to announce price rises far above the rate of inflation, telling customers they should use less energy if they want to reduce their bills. Prices will go up by 10.4% from 1 December, adding £137 to the average annual dual fuel bill. The move will affect around 3.1m UK customer and follows similar announcements by SSE and British Gas (Times p1, Guardian, p9).
The £750m campaign to encourage more people to switch their current accounts between banks has got off to a slow start, with early figures suggesting it has boosted customer movement by just 11%. The Payments Council said 89,000 people made the move in the first four weeks of the scheme, compared with 80,000 who did the same this time last year. While most banks have kept their customer figures under wraps, Metro Bank has claimed a 100% increase in customers switching to it with “negligible” deserters (Times, p2).
Government claims that a £16bn nuclear deal will support British jobs have been called into question after EDF Energy, the French company controlling the project, said the 57% share reserved for British companies will not be guaranteed in the final investment contract. While British companies will be invited to bid against overseas manufacturers for work, experts claim that Britain no longer has the nuclear expertise to qualify as a major supplier (Times, p8).