In Case You Missed It: The top business stories this week

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Here’s a look at the top City stories from the week:

Barclays hikes FX provisions

Barclays announced on Monday that it has raised the amount it set aside for fines related to alleged foreign exchange market rigging by £750 million. The hike hike means Barclays has now provided £1.25 billion for the forex scandal.

Boss Antony Jenkins said he was “cautiously optimistic we can settle them soon”.

Jenkins, who replaced Bob Diamond in 2012, took his first annual bonus since taking charge of £1.1 million and “role-based” pay of £950,000 on top of his unchanged salary of £1.1 million.

After having previously declined to take such an award, Jenkins said it was “appropriate” for him to do so this year given the bank’s performance.

Barclays headline profits rose 12% to £5.5 million last year slightly ahead of City forecasts as costs came down faster and the high street bank and Barclaycard performed strongly.

Read the story: Barclays sets aside more for forex fines as boss Antony Jenkins takes first bonus

European Central Bank to start QE next week

Details of the ECB’s long-awaited quantitative easing programme were revealed by bank President Mario Draghi on Thursday.

He told a news conference in Cyprus that it would make it first purchases under the €1.1 trillion plan on March 9.

He used the event to say that the ECB now expected growth of 1.5% this year, instead of the 1% it had forecast earlier, while next year will see growth of 1.9%, rather than 1.5%.

Read the story: European Central Bank raises growth forecasts and says QE to start next week

And our how it might affect you, read about the potential knock-on effects for consumers

Bank of England to face Fraud Office probe

The Serious Fraud Office confirmed on Thursday that it is investigating the Bank of England over possible rigging of auctions it held during the financial crisis.

The probe, thought to be the fraud watchdog’s first formal inquiry into the central bank, is focusing on so-called liquidity auctions that took place in 2007 and 2008.

Read the story: Fraud office investigates Bank of England over possible auction rigging

City Editor Jim Armitage also cast an eye over the affair, saying it raises disturbing questions.

ITV’s £250 million special dividend

It was a good week for ITV shareholders, as they celebrated the fruits of chief executive Adam Crozier’s five-year growth plan.

The Broadchurch to Downton Abbey broadcaster announced a £250 million special dividend and hiked its regular dividend by 34%.

Share of viewing was a weak spot, having fallen 5%, but it showed signs that is successfully diversifying revenue streams, with earnings at its programme-making business up 22%.

Read the story: ITV pays £250 million special dividend as full-year profits surge

Twitter’s UK revenues more than double

It was revealed this week that that Twitter’s UK revenues more than doubled last year.

The social network, which has been stepping up its efforts to make money from its platform, revealed in its annual report that UK revenues jumped from $66.5 million (£43.26m) in 2013 to $140.3 million (£91.27m) last year.

Twitter also warned European regulation poses a threat to its advertising and analytics operations.

The European Union is currently looking at harsher data protection legislation that could restrict its ability to personalise ads and provide analytics products.

Read the story here: Twitter’s UK revenues more than double

Betfair predicts record election betting

Betfair was this week rubbing its hands over the prospect of betting over the upcoming general election hitting an all-time high.

Chief executive Breon Corcoran, who was also interviewed this week by Chris Blackhurst, revealed £2.2 million has already been wagered on the company’s exchange, with 30,000 customers set to make an expected £40 million-worth of bets before May 7.

A hung parliament is the most likely outcome as it stands.

Read the story: Betfair predicts record wagers on general election

Ryanair revamps cabins and buys jets as traffic jumps

Ryanair unveiled a fresh new look for its air craft cabins this week, the latest phase of a charm offensive masterminded by chief executive Michael O’Leary.

The garish yellow has been toned down to fit the airline’s new friendlier approach, which has also seen its trim some fees.

The makeover came as Ryanair announced it had bought three more jets on top of the 100 it already had on order and revealed a 29% jump in traffic to 5.8 million fliers in February.

Read the story: Ryanair buys even more jets as passenger traffic jumps.

Farfetch joins the $1 billion club

Online luxury department store Farfetch became the latest London technology business to be valued at $1 billion, after it raised $86 million.

Shazam and Transferwise had reached the milestone earlier this year.

Founder José Neves said Farfetch, which lets shoppers buy from independent boutiques around the world, could have been given a higher price tag if not for the recent poor run of form among online retailers.

Read the story: Online luxury department store Farfetch reaches $1 billion valuation

Warren Buffett finds his successor, but is silent on their identity

Warren Buffett teased investors in his Berkshire Hathaway group with his annual shareholder letter, saying he had found “the right person” to succeed him, but not revealing their identity.

Luckily Berkshire’s vice-chairman Charlie Munger stepped in, naming insiders Ajit Jain and Greg Able the front-runners.

However, as the Sage of Omaha made a point of saying that gender would not decide who becomes its chief executive, no one is ruling out the possibility of a female future leader.

Read the story: Warren Buffett successor: Ajit Jain and Greg Abel named as front runners

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March 7, 2015 |
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